Category Archives: Army

AFP was a user of Chinese equipment long before Duterte

The 48th anniversary of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing, on the 13th of September, 2016, gave President Duterte’s critics yet another treasure-trove of “Duterteisms” that have since become fodder for punditry on defense social media and even generated international interest in Philippine foreign policy. In this latest episode, Duterte stated, among other controversial assertions, his openness towards equipment AFP equipment from China and Russia.

While its worth noting that in a separate speech in Cebu, President Duterte also mentioned interest in sourcing equipment from Israel, indicating a policy of broadened equipment sourcing beyond traditional sources, critics — and numerous media articles — focused on the “China” aspect of the discussion.

The prospect of Chinese weapons complicating the AFP’s logistics picture with equipment that are incompatible with the existing Western-oriented support infrastructure is cause for legitimate concern. Should Sino-PH tension escalate, Chinese equipment could very well be subjected to a spare-parts embargo. Other than being part of an “unconventional warfare” operation, use of a potential opponent’s weapons also introduces operational security (OPSEC) risks because the opposing force knows as much about weapon’s capabilities as the user — if not more so.

These risks however, arguably, are not lost upon AFP planners, and the chain of command. Sourcing equipment from China is not, in fact, new and have hitherto been restricted to non-kinetic equipment. It is actually very likely that all we will see will simply be more of the same.

The following Philippine Star article from May 27, 2007 relates one instance where the PRC offered assistance to the AFP:

DND seeks more military aid from China
Updated May 29, 2007 – 12:00am

The Department of National Defense (DND) has called for sustained defense and training exchanges with China, including military aid, following a security cooperation dialogue between the two countries last week.

Defense Undersecretary Antonio Santos relayed this message to Lt. Gen. Zhang Qinsheng, deputy chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, who led the Chinese delegation to the 3rd Annual RP-China security cooperation conference at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City Friday.
. . .
On top of allowing Filipino troops to undergo military schooling in Beijing, the Chinese government donated heavy military engineering and medical equipment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines last year. – Jaime Laude

An article on the same story presented the following photograph of the donation of PY165H graders and unidentified bulldozers.


Since then, these Chinese donated engineering equipment have been seen in the colors of all AFP services. Photographs are care of various Timawans.

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Philippine Navy Philippine Air Force Philippine Army

Exactly what Chinese equipment Duterte is prepared to acquire for the AFP is unclear. What is certain, however, is that the potential equipment that can be had from China is as broad as its manufacturing base. Such equipment need not even be military in nature.


Why 5.56mm sniping rifles for the AFP?

On August 21, 2006 the Timawa forum saw a discussion between a Philippine Marine Colonel (MBLT6) and a Singaporean Army Major (Shingen) about sniper rifles an engagement distances in the the Philippine setting. The end result was a glowing response from Shingen as follows:

This is one of the best post, or not the best post i have seen so far in this forum. Thank you so much for clarifiying things, all your examples are very clear and informative, especially no. 3. Would add this to my scrapbook and use it as material if required back camp.

This accolade elevated this discussion to a “reference thread” which moderators took special care in keeping troll free.

10872891_714195705362405_2481804744076689959_o-1 barret
Marine Scout Sniper Rifle (5.56mm) Barret (12.7mm / .50 cal)

In an effort to preserve this discussion from database crashes and similar incidents, this section the following thread has been replicated here:

First, lets define terms. The term primary sniper rifle refers to primary range. Our (Marine Corps) doctrine requires three types of sniper rifles ie., primary range (max 600m for company level) , intermediate range ( 800m max and a Bn organic) and long range (1000m and a Brigade organic). We practice combined arms concepts which means higher units may attach thier organic units to subordinates in order to tailor fit their capabilities to the environment they are operating in and the threats they are facing. secondly, the term sniper rifle does not dictate on the caliber. Its defined as a rifle with a scope accurized with high quality parts (match grade) and uses match grade ammunition. The 5.56mm round in the MSSR qualifies per our doctrines and international definition.

Why have 3 types of sniper rifles? Based on our experience in battling communist, muslim seperatist and military adventurism for 30+ years in different terrains in the Philippines. We had learned that under different sniping conditions the characteristics of a type of sniper rifle has its pros and cons.

Example 1. a sniper stalks his prey that requires moving at the least observation by the enemy the reason he has to be a master of camoflauge to avoid detection. It will be diffucult to crawl with a cal 50 barret. The MSSR will be a favorite in this conditions.

Example 2: The MSSR or primary range rifle is the king of 600m engagements simply due to lesser recoil. It accounted most of the kills in our year 2000 campaign in central mindanao. Why? against multiple targets and follow through shot in case of a miss nothing beats the 5.56mm round. the lesser recoil ensures target acquisition after recoil. We tested this with the equally accurisided M-21 7.62mm. each equally skilled sniper were required to shoot 6 poppers each and armed with the M21 and MSSR at 400m. The MSSR finished his 6th popper while the other was just starting to aim for his 3rd – FOV issues due to recoil i’m sure you know. Example 3: the cal 50 barret has the needed characteristics for longer range simply because of of its heavier 750 grain bullet which is less prone to that devil wind that all snipers fear. The MSSR cannot compete with this at longer range. But at shorter ranges below 600m the barret has distinct disadvantages. It has a louder sound report, flash and concussion (leaves/bushes moves) allowing easier detection and wow expect counter fire from the enemy. A sniper always ensures he is not detected please don’t do this in engaging the enemy with highly trained countersnipers. The barret is best in engagements at 1000m+ in a jungle environment if you can find one. the rule is more max at 400m. The MSSR has a an almost negligble flash an sound report. The 24 inch barrel has its advantages it ensures the total burning of the propellant before the bullet exits the muzzle hence lesser flash as well as higher velocity means lesser leads in moving targets – the 5.56mm round does have at least 250+ fps higher speed the the 7.62mm and cla 50 round – right?. longer barrels adds more velocity and having more range and lethality. and of course lesser concussion and sound report compared to the 7.62 and cal.50 round. the MSSR was adopted by us in 1996 and copied by the IDF and US in 2000 you are more than welcome to learn from our experiences.

I really had the same perceptions in my youth when I was a Lt 24 yrs ago. The macho 7.62mm or even the cal 30 (7.62mm x 54) M-1 garand round were superior in all aspects. But my experience change that with advancements in weapons technology as well as my combat and competition experience. I was amazed with the results of our 2000 year campaign as well as the success of the M-16 in the Service Rifle Competitions in Camp Perry,Ohio which since 1996 it had dominated the championships beating the favorites as the M-1A1 and military versions M-14 rifles. We in the Marine Corps have the only existing sniper school in the Philippines since 1967. We load our own match ammo for 5.56mm and 7.62mm in 69 grain Sierra BTHP match, 75 grain Hornady and 168 grain Sierra in 7.62mm BTHP match as well as subsonic rounds for both calibers for use in our Night Fighting Weapon System. Don’t know if there are existing sniper schools in other in southeast asian countries. And please no more lethality issues – shot placement at 600m is not an issue for the MSSR our snipers are trained to hit head shots at 600m and even a cal .22LR at shorter distances can ensure that kill. I’ve seen that – we operate in the most volatile region in Southeast Asia.



How are “special units” in the AFP different from each other?

At one point or another, military enthusiasts ask this question. Typically in relation to discussions that dwell on the ascendancy of one special unit versus another. “Who is more elite?” When faced with such queries, professional often point out there each special unit is trained for a specific task and require individuals suited for such tasks. That does not inherently make them better than anyone else.

To put things in perspective, the author put together the following summary to differentiate between the units that were frequently the object of the “Who is the most badass?” inquiry. Pros on the forum reviewed this summary favorably, and has since been treated as a reference thread.

Special Forces – force multipliers; unconventional warfare experts as MikeLogics pointed out. Their job is to win over the local populace to the government’s side and to organize/lead them against the enemies of the state. This is the reason why CAFGU organization was originally their domain (and remains so to a certain extent). Their arsenal is not limited to their weapons, but include their smiles and personality. (There’s a reason why a lot of times they’re the ones manning the exhibits during Philippine Army day)

Based on the “A” in their acronym [SFRA], they have a thing about jumping out of aircraft that are working just fine.

Scout Rangers – tip of the spear. COIN is about offering the choice between the carrot and the stick. The rangers are the stick. Whereas SF and SOT teams mingle with the population, Rangers avoid contact to keep the enemy guessing about their whereabouts. (This, according to Victor Corpuz, is the reason why Ranger-only operations don’t work — you need an SF/SOT component)

Force Recon – vanguard of the MBLTs. The PMC reportedly doesn’t really consider Force Recon an elite unit. Since PMC doctrine emphasizes combined arms tactics, all units are part of a whole and just have different jobs. Force Recon’s job is harder than of other units since they’re the ones who are supposed to find / make first contact with the enemy, and consequently fire the first shots.

NAVSOG/SWAG – just add water. When you need an offensive punch from the sea, short of a full-scale amphib operation, these guys are it. (No idea if there are any doctrinal limits to how far in-land they can be used). Armed seaborne operations, such as underwater demolition and hostile-boat boarding are part of the menu.

Light Armored Division gets P20.4M to revitalize vehicles

The Philippine Army Light Armored Division is applying P20.4M to acquire spare parts for its armored vehicles. Whether or not these spares will be used to revive vehicles that were in storage, or will be used on already-operational vehicles, is currently unclear.

The PA Bids and Awards Committee initiated the following projects in the closing week of July:

Project   Reference number   Publish date   Authorized Budget for Contract
Supply and Delivery of Brand New Spare Parts for APC/AIFV PABAC 022-11 July 20, 2012 P10,588,900.00
Supply and Delivery of Brand New Spare Parts for CVR (T) Scorpion PABAC 024-12 July 24, 2012 P4,773,750.00
Supply and Delivery of 18 pcs Transmission Assembly for APCM 113 PABAC 023-12 July 24, 2012 P5,040,000.00
TOTAL           20,402,650.00 discussion on this topic can be found here