The Special Units of the AFP; (First of Two Parts)

Article excerpt

Byline: Fidel V. Ramos

TOGETHER with CSAFP General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and the Major Service Commanders, PGMA tendered a well-deserved thanksgiving dinner with awarding rites in Malacanang last 24 January for 78 officers and men of the AFP. Among them were those who played key roles in recent operations in Sulu against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group that resulted in the neutralization of its two top leaders - with the killing of Abu Sulaiman by the Army's 8th Special Forces Company under 1Lt. Almirante Mijares (2002 graduate of the Officers' Candidate School) and the confirmation of the death of Khaddafy Janjalani, thanks to the Marine Reconnaissance Platoon led by 2Lt. Romulo Dimayuga (PMA 2005).

Specialized units such as the Special Forces and Scout Rangers of the Army, the Marines of the Navy, the Special Operations Wing of the Air Force and the Special Action Force of the PNP, to name the more notable outfits, are made up of officers and enlisted men and women who are thoroughly trained in tactics, mobility and weapons for mission-specific unconventional situations - in addition to the basic combat, operational SOPs, and troopleading training of all personnel in our Armed Services. The personnel belonging to these special organizations all volunteered for such hazardous duty, were tested under harsh conditions, passed higher-than-average intellectual and psychological standards, and proved their physical endurance. In addition, most are qualified paratroopers. They function professionally and efficiently with the purest of motives - to accomplish their assigned mission regardless of danger and hardship. And their highest role is to contribute to the security and freedom of our beloved Republic - to which they willingly offer their blood, sweat, tears, and life even, so that the rest of the Filipino citizenry may live peacefully and work productively.

As the Army's "overall umbrella" to provide unity of command over its specialized combat echelons, the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was organized at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija on 01 June 1996 and is tasked to undertake missions not normally within the capabilities of regular units. The SOCOM traces its roots to the Army Special Warfare Brigade (ASWBde) formed on 16 January 1978 under the late Colonel David Abundo. The main components of the SOCOM are the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) (SFRA) and the First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR). Until its return to the control of Headquarters, PA in 1999, the Civil Affairs Group (CAG) was an organic unit of the SOCOM to perform civil-military operations (or "civic action"), which has to do with "winning hearts and minds," and community development. The fourth component of SOCOM is the Light Reaction Company (LRC) which was activated on May 2000 under then ILt. Jose Jesus Luntok to undertake counter-terrorist operations and quick-response missions. The SOCOM's unique specialties under all conditions of weather and terrain are of paramount importance in protecting and strengthening our national security. Present capabilities include countering guerrilla warfare; organizing, training, equipping, and controlling indigenous forces for community defense and public safety; conducting deep reconnaissance, intelligence and combat operations; performing rescue, relief and rehabilitation tasks; undertaking psychological and civil affairs activities; and carrying out training for other units for counter-guerrilla missions.

The most important "weapons system"

With the enactment on 23 February 1995 of RA 7898 (AFP Modernization Act), the reform and restructuring of our Armed Forces, anchored on a no-nonsense "back-to-basics" program, intensified with full Congressional support. This was followed along the same lines for the Philippine National Police with the approval of the PNP Reorganization and Modernization Law (RA 8551) on 25 February 1998. For both the AFP and PNP, starting on Day-One of the Ramos Administration, the fundamental "back-to-basics" formula was renewed to insure the development of the proper attitude of individual military and police personnel toward duty, people and country. …