On the 4th of June 2019, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) held their “Air Force Symposium 2019” with the event focusing on the “Roles of the Air Force for Security and Development in the Ever-Changing Environment.” The event welcomed speakers such as Professor Sanu Kainikara, PhD and Air Commodore Kenneth Robinson, CSC, of the Royal Australian Air Force and Senior Lieutenant Colonel Chen Boon Chong of the Republic of Singapore Air Force. The speakers drew from their own experiences and expertise to shed light on the growing need for Air Forces to be adaptive and responsive to the changing demands of the world around them.
The guest of honor, Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, began with a speech focusing on the current progress of the PAF. The Air Force has grown from their previous status as an organization “filled with air but without any force.” The development has been evident in the service of the PAF in humanitarian assistance and disaster response as well as in territorial defense thus boosting internal security operations. Despite the progress, however, Secretary Lorenzana called on the organization to continue with their growth due to the changing needs of the country for security, stability, as well as assistance due to the effects of climate change.
The discussions that followed focused on various factors that would require the Air Force to be adaptable in the changing environment that they need to serve. The first lecture, discussed by Professor Kainikara, focused on the air power roles in the Southeast Asian region and how these roles were predicted to be affected by three main factors in the future: the increasing sense of nationalism in the region (which may cause tension between countries), the ASEAN, its relevance, and whether it will be able to adapt to the changes in the region, and the power struggle between the USA and China as they fight for influence over the region.
The second and third lecture, conducted by Senior Lieutenant Colonel Chen Boon Chong and Air Commodore Kenneth Robinson, CSC, respectively, both followed a theme of how air forces have been affected by the rise of technology and should continuously adjust themselves to make use of the machines available in order to provide the best services for the citizens that they are serving. As cyberspace is now recognized as a strategic space for engagement, both speakers call for the air forces around the world to modernize themselves in order to keep up with the rise of technology which has created issues that they have never encountered or seen before. It is crucial for an air force, at this day and age, to have personnel who are knowledgeable enough to make use of the machines available to them.
To close the ceremony, Lieutenant General Rozzano D. Briguez made a pledge to PGS Institutionalization and summarized the message of the Symposium to remind the Air Force about its part in the growth of the country. The lectures by the speakers served as a reminder of the various forces that could affect the services they provide to the citizens and in order to keep up with the changing times, it is crucial for the Air Force to remain continuously flexible for the security and development of the Philippines.