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Organization and Training


Figure 10. Organization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), 1989

Source: Based on information from United States, Allied Army Training Study of the Republic of the Philippines, Fort Monroe, Virginia, 1989, 60.

The 1987 constitution mandates civilian control of the military and establishes the president as commander in chief of the armed forces. The president also heads the National Security Council, ostensibly the policy-making and advisory body for matters connected with national defense. President Aquino reestablished the council in 1986 through an executive order that provided for a National Security Council director to advise the president on national security matters and for a National Security Council Secretariat. The council itself is composed of the president and at least nine others: the vice president; the AFP chief of staff; National Security Council director; the executive secretary; and the secretaries of foreign affairs, national defense, interior and local government, justice, and labor and employment (called ministers before 1987). By the end of 1990, however, the National Security Council had only convened twice.

Much of the real authority for policy development appeared to reside with a smaller cabinet group that met more frequently. A cabinet Cluster for Political and Security Affairs, known as Cluster E, routinely advised the president on national security matters. Cluster E membership was more limited, but included key members of the National Security Council, such as its director and the secretaries of national defense, foreign affairs, justice, and finance.

Responsibility for national security was vested in the Department of National Defense. The principal functions of the department in 1991 were to defend the state against internal and external threats and, through the Philippine National Police, to maintain law and order. A broad interpretation of these roles historically has involved the department in national development tasks, including civic action, to address the causes for internal unrest. The secretary of national defense, by law a civilian, was charged with advising the president on defense matters and developing defense policy.

Authority over the AFP's four services was vested in the chief of staff, a general. The chief of staff exercised command through the General Headquarters, which was located with the Department of National Defense in Manila's Camp Aguinaldo. Immediately subordinate to him was the vice chief of staff, a lieutenant general, and the deputy chief of staff, a major general who was the military's chief administrator. The General Headquarters was staffed with a coordinating staff, J-1 through J-9, and a special staff. Coordinating staff officers included deputies for personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, plans, comptroller, civil-military operations, and education and training. Also subordinate to the chief of staff were the various specified and support commands and area unified commands (see fig. 10).

Throughout the country, the regionally based area unified commands exercised operational control over AFP units of all services deployed in their regions. AFP General Headquarters created six area commands in 1987 and 1988 by combining the thirteen regional unified commands that had been formed in 1983. Area command boundaries were defined by the country's numbered political regions (see fig. 9). Northern Luzon Command incorporated regions 1, 2 and 3; Southern Luzon Command encompassed region 4 (except Palawan) and region 5; Visayas Command covered the Visayan Islands in regions 6, 7, and 8; and Southern Command incorporated the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, regions 9 through 12. The AFP's Western Command was responsible for the province of Palawan (part of region 4) and for Philippine claims in the Spratly Islands. The sixth area command, the National Capital Region Command, had operational control over military units in metropolitan Manila. Area commanders directed counterinsurgency operations in their respective areas, but support functions--such as training and logistics--were left to the military support services and joint commands such as the AFP's Logistics Command and Training Command.

The armed forces maintained several military training institutions in 1991. Foremost among these was the Philippine Military Academy, founded in 1905 to train Filipino officers for the Philippine Constabulary. Located at Fort del Pilar, Baguio, the academy trained future officers of all four services. Male cadets between the ages of seventeen and twenty-three were selected through a highly competitive examination for a four-year course, patterned on the United States Military Academy, leading to a bachelor of science degree and an officer's commission. Attrition took a heavy toll. Only about 100 of the 400 cadets admitted each year completed the course. Graduates were given their choice of service within established quota limits, with preference given to those with the highest class standing. The Philippine Constabulary was most often a cadet's first choice, reflecting the potential for developing supplementary income and local influence that came with the job. Officers assigned to the navy and air force usually attended orientation courses before being assigned to their units.

Reserve officers were trained under the Citizen Military Training system, formerly known as the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Basic military training under this system was mandatory for all high school students. Male college students were required to take additional basic training and had the option of advanced training leading to a reserve officer's commission. A small number of Citizen Military Training graduates were integrated into the regular officer corps. Women were commissioned into the Women's Auxiliary Corps of one of the services following training at selected universities.

Officer Candidate School was a third source of commissions. Candidates were required to have a bachelor's degree and were accepted from the enlisted ranks and the civilian sector. In the late l980s, women were admitted with men to this one-year program taught at the AFP's Training Command at Camp Capinpin, near Manila, in Rizal Province.

Career training for officers was patterned after that in the United States. The AFP's Command and General Staff College prepared officers of all services for command, staff, and managerial positions normally assigned to field-grade officers. Only 25 percent of mid-grade officers were chosen to attend the eight-month cause at Fort Bonifacio in Manila. The National Defense College, also at Fort Bonifacio, was the military's senior education institution. A select group of senior officers and government officials attended a course given each year at the college and received master's degrees in national security administration. The curriculum was designed to provide the broad perspective necessary for national policy making.

Acknowledging systemic weaknesses, the AFP undertook several programs to upgrade training in the late 1980s. To improve management of the training system, training staffs were established in the AFP's General Headquarters and added to service and unified command staffs in 1988. The Training Command was organized at Camp Capinpin. In addition to conducting a variety of training for enlisted personnel, noncommissioned officers (NCOs), and officers, the Training Command was charged with developing instruction and standardizing common training among the services.

Data as of June 1991

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