BREEDING MILITARY INCOMPETENCE WILL LEAD TO CARNAGEby Napanice (no login)
Lined up for a carnage
The mounting troop casualties in the effort to track down the bloodthirsty beheaders of 14 soldiers in the grim Tipo-Tipo encounter are becoming unsettling amid stories of bum equipment and logistics failure in the fighting grounds.
The soldiers sent to Sulu and elsewhere in the tip of Mindanao to hunt down the bandits apparently are a resolute force since it cannot be argued that part of the objective of the operations is to collect payback for their dead comrades.
It also cannot be argued that the soldiers we have are a courageous lot. Their failing, of course, is their norm of heeding in blind obedience orders given by their superiors and the political partisan but incompetent generals who live it up in luxury and comfort in their posh homes.
The problem is that most of these officers who have risen to the top did so not because of merit but because of their having pledged personal allegiance to their bogus Commander-in-Chief, and their continuous engagement in playing partisan politics.
The result of this is a military hierarchy that is composed of incompetent officers, many of whom have not had any field experience. This, is turn, creates a situation where orders that lead to the death of the soldiers are given by the incompetent superiors.
The troubling part is that these soldiers may be rushing blindly into battle with equipment and arms that fail to function when their lives are on the line.
Past failed mutinies by junior military officers were triggered by grievances about how soldiers are marginalized in the battlefield as a result of corruption in the military hierarchy.
While their generals live like kings out of percentages and kickbacks from military procurement, junior officers have complained of soldiers sent to battle with worn-out boots and limited bullet shells, which at times, do not fire and jam rifles.
Most of the troops killed recently were the result of ambushes by the bandits that point to poor intelligence support. Majority of the soldiers in Sulu are unfamiliar with the place and ranged against the bandits who know the terrain like the lines on the palm of their hands, the Marines were easy picking without efficient intelligence support.
Then theres that undeniable collusion among the armed groups including the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), one of whom has signed a peace accord while the other is in the process of negotiating a peace agreement with the government.
Gloria, for political considerations that come with the incessant prodding from former President Fidel Ramos, has been treating violations of peace commitments by both groups with kid gloves.
While an all-out war should certainly be treated as an extreme option, Gloria appears reluctant to bear hard on officials of these groups to honor their commitments.
The flip-flop in the policy of handling these groups, for instance, placed soldiers pursuing the captors of Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi in an uncertain and confusing position of who and who not to shoot.
The MILF defended its forces that attacked the soldiers in Tipo-Tipo as acting to protect its territory where the pursuing Marines happened to cross to get to the hostage-takers who are apparently being coddled by the MILF.
The whole situation was a mad mix of politics, banditry and poorly equipped and supported soldiers resulting in 14 Marines killed, with 10 of them decapitated.
Like anything else in governance, the quest for peace in Mindanao would require a resolute political leadership, one that would call a spade a spade but such quality can be obtained only with wide public support.
Gloria, who has completely lost touch with the populace, does not inspire a national empathy crucial for such massive deployment of forces in southern Philippines.
Throw in the dud equipment and an inefficient command post that cannot determine where the enemies and the Marines are in the field.
The overall sentiment now is that the Marines are being led to slaughter by Glorias generals in Sulu.
Gloria visiting soldiers wakes is becoming a regular image in newspapers and television.
A revolting feeling comes every time Gloria is shown commiserating with the relatives of the dead, knowing soldiers were sent ill-equipped into battle.
Marines have the distinction of being the few and the brave.
With Gloria and her generals in command, they become fewer still.
Posted on Aug 12, 2007, 7:35 AM
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