Analyzing Defense: First Weeks of 2019

The first weeks of 2019, started from January 1st up to the present date provides some interesting developments with regards to the wide range of activities that run the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as the Department of National Defense to conduct their mandate as well as providing the plans and timetables with regards to the updates in connection to the Armed Forces Modernization Program. It is also worth taking note that there will be other sets of discussions that will be inserted here wherein at some sense, those topics at some sense do influence the country's national security status that has correlated to our defense discussions.

These helicopters, along with Amphibious Assault Vehicles are the ones
announced by the Defense Department on the first weeks that
its delivery may take place on the first or second part of this year.

Today is the 14th day since the year 2019 started. And as time passes by, so does new developments slowly unravel before anyone who is interested in hearing and seeing the news developments, especially with regards to defense and other related issues.

Some of these topics may range from a cause of concern especially on the context of a citizen who aspires peace and security to what is to be the good news which primarily covered by incoming deliveries of military platforms from other countries or developments such as deploying a contingent for military exercise or familiarization of upcoming platforms. Also on this matter, there are areas that needed to cover which it affects national defense standpoint such as developments on contested features on the West Philippine Sea or something related in the regional arena.

So, here are some of the interesting articles that were unraveled on the first few weeks of 2019 in which its nature will be discussed and detailed analysis will be provided. And from here, we set a guide of what is to come for the remainder of the year and for the upcoming years.

The long-standing alliance between these nations will be put to a test.

First appeared last year December 2018, the current Philippine Administration opts to review the mutual defense treaty with the United States and its provisions as the situation in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea at some sense relatively test it out.

This analytical write-up provides a relevant spotlight so as what the perceptions, viewpoints and the grievances this treaty has to bring between two sides as for the Philippine context we summarize, highlights the shortcomings such as providing hand-me-downs or to aid. Nevertheless, some interesting developments are also covered on that write-up such as the continuous cooperation through Visiting Forces Agreement and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement wherein this help provide the local troops the know-how as well as further developing local military facilities all with the help of an ally. Also to mention the indirect benefit of the country obtains through the Freedom of Navigation Patrols where despite its neutralistic stance since the US obtains a foreign policy of not taking sides, they still conduct these activities in which they show defiance against the hegemonic actions provided by the Chinese that is seen in the region as a provocation of some extent. Moreover, let us not dismiss the fact that the United States currently offer some new material such as S-70i Black Hawk Helicopters for the Combat Utility Helicopter Project and the F-16V variant, known as the Viper Block 70/72 for the Philippine Air Force Multirole Fighter Project.

It is worth to ponder that the ties between two nations are still as strong as ever, where an agreement such as a mutual defense treaty will not simply be disregarded or removed without prior approval of the Congress. That is one area to consider with regards to the process as discussed on their review of its provisions where, it might as well be ideal to somewhat improve it up by having the Armed Forces capable to stand on its own, worthy to be supported by an ally.


Call this the continuation of the first topic that at any sense have the connection with relations to countries such as the United States, because it definitely is. Just recently, President Duterte vows on himself and his administration that they will avoid military purchases originated from the United States, citing CAATSA or Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act which is presently implemented against Russia and its key companies such as Rosoboronexport.

So the point here is this: While other sources such as South Korea and Israel are being mentioned in the article, it is not dismissible the very fact that most of the military platforms of the country are originated from the United States. That is ranging from C-130s to Hamilton-class cutters as well as the on-going deals aforementioned that will help provide the Armed Forces the capability it needs. So, from here alone, there is some sense so as the Defense Department loosely follow the guidelines of the administration where they themselves understand what the military needs more than the rest in the current administration. Implementing this strictly may implicate the operations of the whole Armed Forces as this may not only limit to the types of equipment originated from the United States but also to the ones originated from the other sources that obtain US-made components. So, this may limit the options for the forces to buy down to the Russian and Chinese sources where it may not only get compatible to the doctrine that the country follows so as it presently follow the US-NATO format, but also obtain the security risk that may put the country into the disadvantage.

And so, it is on the best judgment of the Defense Department to give understanding so as the essentials of obtaining these effective military platforms regardless of where it was originated. From there, the mere point here is that as long as this help defend the country itself and its national interest as well as providing the satisfaction to the troops for them to do their job as mandated by law, then there will be no problems at all.

The budget hearings are done in the Congress, and later to be signed
by the President.

Exactly a year ago, we posted an article so as to how really important budgeting is to the Armed Forces and its operations

At present, the 2019 budget, more known as the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), is still pending approval as Congress is finalizing it up to its very detail. As far as the first weeks is concerned, the Government in itself, the Armed Forces of the Philippines included is operating under the 2018 re-enacted budget. In other words, most of the procurement process will be hampered by this delay.

According to the Department of Budget and Management together with its Secretary Mr. Benjamin Diokno, the 2019 General Appropriations Act will be more or less be implemented on the first week of February this year, rendering most of the January operating on the old budget format until such time it will be covered by the new one, as enacted on the current-date GAA. If so, this will not put most of the programmed 2019 military purchases and recruitments into harm, as the government sorting this delay up in order to cover the present payables, preferably the due and demandable portion on the number of budgetary registries. Also on the side note of this budget, it is worth for each reader to know that once the 2019 GAA gets implemented, its disbursement will be in a cash-based form as against the last year's obligations-based form in which it further improves the management of funds that are allocated on a quarter. Note also that most of the reports seeking by the budget from numerous National Government Agencies - the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police included as well as Local Government Units and Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations shall be submitted before the month ends. So, this is also worthy for a heads-up, especially that financial resources definitely defines what the Armed Forces and the National Police force wants in order to cover their duties and responsibilities to the cover of the nation.

So, on this matter, it might be nice that the Budgetary components of the Government, as well as the key echelons of various government agencies and the military to work hand-in-hand as the passing of the 2019 General Appropriations Act, defines a lot if it means performing necessary duties and responsibilities as mandated by law for the country's eventual progress as a whole.

The Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy, through the Varyag Cruiser
and Admiral Pantaleyev Destroyer, have visited Manila on the first
weeks of 2019 for a 5-day stay.

Last January 6, the Russians visited Manila Port with three ships of the Pacific Fleet being in the country for a five-day goodwill visit, a sign of ever-growing relations between Russia and the Philippines since President Duterte assumed the position in 2016.

It was discussed all along about the possibilities of having Russian-made platforms for the Philippine Armed Forces to use. So far as they are concerned, they only provided the country AK-47M rifles, URAL trucks, ammunition for the AK-47s and SSh-68 helmets in which can be considered as Cold War relics that is incompatible to the doctrine and systemic platforms that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is using. Nevertheless, the relations still improve through forms of trade between countries in which several areas are not defense-related in nature. Note that currently, any options for the country to go Russian in military weapons purchase will be non-beneficial to this nation as the United States, Philippines' primary ally imposes the CAATSA that aims to sanction Russian companies that will take a hit to the economy on the country that obtains the second largest military power in the world. Perhaps it might be only nice to deal with the Russians in terms to other areas such as in other industries and trade as well as exchanging military expertise in counter-terrorism operations in such a way that it will not harm the country from the impending sanction that may affect the country's impending military purchases in the United States as mentioned in this article.

So, it might be nice to keep the best of relations to the Russians as well as to the nation's key ally the United States. Provided that all of these things, among others, will benefit the country and its citizens at a full, a way that will bolster not only the economy of the nation but also, at a certain degree, on a number of areas in defense.

Four KAAV-7s from South Korea as well as two AW-159s from England
will be delivered to the country by the first or second quarter of this year.

The Philippine Navy provided a couple of announcements with regards to its developments in which may give the glimpse so as to its current actions that get in line to its modernization drive.

First on the announcement line is the one about the delivery of four Korean-made Amphibious Assault Vehicles (KAAV-7s) and two Leonardo AW-159 Antisubmarine Helicopters intended to the Philippine Navy Frigate. The date is slated in March this year where the Navy will obtain the first batch of eight ordered KAAV-7s intended to the Philippine Marine Corps as well as the antisubmarine helicopters which will nest on the ships that are currently building in South Korea, slated on delivery next year 2020 and year 2021 with names bearing BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Luna. Another update is about the Pohang-class ROKN Chungju Corvette (PCC-762), now named as BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) whose namesake is a Philippine Army veteran who fought in the Korean war under the Philippine Expeditionary Forces of the United Nations. The personnel that will be assigned to the Corvette as detailed on RAdm. Empedrad's speech will be undertaking training this year, which means that the delivery of the ship gets closer as the fleet badly needs more ship as the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the lead ship of the class is still on drydock for repairs on the damage it incurred from last year's grounding of the ship from Hasa-Hasa shoal. Speaking about the Gregorio del Pilar-class of ships, derived from the Hamilton-class U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, the Department of National Defense considers and reviews the option to have a fourth one of such class for the Philippine Navy, still under the premise of covering up their mandated duties and responsibilities as they are still lacking naval hulls to patrol the waters. There is one ship that seems to be decommissioning this 2019 is the USCGC Midgett, although its date may still change without further notice as its replacement takes time to cover up the fleet needs of the U.S. Coast Guard. Moreover, the competition on this one will be that great that countries that already obtain such ships like Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Nigeria, Bangladesh, as well as the Philippines, may end up taking the grabs on the remaining ships either as an additional ship or as a spare parts hulk. So, it might be nice for them to recommend to get at least one or the rest of the fleet wherein the end, it will be for the U.S. Government to decide and determine.

With this progress, it seems that the Philippine Navy is up for grabs for the hulls that will cover up for the fleet to do their duty. Not only that, but it also seems that the Maestrale-class Frigates from Italy gets reconsidered again. With these developments, both good and not-so-satisfiable, may provide the glimpse with the hopes that purchases will help provide them cover up their needs.


The first weeks of 2019 already provided the developments on the defense updates in which may determine on what's to come for the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as on the other government agencies in terms on actions which may help the country more.

Furthermore, the upcoming sets of activities and provisions may further shape up the direction that the country and the armed forces may take along the way to the year 2019 in a sense that the very moot idea points out to the essence of making the country improved and progressive as this is what the citizens want in the way that it also provides them the fullest of satisfaction. Hence, for every personnel all across the chain, in government and in private as well as to every citizen that is for growth and development, let us improve our knowledge and skills in a way that performing what is for the best can be done on the best principle we obtain. Moreover, helping together to make these things possible is always been the name of the game, as the defense updates provide the detail of hardworking people on the ranks slowly getting the fruits of labor.

Let these be what is the best or what it may be the challenging months ahead. In any sense, some of the Modernization Projects gets in fruition in a way that each member plays the role to make this possible. To sum this article up, let us quote this: "It is preferable to treat one's job as a service rather than a career, as the former wholeheartedly give it all for the best of the country and the organization than the attainments of the latter". Unity is for this nation and its citizens to have, folks.

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