AFP “archi­pe­la­gic defen­se” framed in US imperialist warfare

This article is available in PilipinoBisayaHiligaynonIloco

The waters of Mindoro in the West Philippine Sea became a virtual war zone on January 4-5 when the US launched a 2-day “maritime cooperative activity” in Cabra Island here, together with its puppet Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). While the activity was underway, two Chinese warships were on alert not far from the area. The activity opens 2024, the first of more than 500 wargames and other military operations which the US plan to launch in the Philippines, in partnership with its puppet Marcos Jr regime. This includes the massive Balikatan slated to be held at Mavulis Island in Batanes, just 140 kilometers off Taiwan’s southern coast.

Also in January, the AFP and the regime spoke of the “strategic shift” of the Philippines’ security plan from internal defense to external defense. The plan proposed by Gilbert Teodoro, secretary of the Department of National Defense, was called the “Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept”, which will allegedly “guarantee Filipino corporations, and foreigners permitted by the Philippines, to peacefully carry out exploration and exploitation in all natural resources within the exclusive economic zone (of the Philippines) and other areas within (its) jurisdiction.”

In fact, the “archipelagic defense” concept is neither new nor original. It was directly taken from the US military’s operational concept “Archipelagic Defense Strategy” which aims to “prevent Chinese aggression” in the Western Pacific Theater of Operations emphasizing on what it calls the “First Island Chain.” This “chain” of islands includes the Philippines. This places the country at the forefront of the imperialist war and a major target of China’s attack. (Refer to map).

The Archipelagic Defense Strategy operationalizes the anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) tactic with the goal of “neutralizing” the capabilities of the “enemy” (China), and “suppress” or “eliminate” its ability to launch “aggression” in the region. For this, the US is laying out a network of open and secret bases and facilities to host a system of radars and missiles and troops, and will serve as storage of weapons (including nuclear), various equipment, fuel and numerous other needs for launching warfare.

Filipino money

Part of the Archipelagic Defense strategy is for the US to require its “partners” in Asia, including Japan, Korea and the Philippines to finance the cost of provoking war. Teodoro even boasted that the reactionary state’s ₱2 trillion budget will finance the purchase of weapons, vehicles and other military equipment—all made by the US and its allies—to shape the “archipelagic defense” of Philippines.

Among those lined up to be purchased by the Philippines are the old but still very expensive US F-16 jet fighters, large ships to participate in “joint patrols” in the South China Sea and many other “big tickets” or large weapons which AFP generals have long been drooling over. These are included in the “Rehorizoned Capability Enhancement and Modernization Program” or ReHorizoned 3 of the AFP.

The pouring of funds not only serves the purpose of the US against China, but also to satiate the AFP which is now plagued by infighting and factionalism. In cooperation with the US, the Marcos regime uses the fund to secure the loyalty of generals. For this, Marcos assured that the state will allocate the fund for the next 10 years.

In December 2023, Marcos approved an increase in the AFP budget to $285 billion by 2024. Some analysts believe up to ₱110 billion to ₱115 billion will be allocated for the purchase of new weapons and servicing of old equipment overused or damaged by the AFP. This is four times larger than the annual ₱25 to ₱30 billion previously allocated by the Duterte regime for the program.

While the AFP and the Marcos regime play along in war provocations against China, it has yet to withdraw counterinsurgency troops which carry out a fascist rampage in the countryside.

AFP “archi­pe­la­gic defen­se” framed in US imperialist warfare