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Only a “New” Philippines Will Be Able to Defend Itself Against China

n September 3rd China paraded its latest military hardware for the entire world to see as it commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

On parade: Chinese soldiers carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers

China’s military posture has significantly increased under President Xi Jinping as its armed forces budget has grown by at least 10% every year for the past decade. China is now second only to the United States in military spending. It also has the largest standing army of any nation (2.3 million men and women in uniform).

Notable new Chinese weapons systems are: The DF-21D, an intermediate-range, anti-ship ballistic missile which is said to be capable of sinking an American aircraft carrier with just a single hit; a modified DF-16 ballistic missile with extended range capable of reaching the island of Guam; an upgraded version of the H-6K bomber that can launch DH-20 land-attack cruise missiles—a lethal combination that could project Chinese firepower all the way to Australia. And these are but a handful of powerful new weapons in China’s growing arsenal.

Make no mistake; China’s military buildup is intended to completely overwhelm any adversary that stands in its way. At present it is only the U.S. that can stand up to China and beat it militarily—but that may not always be the case. Even today, some experts believe that China’s military prowess is already capable of overwhelming a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier battle group, a feat that was once considered extremely difficult, if not impossible.

So where do the Philippines and the Filipinos stand in all this. To any freedom-loving, nationalistic Pinoy, the answer is as clear as black and white: China is the dark evil force out to conquer everything it can get its hands on. It has already taken thru cunning and deceit Philippine shoals and reefs in the West Philippine Sea. And it threatens to take even more Philippine possessions in that area.

The U.S. Navy has maintained a significant presence in the Pacific in order to keep peace in the region. And for seven decades, trade has flourished and peace has reigned. But China’s rise is changing all that. The world might once again be entering an era where force and not the rule of law is the norm. And the Philippines must adapt to the changing times. For so long Filipinos had neglected their military, believing it would never be needed. We had a mutual defense treaty with the United States—the most powerful country in the world, so we thought we were untouchable.

But the U.S. today is not the uber power it once was. And China is making sure it not just attains military parity with the U.S. but surpasses it in the near future.

So what must the Philippines Do?

For starters we need to “grow up” fast! The idea of having someone else fight our battles for us is over. We need to start doing the “heavy lifting” ourselves. In order to do what needs to be done, we must begin changing our culture—from a fun-long, do nothing, irresponsible culture, to a disciplined, focused, take charge military culture (and to get the ball rolling, maybe the networks can help by removing all those gay and effeminate TV personalities that are everywhere on Philippine television today, they are the wrong role models for the youth).

Then institute a draft. All Filipinos, male and female, must serve two years in the military upon reaching 21 years of age. There should be no exceptions. We have an exploding population, so let’s turn it into an asset and put it to good use by significantly expanding our military.

Next require that the armed forces be recreated and redesigned in order to attract the country’s “best and the brightest” minds. A 21st century fighting force must be well versed in the sciences and technology, and equipped with the latest high-tech armaments. On parade: Chinese short and medium-range ballistic missilesRemake the Philippine armed forces so that the really smart, technically-inclined youth will see military service as a viable career path.

We also need to further improve our already close ties with the U.S. military. Share bases, share facilities. Give the U.S. what it needs to stay a step ahead of China. The Philippine’s strategic location can give the U.S. military the sites it needs to monitor Chinese movements as well as keep them in check. With closer ties coupled with our reengineered “smarter” military, we can ask the U.S. to provide us more sophisticated military hardware. The AFP needs submarines, 4th generation fighter jets, drones, and high-tech armaments—not just hand-me-down Coast Guard cutters.

If you think this is all a pipe dream, remember that China has now become an existential threat to the Filipino way of life as we know it. And as we note above, the U.S. is no longer the invincible superpower it once was. A recent Yahoo article quoted Rick Fischer, a long-time analyst of the Chinese military at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, as saying that "near-term Chinese capability has dire implications for the ability of the United States to fulfill [its] defense treaty obligations in Asia."

The U.S. will have difficulty going at it alone, so the bottom line is this: if the Philippines wants U.S. help, it needs to start helping the U.S. as well.

Final analysis: for the Philippines to survive it must change. The country has to become less like it is today and more like Israel—where all able-bodied citizens of a certain age are either serving in the military or are in the reserves. The country has to be on a constant military footing and take its national defense very, very seriously. Some may not like this change, others would certainly not be used to it, but the present situation calls for it, and so we must do it. Or the Philippines that we now call our own might one day be no more. Published 9/7/2015

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