The Philippines

The Philippines’ defense is primarily used in an internal role, against Abu Sayyaf and other far- reaching Islamist separatist groups in the south. There has been political will to strengthen the navy’s presence in the South China Sea, against the growing pressure from China, but lack of resources has made it unsuccessful. The total strength of the Philippines Armed Forces is 142,350 active personnel, with a reserve of 131,000 (2018, IISS). In addition, 11,100 semi-military forces, with a reserve of 50,000 personnel.


The Army has 101,000 active personnel for the Army. The army is easily equipped. Material includes seven light tanks of a Scorpion, 54 armored vehicles and 387 armored personnel. The army also has four light aircraft and a number of medium- heavy drones.

The Philippines

The Philippines has close defense and security policy cooperation with the United States, especially in view of China’s role in the Pacific and South China Sea. Here, US and Filipino marines train together during Exercise Balikatan in April 2019.

Air Force

The Air Force has a workforce of 17,600 active personnel. Material comprising 12 fighter of a FA-50, three maritime patrol, 12 reconnaissance, 15 transport, 39 trainers, 66 helicopters and two medium heavy drones.

The Navy

The Navy has a workforce of 23,750 active personnel, including 8300 Marines. The fleet comprises 69 patrol vessels, two dock landing vessels, 15 landing craft and six logistics and auxiliary vessels. In addition, the Navy has 11 light transport aircraft and 13 helicopters.


The Philippines contributes to various peacekeeping operations around the world. Here is the Philippine contingent of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in Sudan in 2010.


The Coast Guard is manned by semi-military personnel, and has 84 patrol vessels, one aid vessel, two light transport aircraft and two helicopters.

International operations

The Philippines participated in 2018 in the UN operations in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) with two observers, in India/Pakistan (UNMOPIG) with six observers, and in South Sudan (UNMISS) with two observers.