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Tuesday, March 31, 2020
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Building a credible air defense


I recently attended a briefing for the Strategic Readiness Test scheduled to be conducted by the Institute of Solidarity in Asia (ISA) for the Philippine Air Force (PAF). This is in line with the pursuit of the PAF for the institutionalization of a Performance Governance System. The PAF adopted the ISA framework as a pathway, to build a credible transformation plan to improve air power capabilities. These capabilities will be built within a system that instills integrity and transparency. The strategic plans of the PAF are written in the PAF Flight Plan 2028. It is a multi-dimensional, systematic plan created as a long term development strategy anchored on good governance initiatives and performance excellence. The agenda intends to address gaps in capability, equipment, training, bases, human resource, doctrines, support systems and organizational development.

Like all organizations, the PAF is guided by its vision, mission and core values. In this column, I would like to focus on the core values it decided to adopt. I will describe how the PAF is pursuing its mission guided by these values. I would also like to highlight a particular value unique to this organization.

Core values are values which support an organization’s vision and shape its culture. They define the organization’s beliefs, principles and philosophy. The values guide and direct the organization in its operation. They create a moral compass for the organization and its personnel to follow. They guide decision-making and establish a standard against which actions can be assessed. These core values form an internalized framework shared and acted on by leadership.

We all know the purpose of our corporate values statement. We also hope that these values are embraced by our people and not simply recited as part of our flag ceremonies The challenge is to ensure the integration of these core values in every day transactions. How does the PAF ensure these values remain relevant and are embedded in the organization’s culture?

The first value of the PAF is integrity. It is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It is also defined as the state of being whole and undivided, from its root word integer. From the PAF perspective, this virtue extends from the individual’s righteousness and expands to attaining its mission of upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty.

The second value is teamwork. This is defined as the ability of this group of airmen to achieve the mission. It is the collaborative effort to complete the mission in the most effective and efficient manner. The PAF mission is to organize, train, equip, maintain and provide forces to conduct prompt and sustained air operations to accomplish the AFP mission. As a three-year waypoint or a 2022 milestone, the Flight Plan calls for a credible air defense posture in the priority areas — the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea, the Benham Rise, as well as the porous corridor in Southern Mindanao. The waypoint plan is to exhibit an integrated command control, communications and computer system that would allow it to detect, intercept and neutralize hostile threats.

Clearly, the integration of the command and control systems will require that the entire team works together. An interesting campaign in the PAF is the “in step” program which almost seems mundane. You see it in signs in all their bases. Personnel are required to walk in step and in cadence whenever they walk together. As simple as it sounds, keeping in step trains the mind to work with the organizational flow.

The third value is excellence. This involves the confident pursuit of the highest quality when you believe in what you are doing. Its value warrants the individual’s personal and persistent commitment. Some define it as quality while others refer to it as performance. The theme is almost always the same: a commitment to delivering the best. It is striving to achieve every challenge with a determination to succeed. The PAF commanding general, in his inaugural speech, introduced the concept of padayon, which means “move on” in Cebuano.He described the concept quite profoundly as” continuing with what we passionately started..a call to action, wishing positive impact.” This commitment to the transformational plans previously set by his predecessors to ”move on” following previously set programs and key measures will ensure that the PAF is on track to achieve its goals.

The fourth value is professionalism. This is the level of competence or skill and the high standards of behaviour expected of a professional. It also includes his conduct or personal qualities. It is defined by an airman’s work ethic which in turn represents the person’s character. A strong work ethic suggests that an airman places a high value on doing a good job, as well as respecting others and operating with integrity. It is the manner by which an airman comes to work and conducts himself on the job. With a strong work ethic, airmen are expected to be diligent in making sure that the work assigned to them gets done and is done properly. They consistently do it well and execute efficiently. This is especially true when you have to operate with limited resources. The PAF reinforced this through a training program — The Work of Leadership — conducted by the AIM (Asian Institue of Management). This program involved everyone from civilians to generals, to ensure that the representatives through out the PAF had a common theoretical foundation and language to push a common agenda.

The fifth value is service above self which is a unique value. It is rarely found in civilian enterprises. The military service is more than a career that develops the individual and pays the bills. It is more akin to a vocation in which one dedicates one’s life to the service of the nation. It is also a profession where one accepts going into harms way. This is expected during peace time, during relief operations or in defending our nation’s sovereignty.

These are the values the PAF has adopted to become a more capable and credible air force, responsive to national security and development. These are lofty ideals but the PAF is confident that these values will help us build a credible air defense for our country.

Ronald S Goseco is a former Air Force pilot. He is currently a FINEX Foundation Trustee.

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