Navy should have been strongest of all military services: defense chief

The Philippine Navy (PN) should have been always the strongest service in the the military. This was stressed by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on his speech welcoming the arrival of the PN contingent on the just-concluded “Rim of the Pacific” (RIMPAC) exercises in Hawaii at Pier 13, South Harbor Manila, Monday.

Lorenzana is basing his pronouncements on the theories expounded by American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan on his book, “The Influence of Seapower Upon History, 1660-1783”.

The defense chief said he learned these concepts when he was still a cadet at the Philippine Military Academy.

One of the lessons espoused by Mahan is that national greatness was associated with the sea, with its commercial use in peace and its control during wartime.

“I have always believed that the Philippines being an island nation should have a good Navy, a credible Navy, in fact looking back through our history, since we became independent, the strongest armed services in the Armed Forces (should) be the Philippine Navy because our country is an island nation,” he added.

Only neglect and the military’s heavy involvement in counter-insurgency campaigns and other land security problems have prevented the PN from gaining its proper niche.

Lorenzana added that it is only in the past few years that proper attention has been given to the upgrading of the Navy as attested by its first ever deployment of ships, personnel and even a naval helicopter in the biennial RIMPAC exercises.

“Let me congratulate our sailors and marines for their successful participation in this year’s RIMPAC 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii, this is truly an important milesstone not only for our Navy but also for our entire defense department, this is the first time that we sent a naval contingent to join other Navies,” the DND chief added.

The PN deployed the strategic sealift vessel BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), an AgustaWestland naval helicopter and around 700 sailors and marines for the exercises which started June 27 and ended on Aug. 2.

Lorenzana also expressed hope that the PN will be invited again for the next RIMPAC as the latter is a good exposure and training for the naval personnel.

“We were talking a while ago and since this is a very good exposure for our defense people, not only the Navy and marines, but maybe we could also send some Army Special Forces (troop) to participate and also some of our Air Force Special Operations Wing (personnel), and maybe next time around we can also send more ships, maybe three ships altogether,” he added.

The DND chief also emphasized that the PN’s participation in RIMPAC signifies a new era in its maritime operational engagement, cooperation and interoperability with other Navies allowing it to tackle areas of areas of common concern.

“Indeed as we face growing maritime security challenges around the world, there is a need for Navies to work together to increase familiarity and exchange best practices, we also have this trilateral exercises, naval patrols with Indonesia and Malaysia, not only maritime patrol but also aerial patrol, so maybe we could also go into naval exercises with them in the future, something that we should discuss with my counterpart(s),” he added.

“By participating in joint multi-lateral maritime exercises our sailors and marines are exposed to new ideas and ways of handling things which can be used to enhance our own systems and doctrines, it’s also a good chance for our personnel to experience planning and execution of combined naval operations as well as establish the Navy’s capacity for prolonged operations over seas, our way forward is therefore clear,” Lorenzana stressed.

In line with this, the DND chief said efforts will continue in acquiring more assets for the PN to make it stronger and credible and something that the Philippines, as a maritime nation, can be proud of.