Armed Forces of the Philippines

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Seal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
Seal of the Philippine Army
Seal of the Philippine Navy

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is the principal body of defense of the Republic of the Philippines, led by the Commander-in-Chief in the person of the President of the Philippines. It is composed of the Philippine Army (Hukbong Katihan), the Philippine Navy (Hukbong Dagat), and the Philippine Air Force (Hukbong Himpapawid).

Filipino men and women who are 18 to 49 years old are eligible for active duty in the AFP.


History and background

The roots of the AFP may be traced back to the 1897 Tejeros Convention. On 22 March 1897, the revolutionary government then headed by President Emilio Aguinaldo created the Philippine Army and appointed General Artemio Ricarte as its head. This army served as the Revolutionary Forces, which fought against the Spaniards from 30 August 1896 until the signing of the Treaty of Paris. It was the same army that tried to drive out the Americans from 4 February 1899 until General Simeon Ola surrendered on 25 September 1903. A new Philippine Army was created under the American regime, through the National Defense Act of 1935.

On 23 December 1950, the Philippine Army was renamed the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It was primarily comprised of three services: the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. During the 1980s, twelve unified regional commands were established in response to the increase in the number of insurgent activities.

The AFP loosely follows the structure of the United States military.


The Armed Forces is divided into three main services, all of which are responsible for the country's overall defense.

The Philippine Army's main functions include training and organizing army forces to conduct combat operations and execute national defense plans. It is the country's primary defense on land.

The Philippine Navy is responsible for protecting all 1,250,000 square kilometers of the Philippines' water territory. It is composed of two major commands, the Philippine Fleet and the Philippine Marine Corps.

Lastly, the Philippine Air Force was originally tasked with providing the country with the best air force defense possible. However, beginning in the 1980s, Air Force measures have shifted more towards countering insurgencies.

Rapid deployment units

Other rapid deployments under the AFP ensure that all defense measures are carried out through more specific functions. These include the following:

  • Philippine Marine Corps, made up of over 8,000 PMCs geared towards instantaneous response to emergency situations;
  • Philippine Navy Special Warfare Group, which normally serves as support to the Marines; and
  • Philippine Army Special Operations Command, which serves as the Light Reaction Battalion that specializes in counter-terrorist operations.

The AFP also has regional offices that focus on the defense of their corresponding geographic areas of responsibility.


  • "About Us." Armed Forces of the Philippines Website. (Accessed 9 July 2010)