Image of Asia: Modernizing the Philippine military

August 14, 2014 - 9:05 AM
Philippines Aquino Military

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, center, hands brand new assault rifles to Filipino soldiers in a ceremonial distribution Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 at the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces at suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines. More than 50,000 M4 assault rifles are to be delivered within this year as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program. At left is defense chief Voltaire Gazmin. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

In this photo by Bullit Marquez, President Benigno Aquino III hands new assault rifles to Filipino soldiers at armed forces headquarters. More than 50,000 M4 assault rifles are being delivered this year to modernize the Philippine military, one of Asia's most ill-equipped. U.S. counterterrorism forces have been providing advice, combat training and intelligence, including drone surveillance, to Filipino troops battling the Abu Sayyaf and other militants in the south since 2002. Two coast guard cutters from the U.S. have been turned into its biggest naval vessels, and Aquino said last month that the Philippines would be getting its first new fighter jets in nearly a decade next year.

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