Philippines: Territorial Battalion program produces first localized Active-Reservist Army unit

Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City—The 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 7th Infantry Division successfully passed the evaluation and impressed the members of the PA’s Technical Working Group who conducted the evaluation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) first “Territorial Battalion.”

The findings of the evaluation conducted by the Technical Working Group from PA Headquarters revealed positive results as the fusion of Reservists and CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) to the 24th IB increased the number of effective CMO activities in its area of responsibility. The higher number of fill-up personnel also enabled concerned AFP forces composed of active personnel to conduct focused and deliberate combat operations directed against armed groups which is consistent with the implementation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan.

The 24th IB was reclassified last May 1, 2011 into a territorial battalion to empower Reservist and CAA units by embedding them to the 24th IB and allowing them to conduct Civil Military Operations (CMO) and other support missions. Currently being commanded by LtCol Michael G. Samson, the 24th IB which has a command post in Palauig, Zambales has been integrated with 16 Reservist officers, 121 Reservist enlisted personnel and 334 CAA. This undertaking is in pursuit of the Active-Reservist Synergy Concept of the AFP.

“The territorial infantry battalion provides a good opportunity for our Reservists to play an active role in the implementation of the IPSP Bayanihan. I am proud that it was first implemented and pilot tested in the 24th Infantry Battalion before it will be replicated to other units of the AFP,” 24th Infantry Territorial Battalion Commanding Officer, LtCol Michael G. Samson said.

“We hope that since the first ever territorial battalion gained positive evaluation from our Technical Working Group, this undertaking by the AFP will be expanded to other peaceful and development-ready areas like Zambales,” Samson said.

Specifically, the territorial battalion’s objectives are to address problem of low personnel fill-up; enhance mix-up of army reserve and active force component; increase personnel readiness of units; generate more forces to conduct hold operations; revitalize CAA management and administration to become an effective force multiplier and enhance the role of the Reservists in ISO.

Also, Reservists and CAA’s were also successfully utilized on CMO and manning of detachments. Synergized Bayanihan Patrol Teams were also successful in their mission as holding forces against the resurgence of communist insurgency influence in their areas of responsibility.

The Bayanihan Patrol Teams were involved in providing community services, developmental activities, rescue and relief operations during disasters and calamities, medical and dental mission assistance, environmental protection program engagements, youth leadership seminars and other CMO activities.

The Synergy Concept, which was launched on December 20, 2010, was seen as a solution to the fill-up personnel deficiencies of the military.

The concept of achieving synergy of Army reserve and active component is to transform selected PA units from an all active elements into an integrated unit embedded with the Reservists/CAAs in respective areas or provinces where they are currently deployed. This concept is the brainchild of the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, LtGen Emmanuel T. Bautista when he was still the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, J3 of the AFP.

AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie D Dellosa praised the success of the pilot testing and evaluation of the 24th IB as a territorial battalion saying that “the synergy concept would further enhance the implementation of the IPSP Bayanihan.”

Just recently, Gen. Dellosa issued a directive for a strategic review of the AFP Reserve Force Development Program to ensure synchrony between the military’s active and reserve forces in their roles in internal security operations and territorial defense.

He clearly articulated this in his speech delivered at the closing ceremony of the Regional Reservist Convention in Bohol during the culmination of the 33rd National Reservist Week Celebration.

He directed the AFP Reserve Command to give priority to the development of the Reservists as territorial forces for internal peace and security, and make community-based Reservists the backbone of AFP’s first responders in the event of calamities and natural disasters.

“I hope that this success can be replicated in other battalions in every part of the country. With the necessary adjustments, we can still further improve what has already been a great implementation of the Synergy Concept.

I also hope that this will inspire Filipinos to join the Reservist and help contribute to the maintennance of peace, stability, and sustainable development in the country,” Dellosa said.