Too easy to say "world-class"

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

The Marcos Jr. government will continue implementing programs and policies to make the Armed Forces of the Philippines world-class, a national newspaper reported Wednesday. "Rest assured that we will remain steadfast in transforming and modernizing the AFP into a world-class force that is respected by its counterparts and is a source of national pride," the president said at a dinner in Malaca ang.

It is not only Marcos Jr. who has given similar assurances. AFP modernization appears to have become a staple in the lexicon of every new president that comes along, a quick take on the glaring fact that we remain today one of the weakest uniformed services not only in the region but the entire world. It is likewise high on the list of every incoming hierarchy in the armed forces.

Thus we indeed have taken great strides toward the acquisition of modern warships, modern fighter jets and other aircraft as well as modern weapons and armed offense and defense systems. This is not to mention the modern and high-tech communications and electronic combat and control systems. We have not really gone high-end but we have at least attained credible purchases.

But it appears that so far only Marcos Jr. has fully understood and is willing to take the necessary next step toward achieving true modernization. For modernization does not merely entail acquisition of the latest and the best true modernization, more than anything else needs the upgrading of the moving human parts without whose skills no equipment can ever be used.

Marcos Jr. noted that it is the soldiers who make up the backbone of the armed forces. "You are vital to our sustained success of defending our state, our sovereignty, and our patrimony. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that we help each other and make sure that they all reach their fullest potential so that they become well-rounded soldiers," the president said.

It is good that the commander-in-chief fully understands what a modern army is all about, that it is not just having the best equipment but, perhaps even more importantly, having the best qualified soldiers to use them. Because, if the truth be told, only a small fraction of the entire armed forces are truly world-class in their skills proficiencies and training. Usually these are only in the elite units.

Recognizing this, Marcos Jr. wants the world-class knowhow broadened to encompass everybody, down to the last ordinary foot soldier in the armed forces.

In addition to the training Marcos Jr. wants the soldiers  welfare and that of their families elevated to the level where their self-respect and human dignity are restored. Only then can they become truly professional soldiers who will not hesitate to make the supreme sacrifice in defense of their country.

I cannot help but fully agree. For so long our men in uniform merely hovered between duty and personal interest. They have always been quick, too quick if I may say so, to take political sides at the expense of a country that is in danger of collapsing into political turmoil. Modern, professional armies step in in such instances to steady a nation not to tackle it down. They are not springboards for traitors to run for political positions.

Marcos Jr.'s father fell from power in 1986 when highly-politicized factions of the armed forces staged a coup that was later taken over in a bloodless popular uprising. The new regime that took over from him became itself the target of numerous coup attempts, eventually saved only by US intervention. Interestingly the US also intervened in the Marcos Sr. case.

Two more presidencies saw the face of ugly military unprofessionalism rear its head. Those were the saddest most shameful times in the otherwise heroic and storied history of the Philippine Armed Forces. Sadly, these times cannot be glossed over or expunged but they can be atoned for and built over with renewed commitment by new modern and professional military.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with