Special Operations: The Philippines Adds More Operators


January 28, 2014:   The Philippines is expanding its special operations troops again, adding two battalions of light infantry to form the Light Reaction Regiment. This will give the Philippines about 8,000 special operations operators (as these troops are called). The two new battalions join the Light Reaction Battalion that has been around since 2004 (first as the Light Reaction Company). Back then the Filipino army using a U.S. grant of $25 million and American Special Forces advisors to train a force of Scout Rangers for counter-terrorism and hostage rescue operations. That effort proved successful and the Light Reaction Company proved so successful that more volunteers (usually from the Scout Rangers) were found and in the next few years the unit was expanded to a battalion (three companies). Because of the outstanding performance of the LRB during a recent major battle against Islamic separatists (Zamboanga in September, 2013) it was decided to expand the force to the Light Reaction Regiment.

Even before the creation of the Light Reaction troops the Philippines had considerable and formidable special operations forces. These began as the Scout Rangers in 1950, formed with the help of the U.S. Army which was then reviving its World War II ranger force and creating the U.S. Special Forces. The Scout Rangers were similar to the American Ranger Regiment, but with more emphasis on scouting. This comes from the Alamo Scouts, a special recon unit created by the U.S. 6th Army during World War II. The 6th Army played a major role in driving the Japanese out of the Philippines and the Alamo Scouts were often sent in to collect information on the Japanese and work with Filipino guerillas. The Filipinos were impressed by the Alamo Scouts, thus their Ranger regiment became Scout Rangers.

U.S. Army Special Forces troops eventually helped train and organize the Special Forces Regiment that contained commandos and troops similar to the American Special Forces. In the 1970s the Philippines formed Special Operations Command but it was disbanded in 1989 after some of the special operations troops took part in an attempted coup. In 1995 a new Special Operations Command was organized with the Special Forces Regiment and Scout Ranger. Both of these units had been rebuilt after a post-coup purge.



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