ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - Thirty members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Forces (SF) Battalion are receiving specialized training from members of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) in Recodo, Philippines over the next three months.
Recently reactivated in the Zamboanga region, the Filipino SF Battalion has embarked on a comprehensive training program designed to improve operational efficiency and mission effectiveness. The training aims to promote the battalion's unit cohesiveness and relationship-building between JSOTF-P members and Filipino forces.
"The class that I liked the most was the photography class because it was very interesting and it's something I like to do," said the Filipino battalion commander.
The commander also said that on their missions, they sometimes are required to document evidence. Understanding exactly how to take photos after operations greatly increases their capabilities, he said.
Some examples of training Filipino troops are receiving are classes on radio operation, assault craft training, night navigation, combat camera operations, explosive ordnance disposal, combat medic techniques and civil military operations.
"Our counterparts were really motivated about the training. They asked really good questions and it was really a great experience working with them," said a Marine Sergeant who taught a class on photography.
Additionally, the Philippine forces are learning ways to better utilize their boat assets for conducting maritime interdiction operations, which enables teams to monitor lawless activity in the waters surrounding the Mindanao region.
Each seminar consists of a short classroom presentation, followed by a more in-depth interactive portion. The demonstrations offered throughout the training can be the most valuable, as the students have the opportunity to apply what they learn during the classroom instruction.
"The Philippine Special Forces are some of the most knowledgeable, skilled troops I have ever worked with. I really enjoyed sharing my knowledge about hand held and fixed radios. The classes were a lot of fun," said a JSOTF-P Air Force Senior Airman.
The battalion signed an administrative procedure agreement with JSOTF-P on Feb. 19 outlining the different types of training Filipino troops will be receiving. One important aspect of the seminars is to apply the train-the-trainer concept to each class. This procedure identifies select students who are designated as the future teachers of the class and will then instruct other units in the battalion.
A primary mission capability of JSOTF-P is to conduct these types of trainings, called subject- matter-expert exchanges. Through these classes, the Filipino and JSOTF-P members share their experience from each other throughout the courses. In many of these sessions, Filipino instructors teach large portions of the class and are the experts in their given field.
The Filipino SF members know the terrain and often can share their first-hand operational experience. It is the sharing of information that makes Filipino and American forces better prepared to execute their missions.
"I enjoyed the class very much. Some of the things I learned from the class were how to input channel frequencies and set up a patrol antenna," said a Philippine Army Sergeant who attended a class with JSOTF-P radio operators.