Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Military losing sight of its primary role—to fight and win wars

The military’s role is to win wars against the enemy, not to support civilians and government agencies.

So claimed an article in the latest issue of “The Air Force Way 2012,” the official magazine of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), that came out in time for its 65th anniversary last week.

The article, which did not carry a byline, argued that the country’s military has lost sight of its primary mission “to fight and win wars” due to its expanded role in supporting civilian government agencies.

Filipino soldiers have lost their critical combat capabilities since their time has been diverted to civic functions supporting civilians and not soldiers, the article pointed out.

“Such diversion of missions and capabilities had given rise to a situation wherein people in the military no longer consider themselves as warriors but as policemen, relief workers, educators, builders, health care providers, politicians, everything but warfighters,” read the article titled “Militum Phasellus” (no translation found).

The article criticized the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) focus on civic projects that was cemented in its new Bayanihan counter-insurgency campaign under the Aquino administration.

The PAF article argued that a professional soldier’s “expertise is on warfighting (and) his responsibility is as an expert military adviser and a soldier to his society…his corporate character is that of a warrior.”

Instead, the writer said, soldiers are made to do nonsecurity related tasks like medical missions, school construction and community clean-up “partly because of the inability of many civilian agencies to perform their mandate.”

While support to civilian agencies should only be secondary to the military’s core function of warfighting, the article said that “in reality much of the time and activities that should have been devoted to combat training and preparation are being used to fulfill (civilian) tasks.”

The PAF article also assailed the lack of interest in the study of military theory and history as “another sign that military professionalism is eroding.”

It added that (military theory and history) are hardly taught as subjects in military educational institutions, not even in the courses taught to the AFP officer corps as part of their continuing studies.

“Ironically, foreign armed forces have seen more value in Philippine military history by thoroughly studying it than… their Filipino counterparts,” the PAF article said.

The article said the AFP officer corps needed to show “high levels of proficiency in performing its core mission” in the face of serious external and internal defense and military challenges.

“Does it have… morale courage to advise political leaders that there are limits to what the armed forces can do, and that expanding their roles runs the danger of diverting them from their primary mission and focus?” the article asked.

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