Losing battle*

WE tackled in a previous column the possible scenarios that could happen if war broke out between the Philippines and the all-powerful China which a lot of people believe we would naturally lose without the help of foreign allies.

Since anything could happen at any given time, the question in the minds of some people is that how would the country’s armed forces fare if pitted against a much smaller and less powerful nation like Vietnam in a battle without assistance from an ally or nuclear intervention?

A current military specialist at the United Nations Space Command revealed that Vietnam has 500,000 personnel, 64 T-90S, 200 T-62, 1,000 upgraded T-55, 500 BMP-2, 500 M113 APC and dozens of Mi-24 attack helicopters. Sad to admit, the Philippines pales in comparison with only 164,000 personnel, no tanks, and 114 M113 APC. We could not possibly match the Vietnamese in terms of equipment in a land battle.

Would things be different if the confrontation were at sea? Vietnam has four Gepard Class Frigate (Kh-35, 130-kilometer range), six Kilo Class Submarine (Klub-S, 200-km range), and 14 Corvettes while the Philippines has three Gregorio del Pilar Class (OTO Melara gun, 16-km range), 10 Corvettes and nothing more.

It is quite apparent in this situation that Vietnam would still dictate the outcome of the confrontation since the ships of the Philippines would obviously be defenseless. Our country would lose its sea territory in no time.

If the conflict were set in the air, Vietnam brags of its 40 SU-30 and 12 SU-27 while the Philippines has 12 FA-50 and clearly nothing to boast of. With her superiority and firepower, Vietnam could possibly control our air space as well.

The Vietnamese Army, Marines, and Air Force could assist one another in launching attacks on our small and less populated islands. It is an undeniable fact that they are stronger than their Philippine counterpart in all aspects. It would be a losing battle for the Philippine military.

However, an assault on the island of Luzon could prove to be unwise and detrimental to the invading force. Vietnam’s economy and military industry are still weak and would make it impossible for her to launch an invasion.

Nevertheless, it is in the Philippines’ best interest to maintain friendly ties with her neighbors while speaking up to protect her territorial rights.

No matter which administration, the government should also be consistent in its policy to modernize the military and ensure that a big chunk of the defense budget does not end up in the pockets of the corrupt.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View.


*The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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