This article is organised as follows:
- Part 01: Background to the 710th Special Operations Wing (710 SPOW).
- Part 02: Organisation of the 710 SPOW.
- Part 03: Miscellaneous.
PART ONE: BACKGROUND
This article provides an overview of the 710th Special Operations Wing, a unit of the Philippines Air Force (PAF) within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The 710th Special Operations Wing can be abbreviated as 710 SOW, 710th SPOW, or SPOW. Personnel are also known as Skywarriors.
The wing is one of several units that form part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Operations Command (AFPSOCOM).
Part One of this article looks at women and the 710 SOW, then discusses the difference between tier 1 and tier 2 forces and highlights the methods of entry. It then outlines the roles and tasks of the 710 SOW before finally providing a brief history on its origins. Part Two looks at the organisation of the 710 SOW, identifies some key personalities, before moving on to outline the various SOF units and some of training courses and seminars available. Finally, Part Three provides some useful links and identifies other articles the reader may find useful.
The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the 710th Special Operations Wing.
1.2 Women and the 710 SOW
Women can join the 710 SOW.
1.3 Tier 1 and Tier 2 Special Forces
The 710 SOW is sometimes referred to as a ‘Tier 2’ SOF unit because they are the units usually tasked with a supporting role for Tier 1 units. Other OSF are referred to as ‘Tier 1’ because they are the units usually tasked with direct action.
1.4 Method of Entry
Civilians cannot join the 710 SOW directly, one must join the AFP first and then apply.
1.5 Roles and Tasks
The role of the 710th Special Operations Wing includes a number of specialist tasks, for example (Lastimado & Rojas, 2004, p.30; 710 SOW, 2017):
- Transport for internal security operations (ISO);
- Combat operations against enemy forces;
- Counter-terrorism (CT) operations;
- Internal security operations (ISO);
- Co-ordination of air strikes;
- Anti-hijacking operations;
- Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operations;
- Rapid deployment;
- Search and rescue operations;
- Humanitarian assistance;
- Helping in nation building;
- K-9 and handler training on explosives and bomb detection;
- Civil disturbance control; and
- Honour/ceremonial functions of the PAF.
Aside from these tasks, the Combat Groups of the 710 SPOW, in an effort to protect the environment, have also conducted Anti-Illegal Logging Operations within the area of responsibility (AOR) of Batangas, Cavite and Quezon provinces.
1.6 Brief History
Key dates include:
- The 710 SOW is the successor to the Philippine Army Air Corps (PAAC) Regiment raised in late 1941 from the pilots and air crews of the PAAC who took part in the Battle of Bataan.
- 710th Special Operations Wing established.
- Around 2000, having proven its capability during times of crisis, the wing was transferred from Villamor Air Base to Clark Air Base to assist the 600th Air Base Wing in its security requirements.
PART TWO: ORGANISATION OF THE 710 SOW
This part of the article outlines the organisation of the 710 SOW, including its commander and the various units and sub-units within it.
The wing is under the direct command of the headquarters (HQ) of the Philippine Air Force. However, its operating elements that conduct ISOs are under the operational control of area commands.
2.1 710 SOW Mission
The mission of the 710 SOW is to conduct special operations for the defence of PAF bases and installations and perform other contingency operations (710 SOW, 2017).
2.2 Commander 710 SOW
The 710th Special Operations Wing is led by a Brigadier General (OF-6) (710 SOW, 2019a), based at the HQ in Clark Field, Pampanga.
Facilities at Clark Field include the Emergency Situation Training Facility (ESTF).
2.3 Key Personalities
Key personalities include (710 SOW, 2019a & 2019c):
- Commander: A Brigadier General (OF-6).
- Deputy Commander: A Colonel (OF-5).
- Wing Sergeant Major: A Master Sergeant (OR-9).
2.4 Units of the 710 SOW
In 2004, Lastimado & Rojas (2004, p.25) state the 710 SOW had approximately 2,000 personnel and was organised as follows:
- Special Operations Group.
- One squadron is attached to the AFP Joint Special Operations Group performing CT operations.
- Civil Security Group.
- Combat Group.
- Tasked with conducting ISOs, with a specific area of operations under the Southern Luzon Command.
- Other units of the wing perform ISO and Air Force base security operations in other parts of the country.
- Mission Support Squadron.
- Special Operations Combat Support Group.
In 2007, the following units formed part of the wing (PAF, 2007):
- 772nd Explosives and Ordnance Squadron (EOS); and
- 773rd K-9s Kennels.
As I understand it, the wing (as of September 2019) is organised as follows:
- Headquarters Administrative Service.
- 720th Special Operations Group (720 SOG):
- Located at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.
- Celebrated its 29th Founding Anniversary on 15 March 2019 (710 SOW, 2019d).
- Led by the Group Commander, a Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4).
- Assisted by Deputy Group Commander, a Captain (OF-2).
- 721st Special Operations Squadron.
- 730th Combat Group (730 CG):
- Located at Nasugbu, Batangas.
- Originally composed of BMT Class 2003-A.
- 740th Combat Group (740 CG):
- Located at Fernando Air Base, Lipa City.
- It is the first combat group of the 710 SPOW originally composed of graduates of BMT Class 2001-A and BMT Class 2001-B.
- The original design of the 740th was to be a task group known as Balangay, later it has been assigned as a combat group.
- 750th Combat Group (750 CG):
- Located at Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
- The main component of NCR Command to subdue any hostile acts in the vicinity of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
- With a rapid deployment capability they can be on site within matter of minutes which was proven in the ‘peninsula siege Marines stand-off’.
- They are also capable on civil military operations conducting white area operations and civic actions even in disaster and relief operation during typhoons Milenyo, Glenda, and Ondoy.
- 760th Combat Group (760 CG):
- Located at Basa Air Base.
- ?de-activated in April 2012.
- 770th Special Operations Combat Support Group (770 SOCSG):
- Located at Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga.
- 780th Ground-Based Air Defence Group (780 GBADG):
- Transferred from 710 SOW to Air Defence Command on Wednesday 07 February 2018 (PAF, 2018a).
- 790th Air Base Group:
- Was still part of the wing as late as 2014 (PAF, 2018b).
The wing’s operating units are strategically deployed in different areas of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to include Palawan performing ISO missions.
2.5 Training Courses & Seminars for 710 SOW
There are a number of courses and seminars available (710 SOW, 2019b):
- Close Quarter Battle (CQB) Training.
- Kennel Management Course (KMC).
- Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear Explosive (CBRNE) Seminar.
- Explosive Ordnance Reconnaissance Agent Seminar.
PART THREE: MISCELLANEOUS
3.0 Useful Publications
- Lastimado, A.R. & Rojas, A.G. (2004) The Armed Force of the Philippines and Special Operations. Master’s Thesis. Naval Postgraduate School. Available from World Wide Web: https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a429856.pdf. [Accessed: 21 August, 2019].
- Headquarters Philippine Army Letter Directive dated February 24, 2004, Subject: Rightsizing of SOCOM.
- PAM 3-071: Philippine Special Forces Operations Manual.
- 710th Special Operations Wing ‘Assault Plan 2028’.
- Santos, H.B. (2003) An Assessment of PAF Special Operations Capabilities. Thesis. National Defense College of the Philippines. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.ndcp.edu.ph/index.php/library/thesis-1681/. [Accessed: 06 September, 2019].
3.1 Useful Links
- 710 SOW: https://www.facebook.com/710thspow/.
710 SOW (710th Special Operations Wing). (2017) Philippine Air Force Virtual TV. Posted 10 November 2017. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.facebook.com/710thspow/. [Accessed: 06 September, 2019].
710 SOW (710th Special Operations Wing). (2019a) The 710th Special Operations Wing became the overall Champion during the closing ceremony of PAF Inter-unit Sports Competition 2019. Posted 23 May 2019. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.facebook.com/710thspow/. [Accessed: 06 September, 2019].
710 SOW (710th Special Operations Wing). (2019b) The 710th SPOW conducted the joint closing ceremony. Posted 21 April 2019. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.facebook.com/710thspow/. [Accessed: 06 September, 2019].
710 SOW (710th Special Operations Wing). (2019c) Civil Military Opns Spow. Posted 17 April 2019. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.facebook.com/710thspow/. [Accessed: 06 September, 2019].
710 SOW (710th Special Operations Wing). (2019d) 720th Special Operations Group. Posted 20 March 2019. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.facebook.com/710thspow/. [Accessed: 06 September, 2019].
Lastimado, A.R. & Rojas, A.G. (2004) The Armed Force of the Philippines and Special Operations. Master’s Thesis. Naval Postgraduate School. Available from World Wide Web: https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a429856.pdf. [Accessed: 21 August, 2019].
PAF (Philippine Air Force). (2004) Headquarters Philippine Air Force Organization. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.paf.mil.ph/HQ/hpaf.html. [Accessed: 13 December, 2014]. [Defunct].
PAF (Philippine Air Force). (2007) PAF Sets Activities to Mark 60th Anniversary. Available from World Wide Web: https://web.archive.org/web/20071017015218/http://www.paf.mil.ph/HQ/pio/Feature%20articles/PAF%2060TH%20ANNIV.htm. [Accessed: 06 September, 2019].
PAF (Philippine Air Force). (2018a) IN PHOTOS. Posted 07 February 2018. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.facebook.com/piopaf/posts/in-photos-the-men-and-women-of-headquarters-philippine-air-force-witness-in-a-si/1451438528318690/. [Accessed: 06 September, 2019].
PAF (Philippines Air Force). (2018b) Col Ernesto Rabina Air Base. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.paf.mil.ph/bases/col-ernesto-rabina-air-base. [Accessed: 06 September, 2019].