THERE will be no reduction in the number of soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines when it implements the streamlining of commands by 2013, a senior officer told the Manila Standard in an exclusive interview.
“Under the Force Structure Review, there will be streamlining of units but this does not mean reduction in terms of the number of soldiers. In fact, the FSR calls for more recruits in the future,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.
At present, the military has a total of 125,000 soldiers, of which almost 85,000 are in the Army and the rest in the Navy-Marines and Air Force.
The FSR calls for an in-depth study of the AFP history in reference to pertinent laws of the land in conjunction with the challenges of internal and external defense.
The study also calls for the establishment of a strategic command that will focus on external defense where the main force would be the Air Force and Navy.
On instructions of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former military chief of staff retired Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. led the study and review of the AFP organization, the first in the military’s history.
Earlier, Gazmin confirmed the streamlining program which he said will check the overlapping of functions, putting human resources into proper use, cost-effectiveness, among others.
The new scheme will merge area commands into one command leaving only four commands: one in Luzon [Northern Command], two in the Visayas [Central Command and Western Command], and one in Mindanao [Southern Command].
Units that will be deactivated are the Eastern and Western Mindanao Commands and the Southern and Northern Luzon Commands.
The National Capital Region Command, which had been the main unit that fought off numerous coup attempts against government in the past, and the National Development Command, the civil-military development unit, will also be transformed to smaller units.
In the discussion, NCRCOM will be transformed into a Joint Task Force NCR while NADESCOM will become a smaller unit but maintaining its current task as harbinger of peace and development.
The FSR suggested that the three major service commands, including the area commands, should be the force providers and focus on “organize, train, equip, maintain, develop, and deploy” functions.
by Florante S. Solmerin