FILIPINO soldiers are poor marksmen, needing at least 5,000 bullets to kill one enemy, according to the highest ranking official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Catalino Pio Catapang on Thursday disclosed the sad truth after ceremonial distribution to soldiers of their new Remington M4 service rifles in Camp Aguinaldo, the military’s main headquarters in Quezon City.
“… there was a time when I was the G3 [operations and plans]of the 8th [Infantry] Division, we needed 5,000 rounds to kill one NPA [rebel]. Those were the days that we consumed a lot of bullets,” Catapang said, referring to the communist New People’s Army.
He explained that they arrived at the number by consolidating all encounters and then all the enemy casualties, and it came out that “you have to fire 5,000 rounds jut to kill one NPA [rebel].” Catapang said they did the computation between 1998 and 2000.
But with the new M4 rifles, the AFP chief expects the soldiers to improve their shooting competence to 1:500, or they will be needing only 500 bullets to kill one enemy.
Compared to the Vietnam-era M16 and M16 A-1 assault rifles, Catapang also explained that the M4 is a much better version and could be fired continuously.
“It can fire continuously but I don’t recommend [that the soldiers]fire it continuously, What I wanted, as I have said in my campaign [slogan], Kawal Disiplinado, Bawal Abosado, Dapat Asintado [Soldier Disciplined, No Abusive Soldier, He Must be a Sharpshooter],” he said.
Catapang also disclosed that President Benigno Aquino 3rd has personally test-fired the M4 and was very impressed by its performance.
The President, he said, advised him and other top AFP officials to take good care of the new rifles and ensure that the firearms are well-maintained.
Catapang pointed out that the acquisition of new rifles is consistent with the AFP’s drive at becoming a mission-capable armed forces, recalling that AFP last procured rifles in 1987. The procurement began in 1974.
“Since then, there was no major acquisition of rifles. The only addition [to the AFP rifle stock]came from the United States Excess Defense Articles Program [and the rifles were]acquired during the late 1990s,” he said.
“This Philippine Army-Philippine Marines Assault Rifles Acquisition Project is indeed very timely, considering the gravity of our troops’ responsibility. There is a need to match their skills with weaponries that suit the situation in the field, where government enemies are using modern armaments. Our armed forces must have advance weaponries too in order to address the enemies of the state,” Catapang added.
The Department of National Defense has purchased a total of 50, 629 M4 rifles from the US-based Remington Co. at a contract price of P1.9 billion.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the acquisition was part of the government’s Joint Philippine Army-Philippine Marine Corps Assault Rifles Acquisition Project.
He added that the approved budget for the contract was about P3.3 billion, thus generating a total savings for the government estimated at P1.2 billion, which the AFP will use for the procurement of additional rifles.
According to Zagala, the 5.56mm M4 rifle was made a priority to supplement and replace early models of M-16 and M-16A1 rifles, most of which date back to the Vietnam War and are in poor condition and need refurbishing or replacement.