AFP puts special ops under one command
The military recently activated its new Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Operations Command (AFP Socom), which takes control of all the special operations units of the Army, Air Force and Navy.
In a statement, the military said on Sunday that the AFP Socom would have command and supervision of the Special Operations Wing of the Air Force; the Naval Special Operations Group of the Navy; Scout Ranger Regiment, Special Forces Regiment and Light Reaction Regiment of the Army; and the Joint Special Operations Group of the general headquarters.
Lessons from attacks
This new unit was born out of the lessons from the attack on Zamboanga City in 2013 and the Marawi siege last year, AFP Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, said in the statement.
Both incidents were the first two deadly urban warfare in the country’s modern history, which needed the deployment of special operations commandos.
The Zamboanga siege was carried out by a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front led by founder Nur Misuari, disgruntled over the government’s peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The fight to liberate Zamboanga took three weeks.
The battle to retake Marawi City from the Islamic State-inspired local terrorist group led by the Maute family took five months and required airstrikes by the new FA-50 jets of the Air Force.
More than a thousand government security forces, civilians and terrorists were killed in the fighting.
‘Need for joint Socom’
“I have personally seen the need for a joint Socom, having been a brigade, division and area commander. In the Eastern Mindanao Command, I saw the need for a single unit that would oversee the proper employment of the different major service special operations forces (SOFs) deployed in the area,” Guerrero said at the activation ceremony held at the AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo on April 6.
“I expect that all of the gaps and challenges we encountered in joint operations involving our SOFs will be addressed with our activation of the AFP Socom. This organizational improvements will ensure that the AFP remains responsive and adaptive to current and emerging challenges in the global security environment,” Guerrero said.
Former Socom deactivated
The activation of the AFP Socom was one of the last official acts of Guerrero as military chief before he turns over the post to Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Western Mindanao commander, on April 18.
With the new unit in place, the military has deactivated the former Socom under the Army.
Former Socom commander, Maj. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista, will head the new AFP Socom.
Evangelista was a former deputy chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, head of the Special Forces Regiment and AFP Civil Relations Services chief.
All officers and other personnel from the special operations units from other major services will make up the “core” of the AFP Socom.
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