The Philippine Embassy welcomed on September 25 the 23-member Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Command and General Staff College Class 62 (CGSC62) led by Major General Herminigildo Francisco Aquino, PA, Commander of the newly-established AFP Education, Training and Doctrine Command.
The class composed of middle-ranking officers of the AFP’s three major service commands, the Army, Air Force and Navy, were briefed on the Embassy’s functions and Philippine-German relations, focusing on the two countries’ defense-related engagements and potential areas of cooperation.
In her welcome remarks, Ambassador Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek said that the Embassy continues to support existing bilateral defense cooperation, while at the same time exploring untapped opportunities.
Twenty-nine AFP officers have completed staff courses at the German Armed Forces Command and Staff College (Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr) in Hamburg since the two countries signed an administrative agreement in 1974. Two other officers have recently started their courses, and the Philippine Department of National Defense expressed its intention to avail of two slots in 2019.
The Command and General Staff Course prepares AFP officers for higher responsibilities and its completion is a requirement for promotion to the rank of colonel (equivalent to captain in the Navy).
Philippine Security Situation
The visit also provided the AFP with the opportunity to brief Embassy personnel on the current security situation in the Philippines, particularly on the crisis in Marawi City, as well as recent developments in the Government’s peace processes with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and communist insurgents.
Women in the Military
Lt. Col. Ann Marie Acot, PAF, who is also a licensed doctor, shared information on the role of women in the military, a traditionally male-dominated institution, and the efforts being undertaken by the AFP in terms of gender and development.
She noted that around 11,000 of the AFP’s 120,000-strong force are women. The number includes 1,812 female officers. She mentioned notable personalities like B/Gen. Ramona P. Go (ret.), the first female general in the Philippine Army; Col. Maxima O. Ignacio, the first female pilot; and Lt. Col. Leah Lorenzo-Santiago, Philippine Military Academy Batch 1997 summa cum laude.
Female AFP personnel have also been deployed as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti in 2015, and more recently, an all-female company was sent to Marawi City to assist in the Government’s rehabilitation efforts and extend help to civilians.
The activities during CGSC62’s week-long visit to Germany include briefings at various German government agencies and military units, and visits to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea and Airbus industries, a major manufacturer of both helicopters and fixed-wing military aircraft.