26th Commanding General, PAF
10 October 2000 – 10 September 2002
GENERAL BENJAMIN P DEFENSOR AFP is the 26th Commanding General, Philippine Air Force and the 30th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He is one of four Air Force Chiefs to command the entire AFP.
He graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1969, with the unequalled distinction of Master of the Sword and Journalism Awardee, and Class President, PAF Flying School in 1971. He is a distinguished member of the National ROTC Reservist Alumni Association (NARAA).
His postgraduate studies include Master in Mass Communication from the University of the Philippines, Master in Public and Business Management from De La Salle University and Air Transport Course from the Asian Institute of Management. He also took up PhD studies.
In 1974, despite being wounded in action, he made military history by earning the highest combat award, twice within 24 hours of continuous fighting in Jolo, Sulu. He has practically participated directly in all major campaigns in the Philippines, as a combat pilot and force commander, since the 70’s up to the time he commanded military forces in the battle against the Moro National Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf insurgents and Al-Qaeda-trained terrorists in the 2000’s.
A noted scholar and strategist, General Defensor consistently topped in schoolings. He completed with distinction his General Staff Course at the Air Command and Staff College of the United States Air Force, Air University in 1985. He was sent abroad for several military training courses in USA, Germany and Italy. In 2001, the USAF Air University in Alabama, USA, where he graduated, included him into its prestigious International Hall of Honour for his career-long achievements.
Among the positions he held in the PAF were Secretary of Air Staff; PAF Provost Marshall; Chief, Civil Military Operation (A-7); Chief, Plans and Programs (A-5); and Wing Commander of the 600th Air Base Wing, 100th Training Wing, Air Education and Training Command, and Tactical Operations Command.
In military circles, he is referred to as the Achiever Par Excellence. As a Commander, he created the Air Force City in Clark Air Base, his first command position, won the Best Air Base award, won the same award in his next position and set the record as the First Commander to win two Best Air Wing awards in two consecutive years, in two different commands. He also converted the Air Force into his concept of the First Force: The first to respond, the first to deliver, making his branch of service faster, stronger and better in all fields. As TOC Commander, he redefined the PAF offensive character through superb demonstration of tactical airpower against the MILF. As AFP chief, his Gordian knot strategy of fighting insurgents is discussed in academic circles. His concept of consistency made him practice what he preached, including competing with active officers at a senior age. Outspoken and a leading advocate of airpower, he popularized the slogan “The future is in the skies” and he holds the distinction of being the first to be promoted to Brig Gen in his class, ahead of 4 other classes, the first to Major General and was promoted from 2 star to 3 star rank in less than 3 months.
In 2004, he was personally chosen by Pres Arroyo to be the Philippine Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism and Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC) Counter-Terrorism Task Force of 21 countries. He brought his leadership style to the Foreign Service where he introduced a new twist to current political though with a concept he called “warrior diplomacy”. He spread his advocacy while heading Phil Delegations to Asia, the Middle East and the West. During his Chairmanship of the APEC CT Task Force, he was referred to as the “shinning light” of APEC for having the most number of accomplishments agreed through consensus among 21 member economies. In 2006, he was named “Best Performer” and dubbed as “APEC idol” in a tribute given by members led by China, USA, Russia, Japan, Australia and the ASEAN States.
Considered the Philippines’ leading expert on security and counter-terrorism, he is a regular speaker in several international for which included the World Security Conference in Europe, the Asia-Middle East Dialogue, the Secure Trade Conference of the Asia-Pacific region, and the conferences hosted by the US Dept of Homeland Security. He is the Philippine nominee to head the CT Executive Directorate of the Security Council of the United Nations.
He has over 50 awards and decorations, one of the most decorated in the AFP and 1st the only military commander to be cited for leadership excellence by two Presidents: Estrada and Arroyo.
Pres Arroyo described his leadership as “exemplary, a professional’s professional, a pilot with a heart of a poet and the instinct of a true fighter”. As fierce in battle as in defending and propagating the faith, he always attributed his achievements to God’s grace and the support of his men, his loving wife, Margaret Soliman, the first woman president of the Federation of Aviation Organizations and their three children, John, Margaret Jean and Barbara Mae, all professionals.