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Hybrid battalions in the works for AFP

MANILA, Philippines—The military looks to have “hybrid” battalions in the future, as a pilot case combining reservists and militiamen with regular soldiers in an Army battalion has worked out well.
 
The Army’s reclassified 24th Infantry Battalion under the 7th Infantry Division has passed the Army’s technical evaluation with flying colors after a year in operation.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Samson, commander of the military’s first “territorial battalion,” said the successful pilot test might mean the setup would be replicated in other units.

“We hope that since the first-ever territorial battalion gained positive evaluation from our technical working group, this undertaking by the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be expanded to other peaceful and development-ready areas like Zambales,” Samson said.

The 24IB was reclassified last May 1, 2011, as a territorial battalion to integrate reservists and Cafgu [Citizens’ Armed Forces Geographical Units] active auxiliary (CAA) paramilitary troops, whose task is to conduct civil military operations (CMO) and other support missions.

Aside from the regular soldiers, Samson’s battalion has 16 reservist officers, 121 reservist enlisted personnel and 334 CAA personnel who all come from the area.

Evaluators from the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio found that the fusion of reservists and CAA personnel to the regular members of the 24IB has increased the number of effective CMO activities in the area.

CMO activities refer to community services including disaster rescue and relief operations.

The added manpower, meanwhile, allowed soldiers in the active service to conduct “focused and deliberate combat operations” against insurgents and other armed groups.

The Army has turned to reservists and paramilitary troops as “force multiplier” due to the deficiency in the number of ground troops.

Launched on December 20, 2010, the concept of integrating Army reserve and active components in selected units was seen as a solution to “low personnel fill-up.”

The setup is said to be the brainchild of Army chief Lieutenant General Emmanuel Bautista when he was still the AFP deputy chief of staff for operations (J3).

AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa recently directed the AFP Reserve Command to give priority to the development of reservists as territorial forces.

He said community-based military reservists serve as the backbone of first responders during calamities.

“I hope that this success can be replicated in other battalions in every part of the country,” Dellosa said in a statement.

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