Philippines Army (photo : Army Recognition)
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) wants to reduce the number of infantry and marine battalions in the next few years as the military moves towards enhancing its territorial defense capability.
The restructuring program would channel resources to priority areas like boosting maritime security and territorial defense to enforce the country’s sovereign rights at the Kalayaan Island Group.
“Our territorial defense needs for this planning period will essentially be met by our forces that are engaged in internal security operations in priority regions and our units in non-priority regions,” the DND said in a planning guidance issued to the military.
Documents obtained by The STAR show that the Army infantry battalions would be reduced to 81 this year from 85 in 2011. The number of active duty battalions would be slashed gradually in the succeeding years until it reaches 54 in 2018.
The number of infantry brigade headquarters would be cut to 27 this year from 31 last year. It would be reduced further in the succeeding years until it reaches 18 in 2015.
On the other hand, the number of infantry divisions would be reduced to nine this year from 10 last year. The number of divisions would be down to six by 2015.
The DND plan, however, seeks to form two battalions for Rapid Deployment Forces by 2015. It also wants to create one infantry battalion for peacekeeping operations this year.
DND said the personnel and equipment from the units to be deactivated would be reapplied to other priorities like filling up the needs of remaining forces.
The marine battalions would also be reduced to 10 this year from 12 last year. Only nine marine battalions would be retained in 2013.
However, a marine battalion would be formed and would undergo retraining this year while another one would be created for peacekeeping tasks next year.
Even the military’s elite forces would be covered by the restructuring plan.
The four active duty combat groups would be reduced to two this year and would be deactivated in 2013.
On the other hand, the Special Operations Combat Support Group would be abolished in 2013. The DND plan, however, called for the creation of a ground-based air defense system group next year.
The DND has asked the military to submit a plan to ensure the smooth implementation of the restructuring program.
The DND planning guidance listed as the top resource priority the improvement of the country’s maritime security and territorial defense capabilities.
The DND also plans to streamline the armed forces’ civil-military operations (CMO) battalions, which conduct development projects in areas of conflict.
The 10 CMO battalions would be reduced gradually until these are abolished in 2017. The Armed Forces’ National Development Support Command, which works with private groups to provide basic services, would be scrapped this year.