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7th Infantry Division

The primary mission of 7th infantry division is to neutralize enemy armed forces, secure its assigned area of operations, including its population, and engage in activities that contribute to the attainment of national goals and objectives. Its secondary mission is to host local trainings and bilateral exercises in order to promote cooperation and strengthen alliances.

The 7th Infantry Division, Kaugnay, was activated on 1 August 1988 with the decision to transform the 3rd Infantry Brigade (Separate) into a full Infantry Division, pursuant to General Orders Number 471, General Headquarters, Armed Forces of the Philippines, dated 2 August 1988. This was a product of the decision to shift the 5th Infantry Division to Region 2 in line with a larger reorganization in the Philippine Army, creating the need for a unit to command remaining army units in Central Luzon. Initially the unit had the 701st Infantry Brigade and the 24th, 56th, 60th, 68th, 70th, 71st, 72nd, and 73rd Infantry Battalions under its operational control. Between August and October 1988 the 2 more Brigades were activated, the 702nd Infantry Brigade and the 703rd Infantry Brigade (Provisional), both staffed with personnel from the inactivated Tactical Control Group (West).

In line with the AFP's Lambat Bitag Campaign, the 7th Infantry Division assumed major responsibility in counter insurgency operations. The Division successfully launched a series of operations to address NPA and related organizations within the Division AOR. These operations led to the neutralization of numerous enemy combatants and the recovery of weapons.

On 16 January 1989, The 7th Infantry Division transferred its Headquarters from Camp Servillano S Aquino, San Miguel, Tarlac to Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. On 16 August 1989, the 7th Infantry Division gained an additional battalion with the assignment of the 69th Infantry Battalion to its operational control pursuant to General Orders Number 326, Headquarters, Philippine Army, dated 9 August 1989.

During the 1989 attempted coup, the 7th Infantry Division played a vital role in providing the security and defense of the National Capital Region. The 701st Infantry Brigade, with the 24th, 72nd, and 73rd Infantry Battalions under its operational control was deployed to the National Capital Region Defense Command and served as a counter coup force in Metro Manila. The Brigade was also given the additional tasks of conducting counter insurgency operations in the nearby provinces of Rizal, Laguna and Cavite. On 30 March 1991, when the situation in Manila stabilized, the 701st Infantry Brigade was ordered to redeploy to Bangued, Abra. There it assumed responsibility of the nearby provinces on Rizal, Laguna and Cavite.

On 23 September 1991, the 7th Infantry Division created a special force in order to curb the rampant illegal activities within the Division AOR, particularly in the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation. This special task force was the product of a Memorandum of Agreement signed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the 7th Infantry Division. The special task force was designated as the primary unit tasked with enforcing forestry laws and regulations for the preservation of the remaining forests in Region 3 and the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation.

The rest of the 7th Infantry Division continued to conduct internal security operations. On 16 May 1995 the internal security operations responsibility in Regions 1 and 3 were transferred from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to the Philippine National Police. Internal security operations responsibilities for Ifugao and the municipalities of Buguias and Mankayan, in Benguet Province were turned over to the PNP on 9 June 1995 and 16 November 1995, respectively.

The shift in responsibility caused a realignment in the distribution of force's the Division's AOR. The 701st Infantry Brigade, with the 60th and 72nd Infantry Battalions and A Battery, 3rd Field Artillery Battalion were moved to the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in the middle of 1995. There they underwent retraining and were eventually designated as the Division's Ready Deployment Force.

The 72nd Infantry Battalion departed was almost immediately redeployed on 2 May 1995 to Tipo-Tipo, Basilan in Southern Mindanao to combat the rising insurgency there. There the Battalion was placed under the operational control of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. The 60th Infantry Battalion was also redeployed to Zamboanga City on 14 August 1995, soon after its retraining had begun. The 60th Infantry Battalion became the strike force and eventually the main effort of the reorganized Zamboanga City Internal Defense Command. The Battalion played a major role in maintaining order in Zamboanga City and its immediate vicinity.

On 19 September 1995, in line with the Armed Forces of the Philippines Letter of Instruction 37/95, also known as "Pices," the 701st Infantry Brigade, with only the 73rd Infantry Battalion and A Battery, 3rd Field Artillery Battalion under its operational control, immediately deployed to Davao Province. Its mission there was to assist Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) forces. The unit was placed under the operational control of the 4th Infantry Division and assigned an AOR consisting of the provinces of Davo, Compostela Valley and parts of Agusan Del Sur and Surigao del Sur. The 72nd Infantry Battalion eventually rejoined the Brigade in Davao Province on 16 October 1995. The 60th Infantry Battalion, however, remained in Zamboanga City as the SOUTHCOM's strike force.

As conflict escalated in the area around the Malitubog-Maridagao (also known as Mal-Mar or Malmar) Irrigation Project in Carmen, Cotabato, the 60th Infantry Battalion was released by SOUTHCOM. It was subsequently placed under the operational control of the 6th Infantry Division and tasked to secure the Malitubog-Maridagao Complex. An agreement between the Philippine Government and insurgent forces mandated fighting remain outside of a 5 kilometer radius around the zone. In the end fighting ensued in the complex, becoming known as the Battle of Mal-Mar, which lasted for 14 grueling days, after which the MILF were finally dislodged. The 60th Infantry Battalion was heavily engaged in the action.

On September 1996, the 7th Infantry Division was designated as the Rapid Deployment Division in Luzon, pursuant to General Orders Number 1345, Headquarters, Philippine Army dated 12 August 1996. The holding of the Asia Pacific Economic Summit Meeting at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Complex, Olongapo City between 22 and 24 November 1996 presented another role for the 7th Infantry Division. The 7th Infantry Division was one of the AFP's primary units tasked to provide security in the outlying areas of Bataan and Zambales surrounding the SBMA Complex. To accomplish its assigned mission, the Division employed the 703rd Infantry Brigade to meet its security requirements to ensure the success of the activity. The 24th, 68th, 70th, and 71st Infantry Battalions were placed under its operational control. On 22 January 1998, the 60th Infantry Battalion was released from the operational control of the 6th Infantry Division. Subsequently, the 701st Infantry Brigade, consisting of the 60th, 72nd, and 73rd Infantry Battalions, were taken from the operational control of the 4th Infantry Division and placed under the operational control of the 6th Infantry Division. The 7th Infantry Division regained responsibility for internal security operations in Region 1 and 3 and Aurora Province on 30 September 1998. These areas had previously been the responsibility of elements of the Philippine National Police. On 1 December 1998 the unit also took over the same responsibilities in Dinapigue, Isabela from the 5th Infantry Division as part of NOLCOM's Operation Plan Kamagong.

Subsequently the unit's AOR in Luzon included: Aurora, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Zambales, Abra, La Union, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and municipality of Dinapigue, Isabela, an area of 3,703,895 hectares and estimated population of 9,723,570. In Mindanao, the 701st Infantry Brigade's AOR covered the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao City and extended to the 6 municipalities of Agusan del Sur and 5 municipalities of Surigao del Sur, encompassing an area of 24,862.86 square kilometers and estimated population of 2.4 million.

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