Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said that while it would take time and resources to deploy fully trained and equipped reserve units, their value to the nation is incalculable in times of crisis or disasters.
“Our concept will need resources for buildings and equipment but the payback would be great. We will have ready reserves who are on call anytime,” Lorenzana said in a text message to reporters Thursday.
And while the concept is still on the drawing board, he said his department is trying to reorganize reserve units in the country for re-equipping.
The defense chief, however, acknowledged that the bulk of the personnel of these units are “aging retirees from the Armed Forces of the Philippines”.
“We have not had any significant infusion of young blood ever since mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) was abolished in 2002,” Lorenzana said.
Earlier, he said there is nothing new with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s announcement that he is willing to arm ROTC graduates and other reservists should terrorism take a turn for the worse in the Philippines.
“Other countries do it, like Switzerland, Israel. They have a small standing armed force backed by a huge reserve force that continually trains with the active force,” he said.
Lorenzana noted that they are looking at the possibility of each region having a reserve unit, consisting of retired military officers and ROTC graduates with a core group of active duty officers and enlisted personnel.
“Their cadres (officers and enlisted personnel) will be active military. They will have their Regional HQ with armories where they will keep their individual firearms. They can use these firearms during training,” he said.
Should these formations be used in combat, peacekeeping and disaster response missions “will have official orders calling them for limited active duty, like we did with the Lanao del Norte Reserve Battalion during the Marawi Siege,” Lorenzana said. PNA