This article is organised as follows:
- Part 01: Background to the Light Reaction Regiment (LRR).
- Part 02: Organisation of the LRR.
- Part 03: Training.
- Part 04: Miscellaneous.
PART ONE: BACKGROUND
This article provides an overview of the Light Reaction Regiment, a unit of the Philippines Army within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
It is the premier counter-terrorism (CT) unit of the Philippine Army, being a Special Mission Unit. It has grown from a single company to a multi-company regiment.
The regiment is one of several units that form part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Operations Command (AFPSOCOM).
Due to its specialisation in CT operations and its formation with US Army advisers, the LRR has been sometimes referred to as the Philippines’ Delta Force.
Part One of this article looks at women and the LRR, 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 LRR before finally providing a brief history on its origins. Part Two looks at the organisation of the LRR, identifies some key personalities, before moving on to outline the various SOF units. Part Three outlines the training courses open to potential and veteran LRR members. Part Four looks at mascots and badges of the LRR. 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 Light Reaction Regiment.
1.2 Women and the LRR
Unsure if women can join.
1.3 Tier 1 and Tier 2 Special Forces
The LRR 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 LRR directly, one must join the AFP first and then apply.
1.5 Roles and Tasks
The role and task of the LRR is to conduct CT operations in support of the AFP’s missions.
The LRB’s capabilities include (Lastimado & Rojas, 2004):
- The ability to perform reconnaissance of terrorist incidents and locations;
- To eliminate and/or capture terrorists (and other high value targets, HVT’s); and
- Involvement in hostage rescue and personnel recovery operations.
The LRR is made up of individuals who are highly trained in engaging in close quarter combat and sniping operations. Moreover, since it is the only AFP unit that is trained and equipped by the US Army Special Forces, it is considered as the most capable force for military operations in urbanised terrain (MOUT).
1.6 Brief History
The LRC was created in response to the growing number of hostage takings by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. The LRC usually operates in small teams at night and tracks down guerrillas, often behind enemy lines. The members of the first batch of the Light Reaction Company (LRC) were trained secretly by US Special Forces in 2001.
Key dates include:
- “The United States did not prioritize terrorist threats in the Philippines during the 1990s, but this began to change in 2000 and in 2001 – before the 9/11 attacks – as a result of ASG kidnappings of U.S. citizens, holding them for ransom, and a demonstrated willingness to kill them.” (Robinson et al., 2016, p.12).
- “This interest was limited, coming primarily from 1st Special Forces Group (SFG) (Airborne), 1st Battalion (BN), out of Okinawa, Japan. In March 2001, Company B, 1st BN, 1st SFG, out of Okinawa, began training the first AFP light reaction company (LRC) following a string of ASG kidnappings of U.S. hostages who were held for ransom.” (Robinson et al., 2016, p.12).
- “Non-commissioned officers from the first Light Reaction Company trained in 2000 now serve as trainers, with U.S. support.” (Gittler, 2003).
- Personnel from the FSRR and SFR-A were trained by American military advisers from the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group.
- “In March 2001, Company B, 1st Bn, 1st SFG, based in Okinawa, arrived in the Philippines to begin training the first AFP LRC.” (Robinson et al., 2016, p.14).
- “The troops were originally trained by the Americans after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks and started as a Light Reaction Company of two dozen troops.” (Fonbuena, 2014).
- Further training takes place during the Balikatan exercises in 2002.
- “During 2003–2004, as negotiations for further operational assistance continued, U.S. SOF provided intensive assistance to Philippine SOF – in particular, to build additional companies to form the Light Reaction Battalion.” (Robinson et al., 2016, p.xv).
- “After four months of training with U.S. Army Special Forces from Okinawa, the third Light Reaction Company of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or AFP, graduated Friday after a dramatic urban assault demonstration at this former U.S. Air Force base near Manila.” (Gittler, 2003).
- The LRC is officially activated on 01 February 2004.
- It was deployed into Mindanao in order to combat Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists responsible for abducting several foreign hostages, with the unit conducting an operation to rescue Gracia Burnham from Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
- Later in the year two more LRC are announced, adding approximately 200 soldiers.
- With the three LRC’s, now re-designated the Light Reaction Battalion (LRB).
- “2nd Light Reaction Battalion” (Harris, 2006, p.15).
- “2nd Light Reaction Company, 2nd LRB” (Harris, 2006, p.15).
- The LRB had been involved in a rescue operation conducted on a kidnapped Italian priest by armed men.
- Leads a successful operation in the Zamboanga City siege in September 2013.
- “In 2013, the LRR was ordered to double in size, from three to six companies…” (Robinson et al, 2016, p.85).
- The Philippines Army states it will double the size of the LRB, from three to six companies, and re-designated the Light Reaction Regiment (LRR) (Fonbuena, 2014).
- The units elevation to a full regiment was formally sanctioned by the then Defence Secretary on 16 January 2014.
- The unit has a nominal strength of 600 soldiers, 100 per company, although it is typically undermanned by “approximately half” (Robinson et al., 2016, p.119).
Notable campaigns/engagements include:
- Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines.
- Trojan Horse Operations.
- Communist Insurgencies.
- Islamic Insurgencies.
- Anti-guerrilla operations against New People’s Army (NPA).
- Anti-guerrilla operations against (MILF).
- Moro conflict.
- Manila Peninsula siege.
- Zamboanga crisis.
- APEC Philippines 2015 Security.
- Marawi Crisis (2017).
- Joint Operation Haribon with Philippine Naval Special Operations Groups during Marawi Seige.
PART TWO: ORGANISATION OF THE LRR
This part of the article outlines the organisation of the LRR, including its commander and the various units and sub-units within it.
“At present , the unit is under the operational control of the AFP Joint Special Operations Group based in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.” (Lastimado & Rojas, 2004, p.24).
2.1 LRR Mission
The mission of the LRR is to conduct CT operations in support of AFP’s missions.
2.2 Commander LRR
The Light Reaction Regiment is led by a Colonel (OF-5) or Brigadier General (OF-6), based at the headquarters (HQ) in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.
2.3 Key Personalities
No further information.
2.4 Units of the LRR
In 2004, Lastimado & Rojas (2004, p.24) state the LRR had approximately 400 personnel and was organised as follows:
- Headquarters (HQ);
- HQ Company; and
- Three Light Reaction Companies.
As I understand it, the LRR (as of August 2019) has approximately “700 men” (ANNA, 2017) and is organised as follows:
- Light Reaction Regiment ‘Tiradores de la Muerte’.
- HQ Company.
- 1st Light Reaction Battalion.
- 2nd Light Reaction Battalion.
- Light Reaction Company 1 ‘Eximus Peratus’.
- Light Reaction Company 2 ‘Nasiglat’.
- Light Reaction Company 3 ‘Way Kurat’.
- Light Reaction Company 4 ‘Perdigones’.
- Light Reaction Company 5 ‘Mandaragit’.
- Light Reaction Company 6 ‘Dares Against Odds’.
Companies are usually led by a Captain (OF-2) or a Major (OF-3), and battalions by a Major or Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4).
2.5 LRR Training School
The unit does not have its own training school as personnel as drawn from the FSRR and SFR-A, who are already trained and organised for CT operations through their own training programmes.
PART THREE: TRAINING
3.0 Training Courses for LRR Personnel
As the unit takes personnel from the FSRR and SFR-A, who are already trained in CT techniques, as I understand it there is no initial training course for personnel. However, the unit does conduct continuation training for personnel.
3.1 LRR Physical Fitness Test
No further information.
3.2 LRR Orientation Course
No further information.
3.3 LRR Course
No further information.
PART FOUR: MISCELLANEOUS
4.0 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.
4.1 Useful Links
- Light Reaction Regiment (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/LightReactionRegiment/.
- Light Reaction Regiment (LRR) Capability Demonstration 7/26/2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zjoobof2OQ (26 July 2016).
ANNA (Analytical Network News Agency). (2017) Hard Victory in Marawi: Operation Analyst. Available from World Wide Web: http://anna-news.info/hard-victory-in-marawi-operation-analyst/. [Accessed: 02 September, 2019].
Fonbuena, C. (2014) PH to Double Size of Elite Anti-Terror Troops. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.rappler.com/nation/47411-philippines-double-size-anti-terror-troops. [Accessed: 21 August, 2019].
Gittler, J. (2003) Philippine soldiers show off what they learned from the Green Berets. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.stripes.com/news/philippine-soldiers-show-off-what-they-learned-from-the-green-berets-1.14479. [Accessed: 02 September, 2019].
Harris, M.R. (2006) Philippine, U.S. SOF Sharpen Skills. Tip of the Spear. April 2006, p.15. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.professionalsoldiers.com/files/tos_apr_06.pdf. [Accessed: 30 August, 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].
Robinson, L., Johnston, P.B. & Oak, G.S. (2016) U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Philippines, 2001-2014. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR1200/RR1236/RAND_RR1236.pdf. [Accessed: 02 September, 2019].