Ever since I can remember, my hubby Alan has always been reading books on military history and battles in various countries if he’s not playing a war strategy game on his PC. Our library is stuffed to the ceiling with such books.
Part of our dates were spent playing Panzer Leader and the Arab-Israeli war board games. This was how I learned a little about tactics during battles. At times, I even won :), but that was rare.
Perhaps because of this, I know that what he says about military operations makes a lot of sense. I am therefore sharing the many questions he has been asking aloud ever since news broke over the death of the police commandos in Mindanao.
Mamasapano: What happened?
By Alan Robles
At least 44 Special Action Force police commandos were killed in a daylong fight with fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MLF) and its breakway group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on January 25 in the municipality of Mamasapano in Maguindanao Province, Mindanao. The MILF/BIFF suffered at least eight casualties. The commandos were trying to neutralize two terrorists, Zulkifli bin Hir (aka Marwan) and Basit Usman, who were supposed to be staying in the village of Tukanalipao, in MILF controlled territory. There are reports that Marwan was killed, but these haven’t been confirmed.
This is what I know so far about what happened, I have no doubt more info will come in.
1. The Sunday operation was called “Wolverine”. It was based on a standing order apparently issued by the President in 2011 to neutralize certain terrorists. Question: what qualifications did this standing order have? Did it define conditions under which the operation was forbidden (such as venturing into MILF territory in possible violation of a ceasefire agreement). Because otherwise it would be tantamount to a blank check. And did the standing order require an executive-sign off on specific operations? In other words, the President had to approve any operation.
2. Wolverine involved SAF alone. Commandos are elite, highly trained, very expensive units intended to be used in quick ops, not prolonged attritional battles. Reports say that 390 SAF commandos, three platoons, were deployed for the operation.
To read the rest, please click on this link.
i’ve just watched the videos posted at liveleak by the milf fighters. I’m seething in anger to see them rollicking and laughing while shooting at our fallen heroes. I can’t believe we will give autonomy to these animals. Is it true that Pnoy refused to send in reinforcements despite plenty of time to do so? if it is, then he is much worse that those animals.
In his obsession to obtain the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as a political trophy, President Aquino deliberately ignored the pleas from the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) for additional reinforcement to rescue trapped operatives from their dire position.
This was bared to The Tribune by a source within the PNP saying not only was Aquino informed beforehand of the SAF operation against Malay-sian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Mar-wan,” believed to be a key leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islam-iyah, and his alleged Filipino henchman, Abdul Basit Usman, but that he was actually on top of the operation itself.
“The President was actually monitoring the operation. Everything was being reported to him in real time,” said the source.
According to the source, Aquino was in Zamboanga that time, waiting in the wings for the outcome of the operation, ready to jump anytime to Maguindanao should the two suspected terrorists be captured.
“But when the operation went out of control as the MILF and the BIFF Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) joined forces in attacking the SAF, the President refused to send any reinforcement even as the SAF were already crying for help from heir beleaguered position,” the source said.
Aquino, the source said, cannot deny the fact that he was aware all the time of the SAF operation.
“SAF Commander (Police Director Getulio) Napeñas gave it away. He said that a little less than two hours before the initial gunfighting, the joint monitoring team of the MILF and the government called for a ceasefire. As no one was supposed to have been informed of the operation except (suspended) PNP Chief Alan Purisima, Acting Chief Leonardo Espina, (Executve Secretary Paquito) Ochoa and the President, who could make this possible? No one but the President. He could have called (Presidential Adviser on Peace Process) Teresita Deles to inform the monitoring team of both sides and call for a ceasefire but unfortunately, it didn’t work,” said the source.
In an interview with another national daily, Napeñas averred the joint monitoring team from the MILF and the government called for a ceasefire at a little past 6 am, but the “MILF did not stop shooting.”
“General Napeñas said the ceasefire was called for by the monitoring teams of both sides at a little past 6 am, less than two hours after the first shot was fired around 4:20 am. But the gun battle lasted 11 hours until 3:00 pm, and the nearest Army station is only about one kilometer away from where the gun battle was happening, but no reinforcement was sent,” said the source.
“If the President could make a call so early in the morning to Deles so she could in turn call on the monitoring teams to call for a ceasefire, why can’t he make a call to ask the Armed Forces to send reinforcement for the beleaguered SAF personnel?” the source asked.
“Because he was advised by Deles not to do so. They were so obsessed with the peace agreement, they want to save the Bangsamoro Basic Law as they believe it was the last piece for Aquino to earn the Nobel Peace Prize,” said the source.
“Never mind if 50 dedicated cops were killed,” he lamented.
rollicking and laughing while shooting, that’s very hard to do. you need to concentrate, or you miss your target and end up hitting rabbits and coconuts. sure, those videos are not spliced?
Haha, I was probably too angry yesterday. Anyway, I hope you do get the point. As for being spliced, I don’t know. But the question that is really bothering me now is did Pnoy and Deles know as early as 6 am that the SAF were asking for reinforcements already. If so, Pnoy could have ordered it, but for whatever reason did not. Lives could have been saved. If I understand correctly, the firefight started from 4 am to 3 pm, so there was plenty of time to send in reinforcement. I also remember watching Karen Davila interview Deles a few days ago in her show Headstart. In that interview, I believe Deles admitted knowing that the SAF were pinned down and asking for reinforcement early in the morning. I hope I can find a copy of that interview.
cheers. got the point.
Just my opinion, but ERAP Is absolutely correct, ” You cannot trust the MILF “”. The MILF were fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the BIFF while killing the SAF, and were hiding, feeding and protecting the international bomber/killer Marwan. Next will be the harboring and protecting of foreign ISIS terrorists, including suicide bombers.
erap should solve problems on his own backyard. the traffic in manila is horrifying, the homeless need to be housed or dinky soliman will continue to do work her disappearing act on them. the garbage and flood in manila need attention, something must be done. yet erap nakaupo lang sa opisina, let mmda’s tolentino hande most of traffic problems, the homeless are lucky to get a look in.
MILF fighters rollicking, lounging before SAF massacre
where’s the link?
In hocus pocus na yata, can’t find it! Pina-tangal siguro ni Negro’ PONTE! LOL
Try Berto’s column
Hearing of BR Subcom of Sen Pimentel on the Senate Investigation on Joint Res 826 and 1114 (Makati Parking Bldg and related items; and BSP, Pagibig matters respectively), January 29.
I watched the hearing, after the fact, through recorded video. The video is 3hrs 03 minutes long. Only about 20 minutes at the beginning and about 20 minutes at the tail end were used; the rest of the time was a suspension of the hearing.
First part (20min) was on questions directed at Pagibig Pres Berberabe; second part was on Binay Jr being brought to session hall; Binay was set free subsequently after making a statement that he will not answer questions; would rather just be detained.
Relevant details of the second part on Binay is in the following:
Although set free, Pimentel noted that Binay Jr has lost the chance to give his account on the matter. I suppose this a legal item for the record and the BRS report, so that it can be said that Binay Jr were given all the chances to be heard on the substantial point of the hearings.
I note that without Cayetano in the hearing, quite a bit of spark was absent.
chit navarro says
So did i>>>> wondering why Sen. Cayetano was not there?
Too much drama coming from the Binay family.
And from the Senate sub-committee hearing, what have they shown?
I wish the Ombudsman will now conclude their investigation on the plunder case and forward this to the Sandigan.
I am replying to your, “And from the Senate sub-committee hearing, what have they shown?”
1. The BRC (Mother-com) and BRCS (Subcom) were in a bind. They have to show to all and sundries in case of gaya-gaya of Binay’s antics were used by others, that there Senate rules have to be followed. I believe that the BRC knew that Binay Jr and the 2 others with him would rather be detained than testify substantively before the BRCS when questioned. (In fact when he was “dragged” to the session hall they can not extract anything from him.)
2. By the way this is a classic game of chicken, with the variation being that Binay Jr already signaled his move to be detained but not answer questions.
3. Theoretically the BRC or Senate really can hold Binay Jr (from here on I will speak only of him because the 2 others will just do as he does) in the detention area indefinitely until he answers questions. But we know what will happen. Some supporters will just request to attend the senate hall with or without B there; the others will camp out and make the usual noise in support. The drama even features the two old “legal eagles” as described by news media (I have lost respect for them a long time ago). With that atmosphere associated with B Jr in indefinite detention, Pimentel’s Com may not be able to effectively go forward in their task. It was a judgement call to detain indefinitely with the associated consequence I described or set free with the consequence of a loss in face for the Senate.
4. Thus, after conference (I am pretty sure with Drilon, Guingona) BRCS Pimentel Com just has to set B free after giving notice that he has just lost a good chance to answer charges. This to me is needed as a legal point for the record and its subsequent report: that is, that they had given B Jr all the chances to be heard similar to B Sr — but in the latter case through invitation and not a subpoena.
5. I don’t know if Cayetano’s non-attendance has something to do with a difference of opinion about detaining B Jr if that is what the latter wants. In this case I have to agree with Pimentel (most probably with concurrence of Guingona at the very least) for the reason I described in the scenario above.
6. It is sad, though, that Pimentel’s com as well as the BRC and the Senate itself is seen as ineffective. I had that impression immediately after viewing the youtube video. I don’t how they can gather good momentum again. I wish Cayetano will appear again in his usual vigor and talented skills at questioning and counter-questioning.
waray waray says
i know that we must give peace a chance, however, for us to have peace both parties must show sincerity in wanting peace. I am not sure about the MILF, maybe the learders of the MILF want to have an agreement/peace but what about their subordinates. Do the MILF learders really have control over their men/subordinates?
Pres. Aquino III says: Give names of SAF killers. Show sincerity. [headlines news papers]
Message is: coordination.
Grabe ang pasiklab ng MILF!
Maybe Erap might run for president to finish off this matter against the MILF BIFF ASG atbpa.
They’ll be kept jueteng on their BBL.
he he he
waray [email protected] . . . to give peace a chance,
the Bangsamore Basic Law as proposed and to be enacted into a law, try first going over [if you get to read it with interest] it here in the LINK
. . . and tell us if you find peace in yourself reading it.
At least you will find the answer if peace or not is possible.
If you don’t get stuck in a quick sand or sink hole reading it, or getting a terrible migraine,
Peace be with you!
tama ka dyan, waray, peace be with you. let us give peace a chance. law is meant for lawyers for them to read and trash out, smoothen out, that’ their job. they have spent years in college studying law and years more training for their jobs. they should not be asking less educated citizens, or citizens not educated in law to read, understand, and interpret the law. that would not be fair, and law is all about fairness. and if lawyers want to live peacefully, they might as well do their jobs and do them well. or they’ll become casualties too. caught in the cross fire.
peace is for citizens and civilians. let them have peace so they and their children can go on with their lives, not spend their lives forever cowering, always fearful, unable to reach their potentials. dead before their time.
if lawyers, citizens, police and everyone put their resources together, peace is attainable. we can start little, big things come from little things. it may not be instantaneous and not come like a flood, but peace will flow through little by little. there is enough goodwill in this world for peace to flow through.
waray, dont worry too much about subordinates. once they see the benefits peace bring and how beneficial it is to the country, how happy the citizens are, how content their families, kins and relatives, these subordinates are likely to lay down their weapons and become peaceful too. they might study and become engineers, doctors, electricians, meterologist, bankers, drug dealers, ops! sorry, I mean pharmacists.
it will be hard, they are used of holding guns, not pens; used to seeing dead bodies, not power point presentations in college. and if they’re good in planning and have patience, chances are they’ll succeed in college.
Shocking videos taken by the MILF showing (1) actual fighting and (2) blown-out heads of dead SAF
Pls take note that at 58 seconds of video 1, a rebel called on his cellphone “calling americans, calling americans”
Thanks. I saw it. Looks like the dead PNP commandos were in an open field while the rebels under the coconut trees.
Were the rebels still shooting at the commandos in this video 2? I saw an M60 machine gun and 1 expensive Sniper Rifle.
Open field with 4 feet of grass for cover? Could be called “Open Field Grass of Death’
Wow! The MILF were not in a battle, they were in shooting target practice!
No fear and they seemed enjoying the shooting!
These are the fiercest and cold-blooded fighters I’ver ever seen, no wonder they are formidable!
They fight for their cause, the other side fight for the reward money and glory. Guess who will prevail in the long term?
The BBL will be passed in congress under duress but PEACE is dead.
The MILF fighters are young and heavily armed. The negotiators are now in Kuala Lumpur to discuss disarmament – part of the peace agreement – but how many firearms will be surrendered?
There are many rebel groups that are not part of the peace agreement like the BIFF, MNLF, ASG, etc who are not obligated to give up their modern arms.
The brave SAF who perished will not die in vain but will be remembered by many as victims of the ferocity of the rebels – and they’ll be ready.
It was a suicide mission with the objective of neutralizing the high value targets. They knew they may not return back alive, but they were prepared for it.
@Alan, your concluding sentence in your article says, “Is this an indication of how things will be once it gets its autonomous zone?”
I say “yes” and clearly written on the walls.
Still we have to give peace a chance. How? Trust, sincerity, until then peace will remain elusive.
For this mission, it has to be proven that Marwan was really neutralized (officially declared). If not it will be a pity that those brave SAF died in vain.
The American specs might ‘throw’ the body in the South China Sea like OBL’s at the Mediterranean Ocean – somewhere.
Joe America says
They’d take his DNA first to confirm the kill. I’m monitoring wiki to see if the punctuation of the death date of Marwan changes from “26 Jan 2015?” to “26 Jan 2015!” I figure someone in a hole in a mountain in Virginia USA edits all the wiki entries for such really bad guys.
And they probably monitor Raissa because I just typed this.
By the way,OBL got an official Muslim burial ceremony, actually. He earned his respect by being dead.
duq, those saf men probably did not think they died in vain. they got their objective, they got marwan, believed they got marwan, mission accomplished. that’s in the military. once you start on a mission, you must finish it.
they died the warrior’s death too, fighting with weapons in hand, engaging volley for volley, side by side with their comrades. they did not raise the white flag of surrender, were not heard crying and begging to be spared. it was heroes death.
it’s only us that think they died in vain.
What possible peace could there be after this fiasco? Once the gov’t grants the MILF their own territory for their own, gov’t troops entering the land might or will not be easy anymore.
More fiascos to come?
Possible in both ways. To avoid such a fluid situation it must be expressly written that when gov’t forces enters those areas, Bangsamoro forces must give way and allow national operations to take place.
“17. It was a “massacre” in the sense that the SAF detachment wound up outnumbered, outgunned and pinned down. At some point commandos must have run out of ammunition. Perhaps they tried to break out of the trap individually. There is no word if they tried surrendering.”
The more pertinent question is: Given the situation you described, how were the SAF commandos able to escape complete annihilation like those in Little Bighorn and the Valley of the Death? It seems that the SAF commandos had an excellent extraction plan which was successfully implemented.
Remember that about 350 commandos got home despite the grim picture you painted. How in hell were these SAF commandos able to stay alive? It seems that MILF waylaid a LOST platoon of about 40 SAF commandos who ventured in an open field in the darkness. All the rest found their way home. BTW a platoon consists of four squads with a squad leader and nine members each plus the platoon leader.
I prefer to look at the glass “half-full” than “half-empty.”
In the context of @Rene-Ipil’s comment above, perhaps the numbered 17. para should be part of Alan’s analysis-commentary rather than viewed as fact given the same weight as the other numbered para. Sorry for belaboring, but this is so facts and commentary are not mixed up in the effort to get a cleaner big picture.
I qualified the word “massacre” because of the way it’s being spun by media and others here in Manila – implying that it was a systematic murder and slaughter of innocent and helpless people. As far as the latest verified information is concerned it was a battle. The SAF lost. because the commandos were in a bad location, cornered, outnumbered and outgunned. There have been no confirmed reports of atrocities such as the shooting of surrendered / helpless / wounded soldiers.
I heard police chief espina said it was overkill with some dead saf men pinasabog daw ang mukha, some nearly lost feet. I think espina was being overwhelmed by emotion, and saying things from his own viewpoint. to me, overkill is sensationalized word used to conjure extreme brutality. I hope espina was not sending subliminal message for all out vengeance.
we have to remember that once men are dead and stop breathing, everything stop and they would feel nothing. cut them up and pulverize their faces, they would still feel nothing. kick them, hang them, and still they feel nothing, no grunts, no whimper and that’s probably what angered rebels most because they could get no more response, kaya dinurog ang mga mukha. if you look closely you’d see that some of those injuries were inflected post mortem, after saf men died. there was no more guarding of body tissues around wounds. most likely, death was swift and saf men did not suffer more than they should.
Still no reports of whether the dead were mutilated – that will certainly be a cause for (more) outrage. The face / head wounds could have been caused by sniper fire.
agree about the sniper fire. there are bullets meant to do maximum damage and exploded on impact. often used on wild animals, not on humans.
medic or doctor near the vicinity, placed on standby ready to receive the wounded and the dead, would have been few of the first to notice irregularities.
It’s “Valley of Death.”
Full details of the troop dispositions and movements still haven’t come out. One general says the casualties were from the covering force, probably trying to hold off pursuit. It’s also probable a large body of men were trapped in the village and held out, seeing its numbers steadily cut down. Part of the force may have been trapped across the river in the marshes, exposed and picked off. Or there may have even been a force outside the village trying to rescue the men.
The fighting stopped, it seems, because members of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities prevailed on both sides to stop shooting. Those young committee members are also heroes, they went into the midst of the firefight wearing nothing more than thin vests with the committee’s logo emblazoned. It’s possible they stopped the engagement, bad enough as it was, from spinning into a resumption of full-blown hostilities.
Yes, that’s what I gathered ftom reports.
The Committee prevailed in stopping further bloodshed.
Baka mas marami pa ang casualties kung sakaling hindi sila nanaig.
The combined PNP, MILF, and BIFF versions of the massacre has the CCCH negotiating hostilities between the SAF and the MILF around midmorning. The Inquirer has the former SAF commander saying the initial assault force of 30 commandoes ( not 3 platoons) went in to apprehend Marwan, killed him ( photos of body with bandaged hand where finger was amputated for DNA testing), and were engaged while withdrawing. This started at 4 am and took half an hour after sustaining 8 dead before presumably joining the blocking SAF party guarding the approach to the bridge. This was the main firefight between the MILF and the SAF near the town where Marwan was killed, if the DNA proves to be his. There was a separate ambush by the BIFF of SAF truck mounted troops by BIFF forces in an adjoining town nearby subsequent to the MILF encounter. It has to remembered that the BIFF was formed because they opposed the MILF negotiations with the government so the CCCH could not possibly intercede in stopping a BIFF firefight. There were approxinately 30 casualties each at each site from the SAF including Civilian guides/interpreters/informers. In addition, the sacked commander established his command post at the headquarters of the provincial police at another nearby town so it is assumed there were uncommitted SAF troopers with him. So it can be assumed that the SAF survivors were from this command post, the remainder of the SAF element at the bridge (survivors there talk about their wounded being shot to death), and commandoes who escaped the BIFF ambush. Given the distribution of the SAF force, the KIA rate of forces actually engaged in the fiefight was very high. For instance, the apprehending force suffered 30% KIA despite the advantage of night vision optics at 4am, while withdrawing, and in a very short period of time. One also wonders why wounded casualties were so low given the KIA rate unless no prisoners were being taken and the SAF left their wounded behind, which is not in accordance with US training dictum.
I didn’t know the SAF had truck-borne detachments nearby. How did they hope to avoid detection riding around like that? Reports of such a convoy would certainly have drawn in hostile forces. You make a good point noting the high KIA ratio. Perhaps it can be attributed to two things: the terrain (open with no cover) and the unfamiliarity of the SAF with the area. It’s also possible they took casualties while they were mounted on trucks.
That ambush of SAF troops on vehicles is mentioned in the inquirer report as part of the BIFF version of their encounter. The SAF HQ and probably main jump off point was in another town A.Sharif so that would be where a convoy with the SAF reinforcements and more ammo would come from. I would assume only the initial raiding force went entirely by foot from assemby point to achieve surprise but obviously speed is more important in a resupply situation The BIFF spokesman in another interview mentioned they accounted for 20 or so dead commandos in one attack and listed weapons they captured which they were not returning, They were not taking prisoners and some of the MILF were not either based on survivor accounts and powder burns where the bullets went in on the bodies found near the river bank. Which is a major reason for the very high KIA/WIA ratio
Details on SAF massacre are available. Of the almost 400 man force deployed (SAF regiment has 3 infantry and one support force battalions comprising around 500-600 commandos), around 90 participated in the actual operation to enter Mamasapono and apprehend or neutralize the two high value targets. These were 3 platoon sized units from the the Fifth Special Action Battalion. Elements from the 84th Special Action Company comprising 38 men carried out the raid into the nipa huts sheltering Marawan and two bodyguards. The 55th SAC guarded the approaches to the rickety bridge which was the only access to the isolated village which served as the headquarters and residences of the 105 Milf Brigade and top command. It is not clear what part of the escape route the 45th SAC element was supposed to guard. In any case, the 84th team accomplished their assignment and the operations objective in killing Marawan after an exchange of fire. As the security detail and the Milf mustered its forces, the raiding team withdrew under withering fire and lost 8 KIA. By the time they met up with the 55th, the MILF brigade was on full alert and ambushed the teams guarding the escape route. Apparently the teams split apart with most of the 45th and the rest of the 84th scattered and escaped while the 55th was completely surrounded and pinned down by the river next to the bridge. These poor poicemen were completely annihilated with their wounded being shot dead according to survivor accounts and from forensic evidence based on gunpowder burns. Reinforcements and resupply from the rest of the 300 uncommitted SAF forces coming presumably from Shariff Aguak 12 kilometers away where the SAF command were unable to join up with the raiding force as BIFF forces ambushed their convoy.
The Fifth Battalion lost 38 men killed in the encounter and there were only one or two survivors from the 55th SAC team.
Rene-ipil, I also thought of Little Big Horn as an analogy for this battle, but never thought of Balaclava – the charge of the light brigade. You’re right: both disasters were based on inept orders and bumbling at the top.
Thanks for reminding me of the 600. But I mean Dien Bien Phu in French Indochina where about 2000 French soldiers were killed by Vietminh in1954. Anyway both debacles had similar causes as you pointed out.
Joe America says
You know, I was going to bring that up, but didn’t know if it was a known event here. Custer is admired for being brave and condemned for being stupid. No one knows who the President was then, unless they look it up. He rolled his dice and payed his price.
I think the “top” here was the SAF commander (since relieved) who gave the go without adequate cover. He’s even said, in effect, “put it on me”. He gambled that secrecy would be protection enough for an important operation. He calculated poorly. But I would not even call him a “culprit” here, really. Gutsy, yes. Well intended, yes. Poor tactical planning. Obviously.
Custer’s famous last words (allegedly): “Custer’s luck! We’ve got them now!” As he led 200 cavalrymen against 4,000 Lakota and Cheyenne (or was it Sioux)
Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull are both Lakota Indians.
I would compare this encounter to the 1st battalion 7th Cavalry regiment headed by Colonel Hal Moore in 1965 in the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam. This regiment strangely enough was George Custers unit. Moore and his 400 Air Cav troopers landed in the same type of tall grass terrain in choppers almost on top of 3 brigades of North Vietnamese main force infantry. The troopers achieved a better outcome although they suffered 70 dead and 130 wounded in killing 600 of the enemy. Of course, they had access to artillery and air support but the key was that Moore was in the thick of the fight and made sure his battalion responded to the tactical maneuvers and attacks by the vastly superior numbers of the enemy who were not taking prisonrrs
The commandos must have been being picked up hit after hit as they were not moving much anymore in that open field.
[email protected] . . . would have ordered [if you were one team leader] a frontal assault on the run towards the rebels’ side for a do or die scenario rather than being picked up like they were shooting the cops as sitting ducks?
he he he just curious asking.
You are talking of a “broken arrow” situation. Yes. With proper timing and possibly under cover of darkness and available firepower, I would try to breach the weakest point or link in the enemy chain with concentrated force and firepower. And dash towards safety.
Indeed, that was done by the Americans in the battle of La Drang Valley with less than 400 men against about 2000 Vietcongs unto a decisive victory. Simply because the American troops had an excellent leader honed in military tactics and experience as well as pertinent academic distinctions.
The American commander was top graduate of West Point and Harvard. Before he and his men left for Vietnam, he studied very well about Little Big Horn and Dien Bien Phu, especially the mistakes committed by Custer and the French commander, respectively.
You’re a candidate for a good tactician! But time was not anymore on your side, day break coming,
so cannot wait for cover of darkness.
I just don’t know if the cops had smoke grenades for covering the fields of fire by the rebels. The cops should have had that. Or PNP does not have it at all.
The terrain has to be considered: grasses taller than persons; trees all around, marshes in the areas; etc. With smoke grenades it might help for escape routes aided by helicopters maybe.
Anyway, a battle scene is beyond imaginations for any soldier. What counts is what the soldier can think as fast as one is breathing. I also don’t know except to have an open mind on it.
I’m not going to second-guess their tactics – they were elite troops and fought ferociously to the best of their abilities, literally down to the last round, and they probably didn’t surrender. The way military men describe it, the situation was as follows: the SAF were in open terrain (marshland, tall grass) with no hard cover. They were surrounded on all sides by MILF in concealment. The SAF were probably operating in teams of two or three, scattered across the field. It’s hard to imagine how they could have charged the enemy when first of all, the enemy was all around them and in concealment and could pick them off easily as they stood up to run (or wade, more like); second there was probably no particular enemy “front” they could have charged and broken through. I don’t know yet if there was a relief column they could have made contact with. Third, I’m not sure how they could have coordinated their movements easily with most of them pinned down.
There is no time for “teka teka.” A decisive course of action must be taken immediately.
It is the job of the commander to find the opening or weakest portion of the cordon. Since the SAF troop was surrounded, the enemies were distributed thinly. Find the thinnest and weakest portion. Find the vantage terrain. Consolidate forces by all means before or upon launching the attack until the target course is reached. Get ready to spend all ammo and fight a hand-to-hand or face to face combat along the way. It is assumed that the commandos had adequate communication equipment.
Determine first the specific grid coordinates of their position. Call for helicopter gunship to attack periphery at sunrise and for artillery fires towards the enemy positions ASAP. Prepare for friendly – AFP – fire attendant to “broken arrow” situation. Prepare also to attack without such assistance. In the military academy cadets were sufficiently trained to specify position. That separates officers from enlisted men. I am not sure about the police academy. I assume the PNPA cadets were trained similarly well.
Make decision. Issue orders. Go full blast. No guts, no glory.
Well trained and probably battle-hardened as they were, I’m sure the elite troops there did everything they could. I’m guessing they were in a real kill zone with no prospect of reaching the enemy before they were cut down (which is likely what happened). Plus they ran out of ammo. I doubt the MILF warriors were rank amateurs
I am really puzzled why the SAF commandoes could not give their exact location to the artillery men. I guess they lost earlier their team leader and assistant team leader as well as their positioning equipment.
Artillery fire without pre-registration and high-tech location is probably a chancy thing. The arty might have laid waste to the landscape, hitting friend, foe and noncombatants
I understand that target point could be accurately known through exact grid coordinates and data using maps and pertinent positioning equipment and system. The MILF position derives from the grid coordinates of SAF position and are opportunity targets as distinguished from “pre-registered” targets.
In actual warfare grid coordinates are basic requirement for artillery fire. Info on the topography and terrain is of course helpful. Indeed, the main reason of the army for their failure to support the SAF is the absence of the grid coordinates.
In “broken arrow” situation there is always the possibility of hitting friends due to proximity of enemies. But always, chances are taken.
Right Alan. . .
We could ask PuuurrisMama on his Oplan Volvolrisima what his 1st guess for the escaping stage scene.
I vote he should be out permanently. A thorn in all butts of the cops!
Enjoyed reading about the facts, and the framing of questions at the end of Alan’s piece.
Kudos to Alan and Raissa for inching our way into the big picture.
Enjoyed too reading excerpts of testimony to the U.S. COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES by an American expert posted by @yvonne.
On the latter info, the line, “… but we don’t see them rising to the level yet of a transnational syndicate or to the level of, say, a full-on Al Qaeda franchise” by the expert is NOT REASSURING to me.
As is said, “Necessity is the mother of creativity or inventions” — or “Difficult situations inspire ingenious solutions”; and thus, these rebels may yet rise to that dreaded full-on Al Qaeda franchise. A chilling thought, considering our financial resources, corruption, and the many sectors of society who will criticize anything at the drop of a hat. Consider too the Vietnamese in pajamas who with their dedication overwhelmed the might of the corrupt Vietnamese administration aided by generous American logistics.
Thanks NHerrera, for the kind remarks. There are all sorts of possibilities that might transpire, some of them awful, but at this point they’re all possibilities. If we don’t work on peace one thing is sure, we’ll have eternal war. And suffering, and poverty in Mindanao. Some pretty unlikely things happened last century – peace in Ireland, the abolition of apartheid in South Africa – so we might yet see peace here. It will require a lot of hard work and understanding and tolerance.
I was involved in the peace efforts in NI running cross border youth groups before and after the “Good Friday” agreement. There are quiet a few differences here. First and foremost both sides wanted peace and actively worked on it. Both sides where somewhat obeying laws and both sides knew that any bombings or shootings would be dealt with by the respective countries. There where no bounty hunter shenanigans going on either. The majority of the people (97%) on BOTH sides wanted the armed struggles to stop. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES would either of the sides in NI have tried to retaliate to an attack in the way MILF did as the consequences would have been a total stop of peace proceedings. So I am totaly at a loss at the moment how this BBL thing can be brought to a fruitful conclusion. I agree that their is far more to this as is currently known by the people but as we say in Ireland “Two wrongs Don’t make one right”
I strongly believe an independent inquest is needed and BOTH sides need to honestly participate. I also hope that ALL responsible for this mess are held accoutable for this, otherwise a peace process will be dificult to archieve.
Pls tell us some more about how the peace process went in Northern Ireland. Did it proceed by fits and stops? How did the momentum to reject violence build up? We could certainly use all the information we can get. As far as what happened in Mamasapano is concerned, both sides have a lot of explaining to do and have to come up with solid means of showing good faith and trust. Harboring terrorists is not a way of showing good faith. Neither is charging into a ceasefire area with hundreds of elite commandos.
It did indeed take a long time to develop and built ennough momentum. After the Maze Prison disaster things where verry rough for a while. However more and more people especially in the south (Rep. of Ireland) got increasingly tired of the constant killings and bombings. There are still troubles around as a few hardliner just cant let things go and rest. So similliar to MILF and BIFF the IRA had groups spitting off e.g the “Real IRA” and the Ulster Union had the Freedom fighters and a few other groups. I think because when a Seize Fighting was put to the people and 97% voted for peace and an end to violence the “fighters” where kind of left out in the cold, and had no option then to listen. THe IRA started a political party called Sin Fen now led by the two most notorious IRA leaders J. Adams and M. McGuiness. Alot of the change of mind and heart happened due to politicians like B. Clinton, President from the south M. Robnson and a few main politicions from the North. My involvement was with youth groups from both sides of the border where we tried to rebuilt trust between both sides and an understanding that “We are All Humans”. This was mainly done with Adventure/Experiential lerning events similliar to say Outward bound programs run in the USA. The situation is still a little bt fragile but improving all the time as Time is a great Healer. A few differences however are that the laws where better adhered to. So killings and bombings etc would start an immidiate response from both police forces and they would work together to solve issues. ALL WEAPONS where handed in and it was illegal and punished by prison if on was found after a certain date. No doubt your last statement about the mistakes on both sides show that alot needs to change on either side for this to work. THe silence of Noynoy et al. and the lack of the MILF leaders to stop fugitives, hostage taking etc speaks volumes. Ultimately it is the people that need to push for this and keep vigilant about twisted truth’s and bad deals on each side.
Those are all good ideas, particulary the learning events. I’m certain many people in Manila could benefit from going to Mindanao and seeing what it’s like there.
andrew lim says
PARALLELS, DIFFERENCES WITH A PREVIOUS OP
BIN LADEN IN PAKISTAN
The raid that killed Bin Laden in Pakistan had parallel risks as this one because the US kept it secret from the Pakistani Armed Forces (since the US did not trust the Pakistanis) .
DIFFERENCE: The US had monitoring of Pakistani communications, which we did not. I don’t think anyone here knew of the MILF’s presence and communications. It was risk taking of the highest degree.
In Pakistan, the US took calculated risks on the response time of the Pakistanis. And they had a good support and extraction plan.
DIFFERENCE: In Pakistan, everyone in the chain of command was involved, as evidenced by that photo of Obama and key Cabinet members watching it in real time in the White House.
The big question then is the WHY in the Philippine’s latest imitation of the Bin Laden operation. My dirty mind keeps going back to the bounty, notwithstanding the bravery and heroism displayed by the foot soldiers of the SAF.
The bounty of let’s say $8M reward for the 2 terrorists is very enticing and corrupting. I wished PuurrrisMama as suspended was with them to get the credit or the debit for the fiasco.
he he he
The Legally Inclined says
Andrew Li, may I had another difference:
There was no war between US and Pakistan nor the city of Abbotabad where Bin Laden was killed. So there were no tense relations. No history of armed hostilities. Thus, the initial shooting – indeed the entire attack – of the USN Seals did not result in immediate retaliation against the US forces. The enemy territory that the Seals attacked was just Bin Laden’s compound. When the neighbors heard the shots, they seem to have just hid inside their homes.
The municipality of Mamasapano seems to have been littered by Muslim rebel groups. The enemy territory was much wider than the house/s that sheltered the 2 wanted terrorists. It seems that when the PNP-SAF attack was noticed (or their shots heard), the rebels nearby countered.
Legally [email protected]…there was no helicops for extraction for the commandos after Marwan was taken or killed. There should have been. To ran in open field to escape was a death run for the cops.
Bad planning. My one-arm-chair opn.
I think helicopter rescue would be out of the question. Army first has to clear the area of MILF/BIFF/what have you for the helicopter to land. Otherwise, there will also be a helicopter massacre.
The best bet is the aerial cover and the the land support that the Army can give, which was lacking in this case.
In any other battles, you should control the communication lines, the supply route, even the exit or extraction plan. In this case, it’s really a march-to-their death scenario without those support I had mentioned.
I don’t think it’s for the reward other than the target is there and there’s no time to lose. It showed that the PNP-SAF will go and hunt down those that threaten the peace.
Here is the law governing the reward money for terrorists:
And here’s a provision where government enforcement units will not be ELIGIBLE to collect the reward.
22 U.S. Code § 2708 – Department of State rewards program
The real question is, where was the target terrorists lodged? BIFF or MILF area?
Who really died? The SAF blocking force or the SAF raiding team? Because if the raiding team, then how can a DNA sample get out of the killing zone?
You could be right on that.
My ‘tactical’ move from a sudden change of the situation would have been:
. . . 1. attack helocops or artillery barrage to save the pinned down cops. Never mind the peace agreement as this is already an open fighting happening. Investigate later but just give the MILF BIFF a massive heavy dose of fire on them.
….2. after that, send Marines and Army troops to the scene to finish off the rebels. Forget the peace agreement existing. It can continue later on after the battle. PNoy probably thought to tie his hands down because of a peace agreement. I find it not a good decision as the pinned down cops’ lives were at stake.
…3. it needs a bold stroke to a fluid situation like this. If a commander feeps following the ‘books’ on that, he losses the chance. Adopt to the situation that happens is a commander’s task. Anyway, it’s now moot. The gov’t lost that only chance.
Tactics acc to situations that changes as a sudden engagement takes place is not found in any prepared plans or operations. My opn as 1-armed chair pvt in the force.
The Legally Inclined says
1. There were reportedly only about 24 USN Seals that attacked the Bin Laden compound – requiring only 2 extraction helicopters. The SAF were reportedly 392. I don’t think we have enough serviceable helicopters to extract them all.
2. The USN Seals had 2 stealth or nightstalker helicopters. I don’t think we have that kind of sophisticated helicopters even to extract the 60 who badly needed help (the 44 who died and 16 injured). Sending helicopters – which would need open space to land with the rebels in hot pursuit of the SAF – would have made them sitting ducks, and possibly led to the loss of the extraction team and helicopters as well.
It seems the SAF-MILF “misencounter” is better compared with Black Hawk Down than Operation Neptune Spear. In Black Hawk Down (Operation Gothic Serpent), US forces even had more than a dozen aircrafts, about 10 humvees and about 200 men to capture 2 rebel leaders in Mogadishu, Somalia. The operation was unsuccessful as 2 of the helicopters were shot down. And the rest is history.
The SAF operation and Operation Gothic Serpent attacked not a contained area (like the Bin Laden compound) but a community (the former a municipality, the latter a city) which were rebel areas.
HOW A FOREIGN EXPERT SEE THE MINDANAO TERROR PROBLEM
“What we are seeing in places like southern Thailand, what we have seen in Mindanao with Abu Sayyaf and the MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front], what we have seen in Indonesia is a lot of ideological colonization and infiltration that occurred during the earlier phase of the war on terror, and what has happened is as some of those groups within those particular societies have become more marginalized and more radicalized over time, we have seen them come up the food chain, come up the tiers from being sort of an autonomous local rebel group to becoming an ideologically aligned radical group to perhaps even becoming an Al Qaeda affiliate, but we don’t see them rising to the level yet of a transnational syndicate or to the level of, say, a full-on Al Qaeda franchise.
So in the ideological sphere we are seeing a lot of resonance in terms of the emulation of tactics, rhetoric, and message, we see a lot of transfer of knowledge there, but in terms of actual alliance formation, in terms of common long-term political interests, we actually see a divergence, and that is part of the reason why the U.S. Army and the Philippine Army have had so much success in places like Mindanao where they have been able to drive a wedge between Abu Sayyaf, on the one hand, which was more globalized in terms of its objectives, and the MILF, which was a local organization with parochial interests that temporarily adopted a global ideology to further those interests.”
Above is an excerpt of a testimony given by Dr. Christopher Swift on February 14, 2014 at the committee hearing of the U.S. COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS.
Ancient Mariner says
The more I become involved in the Bangsamoro issue, the more I believe the object of the Muslim groups is not the betterment of the indigenous people but the spread of Islam.
Why are there no non-Islamic fighter groups?
The true indigenous people of Mindanao are not Muslims.
The true indigenous people of Mindanao, I’m sure, are not the motivation behind the agreement.
The Philippines is a secular country which already recognizes and fosters the Muslim faith.
Why therefore was such a huge issue as the Bangsamoro Agreement not presented to the Philiipino People for their consent, by means of a referendum?
A referendum will buy time, help the people to understand and of course the result will have to be accepted by all.
Ancient [email protected]… now a referendum will not work for the BBL. It will flunk. Too late at that. Before this fiasco maybe it had a chance. Sorry MILF. They do not know coordination for peace.
The proposed ‘Draft’ of Congress for a Bangsamoro Law should be scrutinized. Specially the armed force of the Bangsamoro and it’s policies etc.
A very delicate issue that needs so much efforts and time to review and study the proposed law
Ancient Mariner says
Perhaps so. The proposed law is long and I am struggling my way through it.
Perhaps we should all task ourselves to review it and comment?
I did that. I thought while reading it I was sinking in a quick sand! I don’t know our lawmakers if they can experience what they are proposing as a law for the BB Muslim rebels’ asking.
Quick sand or Sink Hole. If Congress does not shorten that proposed peace law for the MILF to better understand what it is all about and it comes to voting on it. . . ‘no’ is my vote.
No is my vote.
Ancient Mariner says
Perhaps so. I am struggling my way through the proposed law at the moment.
Perhaps we CPMers should all review it and comment. The discussion would be lively, varied and for sure not dull.
Discussing it won’t work!
It has to be re-worked. Shortened. Clarified. Otherwise I will lengthen my vote . . .Noooooooooo!
Ancient Mariner says
How can it be reworked, shortened and clarified without disucssion?
I fear that is will be longer rather than shorter.
What I wanted to say was Congress needs to FIX that proposed law FIRST as I find it mind boggling before we really can discuss every item on it reasonably.
As it is now ‘drafted,’ lengthily [hope not hurriedly again] many ‘provisions’ in it I find are ‘floating.’ Like flying feathers scattered from pillows. Catching the floating feathers with one’s hands results in too many mistakes to catch.
Question: what qualifications did this standing order have?
Yes. It was created and executed by one who is suspended! Approved by one who knew about the suspension.
Yes. The order to execute came from the WHITE HOUSE. Approved again by one in the highest house.
Did it define conditions under which the operation was forbidden (such as venturing into MILF territory in possible violation of a ceasefire agreement)?
Yes. One situation [not condition] was the targets were inside ‘Fort Knox!’
Yes. One situation [not condition] was SAF was going to do it alone against 3 armed Brigades.
Yes. Another situation [never a condition] was it was an ‘old oplan’ so old calling for a disaster.
Yes. SAF operating alone without any coordination with other friendly units will result in devastation.
Many conditions or situations.
You are forgetting to consider that this could be US operations with Filipino SAF as operatives. The Americans sweetened by the reward of $5 to $7 million bucks and drone technology.
Dig deeper. Why was Aquino not asked about the American involvement? Why didn’t they pry whether there was video recording of the operations, or the least from the SAF command center the audio recordings of the communications?
Follow the recordings, these will lead to pertinent answers!
I apologize, you did consider in the last paragraph. Still dig deeper and ask for the recordings, video or audio.
‘If’ there were recordings, video or audio, in the hands of American specs, it needs Pres. Obama’s approval with recommendation by Pentagon chiefs, to reveal or give copies of such.
Denied! Security of the USA interests.