Light Reaction Battalion
Light Reaction Company
"Preservers of Peace"
In May 2000 the Philippine Army activated a Light Reaction Company in order to provide a dedicated anti-terrorist element. Its mission was to undertake counter-terrorist operations and quick-response missions. In many ways the Light Reaction Company was similar to the Special Operations Group that had existed between 1978 and 1983. The Light Reaction Company was activated in response to a string of kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf group, a terrorist organization linked to Al Qaeda. The unit conducted its training between February 2001 and July 2001. In March 2001, the United States deployed Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, out of Okinawa, to assist with the training the Company. After training the unit deployed to Basilan, Mindanao, where the unit was committed as a conventional, if elite, infantry force.
In the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the US military began a more active program of assistance to Philippine security forces for the purposes of conduct anti-terrorism missions there. The United States deployed various units to the Philippines as part of Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines, including Task Force 510 from US Special Operations Command, Pacific (SOCPAC). Task Force 510 deployed to the country in 2002 and immediately began working to assist the Republic of the Philippines in their campaigns against the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah groups. In July 2002, Task Force 510 was replaced by Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines. The Light Reaction Company was deployed to Jolo in 2002 in response to kidnappings there. The unit also participated in the Balikatan 02-1 exercises with the US.
The increased US attention and assistance led to the creation of a joint service special warfare unit, the Joint Special Operations Group. The Joint Special Operations Group was tasked as the Armed Forces of the Philippines counter-terrorism strike force. The Light Reaction Company was expanded to a Battalion and subsequently placed under the operational control of JSOG. The Battalion was composed of approximately 400 Special Forces and Scout Ranger personnel, who were trained and organized for counter-terrorist operations. The unit was organized as a Headquarters, and Headquarters Company, and 3 Light Reaction Companies. The Battalion headquarters was located at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City with the headquarters of both the Joint Special Operations Group and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The Light Reaction Battalion continued to see action against a wide variety of anti-government forces. In 2008 it was engaged in operations in Tarlac in the north against the NPA and to Zamboanga in the south against the MILF. In 2008, elements of the Battalion also came under investigation for the possible killing of innocent civilians on 4 February 2008 during operations in Mindanao against the MILF. 50 members of the unit, including 3 officers, were suspended on 9 Febraury 2008. The investigation subsequently linked the killings to misinformation provided by an informat.
In 2009, elements of the Joint Special Operations Group, including elements of the Light Reaction Battalion, were engaged in operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.
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