AFP changes titles of top ranking positions 'for efficiency'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 13) — Before General Felimon Santos, Jr. steps down as the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines early next month, he is getting another title as the military hierarchy implements changes in the titles of its highest-ranking positions.

This was done for "effective command, control, and supervision."

CNN Philippines obtained a copy of the Department of National Defense order which states the AFP chief will have a new designation as chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

DND order no. 174, issued last June 19, indicated that other senior uniformed leaders will also be getting new titles.

The second and third highest-ranking AFP positions have also been renamed  from vice chief of staff to vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and from deputy chief of staff to Chief of the Joint Staff.

The commanders of the "unified commands" or regional military commands (NOLCOM or Northern Luzon Command, SOLCOM or Southern Luzon Command, WESCOM or Western Command, CENTCOM or Central Command, EASTMINCOM or Eastern Mindanao Command, WESTMINCOM or Western Mindanao Command and JTF-NCR or Joint Task Force-National Capital Region) have been renamed to Joint Forces Commanders.

The leaders of the "major service commands" or military branches will also have simplified titles: chief of the Army (formerly commanding general of the Philippine Army), chief of Air Force (formerly commanding general of the Philippine Air Force) and chief of the Navy (formerly flag-officer-in-command).

"Basically, the purpose of the designation and the renaming of key positions of the AFP is for effective command, control, and supervision by the chief of staff of the AFP, who is also the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs," AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo told CNN Philippines.

The changes in the titles of the AFP's highest-level officers "will entail no added personnel, remuneration, or powers bestowed."

"As chief of staff and the head of the AFP, he will have the operational supervision and control over the Joint Force commanders of the (regional) commands, who are the “force employers”," Arevalo said.

With his new designation as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the AFP chief "will have administrative supervision and control" over his deputy, as well as, the heads of the service branches, who are also called as "force providers".

Notably, the new designation and titles are patterned after armed forces abroad.

Similar to the United States Armed Forces, the AFP Joint Chiefs will serve as the body of the most senior military leaders within the defense department, which "shall advice the President and Commander-in-Chief," as well as, the DND secretary.

They shall be composed of the following: AFP chief of staff and chairman of the Joint Chiefs, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Chief of Joint Staff and the chiefs of military branches.

The order states that "They (AFP Joint Chiefs) shall also discuss matters pertaining to the future medium to long-term strategic direction and capability plans relating to the organization, training, equipment, maintenance, and development of the AFP and its personnel."

Arevalo said the changes in the organization's key positions also aims to "align" the Philippine military with uniformity of the military structures in the region, "para hindi tayo magkalituhan [translation: to avoid confusion]."

"Ang tawag ng ibang bansa, kahit ang Australia, for example, is chief of the Army. So parang, hindi na tayo maninibago sa pandinig natin [translation: In other countries, like in Australia, for example, it's called chief of the Army. So, it would not be difficult for us] to talk about the commanding general of the Army, when we talk about the chief of the Army. It means, the commanding general of the Philippine Army."