By Ali Macabalang
MARAWI CITY – Lt. Gen Rey Leonardo Guerrero, new Armed Forces chief of staff, has expressed intention to modify the military combat doctrine, especially for ground forces involved in counter-terrorism stride, citing soldiers’ brutal experience in the five-month long fight against Daesh-inspired militants in this city.
“There will be changes (in combat styles). In fact we have already initiated steps to revisit our war fighting doctrines and the lessons learned as a result of the Marawi incident,” Guerrero said in his first visit at the Zamboanga City-based Western Mindanao Command lately.
Army officials defined military doctrine as the theoretical foundation by which forces guide their combat actions, with certain degree of flexibility applicable to different circumstances and locations.
Some soldiers, who received heroes’ welcome in military headquarters on Monday after ridding this city of militants from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups in five months of fighting, had admitted difficulty against well-trained sniper-enemies holed out in different buildings here.
Published reports said the government suffered at least 165 fatalities in the protracted firefight, while the enemies lost over 900 comrades. Non-military quarters here, however, believed the more than 900 fatalities could have included civilians slain in sporadic bombings.
In his initial official pronouncements, Gen. Guerrero underscored the need for an upgrade in the military war fighting doctrines, even as he asserted that terror threat still exists in the country.
“Before the Marawi (war), we had already monitored that they are moving around the country…“It is highly possible that they have been able to go around to other areas as well,” Guerrero said, referring to local radicals supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) violent ideologies.
Civilian quarters here corroborated Guerrero’s belief, complaining that local jihadist ideologues Humam Abdulnajjid, alias Alim Owaida, and Ustaz Jamil Yahya have remained at large.
Abdulnajjid was said to be the handler of slain brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, while Yahya is an extreme religious preacher who broke the silent existence in Lanao del Sur of the Maute group’s Ghuraba or Dawlah Islamiya when he led a group of young radicals in this city to declare allegiance to the ISIS leadership in 2014.
The Army’s 6th Infantry Division leadership, meanwhile, expressed readiness in the AFP’s planned shift in anti-terror operations from the Lanao region to Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces.
Maj. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, head of the Maguindanao-based Army Division, said the military and police forces have been closely collaborating with civilian authorities in mapping out measures meant to ensure that the magnitude of destruction in the Marawi war would not happen in other provinces.
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