Special Action Force
The Philippine National Police assume a leading role in providing internal security and combating terrorism.
Forty-three elite police commandos were killed by Muslim insurgents in the southern Philippines Jan 28, 2015, when they were ambushed while pursuing "high value" terrorist bomb makers. The commandos, members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) unit of the Philippine National Police, were killed in a firefight that raged for 12 hours in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao Province.
Members of both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), with whom the government has signed a peace agreement, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), with whom it has not, were involved in the firefight.
"This is the single largest loss of life in recent memory," Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas told the press conference, calling for a moment of silence from assembled reporters. "These SAF operatives are fallen heroes. They were just doing their job... That is why we salute them." Roxas said that 392 SAF commandos been engaged to hunt Malaysian bomb-maker and Jemaah Islamiyah leader Zulkifli bin Hir, known as Marwan, and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman.
As the Special Action Force adapts to the changes that are needed by the prevailing times, so does the SAF Commando Course. Updates and adjustments are constantly introduced in the proper training the SAF Trooper to become an even more potent force to reckon with in the government’s consistent and forceful counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency campaigns.
The Commando Course was first called the SAF Operation Course when the training was conducted for Classes 1 through 9 until 1995, when it became known as the SAF Commando, a historical course that now boasts a total of over 61 classes graduated over the years.
Throughout the years, the scope of training of the Commando Course has also evolved to include subjects that were previously not taught but are now deemed important in our pursuit of excellence. The Close Quarter Battle and Intelligence Phases were taught as an orientation module which will only be taught in full once a trooper undergo a separate specialization course which is the Urban Counter-Revolutionary Warfare Course.
The present Commando training program now includes Internal Security Operations, Waterborne Rescue, Police Intervention, Barangay Module, Operational Testing, and Field Training Exercise, to be taken up in the four months of training prior to the test mission that will be held for one month. The course was designed to give the troopers combat capability in both rural and urban areas in response to calls for help in time of emergencies and crisis. Furthermore, the new Commando Course aims no only to provide skill to SAF Troopers but virtue as well, by developing their character through the fostering of discipline, righteousness, and respect.
With the growing threats from different criminal and terrorist groups, and with danger mounting, it is imperative that each and every SAF Trooper is well trained and knowledgeable of the tactics employed by the enemy. They must learn how to adapt to the problems that come their way during each operation and turn every unfavorable situation into something that can be use for future victory. The Commando Course not only provides the required knowledge and skills to SAF Personnel but also develops officers into well-rounded, effective, and efficient leaders. The SAF Trooper is expected to be at e forefront of danger at times that are not of their own choosing and in places they are not familiar with. But even so, with the help of the definitive Commando Course, we can expect the SAF Trooper to deliver despite great odds. This is the dedication and commitment of the SAF Training School and the SAF Commando Course.
The Urban Counter-Revolutionary Warfare Course, also known as Sureshock, is one of the course offered exclusively by the SAF. It is especially designed to enable police officers to respond to crises and terrorist incident in mostly urban situations. With Sureshock, students master modern anti-terrorist methods such as how to conduct hostage rescue operations even aboard as aircraft and /or moving vehicles. They imbibe interventions. They learn, for instance, how to breach or rappel to enter an assault area from above, and extricate hostages safely. Further still, the expertise of SAF troopers with firearms are honed so that they are able to handle these with deadly accuracy, speed, and care. The close-quarters battle is the trademark of the Sureshock. Conducted almost always amid smoke, darkness, and deadly fumes while fully outfitted and armed, a team or teams of SAF troopers clear a building systematically and methodically. This approach can be either covert or done is absolute silence where commands are given through hand signals, or it could be dynamic, as in assault conducted in the midst of a raging firefight.
Among the various trainings that the SAF offers, the Basic Airborne Course is the best acid test for courage and physical strength. The Airborne is a tradition in the SAF, a different kind of training that forces SAF troopers to face their deepest psychological and physical fear, and conquer them. Airborne students are taught to jump off an aircraft flying at 1,500 feet above sea level, and seven week of the two-months training period are devoted to rigorous exercises and drills that prepare their physique to withstand the impact of severe falls. Armed with packs and Kevlar, and full SAF training camouflage, students must rouse at odd hours of the night to run 10 kilometers, spend the entire daylight hours in studying and practicing falling and dropping techniques and how to precisely maneuver their bodies so they could drop within the range of their target areas during the jump. Finally, during jump week, students board a light plane in full jump gear, queue in the jump area, sing the “Airborne Song” while sweating profusely, and then jump, hands over the toggle that will open their canopies, and then after an exhilarating drop, land safely on their feet.
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