Towards an Archipelagic Defense Doctrine for the Philippines
by Jose Rizal M. Reyes / poet-philosopher / December 13, 2014
(Reaction to the defense article written by Kyle Mizokami entitled “How I lost the Battle of the South China Sea”, posted by Bill Gabunia Debuque in an FB group)
That is why the Philippines should develop our very own Archipelagic Defense Doctrine (ADD), tailor-made to the peculiar situation and actual circumstances of our country. The ADD can serve not only as the organizing principle of our national defense but also as the organizing principle of our national transformation. Its basic principles and features are as follows.
* Avoid engaging a superior enemy in the open sea; fight as close to the shore as possible so that we can line up available firepower to the maximum.
* The primary thrust of our national defense should be to develop the capability to shoot down invading enemy planes and sink invading enemy ships. If they cannot approach our shores without being smashed, then the Philippines need not worry about a million enemy soldiers marching or thousands of enemy tanks rolling.
* Establishing a strong capability to defend our islands is the proper foundation for defending our territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. It is the assurance that our defense forces can adequately repulse intruders and invaders that will give us the courage and confidence in challenging violators of our marine backyard and front yard. If something goes wrong, our dutiful patrols can always head home, whereby the nearer they come to shore, the safer and stronger they would be.
* We should beef up our forces as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. This is no time to dilly dally nor scrimp on defense expenditures. We stand to lose much, much more both financially and non-financially if we fail to defend our territories from shoal grabbers and piecemeal invaders.
* Among our priorities should be the purchase, procurement or production of large numbers of fast attack boats, small combat ships and assorted missiles together with at least 50 units of fine fighter planes.
* While prioritizing some basic necessities, we should at the same time try to have a few of everything else. At the start, a little of everything is desirable — a few squadrons of warplanes, a few units of submarines, a little ASW capability, etc. — to give our defense planners and commanders flexibility and make enemy planning more complicated.
* Somewhere out there in some dusty military shelves or in the fevered mind of some unrecognized genius, there might be some small fancy floating objects or some small flying devices that could provide a cheap, numerous and effective antidote to intruding or invading naval and aerial forces. We should seriously entertain such proposals, ideas or products.
* We should also employ in a big way a Phantom Army of Decoys to protect our few and precious defense assets and spend out the enemy firepower. There are decoys that emit the signatures of real ships, planes and tanks. Fake radars and other defense items can protect the real ones. A large armada of fishing boats can be lent out to fishing cooperatives and in times of war, deployed all over the sea and near the shore to add confusion to the enemy. (The fishermen should go home and should not be made to pay for any damage).
* We should not deploy and operate in a conventional way. Guerrilla tactics and asymmetric warfare is the way to go. Our tactics and strategy should revolve around fast attack boats and small combat ships, not around our bigger vessels. Our bigger ships should act like supporting fire and confront enemy ships in case our smaller crafts do hit-and-run tactical operations and are chased by the enemy forces. To use soccer as analogy, our fast and small vessels are our forwards and midfielders; our bigger ships should be utilized as goalie and defenders. They should stay at the rear, behind islets and islands if advantageous, not in front where they would just hamper and slow down the operations of our smaller vessels.
* Our forces — land, air, sea, undersea and cyperspace — should always operate in coordination with each other. Duels between warships and between warplanes should be strictly prohibited unless unavoidable. We should always strive to gain local superiority and train all available guns at the approaching enemy.
* We should work closely with our formal and informal allies, strengthening and complementing each other. We should study seriously Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s idea or proposal concerning “collective defense”. At the same time, our country should prepare to fight by our lonesome, against that day when we will be attacked by a powerful foe and our allies would be busy deliberating whether to aid us or not. At the very least, we should be able to hold the defense line surrounding our major islands during the early stages of a conflict and give our allies enough time to help us for the sake of a common cause or to fulfill their treaty obligations.
* If the enemy deploys an aircraft carrier, sinking it should be the top priority. If that proves difficult or costly, our forces should adopt the alternative tactic of peeling off enemy units in the periphery until the enemy center becomes exposed and vulnerable. Hit and run tactic is the right mode of attack. Should they chase our fleeing attackers, our other forces at the rear and all over the surrounding areas should welcome pursuing enemy in the most cheerful and explosive way possible, like the way we welcome the New Year.