US commits $300 million support for PHL’s intel capability

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced during the February 11 press conference at Malacañang that the United States government has committed to provide $300 million support to enhance Philippines’ intelligence gathering capabilities.

“We welcome the United States’ commitment in this particular matter in fighting terrorism. It only shows that our military alliance with the United States remains very strong,” he said.

This is after 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.

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.