PHL military ‘relies heavily’on US to monitor ISIS-PHL: US report

United States Department of Defense (DoD), Department of State (DoS), US Agency for International Development (USAID) inspectors general, as Lead IG agencies, in their report to US Congress for fourth quarter 2018 on Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines (OPE-P) noted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) still relies heavily on US DoD and US contractors for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) against ISIS-Philippines.

“One of the primary objectives of OPE-P is to build the AFP’s capability to use ISR in operations against ISIS-P. USSOCPAC (US Special Operations Command Pacific) reported to the DoD OIG this quarter that the AFP had limited ability to collect information on a target and provide that intelligence to a unit on the ground to act on it,” the US agencies said in their report.

They said that the problem was caused by: “First, the AFP lacks ISR assets. Second, the AFP does not have a “Production, Exploitation, and Dissemination cell” capable of synthesizing ISR information and providing it to a decision-making entity. Third, the AFP suffers from an institutional problem, using its limited ISR assets for live tracking of active operations to “provide a semblance of battle tracking for friendly and suspected enemy elements” rather than strategic threat analysis.”

“USSOCPAC stated that because of these challenges, the AFP relies heavily on the DoD and its contractors’ ISR capabilities to identify the locations of suspected enemy activity and provide intelligence products for their use,” says in the report.

“USSOCPAC stated that this end-to-end capability would require the AFP-Joint Special Operations Group to have “a tactical level ISR platform, an established Aerial Reconnaissance Unit, a Joint Intelligence Component to assist with intelligence collaboration and analysis, and a fully functioning intelligence staff capable of providing actionable intelligence to the AFP-Joint Special Operations Group commander,” it added.

“USSOCPAC reported that it was working toward this goal by developing the AFP’s collection ability, unmanned aerial ISR operators, intelligence personnel, and coordination with AFP operations cells,” it noted.

“USSOCPAC stated that the AFP lacks the infrastructure necessary for its ground units to communicate effectively with ISR air controllers. In order to improve the AFP’s ISR equipment, USSOCPAC was providing an intelligence training package, “analyst notebook software,” multiple unmanned aerial vehicle systems, tactical command posts, and other equipment to increase command and control, situational awareness, and operational security. Additionally this quarter, the AFP worked toward obtaining cellular applications to enable ground units to obtain data directly from their own ISR assets, according to USSOCPAC.”