Regular Class No. : 38
Class Year : 2003
Code No. : 1474
Author : SANTOS, HONORATO B
Title : An Assessment of PAF Special Operations Capabilities
Subjects : airforce ground forces
No. of copies : 3
Place of Publication : NDCP
Special operations have been part of military history since ancient times. It refers to unconventional techniques and unorthodox approaches used to address national or local security threats.
This study sought to determine the capabilities of the Philippine Air Force Special Forces thru the 710th Special Operations Wing (SPOW). Assess their adequacy and its implications to national security. Thereafter, recommend appropriate measures on possible upgrade to enhance the over-all capabilities of the Wing to effectively support AFP operational requirements in addressing prevailing and emerging securityÂ¡Vrelated threats. In doing so, this study had to answer the following specific research questions:
1. What AFP operations may require support from PAF special operations
2. What are the present special operations capabilities of the 710th SPOW, PAF and how
adequate are these to effectively support AFP operations on internal security and
perform its other mandates in terms of: organization, expertise, equipage, personnel
strength, special training, and funding?
3. What current developments and trends in security-related threats may require the
employment of special operations?
4. What possible measures can be recommended to enhance present capabilities and
effectiveness of the 710th SPOW, and thereby increase its contribution to the overall
effort of the AFP against threats to internal security?
5. What are the implications of present capabilities on national security?
The questionnaire survey was the primary research tool in determining the respondent perceptions on the problem. Likewise, informal interviews, documentary analysis, and direct observations research techniques were used to validate or supplement the findings in the questionnaire survey.
The findings of the study was arrived at as a result of the descriptive method used and reveal the following:
The AFP operations for internal security that require the employment of PAF special
forces as expressed by majority of respondents are: (i) K-9 bomb and drug detection;
(ii) Anti/counter terrorism; (iii) Explosives and ordnance disposal (EOD); (iv) Counter
highjacking; (v) Internal security operations (ISO); (vi) Combat search and rescue; and,
(vii) Reconnaissance missions. Other AFP operations requiring support and assistance
from PAF special forces are civil disturbance control (CDC) and disaster response.
There is strong consensus that the five (5) most in-demand capabilities of the PAF special
operations forces are: K-9 bomb and drug detection, EOD, anti/counter terrorism, ISO,
There is clear indication of adequacy in terms of expertise, special training and training
facilities, and number of competent personnel for the different capabilities of the Wing.
K-9 bomb detection is sufficient to cover Metro Manila and some key cities of the country,
while for drug detection it is not adequate. Furthermore, the Wing has no capability for K-
There is general consensus that the present organizational structure is adequate.
Majority of those surveyed and interviewed are in agreement that the Wing’s move, shoot,
and communicate capabilities, as well as personnel strength for ISO, doctrine, and access
to maps, photographs and other imageries are inadequate.
There is inadequacy in interoperability with the special operations units of other major
services as well as foreign counterparts.
There is a general consensus on the inadequacy of funding support for: equipage,
weapons and training ammunitions, acquisition of K-9s for tracking, veterinary supplies
and instruments, and facilities maintenance and improvement. However, funding seems
to be adequate for training to some extent.
The top preferences for possible capability upgrade for the Wing are: enhancing the
move, shoot and communicate capabilities; strengthening linkages with other major
branch of service; skills development; adoption of modern methods and technologies for
anti/counter terrorist operations; review, development, and documentation of doctrines
for PAF special operations; and, improvement of facilities.
There is a very strong awareness on the implications of present capabilities on national
security. In order for the Wing to contribute effectively to the implementation of the over-
all defense strategy, it must maintain high level of preparedness and capability.
Insufficiency in equipage could jeopardize the campaign against threats to national security. The cost to the government to sustain the war effort becomes bigger the longer it takes to resolve the armed conflicts. All the more this will deplete the government resources that should have been channeled to economic development. On the other hand, successful combat operations against the enemy could bring about people’s trust and confidence in the armed forces and enhance the political stability of the country. The Wing undertakes socio-cultural integration by providing humanitarian assistance, entertainment, and participating in sports events in the locale. It also contributes to the preservation of ecological balance.
The findings highlight that with political stability and with strong and credible armed forces, other dimensions of national security will have a positive effect on the over-all condition of the country.
The study concludes that as the fight against insurgency continues and the threats from terrorism and natural calamities increase, the more the PAF special forces capabilities become relevant and are put to use and challenged, as they help neutralize these threats and cope with crises incidents. Much remains to be done to systematically develop and maintain the PAF special forces capability at adequate levels employable at all intensity levels of conflict nationwide, and during peacetime engagements as well. One that can proudly live up to its missions and functions and be perceived as such. This would require adequate and continuous funding support.
Based on the analysis of survey results and interviews conducted, the following recommendations are made:
A. Plan for a realistic and modest capability upgrade under the regular annual budget and
internally generated funds. The plan should give high priority on the following aspects:
equipage, weapons and ammunitions, mobility, K-9 acquisition, and training, proficiency,
and skills development.
B. Civil disturbance control (CDC) is basically a police function and should be implemented
exclusively by the Philippine National Police (PNP). In the meantime that there is still a
need to assist the PNP on this, implement the plan to transfer the CDC function of the
Wing to other units of the PAF. This way the Wing can concentrate its efforts and
human resources to address the increasing threats of international terrorism and other
security-related problems. This also adheres to the principle of right person for the right
job, since CDC does not require the skills or the special training peculiar to that of
special forces. Wing personnel involved in CDC could be re-assigned to the 740th
Combat Group or the 720th Special Operations Group to strengthen personnel
component for internal security operations (ISO).
C. Organize an Intelligence Flight under the 740th Combat Group, to enhance the Wing’s
intelligence collection and analysis capability.
D. Review, further develop, and fully document doctrines for PAF special operations. This
should detail the guidelines for every type of operation, whether combat or operations
other than war (OOTW), including proper utilization of the Wing’s personnel by host units
in deployment areas.
E. Plan for the conduct of joint military exercises to strengthen the inter-operability among
special forces of the AFP.
F. Look into the possibility of providing K-9 services for a fee to partly cover maintenance
expenses for these deployments.
G. Strengthen linkages with foreign special forces counterparts thru joint training exercises
especially on the increasing threats of international terrorism to national, regional and
H. Participation of special forces personnel in past and in the most recent (July 27, 2003)
Oakwood Makati mutiny Â¡V particularly the Army’s Scout Rangers and the Navy’s SWAG
highlight the need for the careful selection of officers who shall head the AFP special
forces units, and the men that will be assigned under them. The special training and
access to sophisticated equipage like explosive devices make special forces attractive
targets for recruitment and influence by unscrupulous groups or elements involved in
de-stabilization movements or other criminal activities.
Therefore, it is strongly recommended that special forces units be regularly monitored and made to undergo seminars that promote good moral values and strengthen their adherence to duly constituted authorities.