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Special Operations Command, Philippine Army
150px
Unit insignia of SOCOM, PA
Active January 16, 1978 - Present
Country Philippines Philippines
Branch Philippine Army
Type Special Operations Forces
Role Airborne operations, Direct Action, Reconnaissance, Unconventional Warfare, Target Interdiction,
Size 2 Regiments, 1 Light Reaction Battalion, 1 Training Group (Provisional). Total is close to 7000 soldiers
Part of Under the Philippine Army
Garrison/HQ Fort Ramon Magsaysay, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija
Engagements Anti-guerrilla operations against the NPA and Southern Philippines Seccesionist Groups (SPSGs) consisting of the Moro National Liberation Front, MNLF Lost Commands and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
Counter-terrorist operations against JI cells such as the Abu Sayyaf Group; and,
Participation in Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines
Decorations Presidential Streamer Award
Commanders
Current
commander
Major General Romulo M Bambao AFP
Notable
commanders
General Hermogenes Esperon AFP, General Victor S Ibrado AFP, Lieutenant General Arturo Ortiz, AFP
Insignia
Unit Patch SOCOM Patch/Tab

The Special Operations Command of the Philippine Army is the Command that is responsible for planning conducting and supporting special operations for the Philippine Army. Currently, units under SOCOM are the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), First Scout Ranger Regiment and the Light Reaction Battalion.

Unit Mission[edit | edit source]

The mission of SOCOM is to organize, train, equip and sustain special operation forces in the conduct of special operations in support of the Philippine Army's mission.

Unit Core Capabilities[edit | edit source]

SOCOM forces are employed based on the following core capabilities:

  • Unconventional Warfare
  • Direct Action
  • Special Reconnaissance
  • Counter-terrorist Operations
  • Target Interdiction
  • Special Light Infantry Operations

Unit History[edit | edit source]

The ASWABde

SOCOM, PA traces its roots to the Army Special Warfare Brigade (ASWABde) that was organized in 1978. The ASWABde was a first attempt to reign in the specialties of the Special Forces and the Scout Rangers, two army units that have among the most highly trained personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and structure their collective efforts into a highly effective army unit.

Following the destabilization attempts of the late 1980s, ASWABde was deactivated and the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) was placed directly under the control of Headquarters Philippine Army while the First Scout Ranger Regiment was unfilled.

Re-organization during the 1990s

Finding a new need to bring together the efforts of the two regiments, the reorganization of a command to control these elite units was brought up. Additionally, the re-organization and re-assignment of Operational Controls in various units of the AFP also affected the decision to re-establish a "Special Operations Command".

On 25 July 1995, SOCOM was created at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. The First Scout Ranger Regiment was stationed at Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan while the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) was transferred to its traditional home at Fort Magsaysay.

Sub-Commands[edit | edit source]

During its establishment as SOCOM in the mid-90s it had three sub-commands, namely: the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) that was tasked to plan for and conduct Unconventional Warfare Operations; the First Scout Ranger Regiment that was tasked to conduct special reconnaissance and direct action operations against high value targets; and, the Psy-Ops Group that was tasked to plan for and conduct psychological operations in designated areas.

The Psy-Ops Group was later detached from SOCOM and was assigned to the Civil Military Operations Group, PA (CMOG, PA).

Currently, SOCOM is composed of three combat units with distinct capabilities that perform various missions in the conduct of special operations, namely:

The Special Forces Regiment (Airborne)[edit | edit source]

The mission of this regiment is to organize, train, equip and provide rapidly deployable forces and conduct unconventional warfare in all types of operational environment in support of SOCOM's mission.

The Special Forces specializes on the following: unconventional warfare, direct action; special reconnaissance; psychological warfare and mass base operations.

The First Scout Ranger Regiment[edit | edit source]

The mission of this regiment is to organize, train, equip and provide rapidly deployable forces and conduct special operations in support of SOCOM's mission.

It’s core capabilities are: direct action, jungle warfare, special reconnaissance, and sniping operations.

The Light Reaction Battalion[edit | edit source]

The mission of this battalion is to conduct counter-terrorist operations in support of SOCOM's mission.

LRB troops are skillfully trained on the following core capabilities: surgical close quarter battles and vertical insertion, hostage rescue and personnel recovery, elimination or capture of notorious terrorists, and target interdiction.

Training[edit | edit source]

The Special Operations Command conducts three primary qualification courses to provide its personnel with the foundation of knowledge and skills on special operations.

The Special Forces Operations Course is conducted to provide every Special Forces trooper the foundation on unconventional warfare and highly specialized combat skills.

The Scout Ranger Course is heavy on direct action and jungle warfare operations that provides the ranger trooper knowledge and skills attuned to conducting jungle warfare operations.

The Counter-Terrorist Course is conducted to provide SOCOM counter-terrorist troopers the necessary special combat skills utilizing modern small-arms weapon systems.

All of the three courses mentioned will undergo actual combat test mission in priority conflict areas in the Philippines prior to the completion of the course. This serves as the Command’s performance evaluation of students prior to the confirmation of their qualification as a Special Forces paratrooper, Scout Ranger fighter or Counter-Terrorist operator.

Other types of specialized training conducted by the command are as follows:

  • Basic Airborne Course
  • Jumpmaster Course
  • Parachute Packing, Maintenance and Air Delivery Course
  • Military Freefall Course
  • Combat Diver’s Course
  • Scout Ranger Target Interdiction Course
  • Close Quarter Combat Training

Lineage of Commanders[edit | edit source]

  • ASWABDE:
    • Colonel David Abundo
    • Colonel Robert Dilan
  • SOCOM:
    • Brigadier General Victor Mayo
    • Brigadier General Voltaire Gazmin
    • Brigadier General Julius Javier
    • Brigadier General Delfin Lorenzana
    • Brigadier General Dionisio Santiago
    • Brigadier General Hermogenes Esperon
    • Brigadier General Benito Ramos
    • Brigadier General Victor Ibrado
    • Brigadier General Arturo Ortiz
    • Brigadier General Roberto Morales
    • Major General Romulo Bambao
    • Major General John S. Bonafos

Unit Seal and Symbolism[edit | edit source]

The unit seal of the Special Operations Command is a shield with a tierced bend to the dexter side. The colors are brown, yellow gold and black that is tiered one on top of the other in that order. A white arrow occupies the center of the shield with its tip towards the shield head. A black border occupies the perimenter of the shield.

The symbolisms of the colors are as follows:

  • Black has always represented the Scout Ranger and is exemplified in their battlecry: Life for the Rangers, Death to the enemy.
  • Yellow-gold has always been representative of the Special Forces. With their skill in Unconventional Warfare Operations, the SF has always excelled in the accomplishment of their tasks.
  • Brown signified used to signify the Psy-ops Group during the early days of SOCOM. It now symbolizes the lofty ideals representative of the Special Operations Command.

References[edit | edit source]

  • The Philippine Army: First 100 Years - 1997
  • History of the Armed Forces of the People
  • The Operators - Mike Ryan
  • Jane's: Special Forces Recognition Guide - Harper-Collins Publication 2004

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