This post at Murdoc Online reports that the Philippines have retired the last of their fighter aircraft. As of October 1st, the Philippines are without any dedicated air defense planes. Some trainer aircraft have been modified to act as makeshift fighters, but I donít think anyone expects them to do any good if a shooting war starts.
But the prospects of actual combat are very remote, and the reasons for that have much to do with the defense umbrella provided by the United States and Australia. Any foreign power looking to make war on the Philippines would essentially have to get permission from the Anglosphere, and I just donít see that happening in the foreseeable future.
The stated reason for the decision to junk their fighters was economics. The Philippine government has to concern itself with two serious internal threats: Communist guerrillas in the back country and Islamic terrorists in the South. In both cases the enemy is dispersed, desperate to avoid a direct battle, and difficult to eradicate. Fighter aircraft are of little use in this sort of conflict, and the limited defense budget could be better spent on forces that are better suited to dealing with insurgents.
This decision by the Philippine government isnít unprecedented. New Zealand decided in 2001 to disband their own air combat wing, and their reasons for doing so are also economic in nature. But, unlike the Philippines, New Zealand doesnít face any internal threats. They wanted to use the cash to fund social welfare programs.
Canada has been reducing their own military over the past few decades, again as a way to pay for their own pet Socialist agendas. Their air force and navy has suffered serious cuts, although they still retain some lurching semblance of an effective force. Instead of completely eradicating their combat air wings, the Canadians have decided that they donít need main battle tanks. This decision has turned their once superb army into a static defensive force with no tactical mobility to speak of. Itís obvious that our brethren to the north have decided to focus on peacekeeping missions and garrison duty while trusting others to provide for their security, most notably the United States.
Nothing that Iíve written up to now is news to those of us who follow defense issues. Most decisions concerning a countryís armed forces are made years in advance, and the reasons are usually stated up front and easy to understand. What is less clear is what benefit is realized by the countries which take up regional defense burdens.
Both the United States and Australia are democracies which rely on trade for economic growth. The internal threats faced by the Philippine government, a Maoist insurgency and Islamic terrorist groups, are both openly hostile to both democracy and free trade. It is within the best interests of both Anglo countries to allow the administration of President Macapagal-Arroyo the resources to deal with these threats, not least because any government that replaced the current one would most probably become a threat to US and Australian interests.
NZ and Canada are going to be protected because they are very close to the nations providing for their defense, both culturally and geographically. Of the two, I would have to say that the cultural ties are most important. Judging by an informal poll that I conducted over the past few days most of the people in the US would volunteer for military service if a country seriously threatened Canada, let alone launched an attack against her. The government in Ottawa knows that they have nothing to fear as long as the US is willing to take on all comers on their behalf, and Iím sure that they would completely disband their military if not for national prestige and continued voter confidence.
Contrary to many claims from the Left, the actions by these countries gives credence to the assertion that the ability by the US to project military power the world over is a force for stability and peace. That stability is one of the benefits we have come to rely on, and itís something that weíre trying to foster in the rest of the world. Ask anyone who is currently serving in the US Navy today and theyíll say that their core mission is to protect American interests abroad. If itís in the best interests of the US to have peace, and a strong military is the best deterrent to war, then theyíre certainly doing their job.