This article is organised as follows:
- Part 01: Background to the Philippine Army’s First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSSR).
- Part 02: Organisation of the FSSR.
- Part 03: Training.
- Part 04: Mascots and Badges.
- Part 05: Miscellaneous.
PART ONE: BACKGROUND
This article provides an overview of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, a unit of the Philippines Army within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The First Scout Ranger Regiment is known by a number of nicknames including: Musangs; FSSR; Strikers; Rangers; SR; and Scout Rangers.
The regiment 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 FSRR, 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 FSRR before finally providing a brief history on its origins. Part Two looks at the organisation of the FSRR, identifies some key personalities, before moving on to outline the various SOF units. Part Three outlines the training courses open to potential and veteran FSRR members. Part Four looks at mascots and badges of the FSRR. Finally, Part Five 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 First Scout Ranger Regiment.
1.2 Women and the FSRR
Unsure if women can join.
1.3 Tier 1 and Tier 2 Special Forces
The FSRR is sometimes referred to as ‘Tier 1’ SF units because they are the units usually tasked with direct action. Other special operations forces are referred to as ‘Tier 2’ units as they, usually, fulfil a supporting role for the Tier 1 units.
1.4 Method of Entry
Civilians cannot join the FSRR directly, one must join the AFP first and then apply.
1.5 Roles and Tasks
The role of the First Scout Ranger Regiment includes a number of specialist tasks, for example:
- Anti-guerrilla operations;
- Counter-terrorism (CT);
- Hostage rescue;
- Unconventional warfare;
- Jungle warfare;
- Raiding operations;
- Close quarters combat (CQB);
- Urban warfare; and
Its primary, and original, task is anti-guerrilla warfare.
1.6 Brief History
First Lieutenant Rafael “Rocky” Ileto, the father of the Scout Rangers, coined the term Scout Ranger. It was based on the two US military units that he had served and worked with during the Second World War – the Alamo Scouts (of the US 6th Army) and the 6th Ranger Battalion (of US Army special operations).
The First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR) was established on 25 November 1950 under the command of Rafael Ileto, who would later become the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Vice-Chief of Staff and Defence Secretary.
Initially, training was undertaken at Fort McKinley (Fort Andres Bonifacio) (Ranger Cabunzky, 2014). A marker erected in the 1950’s still stands at the former home of the Scout Ranger Training Unit (SRTU), which is now the current location of the Army Support Command (ASCOM) (Ranger Cabunzky, 2014).
Key dates include (Soliven, 2017):
- The threat of the Huks gave rise to the Scout Rangers.
- Large-scale operations proved futile against the highly mobile and elusive rebels.
- To match the nature of the rebels, the Scout Rangers where to be highly trained in guerrilla warfare, operating in enemy territory.
- General Order No. 325 established the Scout Ranger Training Centre (SRTC) on 25 November 1950.
- It trained volunteers from the Philippine Army’s Battalion Combat Teams (BCT)’s.
- The first trainees, 12 officers and 100 enlisted personnel, attended a 10-week course.
- Nine officers and 61 enlisted personnel graduated.
- Having neutralised the Huk rebels, the FSRR found itself without a mission and was de-activated.
- The FSRR was re-activated due to the local communist threat.
- On 08 December 1971, the SRTU was re-activated.
- On 16 July 1978, the SRTU was re-organised as the Scout Ranger Group (SRG), becoming organic to the newly formed Army Special Warfare Brigades (SWABde), which was established on 16 January 1978.
- At this point the SRG had five companies.
- In March 1983, the SWABde was de-activated and the FSRR was re-activated.
- Due to its reputation in dealing with the communist threat, the FSRR was designated as the ‘National Manoeuvre Force’ of the AFP on 01 December 1986.
- The FSRR was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation in December 1988.
- Army Scout Rangers occupied Makati establishments in their attempt to overthrow the government of then President Corazon Aquino (Frialde, 2003).
- De-activated as a result.
- Re-activated in 1991.
- Members of Scout Ranger Class 103, undergoing their test mission, conquered the Mabiga-Poguin Complex in Kalinga during a week of fierce fighting.
- FSRR receives the Presidential Streamer Award for fighting against MILF.
- They also figured in the July 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, with four Scout Rangers (Captains Albert T. Baloloy, Gerardo Orpilla Gambala, Milo Discutido Maestrecampo, and Laurence Louis Bumatay Somera) tagged as plotters.
- 1st Lt. Lawrence San Juan, one of the four escaped Magdalo soldiers who had recently been arrested, was also a Scout Ranger.
Notable campaigns include:
- Hukbalahap Rebellion.
- CPP–NPA–NDF rebellion.
- Communist Insurgencies.
- Islamic Insurgencies.
- Moro conflict.
- Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines.
- Zamboanga Siege (2013).
- Marawi Crisis (2017).
PART TWO: ORGANISATION OF THE FSRR
This part of the article outlines the organisation of the FSRR, including its commander and the various units and sub-units within it.
2.1 FSRR Mission
“The First Scout Ranger Regiment does its traditional Direct Action and Special Reconnaissance operations.” (Lastimado & Rojas, 2004, p.27).
“…the Scout Ranger’s basic unit is the 7-man team that is highly proficient in small-unit infantry tactics with the capability to operate independently. The team specializes in conducting commando raids, snipings, demolitions, reconnaissance missions and other guerilla warfare tactics and techniques. The training of Scout Ranger is designed to develop a person’s skill, stamina, and spirit.” (Lastimado & Rojas, 2004, p.28).
2.2 Commander FSRR
The First Scout Ranger Regiment is led by a Brigadier General (OF-6), based at the headquarters (HQ) in Camp Tecson, San Miguel, Bulacan (Nepomuceno, 2019a; Oliva, 2019). It was previously located at Tanay, Rizal (Nepomuceno, 2019a).
2.3 Key Personalities
Key personalities include (Oliva, 2019):
- Commander: A Brigadier General (OF-6).
- FSRR Course Director: A Captain (OF-2).
- Deputy Regiment Commander.
- Chief of Staff.
- Battalion/company commanders.
- Battalion Sergeant Major.
- First Sergeant.
2.4 Units of the FSRR
In 2004, Lastimado & Rojas (2004, p.24) state the FSRR had approximately 1,800 personnel and was organised as follows:
- HQ and HQ Service Company.
- Three Scout Ranger Battalions with three Scout Ranger Companies each.
- Scout Ranger School.
As I understand it, the FSRR (as of August 2019) has approximately 2,500 personnel and is organised as follows (Mindanao Examiner, 2018):
- 1st Scout Ranger Battalion.
- 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion.
- 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion.
- 4th Scout Ranger Battalion.
- 5th Scout Ranger Battalion.
- Scout Ranger Training School.
Battalions can be led by either a Major (OF-3) or a Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4) (Mindanao Examiner, 2018).
The following companies form part of the five battalions.
- 1st Scout Ranger Company ‘Reconnaissance’.
- 2nd Scout Ranger Company ‘Venceremos’ (Sp., ‘We will win’).
- 3rd Scout Ranger Company ‘Terminator’.
- 4th Scout Ranger Company ‘Final Option’.
- 5th Scout Ranger Company ‘Salaknib’ (Iloko, ‘Shield’).
- 6th Scout Ranger Company ‘The Cutting Edge’.
- 7th Scout Ranger Company ‘In Hoc Signo Vinces’ (L., ‘Under this sign thou shalt conquer’).
- 8th Scout Ranger Company ‘Destruere Hostis Deus’ (L., ‘Destroy the enemy of God’).
- 9th Scout Ranger Company ‘Angát sa Ibá!’ (Tag. ‘Above all others!’).
- 10th Scout Ranger Company ‘We Lead’ (Ultimus Fortis).
- 11th Scout Ranger Company ‘Pericoloso’ (It., ‘Dangerous’).
- 12th Scout Ranger Company ‘Always Ready’.
- 13th Scout Ranger Company ‘Warrior’.
- 14th Scout Ranger Company ‘Mabalasik’ (Tag., ‘Fierce’).
- 15th Scout Ranger Company ‘Mandirigmâ’ (Tag., ‘Fighters’ or ‘Warriors’).
- 16th Scout Ranger Company ‘Mabangís’ (Tag., ‘Vicious’).
- 17th Scout Ranger Company ‘Mapanganib’ (Tag., ‘Dangerous’).
- 18th Scout Ranger Company ‘Makamandág’ (Tag., ‘Venomous’).
- 19th Scout Ranger Company ‘Dimalupig’ (Tag., ‘Unbeatable’).
- 20th Scout Ranger Company ‘Hellcat’.
- 21st Scout Ranger Company ‘Mapangahas’ (Tag., ‘Fearless’).
- 22nd Scout Ranger Company ‘Cul Peri Duro’ (Tag., ‘Strike Hard’).
2.5 Scout Ranger Training School
The Scout Ranger Training School (SRTS) is located at Camp Tecson, San Miguel in Bulacan. It was moved from Camp Capinpin, Tanay Rizal in 1996 (Lastimado & Rojas, 2004; Ranger Cabunzky, 2014).
The SRTS has been/or is known by a variety of names, including:
- Scout Ranger Training Unit (SRTU);
- Scout Ranger Training Centre (SRTC);
- Scout Ranger School (SRS); and
- Scout Ranger Group (SRG).
The SRTS comes under the command of the Commander FSRR, but there is also supervision exercised by the Assistant Chief of Staff for Education and Training (G8) and a co-ordination role via the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
The SRTS is led by the Commandant, [RANK], supported by a range of staff including:
- Co-ordinating Staff.
- Course Directors.
- First Sergeant.
- Staff Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO’s).
- Senior Tactical NOC’s.
- Ranger Instructors (formerly Assistant Instructors).
- They provide focused supervision to the conduct of classes, practical exercises, routine formations, physical fitness activities and most importantly, evaluating the performance and skill level of each students.
- They also supervise the conduct of remedial instructions and activities to allow slow learners to cope/keep up with the regular phasing of the courses.
The SRTS is organised as follows:
- HQ and HQ Support Company (HHSC):
- Command Section: Commandant, Sergeant Major, First Sergeant, and support personnel.
- S1-4 (research and development, and plans and programmes).
- Service Support (SVC SPT).
- Mess Secretary.
- Motor-pool and Armoury: Provides mobility, firepower, ammunition, and other logistics requirement of the SRTS.
- HQ Training Directorate (HTD):
- Composed of the officers and enlisted personnel tasked to conduct all the scheduled courses in the SRTS.
- Training Department.
- Individual Training Branch.
- Unit Training Branch.
- Special Skill Branch.
- Marksmanship Branch.
- Non-Academic Branch.
Facilities at the SRTS include:
- Caloy Planning Bays.
- Bleachers: four for the use of demonstrations, lectures, and viewing.
- Firing Range: A rifle and pistol range.
- Rope Course: Roping and climbing skills are taught to students.
- Assault Course.
- Obstacle Course.
PART THREE: TRAINING
3.0 Training Courses for Scout Rangers
There are a number of courses available (Nepomuceno, 2019a & 2019b; Oliva, 2019):
- Scout Ranger Physical Fitness Test.
- Scout Ranger Orientation Course.
- Scout Ranger Course.
- Scout Sniper Course.
- Combat Tracking Course.
- Pekiti Tersia Kali.
- Rappel Master Course.
- Physical Trainer’s Training Course.
- Candidate Soldier Course.
- Scout Ranger Company (SRC) Refresher Training.
- Disaster Response and Rescue Operations.
- Instructor Development Training (IDT).
3.1 Scout Ranger Physical Fitness Test
Those wishing to apply for Scout Ranger training must pass the Scout Ranger Physical Fitness Test (SRPFT) consisting of five elements (Oliva, 2019):
- Push-ups/press-ups (timed), 42 in two minutes.
- Sit-ups (timed).
- 3.2 km (1.98 mile) run.
- Pull-ups/heaves (timed).
- ‘Inverted crawls’.
1-3 are part of the standard AFP PFT. Approximately 30% of those attempt the SRPFT will leave (Oliva, 2019).
3.2 Scout Ranger Orientation Course
Scout Ranger Orientation Course (SROC) is one month in duration (Nepomuceno, 2019b), down from 45-days in 2014.
The SROC is aimed at orienting candidates on the techniques, tactics, and procedures (TTP’s) and standard operating procedures (SOP’s) of Scout Ranger operations.
Previously, only the organic personnel of the FSRR were required to undertake the SROC; however, in 2012, it was directed, by the Secretary of National Defence (SND), that all new officers and soldiers undergo the SROC.
Training during the SROC includes:
- Ruck March.
- Issuance of operational orders (OPORD).
- Mission briefing.
- Field Training Exercise (FTX) KUTTING.
- MADLUM Exercise.
“SROOT (formerly SROC) – Scout Ranger Operations Orientation Training.” (1st Civil Military Affairs Group (Reserve), 2019).
3.3 Scout Ranger Course
The Scout Ranger Course (SRC) is 10-months in duration (Philippine Army, 2019) and focusses on jungle warfare, CQB, urban warfare, and CT operations.
In 2014, the SRTS was delivering four 32-week courses per year, with 175 slots per course.
Training during the SRC involves:
- Constant physical fitness activities.
- Punishing mental and psychological exercises.
- Co-ordinated team-dynamics training in high pressure situations.
- Morning runs from 5 to 21 km (3.1 to 13 miles) carrying 20 kg (44lb) of equipment, as well as a rifle (about another 7-9lb).
- Runs are also time-based to simulate battle scenarios where personnel often have to dash to a location carrying heavy equipment and a rifle.
- Training is focused on developing:
- Muscle endurance;
- Strength; and
- Cardiovascular toughness.
- With function in mind, the Scout Rangers’ main exercise routine, called the Army Dozen, consists of bodyweight movements designed to build practical strength, balance, and muscle endurance.
- Sleep deprivation, training days can last from 04:00 to 22:00, or even longer!
- One training week involves forcing trainees to go through the week without proper sleep.
- Punishment sessions for turning up late, for example. Can last up to 5 hours and usually performed as a group.
- Land navigation including map reading and compass course.
- Combative (PKT) (Section 3.6).
In 2014, the SRC training programme was delivered in four phases over 32-weeks:
- Phase 01: Individual Training Phase.
- Phase 02: Small Unit Training.
- Phase 03: Combat Manoeuvre/FTX Phase.
- Phase 04: Test Mission Phase.
Training culminates with a test mission in an actual combat zone designated by the regimental staff.
Candidates are monitored via the Candidate Progress Information System (CAPIS) which allows commanders to monitor the status of students who attend courses at the SRTS.
The course is open to:
- Philippine Army personnel.
- Philippine Air Force personnel.
- Philippine National Police personnel.
3.5 Combat Tracking Course
The Combat Tracking Course (CTC) is a 45-days in duration and is open to all personnel of the AFP.
Training is delivered through lectures, demonstrations, and practical exercises. Knowledge in tracking is considered an advantage to the individual soldier, as it enhances their ability to detect and gather information of enemy activities in a particular area.
Training during the CTC includes:
- Tracking impression evidence.
- Tracking operations reporting.
- Enemy deceptions (lecture and demonstration).
- Estimating age and signs (lecture and demonstration).
- Course project.
- Silent signals (lecture and demonstration).
- Combat tracking formations and tracking techniques (lecture).
3.6 Pekiti Tersia Kali
The Pekiti Tersia Kali (PTK) course, also known as Edged-Impact Weapon/CQC Tactical Combat, is 45-days in duration. It is open to all qualified AFP personnel.
This course is a combative skills programme in closed quarter combat tactical system which provides the students with complete strategies, tactics and skills for the use of empty hand and edged weapons.
The PTK course is the only system in existence today that fully integrates individual combat weaponry (bolo, knife, and bayonet) and empty hands. The training programme incorporates both aerobic and anaerobic exercises and drills that provide enhanced upper and lower body, muscular endurance and combat fitness for the operator.
Training during the PTK includes:
- Introduction to rifle retention application drill.
- Introduction to pistol retention application drill.
- Introduction to Dumog Makangamot application.
- Introduction to security, take down, and research practice.
3.7 Rappel Master Course
The Rappel Master Course (RMC) is 45-days in duration.
Expected to dominate operations in the jungle and mountainous terrain, the Scout Rangers are expected to develop higher level mastery for knots, climbing ropes, and techniques. A special course was establish in the SRTS in order to maintain the competencies of trainers to conduct ropes, knots and mountaineering instructions to students of the SRTS.
Currently it is considered as an in-service training, funded by the Philippine Army, and open to students from different units including the SFS, DTS, BJMP and others.
3.8 Physical Trainer’s Training Course
The Physical Trainer’s Training Course (PTTC) is 45-days in duration.
The primary objective of PTTC is to develop cadres/trainers for physical training. It is designed to develop the students to be experts in performing all the physical exercises.
Students are trained on how to design, using a scientific approach, to develop and/or maintain the physical fitness of personnel.
Included in the programme of instruction are:
- Nutrition management;
- Basic physical and sports medicine (e.g. first aid, basic life support, scientific massage, and reflexology); and
- Military chants.
PART FOUR: MASCOTS & BADGES
The Scout Ranger mascot is the Black Panther (Panthera Pardus) that can be found in Africa and some parts of Asia. However, the Scout Rangers have also identified themselves with the Philippine Civet cat (Vivera Tangalung), which is locally known as ‘Musang’.
It is believed that, due to the fact that the Musang is the closest relative of the Black Panther, the Scout Rangers have interchanged these two distinct animals.
4.1 Unit Patch
Previously, Scout Rangers used to wear a black suit uniform with a Black Panther unit patch.
Currently, the Scout Rangers wear the ‘Musang’ patch on the left shoulder, bearing the image of the Black Panther and not the Civet Cat.
During 2010, the uniform of the unit changed from the black suit to the digital pattern Scout Ranger Distinctive Uniform (SRDU).
There are a number of reasons cited for the change, including:
- Others wearing a black suit uniform and therefore being confused with the Scout Rangers, for example:
- Other military units.
- Security guards.
- Members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
- Field operations:
- A black suit uniform is not considered appropriate for the field (think principles of camouflage and concealment).
- Olive drab is considered more appropriate for night operations.
4.3 Scout Ranger Qualification Badge
The Scout Ranger Qualification Badge, also known as the ‘Tabak Badge’, is in the form of a shield with a dagger placed inside the badge. The line “We Strike” is indicated at the bottom of the badge.
It was established and first issued in 1986, and is awarded to military and police personnel for successful completion of the Scout Ranger Course.
4.4 Training Actors
In August 2019, the FSRR conducted a three-day Soldier Skills Orientation Training course for a team of 10 actors in preparation for their upcoming television series, ‘A Soldier’s Heart’ (FSRR, 2019).
PART FIVE: MISCELLANEOUS
5.0 Useful Publications
- Eclarin, D.V. (2003) Scout Ranger Combat Guide. 3ed Ed. Privately Printed.
- Eclarin, D.V. (2019) Scout Ranger Combat Leadership. CreateSpace Independent Publishing.
- Eclarin, D.V. (2019) Scout Ranger War Stories. CreateSpace Independent Publishing.
- 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.
5.1 Useful Links
- Ranger Cabunzky’s Blog: http://rangercabunzky.blogspot.com/2014/08/5-interesting-facts-that-you-do-not.html.
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scoutrangerbooks/ by Colonel Dennis Eclarin.
- Scout Ranger Training School: https://scoutranger.wixsite.com/srts.
- FSRR on Twitter (Official): https://www.facebook.com/scoutrangermusangs/.
1st Civil Military Affairs Group (Reserve). (2019) AFP Reserve Command. Available from World Wide Web: https://the1stcmag.wordpress.com/afp-reserve-command/. [Accessed: 26 August, 2019].
Frialde, M. (2003) Mutiny Brings Back Memories of 1989 Siege. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.newsflash.org/2003/05/si/si001612.htm. [Accessed: 26 August, 2019].
FSRR (First Scout Ranger Regiment). (2019) Actors to play role of soldiers, get taste of the real thing. Posted 12 August 2019. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.facebook.com/scoutrangermusangs/. [Accessed: 26 August, 2019].
Mindanao Examiner. (2018) Dozens of soldiers wounded in Sayyaf fighting in Sulu. Available from World Wide Web: https://mindanaoexaminer.com/dozens-of-soldiers-wounded-in-sayyaf-fighting-in-sulu/. [Accessed: 27 August, 2019].
Nepomuceno, P. (2019a) Army Welcomes New Scout Rangers, Snipers. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1061867. [Accessed: 21 August, 2019].
Nepomuceno, P. (2019b) Guidicelli Completes Scout Ranger Orientation Course. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073539. [Accessed: 26 August, 2019].
Oliva, E. (2019) Think you’re fit enough for Scout Ranger training? Then read on. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.spin.ph/kayak/think-youre-fit-enough-for-scout-ranger-training-then-read-on. [Accessed: 21 August, 2019].
Philippine Army. (2019) Army Welcomes New Batch of Specialized Troops. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.army.mil.ph/home/index.php/press-releases-2/394-army-welcomes-new-batch-of-specialized-troops. [Accessed: 26 August, 2019].
Ranger Cabunzky. (2014) 5 Interesting Facts that you did not know about the Philippine Army Scout Rangers. Available from World Wide Web: http://rangercabunzky.blogspot.com/2014/08/5-interesting-facts-that-you-do-not.html. [Accessed: 26 August, 2019].
Soliven, P.S. (2017) A Salute to the Brave. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.pressreader.com/philippines/the-philippine-star/20170119/281719794285966. [Accessed: 26 August, 2019].