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Knowing the Soon-to-Have Kunigami-class Multirole Response Vessels of the Phil. Coast Guard

A functioning organization or an agency is set to have a bright future with investments allotted on procuring newer assets, hiring more recruits, building new facilities, and other relevant processes are being materialized as they set its direction for its betterment in the way that it desires the stakeholders, specifically the citizens of the republic.

This goes the same way to the different service branches under the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as other uniformed services such as the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Coast Guard as they are embarking on having their respective personnel on different ranks the required training, skills, tools, organization, and doctrine going accordingly to the current demands and perceived requirements that is in-line to their sworn duties and responsibilities before the nation.

Philippine Coast Guard, Japan Coast Guard, 94-meter cutter, Kunigami-class.
The type of vessel that the Philippine Navy seeks out for its fleet. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It is worth noting that the Philippine Coast Guard embarks into a project which is considered its largest one to date where this development comes as an aspiring one to have its new set of vessels, which will be considered larger than the ones they currently obtaining at present, including the French OCEA-built BRP Gabriela Silang (8301) which is an 84-meter vessel that serves currently as the agency's primary flagship.

The development that the Philippine Coast Guard currently undertakes is considered a part of its transformation process that helps bolster its capability through the number of recruits it gathers, as they are needed to man up the vessels that the agency is procuring in numbers that will help aid its mandate further in terms of protecting the country's coastline as well as implying presence on its territorial and EEZ waters.

This maritime law enforcement agency, under the Department of Transportation or DOTr, is enhancing itself as its capability is something that the country will benefit in terms of enhancing maritime domain awareness, which in itself is important in assuring the country's security, economic development, and environmental protection as this archipelagic nation relies on maritime resources as part of its food security purposes.

To take note more about the essentials needed for the agency in having large ships such as the topic for this discussion, it is recommended for us folks to take time reading this article entitled "The Philippine Coast Guard's Soon-to-Have Vessels", in which on this topic, the 10 Multirole Response Vessels (MRRVs) from Japan and the BRP Gabriela Silang were provided a discussion overview as well as with the details that emphasize the role of the agency in country's territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone waters such as the contested West Philippine Sea.

Now, here is the discussion that deals with the Philippine Coast Guard's soon-to-have 94-meter cutter which originates in the country where the 10 Parola-class MRRVs was made, wherein the design cue on this project will be based on a proven design with its own class currently in service with that certain country's Coast Guard.

Japan, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki Shipyard. Image Source.

For starters, the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries or MHI which oversees Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., is one of Japan's prominent shipbuilding, aerospace, and electronics industries which specializes in its construction of both civilian and military vessels that cater to local and foreign customers, wherein their products range from ships to aerospace components as well as aircraft, machinery tools, and industry-based heavy equipment.

Its shipbuilding history started with the Nagasaki Shipyard and Machinery Works wherein the current reiteration of such shipyard is seen in the image provided above. The establishment of this first modern shipyard in Japan was initiated in 1857 where Dutch engineers constructed the shipyard along with the western-designed foundry (for cast iron) wherein it sets a foothold for Japan's self-reliance and eventually the improvement of its own shipbuilding industry.

The Nagasaki shipyard was put under the control of the new Imperial Japanese (Meiji) Government in 1868, wherein it was leased to Mitsubishi almost two decades later on July 7, 1884, wherein it became the key manufacturer of various weaponry from fighter aircraft to large warships for the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces up until the Second World War where it contributed a lot for the war effort, so much that the whole Nagasaki was considered a strategic area which resulted to being dropped by an atomic bomb in 1945.

Aside from the main Nagasaki shipyard, MHI also obtains the Yokohama Dockyard and Machinery Works, which were originally intended ship repairs, with shipbuilding and machinery production only being added later on as part of their intended operations. This dockyard was established in 1891 as the Yokohama Dock Company, Ltd wherein it went integrated to the current number of shipyards that the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries currently operates.

There are also other shipyards that this company obtains like the Shimonoseki Shipyard and Machinery Works in which it dedicates more to building vessels like RORO Vessels and special-purpose ones such as cable-laying and research vessels, and Kobe Shipyard and Machinery Works wherein it builds more highly-essential vessels such as submarines for the JMSDF, large container ships, and specialized vehicle and truck carriers.

It is worth mentioning that this is the same shipbuilding company in the first years of the Second World War the Battleship Musashi was made wherein it was considered one of the large ships that comprise the Japanese Imperial Navy fleet's large Yamato-class battleships wherein it was sunk during the larger operations surrounding the Battle of Leyte Gulf, on its current location at the Sibuyan Strait.

Hence, with its long history coming from its foundation in the late 19th Century all the way to the present date through its contributions at the Second World War providing all of that war effort to the Japanese Empire, the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries at its current organization obtains that lengthy experience of building large vessels wherein they may see their product soon to be in the Philippine Coast Guard fleet which may render as the largest ones that the agency will operate on.

PL-11 Rishiri, Kunigami-class, Japan Coast Guard.
The Japan Coast Guard vessel PL-11 Rishiri. Image Source.

The first of the units produced under this class of ships were commissioned into the Japanese Coast Guard Fleet in 2012 with the recent ones being commissioned three years from the publishing of this article, totaling 18 ships built which was done by several companies that comprise the Japanese shipbuilding industries, in which it includes Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd, a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Subsidiary that is the one that will build the vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard.

From the time these ships were built, let it be taken note that these ships came at the time when the territorial dispute between China and Japan intensified as both laid a claim over the islands named respectively as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku for the Japanese as having these ships like the Kunigami-class Patrol Vessels are an essential tool for the latter's Coast Guard in terms of obtaining that capability of providing increased presence and enhanced patrols in the area, asserting their sovereignty over the Chinese which also claims areas of the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea that the Philippines and other claimants assert.

These vessels also serve as a replacement for the older Shiretoko-class Patrol Vessels that the Japan Coast Guard once had in service, wherein all of them were already decommissioned and are now out of service from the fleet. It augments currently available vessels in their fleets such as the Aso-class Patrol Vessel and its capability predecessor the Harutema-Class Patrol Vessel, which are both currently in service within the Japanese Coast Guard fleet.

It is with the Japanese shipyards' experience in building ships for the Japanese Coast Guard wherein vessels of different classes in the fleet provides various similarities on one over the other in terms of the design since all take a role for the fleet's patrol purposes, with variations taken into its function as a multirole response offshore patrol vessel such as having a landing pad on its stern just like the fleet's Harutema-class vessels as well other specifications which will discuss in detail on this article.

Hence, it will be a big plus for a Japanese shipbuilding industry such as the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., wherein they may have the opportunity in exporting such vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard in a manner that it serves as a win-win on all sides as the end-user will be ending up having the largest vessel in its fleet while the supplier providing more in terms of law-enforcement vessels aside from its home nation.

Multirole Response Vessel Project, Philippine Coast Guard, Kunigami-class Patrol Vessel.
The specifications as intended for the Philippine Coast Guard.
Courtesy to Herbie via MaxDefense Philippines.

These are the specifications that the Philippine Coast Guard provided for its large, 94-meter Multirole Response Vessels or MRRVs which render a huge leap for the fleet's capability in terms of loitering at longer times due to its enhanced endurance/cruising range which is specified on the table above, comparable to large vessels in the Philippine Navy like the ever-sophisticated Jose Rizal-class Frigates at 4,500 nautical miles and its peer the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels which are former cutters that served the United States Coast Guard.

Let it be noted that the length of these ships that are intended for the Philippine Coast Guard is at least two meters shorter than the ones serving actively in service in the Japanese Coast Guard, although such difference is a bit small to take notice of while retaining the Breadth/Width and having almost similar cruising speeds herein.

A thing worth considering here is the tonnage wherein there is a significant difference between these vessels wherein the Japanese Coast Guard Kunigami-class, being a 1,000 ton-class PL Type Patrol Vessels has a gross tonnage of 1,700 tons while the 94-meter Multirole Response Vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard rendering its own gross tonnage of around 2,300 tons or at least 600 tons heavier than the former as provided on the agency's basic specifications.

Its complement goes almost as similar as those with the BRP Gabriela Silang wherein the 94-meter Multirole Response Vessels, just like this aluminum-hulled ship built by OCEA in Les Sables d' Olonne in France will be manned by around 57 crewmen, with the composition setup coming with 7 officers and 50 enlisted personnel which will be doing the operations onboard the ships which will help effectively doing their duties and responsibilities within the agency. 

This is further added by 35 passengers which are also similar in capacity to the BRP Gabriela Silang, wherein its composition comes with a single VIP, two medical officers, and 32 survivors given that these ships may also serve its role as a search and rescue platform for a vessel and its sailors that are in distress at the open seas.

It is in these attributes that both the BRP Gabriela Silang and the new 94-meter Multirole Response Vessels are having, especially that the ships are useful for the duties that the Philippine Coast Guard is having on territorial seas and beyond like the country's exclusive economic zone in which having its presence is a way of asserting the nation's jurisdiction and sovereignty and is also a way of countering Chinese white hulls that are deployed in contested waters.

Also, these ships are useful for HADR or Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response operation whenever it's needed given that these ships obtain a large space for augmented logistics in case of an event wherein such ships are needed just like the example of the BRP Gabriela Silang on its delivery voyage to the country where it was tapped for repatriation run involving Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs situated in the Middle East.

BRP Malabrigo
The Parola-class MRRV BRP Malabrigo (MRRV-4402) is also a project
involving a soft loan from the Japanese.
Image courtesy to its owner.

While the focus of this article involves the larger 94-meter, Kunigami-derived class Multirole Response Vessels that the Philippine Coast Guard is about to receive from Japan, let it be known also that such a setup also took place before it as it involves ten smaller vessels known as the Parola-class Multirole Response Vessels or MRRVs.

The first vessel acquired and delivered in this class is the BRP Tubbataha (MRRV-4401) and the last vessel is the BRP Cape Engano (MRRV-4411) wherein all of these ships also share similar designations with their soon-to-be larger peers in the agency as a multirole response vessel designed in both patrolling and rescue operations as it is intended within the Coast Guard service.

Given such designation, it can be said that the larger 94-meter vessels will serve as an augmentation to these present vessels serving the Philippine Coast Guard, only that these vessels which are also originated in Japan will have an improved range and space to patrol in a wider area to extent that such ships may help patrol the outposts that the country currently holds on in the West Philippine Sea in a manner that it is a civilian law enforcement platform which exhibits less provocation than its gray-hulled naval warship peers.

Having these vessels included in this article content goes along the idea or rationale that Japan showcases its coast guard vessels where, while these ships were built by a Japanese shipyard other than Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd such as the Japan Marine United, it reinforces the idea of going Japanese in terms of building additional units for the Philippine Coast Guard which it sees ideal in patrolling its waters.

All of these things, with the idea that both Japan and the Philippines see the common enemy on China given the former's contestation of claims over Senkaku Island Group and the latter on its domain like the Kalayaan Island Group and the Panatag Shoal, it simply gets beneficial on both nations as they have the desire of keeping the Chinese at bay with these capabilities at hand that may help counter their white hulls.

Read more: The East Asia White Hull Challenge
The BRP Gabriela Silang OPV-8301. This ship along with the
future Kunigamis forms a fully-Modernized Philippine
Coast Guard.
Image Source

From the time that the first article entry on various Coast Guard vessel compositions in East Asia was made, there are already many changes that happened along the way especially in the transformation which took place in the fleet setup of the Philippine Coast Guard which ramped up its Modernization process.

Its usage is still prevalent especially in contested waters such as the South China Sea or also known as the West Philippine Sea where having the presence of such coast guard vessel from a certain nation like China is one way of showing sovereignty which is something that other nations may also do in order of asserting their own respective rights on the waters.

In the case of the Philippines, having such large vessels that have been mentioned in this article is a big addition to the fleet as its pace of Modernization is clearly seen as more potential procurement may go along the way that may go augment these ships in service with the fleet.

With more large vessels on the fleet, it goes ascertain that more loitering times on deeper waters may obtain as this also asserts its presence that the Philippines, as well as other nations, may do wherein one way or another, deploy these law enforcement vessels as a gesture of showing that a country's sovereignty and jurisdiction cover these contested waters like in the case of Panatag Shoal and the Kalayaan Island Group.

Having white hulls in contested waters is considered part of what is so-called the "Coast Guard Diplomacy" where these new larger, white vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard may play a role as patrolling the features that are contested by other claimants shows the resolve without any provocation given the nature of the agency as more of a maritime law-enforcement agency as opposed to the roles of the Philippine Navy which is usually intended for maritime combat.

A fully modernized Philippine Coast Guard, as well as a fully-modernized Philippine Navy, may help hand-in-hand in securing and safeguarding the country's territorial integrity as well as national sovereignty, wherein national jurisdictions set even in contested waters it has controls on are worthy to be protected with its maritime resources preserved for the benefit of the nation's citizenry.

These developments, especially on the large projects that the Philippine Coast Guard undertakes, are worthy to be seen for the next two to four years as it is nice seeing the process of growth being done step-by-step with its capability getting enhanced along the way through their set timelines.

Notice of Award - Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., Kunigami-class MRRV, Philippine Coast Guard
Notice of Award for the 94-meter Japanese
Multirole Response Vessel Project.
(c) Herbie via DefensePH Website.
The Philippine Coast Guard is embarking on a much larger project than the last one which involves a deal with the French in terms of procuring vessels such as the largest Offshore Patrol Vessel obtained to date, the BRP Gabriela Silang wherein it was derived from an OPV-270 design.

The Japanese shipbuilder, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd, itself being a subcomponent of the larger Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group, is the one that will oversee the production of two large 94-meter Multirole Response Vessels in which these things will be derived from the already-proven Kunigami-class patrol vessels.

To add some information, let it be noted that the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries posted on their website dated March 6, 2020, regarding the signing of contract and finalization of the deal between them and the Philippine Coast Guard in which this will be financed through a soft loan where it will be paid by the end-user through the Philippine government based on the terms provided on their agreement that paves the way to the materialization of this project.

This means that the production phase will get commenced as the Japanese shipbuilder is set to showcase its skillsets on producing these large patrol vessels that are meant to satisfy an end-user like the Philippine Coast Guard in the sense that it may pave the way for more similarly crafted deals later on.

It is with these projects that hope and dream the organization holds are slowly getting into reality, as they get on envisioning a more-capable Philippine Coast Guard that stands on with the country's interest as it keeps on enforcing the country's laws that define its sovereignty which goes to the best interest of its people.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

UPDATES as of July 23, 2021

New images are now being provided that show the development of the new 94-meter Multirole Response Vessels (or 97-meter based on the latest specifications) that are slated for launch on Monday, July 26, 2021.

This is MRRV-9701, the soon-to-be largest vessel that the Philippine Coast Guard will be having. 

The ship's stern.

The ship's bow.

The soon-to-be largest vessel that the Philippine Coast Guard will be operating does not have a name yet, although it will most probably be named after a Philippine female hero that fought gallantly alongside Filipino men that stood for the country's independence and freedom.

More images will be provided once the ship will be launched on the specified date, with the second one being constructed and is also expected to be launched within this year.

(c) 2020 PDA, edited July 2021.

The Importance of Having CBRNE Defense Capabilities In The Armed Forces

Currently, the whole world stood still over a strain of biological material such as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, now known as the COVID-19 pandemic derived from the SARS-CoV 2 virus where it has been considered as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, highlighting the essentials of securing public health as part of an effort that defines national security and defense in the same manner as HADR or Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response.

And with this current situation comes a much-needed capability in which any nation or country's respective militaries to cope with this kind of threat which, like HADR, does not invoke a hard war that usually involves conventional weapons in a military arsenal that ranges from guns and bombs down to the most sophisticated military assets available such as tanks, frigates, and fighter aircraft.

This is what CBRN Military capability is like.
Image Source.
Since the first case of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Philippines that took place last mid-February up to the various lockdowns that are currently in effect as of this article posting, the country, and its citizen's usual activities are now being put on-hold, rendering the whole nation's economic activity in a standstill as threats from this pandemic originated from Wuhan, China threatens to endanger the lives of the public that is not even immune to it currently.

With it comes with the uncertainty as regards to how long this crisis will last as well as to the progress being made in terms of creating its vaccine which in itself is on its way, doing necessary test trials before being put to mass production which is to ensure that this cure is worth a shot for the people needing it without the worse side effects that the vaccine formulation may bring against the body.

As for the country's current efforts in combatting this pandemic, the Philippine Army deployed its CBRN Unit to disinfect its personnel manning the checkpoints as part of its enforced lockdown in effect which means getting the public remain on their respective residences as they are looking for ways to contain the spread of this virus while taking time before the work-in-process vaccines will be distributed eventually to the people that needs it the most.

Speaking of the military's role in this crisis which is primarily more of a public health-related matter, it is worth notable that the impact that such a pandemic inflicts against the country and its citizens is something that may go considered a national security threat, in a way that it needs to be addressed in the manner that public safety is needed to be prioritized at full while the coordination with health personnel takes place to tackle it up.

This arose a discussion that highlights a certain capability that an Armed Forces is worth having in a national crisis such as this one, wherein this matters a lot in terms not only with the safeguards provided on keeping the people from the harm of a biological threat but also showing the protective measures that are taken regarding this situation as well as others that usually involve safety hazards different from the weapons of conventional warfare.

Certain countries like the United States obtain a school
dedicated to learning this capability.
Image Source.

On its abbreviation, CBRNE Defense means protection of the military's personnel and a bulk of its manpower resources as well as the nation's defense against Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive threats that pose utmost harm to the overall security of the nation's sovereignty and the welfare of its citizens in which it hampers safety and order that requires the skills from these specialized units.

It is with these capabilities that an Armed Forces as well as with relevant uniformed services provide a portion of its pool of personnel by having a highly-dedicated unit designed to be trained thoroughly which is intended to fully acquire the skillsets required in getting this job as it goes different from what is expected of an ordinary trooper that carries a firearm and ammunition intended for combatting in a conventional warfare setting.

Such a capability is not only limited to the Armed Forces or the military but also applicable to other uniformed agencies such as the ones that work with the Firefighting capabilities such as the Philippine Bureau of Fire Protection or law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police where these agencies, under the Department of Interior and Local Government, may play the role in combatting and decontaminating areas that are highly contained with a harmful material.

So, the deployment of some special units that involve CBRNE defense capabilities means a lot especially if a nation falls under attack that involves things that are in the abbreviation which obtains an intention from a foreign adversary especially in the case of nuclear fallout or others which needs to be mitigated for the safety of the people.

While such defense is meant for mitigating malicious attacks through those nasty things that put the public into harm, they are also not limited to other national security matters such as a worldwide pandemic in which their services are badly needed alongside those of frontline medical workers that also risked lives to contain this massive threat against humanity.

The CBRNE Vehicles of the Philippine National Police.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The importance of having CBRNE Defense Capabilities especially in a national crisis involving a pandemic such as the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 is shown wherein units in the Armed Forces coming from different service branches - Navy, Air Force, and the Army have recently created standards and also precompose a Training and Readiness Manual for this capability.

It is worth knowing that in those recent developments about the CBRN capabilities through the creation of standards and the week-long training of CBRN instructors in the Service Support Training School of the Philippine Army that followed (24-28 February 2020), this all-new level of interoperability between different CBRN units spanning the three branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is something that definitely went essential as time goes on.

Take note that such capability is also being beefed up further through the AFP Medical Service and the Armed Forces Munition Control Center wherein they help provide participants of that event enhance their skillsets further in deterring any threats that may come through the abbreviations aforementioned as well as increasing the numbers of proficient personnel or CBRN professionals that will help that capability of the Armed Forces on taking decontamination tasks such as the case of the Philippine Army where it deployed its elite CBRN unit to address the threat of the pandemic.

The roles that the CBRN defense units taking in the light of the coronavirus threat is on the disinfection and quarantine of military personnel manning the checkpoints as these measures ensure that the health of the front-liners is safeguarded as well as getting the job of implementing the Luzon-wide lockdown ongoing as an effort to extinguish this threat.

The measures provided only show the ever-increasing importance of CBRN defense capabilities not only in an event of an actual chemical, biological and nuclear attack but also on a worldwide-scale pandemic such as the Coronavirus threat as they keep on ensuring the lives of their fellow troops as well as others in a drive that will help the country back on track and its citizens returning on their normal lives once again.

Philippine Army CBRN
Personnel from the Philippine Army using Personal Protective Equipment
or PPEs for CBRN Defense as they cope up against the COVID-19
Image Source.

As the duration period for enhanced community quarantine lengthens and the cases, along with the casualties getting an increase, so does the gravity of the situation where the roles of CBRN units like those of the Philippine Army seen above gets more and more significant as they help on the role of decontaminating areas and frontline personnel from this disease.

To take note, the Philippine Army should be celebrating its 123rd founding anniversary where if not for the pandemic, such an important event may go push through. Nevertheless, their duties and responsibilities before the nation outweigh more as their works provide that significance on their organization's founding as they are for the defense of the nation, from threats visible and invisible.

In its entirety, the CBRN defense capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, along with its Health Service Command is something that is showing its ideal use these days as they help hand-in-hand in mitigating the spread of the pandemic, something that may help these specialized units provide support and enhance further their skillsets and capabilities to be further prepared along the way shall another case of a public health crisis such as the current coronavirus pandemic may take place in the future.

It is in this way that the military contributes more to the crisis as they get on coordinating with other relevant agencies such as the Department of Health along with its medical personnel wherein they go hand in hand as they risk their lives doing their job on the frontlines especially at these times in need.

Hence, it will be a nice thing to see the unit improved along the way as the crisis may shed some light in providing real-life lessons that is something to be applied in the future, to have a public health situation mitigated at the earliest time possible without any potential disruptions to the citizen's everyday life as what is currently happening today with the lockdowns and extensive quarantines per se.

Defense from Explosives and Counterrorist efforts are
also part of the skillset CBRNE units obtain.

At these times, the role of the personnel working under the specialized CBRNE units of both the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as other uniformed agencies like the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection is getting prominent day by day as the pandemic progresses.

It is here that such a role highlights the needs along with the jobs of other units of the Armed Forces and other uniformed agencies as well as the works of the frontline health workers as they go hand in hand that is to mitigate the threats of spreading the coronavirus disease among the citizenry.

It is worth to see that more improvements may come along the way with the units along with their existing capabilities to get more specialties in their dedicated duties and responsibilities which may come more helpful in case another CBRNE-related crisis arise, as such threats may quickly be mitigated along the way which decreases the likelihood of inflicting casualties and harm against the citizenry and their normal way of living.

Having a dedicated unit such as the one for CBRNE defense also connotes having a specialized form of equipment at hand such as personal protective equipment or PPEs in which the Armed Forces employed for their protection in the frontlines, coming in the hopes that it may go covered health personnel as well.

These things being said, the current public health crisis is something that may provide that needed learning experience wherein in sacrifices made comes with all of the ideas and lessons that are worth to bring along the way on their improvement of these skillsets as their duties and responsibilities are in itself the frontline in combatting any upcoming invisible threats on the way and in assuring public safety with minor collateral damage if not a negative one.




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