What does the Philippines really bring to the table?

As Duterte plays the US against China, and even Russia in a Cold War-style diplomatic gambit not unlike what Yugoslavia, Egypt did with the West and the USSR, it is important to ask:

What does the Philippines REALLY brings to the table?

A failure to assess our relative value to either side could very well result in overplaying our hand. Discuss this on the forum here: http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=527.0.


Service bulletin: Difficulty creating tables on the forum

I used to be able to create tables with blank cells so that I could make my tables look better. The tables I’ve already created still retain their formats. But whenever I create new table, these blank cells are automatically deleted. For this reason, I’ve had to put the PLA-Navy list on hold.

This is apparently a bug in version 2.0.12 of the SMF forum software. This bug is discussed here.

PAF spending P67.96M on C295 spares

The Philippine Air Force currently has three separate bid invitations to supply spares for its CASA C295 cargo aircraft with a combined value of P67.96M. The Pre-Bid Conference for all three invites are set for November 2, 2016 at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room in Villamor Air Force Base. Bids will be opened on the 15th.

The PAF has three C295s in its inventory, all of which were delivered in 2015.  The first aircraft was delivered on March 30, 2015, while the second aircraft arrived on September 15, 2015, and the third arrived on December 11, 2015.

All three bids are being monitored on the DefensePH.net forum here.


Managing our allies’ perceptions

US-PH relations are at interesting point. Thrust into the equivalent of overdue adolescence, with all the uncertainty and discomfort that brings. As the incoming Ambassador and Malacanang chart a course through the “unknown”, they will invariably encounter American voices that embody the frame of mind that Duterte professes to oppose. Those who would believe that our past receipt of aid means that we are something to be “owned”. Like the one below. 

“America is a curious great power. It cowers before international lightweights, begging the least significant nations to let it defend them. Such as the Philippines,” he said in his opinioin piece.

“United States credibility suffers when a nation long subsidized and defended by America shows such ostentatious disrespect. The Philippine president shouldn’t be treated like a co-equal and ally if he doesn’t behave like one,” Bandow added. “Rather, Manila expects Washington’s protection even though the archipelago matters little for the United States.”

If we are an ally to be trusted . . . to be respected . . . we not only must be able to demonstrate that we are willing to fund our own defense but that application of that defensive capability will only be in accordance the Philippine national interest of the Philippines and its obligations as a responsible member of the international community.
Interested in discussing this further? See here.

Now, more than ever, the country needs a mature debate platform

The vitriol on the FB extension reached a crescendo with one troll who was peppering a thread with meaningless one-liners. He left one parting shot before his posting privileges revoked, which I decided to leverage as a way to remind folks why we’re really all here.


Reproducing the response here:


You are right about one thing Ronald, this group is messed up. But it is actually messed up because of people who argue the way you do. With zealotish-oneliners that do not contribute to knowledge or understanding. This group was not setup to support just one view. It was meant to foster EDUCATED and MATURE debate. That mean LEVEL-HEADED discussions that don’t let emotion overwhelm reason. What is sending this group to hell is not the current political situation. It’s because many group members have come to assume that anyone who doesn’t share their view is somehow less intelligent or less patriotic. People of equal cranial capacity can disagree people. There are “tards” on BOTH sides of the argument. You don’t become smart just for spouting a view or taking a side. It’s how you arrive at that view that makes that determination.

Want to comment on this post? See here.

“Sea denial” vs “Sea Control”

Thanks to a position paper published by Congressman Roilo Golez, the term “area denial” has entered mainstream Philippine social media discussions about tensions with China and territorial threats in the West Philippine Sea. But what exactly is “Sea Denial”? To fully appreciate that mission, one must also understand the super-set mission: “Sea Control”.

The following quotations provide an easy-to-follow layman’s guide to understanding these two concepts.

From an online excerpt of the book The Influence of Sea Power on History: 1600-1783, Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1896 by Mahan, A. T. comes the following concise distinction between control and denial

Sea denial. Sea denial, or commerce-destroying, provides a means for harrying and tiring an enemy. It may be a means to avoid losing a war. It may cause “great individual injury and discontent”. But by itself, a sea denial strategy is not a war-winning one. Nor is it a particularly deterring strategy.

Sea Control. Sea control means, fundamentally, the ability to carry your, and your allies’, commerce across the seas and to provide the means to project force upon a hostile, distant shore. A sea controller must limit the sea denial capabilities of the enemy. To quote the Prophet again, “… when a question arises of control over distant regions, … it must ultimately be decided by naval power, …, which represents the communications that form so prominent a feature in all strategy.”

Between the two strategies, sea denial remains the lowest hanging fruit. Expensive capital ships are principal means of exercising Sea Control and is therefore often beyond the resources of most maritime nations. Even China initially started with this strategy as related by Hugh White, a professor of strategic studies at ANU. The paper not only points out China’s approach, but affirms the limitations of this strategy as explained above by Mahan

The Chinese have long understood that America’s sea control in the western Pacific has been the military foundation of its strategic primacy in Asia, and that the US Navy’s carriers are the key. They have therefore focused the formidable expansion of their naval and air forces over the past 20 years on trying to deprive the US of sea control by developing their capacity to sink American carriers. In this they appear to have been strikingly successful, to the point that US military leaders now acknowledge that their sea control in the western Pacific is slipping away.

But for China, depriving America of sea control is not the same as acquiring it themselves. Its naval strategy has focused on the much more limited aim that strategists call ”sea denial”: the ability to attack an adversary’s ships without being able to stop them attacking yours. These days, sea denial can be achieved without putting ships to sea, because land-based aircraft, long-range missiles and submarines can sink ships much more cost-effectively than other ships can. This is what China has done.

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The central fact of modern naval warfare – which the Chinese grasp as well as anyone – is that sea denial is relatively easy to achieve, but control is extremely hard. We seem to be entering an era in which many countries can achieve sea denial where it matters to them most, but none can achieve sea control against any serious adversary.

The key take away from White’s thesis is the multi-dimensional nature of the strategy. To enable its own sea denial capability, the AFP needs to make investments in the airborne, maritime, and land-based systems listed above. The Philippine Navy currently has an ongoing acquisition project for brand new Frigates with explicit, albeit limited, Anti-Air, Anti-Surface, and Anti-Submarine Warfare capability. The Philippine Army is moving ahead with studies to acquire land-based Anti-Ship Missile systems. The Philippine Air Force is pursuing a variety of patrol and surface attack aircraft projects. All these efforts, as of writing, remain works-in-progress and their successful and timely completion is hardly assured.

While it is very unlikely that the Philippines will ever be able to make significant headway into sea control on its own, a sea-denial build-up will still put it in a better position to keep cadence with its allies. A coalition of countries with individual sea denial capabilities can approach sea control capability more effectively together than they could alone. A concerted effort to deploy sea-control-compatible assets, would also demonstrate the Philippines’ willingness to participate in an allied effort at sea control and establish its status as a reliable partner in such an allied effort, even if such assets can only maintain a tenuous presence in our EEZ when viewed in isolation.

To comment or discuss this article, see the following thread on the main forum: Sea Control vs Sea Denial.