Friday, December 25, 2009

“Generics Avenue.” The road to growth

THE "UNIVERSALLY ACCESSIBLE Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008” signed into law by Pres. Gloria Arroyo in June 2008, is apparently encouraging more pharmaceutical companies to travel a generics market road that remained largely ignored for the past two decades.

Traveling along “Generics Avenue” seems to be opening new shortcuts to additional revenues for pharma companies, while helping ensure the flow of low-priced generic medicine to the poor, the latter being the intent of the “Cheaper Medicines Law” or Republic Act 9502.

The law gives Filipinos access to inexpensive generics through the parallel importation of patented drugs from other countries, where these are less expensive.

Estimates of the value of the Philippine pharmaceutical market vary and were placed at $2.6 billion in 2007 by a foreign research firm, and at P120 billion by a local source. The value of the pharmaceutical market is forecast at $4.1 billion in 2012.

The market is growing by some eight to 10 percent per year through price or volume increases. It is comparable in overall size to Thailand and Pakistan, and in per capita terms to China and Iran.

Generics account for just 10 to 20 percent of the Philippine pharmaceutical market.

In contrast, generics comprise over 80 percent of drug sales in the United States and Poland and over 60 percent in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Last year, Pres. Arroyo noted that 90 percent of all medicines are now off patent but that 90 percent of all medicines sold remain branded.

Growth medicine
Fueling generics’ growth is the Cheaper Medicines Law, whose Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) came into force on Nov. 21, 2008.

Secretary of Health Francisco Duque said that with the IRR in place, the public could expect lower medicine prices. He noted the Department of Health (DOH) now also regulates the maximum retail prices of drugs.

"With the IRR, we can now regulate prices. Presently, we are already in the process of coming up with policies and the drugs and medicines to be regulated. However, we have to be patient because we have to follow the normal government procedures and process to go through this," Duque told media.

Duque believes the IRR will also pave way for quality and affordable generic drugs, and rationalize the behavior of medical professionals and government health workers because of the amendment to the Generic Drug Act of 1986. The Philippines is the first Asian country to enact a generics drug law.

The IRR also allows over-the-counter drugs and medicines to be readily available in non-traditional outlets like supermarkets.

The Generic Drug Act of 1986 allows production of unbranded drugs using the same active ingredients and processes as those used in branded drugs, thereby sidestepping the patent system.

The weak enforcement of the law, however, has been repeatedly criticized for failing to boost consumer acceptance of generics and bring down the prices of branded products, hence the need for Republic Act 9502. The government has also been censured for not doing enough to promote generics.

On the verge of a surge
With the generics market on the verge of a surge as a result of Republic Act 9502, several multinational pharma firms are focusing more resources on their generic offerings.

In 2008, Sanofi-Aventis launched its generics arm, Winthrop Pharmaceuticals Philippines, Inc. Carlito Realuyo, Sanofi-Aventis president and general manager, said the company was “ . . . driven by a commitment to ensure access to medicine and contribute to the reduction of healthcare cost.”

He said Winthrop observes the highest standards of quality in terms of product efficacy, safety and strict manufacturing quality control. This, he added, gives consumers the best pharmaceutical products at a significantly lower price.

Winthrop initially introduced three products: Winthrop glimepiride for type 2 diabetes; Winthrop clopidogrel, an anti-platelet drug that helps prevent a second stroke and Winthrop amlodipine, an anti-hypertension drug.

Generics from multinationals could also ease consumer anxiety over the perceived lack of quality among generics.

Former Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) president Roberto Pagdanganan said generics are as safe as branded medicines. PITC is the sole entity authorized by the DOH to conduct parallel importation of generics and other drugs.

“People feel that ‘cheap’ generic medication is not going to do them any good so either they buy the expensive stuff or don’t bother to take medication at all,” Pagdanganan said.

Bioequivalence (BE) tests also ensure generics have the same premium quality as their branded originals.

Xeno Pharmaceutical Philippines, Inc. said BE tests of its generics ensure identical composition, safety and strength to those of branded originals.

Amado Tadena, Xeno chairman and CEO, said Xeno products are tested for BE at world-class scientific laboratories.

Tadena also said Xeno generics are made at facilities approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (an executive agency of the UK Department of Health) and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Good Manufacturing Practice that assures manufacturing facilities practice quality standard control and products.

United Laboratories, Inc. (Unilab), the largest Filipino pharmaceutical and generics maker, expects tougher competition this year as multinational competitors cut prices to compete with generics.

Unilab corporate vice-president for business development Jose Ma. Ochave said although competition has become more intense, Unilab still expects its business to grow further in 2009.

"The challenge is really how to differentiate ourselves from multinationals because (products are of) the same quality while the difference between our prices have narrowed," he pointed out.

Further downward pressure on the prices of branded drugs is also being exerted by the government’s “Botika ng Barangay” drugstores that sell generics to 25 million Filipinos, and the private sector-run “Botika ng Bayan.”

The government has invested P500 million to buy generics and other drugs for its 11,000 Botika ng Barangay drugstores.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Philippines, the country’s largest multinational pharmaceutical and healthcare company, recently cut the prices of some of its branded drugs by as much as 50 percent under a worldwide company program that targets 50 least developed countries.

Prices slashed were those for GSK products used in acute diseases such as pneumonia and other bacterial infections, ulcer, bronchitis, hospital-acquired infection, nausea and vomiting, and drugs used to manage chronic diseases such as hypertension, type-2 diabetes, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bipolar disorder and chronic hepatitis B infection.

“The price reduction is one of GSK’s biggest and boldest steps to make its branded and patented drug products affordable to more Filipinos. We believe that as a global pharmaceutical company, we have an obligation to help the poor get treatment,” said Roberto Taboada, GSK Philippines president and managing director.

Taboada explained the price cut is the company’s long-term commitment to Filipino patients.

Taking Generics Avenue also makes sound economic sense considering the poor worldwide, or “the bottom of the pyramid group,” spend more than $30 billion on medicine. According to the World Bank, this total is expected to double in 2015 and opens the door to further opportunities to improve healthcare.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Asia's high spies

Japan's launch of its fourth spy satellite last February and the upcoming launch of two Israeli spy satellites underscore the high level of tension at Asia's flashpoints, and the key role in national security played by Asia's relatively few military spy satellites, and by its more numerous "dual use" satellites.

Unabated security concerns are also driving the growth of Asia's defense industries, and opens the door to international firms with products leveraging satellite's advantages. Japan, China and India remain among the world's largest defense spenders, and their defense budgets are on the rise.

IGS-2B, Japan's second satellite with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capable of "seeing" through clouds and smoke, was launched by an H-2A launch vehicle from the Tanageshima launch center.

This radar spy intends to satisfy Japan's need for real time information and warning about ballistic missile launches by communist North Korea. It joins IGS-1B, another imaging radar satellite and two in-orbit photoreconnaissance satellites (IGS-1A and -2A) also monitoring North Korea.

These four low Earth orbit spy satellites, all made in Japan by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, cost over $2 billion. They constitute Japan's single largest defense hardware expenditure in decades, and are among the most expensive spy satellites built outside the USA.

Japan's spy satellite program was initiated after North Korea launched a ballistic missile in 1998 that flew over Japan.

Despite recent news that North Korea intends to return to the six-nation talks aimed at curbing its nascent nuclear program, Japan will push forward with launching two more improved spy satellites, thereby enhancing a satellite constellation watching over North Korea's nuclear facilities at Yongbyong and elsewhere.

The existing constellation now orbits at a speed of 29,000 kilometers per hour along different axes. The grainy quality their "high resolution" cameras, however, fall short of that available on other spy satellites such as India's dual use Technology Experiment Satellite (TES). This satellite's camera with a resolution of one-meter can tell an SUV from a pickup, and today spies on Pakistan and on NATO in Afghanistan.

As a result, Japan, intends to launch third and fourth-generation spy satellites by 2011 that will feature marked improvements over the existing fleet. These new birds will be lighter, capable of faster acquisition and have cameras so good they can tell whether a North Korean MIG jet fighter has missiles or expendable fuel tanks under its wings.

Japan's obsession with national security, and with satellites as its first line of defense, is matched in Asia only by Israel. The Jewish state counts on a single sophisticated photoreconnaissance satellite to stand watch over neighbors such as Iran and Syria.

This lone spy sat, Ofek-5, will soon be joined by Ofek-7 and a SAR satellite called TechSAR with all-weather imaging capabilities. Both are to be orbited later this year or in early 2008. The Ofeks are high-resolution imaging satellites used solely for military intelligence purposes. India will launch Ofek-7 on one of its polar satellite launch vehicles.

Israel then intends to loft Amos-3, its third military communications satellite, making 2007-2008 the most intense years in the history of its military satellites.

By 2008, Japan and Israel should have 10 military satellites in orbit. This number does not include military-civilian, or dual use, satellites such as Israel's two Eros (Earth Remote Observation Satellite) remote sensing satellites whose major client is the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Israel intends to upgrade the quality of its future spy sats by developing what are considered the next generation of nanosatellites (10 kg) and microsatellites (100 kg) compared to existing satellites that weigh over 1,000 kg.

These new satellites will be launched from specially configured Israeli jets in much the same way air-to-air missiles are launched. Scientists at Rafael and Israel's Armament Development Authority are examining technology to upgrade existing missiles with more powerful engines and install microsatellites in their noses. Israel expects to have these small satellites available by 2008. Israel's defense industry will build these small satellites.

No military satellites
Elsewhere in Asia, the military satellite picture remains quite different, but only because of clever word plays. China and India do not "officially" operate military spy satellites, but they do have dual use "remote sensing" and "weather" satellites that further blur the distinction between military and civilian satellites.

Japan steadfastly refuses to call its satellites spy satellites, but instead refers to them by the polite phrase, Information Gathering Satellites (IGS). Australia only rents out transponders for military use on civilian satellites such as the Optus and Defense C1 satellite.

KoreaSat 5 is South Korea's first satellite with military communications as a primary objective. It was launched into orbit in August 2006 and at last gives South Korea's military a system that offers secure critical communications. KoreaSat 5 is, however, a dual use satellite that also provides Direct-to-Home (DTH) services to thousands of paying subscribers in South Korea.

That leaves Israel as Asia's sole country that admits to operating dedicated military satellites, which can be defined as those that take high resolution pictures, eavesdrop on electronic signals, intercept radio conversations, have infrared vision, carry radar or relay communications to be used by military or national security agencies.

Asian milsats today
Asian nations with military and dual use satellites remain gripped by perceived threats to their national security from neighboring countries. Terrorism appears less of a concern to these nations than are the large armies across their borders capable of fighting a ghastly conventional war.

It is China chary over another war against India but bellicose against Taiwan; Japan anxious over North Korea and its ballistic missiles; South Korea primed for a fight against North Korea; Israel seeking to ensure its existence against its Muslim neighbors; Australia casting a suspicious eye at Indonesia; India cautious of another war against Pakistan.

As the major threats faced by these countries come from conventional military forces, their response is also conventional. And any soldier worth his salt understands that if one knows his enemy as well as himself, one need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

Satellites feed the soldiers' primordial need to know the enemy by supplying intelligence and early warning.

In China's case, however, her lack of modern military satellites of any type not only blinds her, but also seems to diminish the credibility of the threat posed by her massive conventional forces.

Satellite guided weapons have demonstrated incredible accuracy in Iraq and Afghanistan and China is unfortunate in not having stockpiles of these weapons and the satellites to guide them, which the US and Taiwan applaud.

China is modernizing what surface-to-surface (SSM) missiles it has, albeit slowly. It is fielding increasing numbers of more accurate SSMs against Taiwan with guidance systems using the U.S. GPS or the Russian Glonass positioning satellites.

China now has close to a thousand SSMs aimed at Taiwan, which China considers a rogue province. China says it is strengthening its military muscle to defeat any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence.

Military analysts say the Chinese have improved the guidance system of their Dong Feng (East Wind) DF-11 and DF-15 short range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan. Over 250 DF-11s and DF-15s are in position against Taiwan and constitute the most numerous and newest missile types deployed. The DF-15 or M-9 is the most accurate Chinese missile, with a circular error probability of some 90 meters when GPS guided, but there are only 200 of them arrayed against Taiwan.

Not even one Hawk battery
A recent study by Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense says that a single Hawk missile defense battery can withstand an attack by up to 275 DF-15s. The report concluded that China does not have enough DF-15s to destroy even one Hawk battery. Hence, Taiwan's confidence in surviving a missile attack by China no matter how intense.

Even were all DF-15s satellite guided, thousands would be needed to overwhelm Taiwan's American supplied missile defense systems that include the more accurate Patriot PAC-2. Then China has to take into account the counter threat from American spy satellites providing targeting information for Taiwanese and U.S. missiles.

China recognizes the sad state of its offensive capability, and has increased its annual defense spending by almost 18 percent to $45 billion this year as a remedy. The budget represents the largest increase in military spending in five years. The Chinese leadership said China needed to spend more on its military to upgrade its weak armed forces and counter any Taiwanese move toward independence.

The sharp spike in military outlays follows a 15 percent budget increase in 2006 as the People's Liberation Army tries to streamline its massive ground forces and deploy new missiles, warships and aircraft. In the meantime, Taiwan remains safe from Chinese attack.

The rise of China's military fueled by its strong economy is causing continued anxiety in Japan and South Korea. Even hawkish Australia is worried. The mood in Japan is believed to be moving away from the policy against developing nuclear weapon, though largely because of the recent nuclear test by North Korea, which is subservient to China.

After double-digit increases in annual defense outlays over much of the past 15 years, China is on track to become a major military power, but not quite powerful enough to damage U.S. interests severely. Some military experts said China was actually spending up to three times more on its military than the official figure.

China's defenses are weak
It is interesting to note that one of the Communist Party's justifications for the huge jump in China's defense spending was the need to modernize China's armed forces, and the claim that China's defenses are weak. One can appreciate the accuracy of these statements when one looks at China's military satellites.

China's lack of satellites to guide its offensive weapons is matched by a similar sad state of its reconnaissance satellites. China currently has no spy satellite fleet as the last of its photoreconnaissance satellites switched off in 1996.

Instead, China relies on imaging intelligence bought from commercial satellite companies in the USA and Europe. And to some extent on its civilian Fengyun "weather satellites" that are suspected of being used militarily.

U.S. intelligence also believes the Ziyuan series of remote sensing satellites are really spysats with false identities as civilian Earth-monitoring systems. They said these satellites, named Ziyuan-2, are secretly designated Jianbing-3, a military designation for spy satellites.

The Ziyuans could be used for planning combat missions, targeting missiles at U.S. forces in Japan or preparing aircraft strikes against Taiwan. Western military analysts also believe China's Beidou navigation system and its three satellites (the Chinese equivalent of GPS) can also provide targeting information for Chinese missiles.

In the future, however, analysts expect China to launch more high-technology space platforms, including even-higher-resolution imagery satellites, electronic signals intelligence satellites and military communications satellites.

These new "space toys" are bound to add to the growing apprehension in the West about China's deeper intentions in space exploration. China's destruction of one of its derelict Fengyun satellites using a ground launched ballistic missile last January stoked fears of China preparing space as the first battleground in any war involving the USA. The Bush administration then suspended plans to develop joint space ventures with China.

India: no milsats yet, but . . .
India does not operate a single military satellite, but will soon. What it does have, however, are some very capable remote sensing satellite whose high resolution cameras compare with the U.S.' best.

TES, built by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and its one-meter resolution camera leads India in providing high quality imagery. TES is the precursor to India's proposed first military satellite and has proven to India the value of a sharp-eyed lookout in space.

During the start of the war in Afghanistan waged by the US-led international coalition forces in 2001, TES reportedly beamed one-meter high-resolution images of troop movements and coalition armored columns to India.

The pressing need for a spy satellite was strongly driven home, however, during the gory fight against Pakistan for the Kargil region in mid-1999. In the aftermath of that bloodbath, India came to the conclusion that satellite imagery could have warned them beforehand of Pakistani incursions, and avoided the much of the bloody fighting that followed.

One Indian military analyst cuttingly noted that India was so far behind in space based military systems that it would only realize its satellites had been destroyed by China when told so by the USA.

India's fleet of dual use, photo imagery satellites include Resourcesat-1 launched in October 2003 and considered India's most sophisticated remote sensing satellite to date. There's the 2.5 meter, high-resolution Cartosat-1 satellite equipped with two cameras able to point at an object from two different angles. Another mapping satellite, Cartosat-2, which has 1-meter resolution and a 120 gigabyte storage capacity for captured images, launched in January 2007.

Military satellites in the pipeline
In September 2005, India announced that a military space-based reconnaissance system was in an advanced stage of development and is expected to be operational by 2007. To this end, the Indian military has requested an exclusively military telecommunications satellite, and satellites with high-resolution cameras. The system was to have been operational by 2005, but the defense minister said validation of technologies took more time than anticipated.

India's extensive ground-based surveillance and coordination systems linked to its remote sensing satellites, would enable the country to keep a watch on any activity in its neighborhood. India is continuing to develop a broad-based space program with indigenous launch vehicles, satellites and control facilities, all of which will also be of great assistance to its upcoming Chandrayaan Moon exploration program.

Chandrayaan will use a modified PSLV rocket to send a small probe into lunar orbit, from where it will survey the surface of the Moon in an attempt to locate resources. Other countries including the US have expressed interest in attaching their own payloads to the mission. India and China along with the USA and the EU are engaged in the "Second Moon Race" whose finish line will see man again set foot on the Moon by the next decade.

Australia and Pakistan milsats
Australia's Optus and Defence C1 satellite is a dual use satellite. It carries a mixed payload that will serve the needs of its owner, Singtel Optus Pty Ltd, and the Australian Department of Defence.

Launched in 2003, it operates on four different frequency bands: commercial services in Ku-band for Singtel Optus; and military communications at UHF, X and Ka-bands for the Australian Department of Defence.

Optus and Defence C1 is one of the most advanced communications satellites, carrying a total of 16 antennas that provide 18 beams across Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region, and global beams covering from India to Hawaii. The military Ka-band payload has four 33-MHz active transponders and one spare. X-band telecommunications links provided via the satellite will be used by the military for medium to high data rate one- and two-way video, as well as voice and data communications.

The Australian government said it was negotiating with the U.S. on a plan to build a military satellite communications facility on Australia's west coast.

Pakistan is forging ahead with long delayed plans to launch its first dual use satellite, Paksat-1R. It has, however, decided to achieve this aim with the help of Telesat Canada, a leading satellite operator.

Pakistan and Telesat this March signed a consulting contract in which Telesat will assist the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), Pakistan's
national space agency, procure and launch Paksat-1R, which will replace Paksat-1 in 2010. Pakistan has long made known its intention to have a military reconnaissance satellite because of its uneasy relationship with India.

Opportunities and Challenges
The leaders in Asia's satellite industry are also its biggest military spenders. Japan, South Korea, Israel, China and India have long been among the world's top arms buyers for decades.

And since satellites play key roles in attaining their national security objectives, the fortunes of their defense industries impact on their satellite industries, as well.

Except for China, these countries have built military-industrial complexes that tolerate foreign participation in their satellite and defense industries. As a communist state, China does not allow foreign investment or participation in its defense industries. China, however, has partnered with a few foreign countries such as France and Israel in weapons development involving technology transfers.

It is in the rapidly advancing field of information technology where much of the change sweeping Asia's satellite industry is taking place, and where business opportunities abound.

The Indian government now allows private sector participation in the defense industry at up to 100 percent for Indian companies, and with foreign direct investment permissible up to 26 percent for the manufacture of all types of defense equipment within the country.

Private companies are allowed to apply either individually or by joint ventures. Preference is given to original equipment manufacturers or design establishments and those having a good track record as suppliers.

India's civilian and dual use satellites are the domain of ISRO, which has developed, built and launched practically all of India's satellites in partnership with domestic Indian companies, and a few foreign ones.

Whether ISRO plays the key role in India's military satellites is unclear, however. Some Indian military leaders are opting for a military unit to take charge of all aspects of building, launching and maintaining military satellites.

Should this take place, India stands on the verge of creating a military satellite industry that can be a serious competitor to the U.S. and the European Union.

Japan's "old boys club" continues to dominate its satellite and defense industries. Nearly 60 percent of Japanese defense contracts were awarded to five large corporations: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Toshiba Corporation, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Corporation and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, builder of the IGS spy satellites. Competition for contracts has intensified as larger portions of the defense budget are allotted to procurement.

Japanese corporations are marketing mainly dual-use electronics subcomponents, vehicles, and transport and communications equipment. They also provide components for missiles and aircraft produced overseas, especially in the United States. Japan is keeping military expenditure at only 1% of GDP.

Japan's posture is a defensive one with no weapons of mass destruction, no long-range bombers, no middle or long-range missiles, no aircraft carriers and no nuclear submarines. Japan, however, has considerable conventional weapons, and wants to use its Self-Defence Forces for peacekeeping operations.

Taiwan, while having no military satellites of its own, relies on U.S. military satellites as the cornerstones of any successful defense against invasion by China. It also has two remote sensing satellites, RocSat-1 and -2.

RocSat-2 can take pictures of Earth objects as small as two meters across. The satellite orbits the earth 14 times a day, including two passes over Taiwan, at 890 kilometers altitude.

Only this March, Taiwan made headlines with its offer to rent or buy one of Israel's dual use Eros satellites, the newest of which is capable of taking sharp pictures of surface objects as small as 70 centimeters (28 inches).

Described by some military analysts as reconnaissance or spy satellites, the two in-orbit Eros satellites-Eros A and Eros B-are owned and operated by the Israeli company, ImageSat International. Taiwan is reportedly interested in the older Eros A that carries a high-resolution camera capable of discerning objects 1.8 meters across. The satellite is in low Earth orbit and carries a price tag of $300 million, according to sources. The newer Eros B can identify objects 70 centimeters across and is now used to monitor Iran's nuclear program.

Eros A, launched in December 2000, and Eros B, which became operational in June 2006, also provide imaging intelligence to the Israeli government. Each of the satellites passes over Israel and neighboring states four times a day.

Eros A has a planned lifespan of 10 years in orbit and is scheduled to remain in service until 2010, when it will be replaced by the more advanced Eros C.

Taiwan has placed its salvation in the hands of information technology (IT). Taiwan is building a national defense capability that emphasizes quality over quantity by fielding a C4ISR system in conjunction with defensive weapons. Taiwan believes the key to any successful national defense is information superiority over China.

Taiwan believes information superiority is essential since China's threats include synchronized, multi-faceted, surprise and quick attacks by the People's Liberation Army. Information warfare is expected to precede any attack. Taiwan, therefore, sees information superiority as crucial to achieving victory in combat.

The country's focus on IT as its savior is mirrored in its defense acquisitions. In the near future, Taiwan's most urgent defense requirements are the integration tasks between current platforms and weapons within and among Taiwan's armed forces. Taiwan's long-range defense plans include integrated battlefield management and C4ISR upgrades.

Taiwan has a strong private-sector industrial base. As a result of the lifting of restrictions on outsourcing contracts for military suppliers, qualified private plants for manufacturing and maintenance have been established under a competitive environment. Over 200 private firms accept contracts to develop and manufacture roughly 1,000 parts for military aircraft, missiles, avionics and armored vehicles.

The Potential for Ground Equipment Sales
Taiwan's reliance on IT, and on satellites, has led it to award ViaSat, Inc. a $12 million contract for the latter's Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) terminals, a battlefield tactical radio system.

Taiwan is purchasing 70 LVT(1) configuration terminals plus spares under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program through the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. The order will be for the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense.

Taiwan has a large fleet of combat aircraft and ViaSat sees this initial award as an entry point for future business in Taiwan. MIDS LVT is part of a tactical radio system that collects data from many sources and displays an electronic overview of the battlefield using secure, high capacity, jam resistant, digital data and voice.

The system is used on US Navy, US Air Force, US Army platforms and military platforms of other nations. ViaSat is one of two U.S. government-qualified manufacturers of Link-16 MIDS airborne terminals and is the only qualified manufacturer of the LVT(2) ground-based terminal.

In January 2007, Taiwan awarded Integral Systems, Inc. a sole-source contract to upgrade Taiwan 's National Space Organization's (NSPO) existing mission operations system to simultaneously operate the NSPO's new Argo satellite and RocSats-1 and -2.

The contract calls for Integral Systems to provide all of the software required to fly Argo and the two RocSats, including commanding, telemetry processing, orbit analysis, scheduling, and tracking station automation, using one single command and control system.

Despite its dual use nature, KoreaSat-5 (or Mugunghwa 5) is widely considered South Korea's first military satellite. It carries 12 military transponders and its launch is historic in that it ushered in South Korea's military satellite era.

It will also be a starting point for South Korea's military network-centric warfare capability. As can be expected from a revolutionary system, KoreaSat-5 will generate hardware and software necessary to exploit its unique capabilities.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Joker's Bicycle

WILL THE world's only network centric army survive future war? Perhaps a past war has some of the answers.

Take this journey across the face of war at

The Knights of the Nauseous Poop

ART THOU beguiled by wars medieval,
things political
and events modern in the Philippines?

Hie thee off to
to slake
thy curiosity.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Whatever happened to “Thank you?”

I commute via jeepney almost everyday. And every time I am struck by the lack of a simple courtesy that was commonplace during my youth when The Beatles ruled the airwaves.

A passenger hands his fare to the driver, and someone takes the fare and places it in the driver’s hand. Basic politeness dictates that one should thank the person who handed the fare to the driver.

A simple “Thank you” or “Salamat” would do.

But you hardly ever hear these words. I make it a point to say “Salamat” every time someone does me this favor. Of course, I miss out on occasion, but I do make an effort to thank that helpful person.

I somehow expect other passengers to say “Salamat” when I do them this favor. But this hardly ever happens. I can’t even recall the last time it did happen!

I tried a simple experiment only recently. I counted the number of times someone said either “Salamat” or “Thank you” to someone who handed his fare to the driver.

In 21 jeepney rides, I counted 108 instances when someone handed another passenger’s fare to the driver. Only three people bothered to say “Salamat” or “Thank you.”

Just three people and they looked like they were in their 30s. And not one teenager.

This result reminded me of the angels’ search for 50 good men at Sodom and Gomorrah. It also told me that courtesy should be taught at school, from elementary to college.

It’s in the little things like saying “Thank you” that reveal the moral and intellectual quality of a people.

Courtesy is contagious. It’s catching. If more of us bothered to say “Salamat” or “Thank you” for a favor, or smiled instead, we’d find a lot more to like in our fellowman. We’d learn the meaning of being kind and considerate.

The first place to start practicing these simple, forgotten courtesies would be at home. I’d be right if I said that very few Filipino parents even bother thanking their children for doing them a service.

That’s because most Pinoy parents remain authoritarian. It’s still a boss-employee relationship in nearly all families.

But it wouldn’t hurt to thank your children once in a while. If saying thank you is against your parental management style, a smile will do. Or a nod of approval. That will tell your kids it’s all right to be kind.

Our grim country needs all the kindness and smiles we can give it. So, have the courage to say “Thank You” or “Salamat” when an officemate does you a favor; when a guard opens a door for you or when your brother runs an errand for you.

Little courtesies will go a long way in making this country a better place. Let’s spread them around.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sweat is good

It might be a cultural thing having to do with the Filipino's deep-seated desire to look his best no matter what. Or it might have something to do with aberrations in the Filipino psyche, like our glorification of reality shows where contestants dip for prizes in disgusting pigswill.

But sweating has always gotten a bad rap in this country. It's as if sweating were, well, a gruesome bodily function. Like hurling (vomiting).

That's why we have Filipinos who become panicky when sweat shows through their clothes. Or who chide others who sweat a lot, claiming that sweat is "pangit" (ugly) and should be wiped off post haste.

But sweat is good. Sweat is cool. And so is sweating. If you didn't sweat, you'd be dead within an hour from heat stroke.

If you didn't sweat, your skin would fry--literally--as its temperature shoots past 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). Then your heart rate goes haywire. What happens next depends on the presence of mind of the persons you're with. If they know first aid for heat stroke, you've got a chance. If not . . .

You can prevent this worst-case scenario by doing the smart thing: sweat. And you can only sweat sufficiently if you drink lots of water--water and not soft drinks, coffee, tea or fruit juices.

On a typically cool day, the average person loses one-liter of water per hour as sweat . We're always sweating (even in air conditioned rooms) but are so busy we don't notice it. Sweating or perspiring is the body's way of releasing excess metabolic heat.

During summer, which is particularly fierce this year, that water loss jumps to two or three liters per hour! That's mind-boggling and potentially life threatening.

You're looking for trouble if you stay out under the sun for hours without first drinking a lot of water and regularly replenishing water lost as sweat. The danger from heat stroke increases in a very humid country like ours since humidity (or the amount of water vapor in the air) keeps sweat from evaporating. And that hinders the sweat glands from producing enough sweat to cool you down so your body temp doesn't hit the danger zone of 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

Losing two to three liters of water per hour is a lot and most of us don't realize we can lose that much so quickly under a blazing summer sun. The dangerous thing is that by the time we feel thirsty, we're already dehydrated.

Dehydration happens without warning. You start licking your dry lips. Your skin feels on fire. You feel dizzy. Confusion sets in.

If you still have some presence of mind, you'd quickly find shade and slowly drink water. Keep drinking until you feel your senses returning. Your body temp has got to drop to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for you to enter the safe zone.

You should feel safer when you begin sweating profusely. Try not to wipe off the sweat at once but let it evaporate. Sweat is good. It might also save our life.

But it would be best if you knew first aid for heat stroke. Remember that the only solution for heat stroke is to cool the victim down.

You can do this by getting him to drink water if he's conscious; soaking his entire body in cool water; sponging cool water onto his body and applying ice packs to his head, neck, armpits and groin. If not treated, heat stroke can kill in less than an hour.

On the other hand, I don't advocate not wiping off excessive sweat. I also don't encourage you to cool down inside an air-conditioned room if you're sweating (that will get you sick).

But, as a wise sage once cautioned, do everything in moderation. If it's hot and you're outdoors, let your body sweat so it cools you down. If you don't sweat, drink water. If you're bathed in sweat, better dry out outdoors. And do drink lots of water.

So sweat, be cool and be safe.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The second war against Iraq

SHOULD it come to a fight, the second Persian Gulf War will prove if the United States has reached a sophistication capable of achieving the perfection of military strategy: Attaining victory with a minimum of fighting.

Washington's strident saber-rattling; the pre-positioning of its armed forces in the theater of conflict, its stepped up aerial attacks on Iraq's anti-air defenses and a not too stealthy campaign to remove Saddam by "other means" (such as a bullet in his brain) appear to me as more indicative of its intent to win victory with the least fighting than as imminent preparations for a lightning war.

The United States seems bent on frightening Saddam into submission by threatening his life and promising the overwhelming destruction of his armed forces, which is the foundation of his power. Saddam's surrender without the need of combat would achieve the United States' military aim of overthrowing him and dealing a serious blow against international terrorism.

That would be the best result possible for a world alarmed by the economic disaster that might result from a prolonged war against Iraq. It might also be the world's best in win-win solutions.

Should Washington's campaign to unseat Saddam without resorting to war fail, however, the Allies should be able to destroy the Iraqi army in about a week, according to Western analysts. Former US president Bill Clinton has said that he'd be surprised if the Iraqi army lasted more than three days.

No pushover
But war plans rarely go according to plan in war and the Iraqi armed forces might not be the pushover it appears on paper. And, of course, there is the threat of Iraq's still invisible WMD (weapons of mass destruction) that determined UN weapons inspectors have been unable to uncover despite a month of intense effort.

Although suggesting that wars are fought to minimize fighting appears astounding (or totally absurd), this view does hew to military logic and does have historical precedents. The perfection of strategy, as the noted British military thinker Sir Basil Liddell Hart pointed out in his famous body of work about warfare, " to produce a decision without any serious fighting."

The aim of (the) strategy, he said, "...must be to bring about this battle under the most advantageous circumstances. And the more advantageous the circumstances, the less, proportionately, will be the fighting.

"The perfection of strategy would be, therefore, to produce a decision without serious fighting. History...provides examples where strategy, helped by favorable conditions, has virtually produced such a result."

Decisive example
A decisive example of the perfection of strategy was the German Army's blitzkrieg against France and the Low Countries from May to June 1940. The Wehrmacht's six-week campaign led to the conquest of western Europe at extremely low cost: 60,000 casualties against an Allied loss of more than one million men.

I cited this example with no intention of drawing parallels between Nazi Germany's campaign to dominate Europe and Washington's current effort to unseat a maniacal dictator. What I sought to emphasize was that clever strategy can achieve decisive battlefield victories no matter who its originator.

Liddell Hart was an apostle of this perfection of strategy, which he termed the "strategy of the indirect approach." It is a strategy that uses political, psychological and physical means to attain victory with a minimum of fighting.

In looking at the options available to Washington, it is apparent that the most favorable outcome for the Allies would be Saddam's removal before any war takes place. The second most favorable outcome would be the rapid defeat of the Iraqi armed forces, if possible, through the strategy of the indirect approach.

A cursory look at the map, however, shows the immense problems faced by Allied planners. The only invasion route into Iraq available now is by Kuwait, which lies southeast of Iraq.

Grim prospect
The Iraq-Kuwait border is just over a hundred miles in length, making any Allied attack on Iraq a frontal one. Without Saudi Arabia agreeing to the use of its territory to launch flank attacks on Iraq, the Allies are faced with the grim prospect of assaulting prepared Iraqi defensive positions along the most obvious invasion routes. Should Iraq decide to make a determined stand on its border, the battle to ram into Iraq might prove too bloody despite Allied superiority in armor and advanced weaponry.

Once clear of the border, however, the Allies will have free rein into Iraq. An early stand by the Iraqi army at the border will only lead to its early destruction.

Iraq, on the other hand, appears to favor a strategy of trading space for time, much like the Russians did against the Germans in World War 2. It might give up territory to conserve its military strength and try to inflict as many casualties on the Allies as possible. Winning against the Allies is out of the question.

Iraq will seek to prolong its battlefield resistance to further weaken the United States and world economy and to inflame the morale of Muslim radicals around the globe. That Iraqi media has made much of defending Baghdad and other strategic centers indicate this might be the most profitable strategy for Saddam.

The Allies lost some 1,000 men and women in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, popularly known as Operation Desert Storm. Doubtless that Saddam is eager to increase the Allies' bill for conquering Iraq a second time.

Of course, my armchair generalship might be 360 degrees off the mark, but the reality of terrain as it now stands seems to favor a head-on assault by the Allies. The spring of 2003 has been bandied about as the most favorable time for any attack but that now seems unreasonable since UN weapons inspectors will remain in Iraq until early 2003.

With the loss of the favorable campaign season, the Allies are left with the difficult choice of either isolating Iraq until late 2003 or early 2004 or fighting in the intense summer heat next year. The UN attacked Iraq on Jan. 16, 1991 and forced an Iraqi surrender 100 days later.

The indirect approach, however, remains possible. In what form and where it must take place is up to Allied planners. It would be comforting to hope that Washington's top leadership will take into account that the true aim of the strategist "is not so much to seek battle as to seek a strategic situation so advantageous that if it does not of itself produce a decision, its continuation by a battle is sure to achieve this. In other words, dislocation is the aim of strategy; its sequel may be either the enemy's dissolution or his easier disruption in battle."

But then, a few bullets in Baghdad might end this war before it begins.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Print Publicity 101

Print publicity is the cheapest form of advertising open to any company.

It’s free—if you know how. But first, you’ve got to learn how the print media operates. You’ve also got to remember that the working press is a corps of intelligent and decent professionals battling against time every day of every year.

The men and women who work in daily newspapers labor under the intense pressure of immutable deadlines. Editorial offices are a madhouse in the late afternoon. That’s deadline time for stories.

Phones ring non-stop. Everyone seems hunched over his or her keyboard madly typing away. A perspiring few stare blankly into space awaiting divine inspiration.

Your company’s press release arrives into this bedlam. If it’s on paper and is addressed to a specific editor, your release goes to that editor’s inbox pile. And it stays there until the editor gets to it.

You also have to fall in line if you email the release. Editors are deluged with emailed press releases. Now what?

Where your press release goes from here depends on how you “prepared” your release for publication. By “prepared” I mean going through a process that gives your release a better than even chance of getting published. Here’s that process in a nutshell.

1. Make your release easy to read so the editor won’t have to waste his time re-writing it. Writing a press release is never easy. If you didn’t take journalism, or if you had news writing but never took it seriously, you’re in deep shit this early. Better find someone who knows how to write news.

But if you do know how to write, you’re best served by using the five “Ws” (Who, What, When, Where, Why) and the “inverted pyramid” format (the most important news in the first three to five paragraphs; the rest of the story is background).

Keep the language simple but pack the story with information and quotes from a company boss, if possible. But make sure the most important info goes into the first three to five paragraphs.

That will make it easier for the editor to edit your story (without taking out the “meat” of your story) in case he runs out of layout space. Also, do create an appropriate title for your story.

Paragraph and make your paragraphs short. As a guide, make each paragraph consist of three short sentences. That’s the equivalent of about one printed inch in a newspaper.

Editors who can’t understand your press release, or who know they’ll have to spend a lot of their limited time re-writing it, will normally set the release aside.

A few matters of form: prefer Times Roman 12 points with 1.5 inch spacing when typing hard copy on MSWord. Also include your name and contact info (telephone, email) to establish your credibility. Proofread your story for mistakes.

Remove “honorifics” such as Mr., Mrs. and Ms but retain professional titles (Dr., Atty.). Refer to your company in the third person (not “our company” or “my company”).

2. Address your press release to a specific editor. You must never send out a press release addressed “The Editor.”

A broadsheet has a lot of editors. Sending it to that nebulous entity, “The Editor,” is the best way for your release to get lost in the newsroom forever.

Before you even write the release, however, call up the editorial department of the newspaper or newspapers you intend to send the release to. Identify yourself and your company and say you’re writing such and such a press release and whom should I send it to?

Jot down the editor’s name and his position. Ask if you should send the release by email or hard copy. Many broadsheets prefer email (it eliminates re-typing) while a few prefer hard copy.

Address the release to that specific editor in the subject line of your email along with the title of your press release and your company name. In the hard copy, legibly write down the editor’s name on the upper right hand part of the first page.

3. Do follow up your press release. This is probably the single most important factor in getting your release published if you’re unknown to the editor. “Huwag kang mahiya.”

Call the next afternoon, identify yourself and politely ask the editor if he got your press release. If he says he did, ask politely if he’ll use it. If he says he didn’t get the release, ask if you could re-send it and how you should send it. Follow up but don’t be “makulit” by phoning the editor everyday.

4. Re-issue the press release to the same editor if the release hasn’t been published after a week. Re-write the press release to make it read better. The editor might have forgotten receiving your first release and might not have seen the re-issue.

5. Increase the odds of your press release being published. You can issue it simultaneously to the seven English broadsheets, the top business paper and the two top English tabloids. That's 10 newspapers and odds are your release will see print in at least one or two of them.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How to make your employees your customers

I find it odd that Filipino companies or Philippine-based companies hardly every bother to sell themselves to their employees. But do company employees need to be sold on the company they work for, you might ask?

The straight answer is, Yes. Because employees are employees for only eight hours a day, six-and-a-half if your exclude the one hour lunch break and two 15 minute meriendas.

Beyond that, employees are individuals who work for themselves. And all of a company’s managers and staff are also customers who’ll buy a competitor’s products or patronize his services if they’re convinced these are better than their own.

Company loyalty means just that—employees are loyal to their company. That loyalty doesn’t automatically extend to a company’s products or services. Brand loyalty has to be earned, even from a company’s employees.

And even if a company’s products or services can’t be used by its employees (call center services, for example), a company still has to work hard at promoting itself to them. That’s a good way of keeping hard-to-find employees, especially in leading edge industries such as call centers and business process outsourcing (BPO).

How does a company promote itself to its employees? The answer is to give employees a steady stream of information in a personalized package unique to the company.

Ideally, this information should build company and brand loyalty; foster productivity; create support for the company’s goals; make clear the company’s stand on vital issues and contribute to the bottom line.

That package is the company newsletter. Nowadays it’s also the company Intranet. The company website? Not quite since websites are impersonal salesmen that sell to the world.

Company newsletters used to be a big thing in the decades before the PC (the 1970s and 1980s). Now, they’re going the way of the Philippine Eagle and the precious few that survive are finding it hard to soldier on in the face of anorexic budgets and lack of skilled staff (editors and writers).

The latter, I guess, is the key reason for the dying out of the company newsletter. There simply aren’t that many good English editors and writers in today’s labor pool.

Ask the broadsheets. One of my editor friends, who also teaches journalism, complains that writing two paragraphs of passable English is a daunting challenge for many reporter candidates. And some of these people graduated with degrees in journalism or English!

If mass media is finding it next to impossible hiring good English writers, imagine what it’s like for corporations. Companies won’t hire an employee specifically to be a newsletter editor or writer. I haven’t come across a single instance of this yet.

A company usually assigns the newsletter to its human resources unit, which is usually understaffed and overworked. HR then appoints the newsletter’s staff after frantically searching its database for employees with even an iota of English writing experience.

When this fails, as it most often does, HR either does the job itself or cancels the newsletter. It might also hire an experienced editorial consultant like me to assist in providing content and layout for the newsletter.

Producing a printed or online newsletter is always tough. Ensuring its continued existence is even tougher considering its investment.

But you’d have to weigh the cost of this investment by the value of what you stand to gain. Newsletters impart information, a commodity that has value only when read.

Information, if intelligently used, is the basic building block of all sales. You buy because you’re convinced—sold—on the information presented to you. Advertising only jazzes up this information.

A newsletter or any other information carrier “sells” information to a market—a company’s employees—who are already half sold on the value of their product or service. The extra information provided by a company newsletter could push employees into becoming paying customers.

And there are also the other intangible advantages to the information provided by a newsletter. Advantages like improved productivity; stronger teamwork; a closer alignment with company goals.

A surprising bit of information is a recent report by U.S. retailers that TV is no longer the most influential advertising medium. Surprisingly, word of mouth and news inserts have replaced TV as more effective advertising media. Email and the Internet are also generating a lot of advertising buzz.

Word of mouth. Email. The Internet. Companies have these in abundance.

News inserts? That’s what newsletters are for.