The warning order came in at 1500 requesting sniper/observer teams from the SEALs. They scrambled to prepare their men and were airlifted from Zamboanga to Lanao by C-130 that morning at 0500. The mission was dubbed Operation Haribon after the Haribon Infantry Brigade in the area. When NAVSOG Detachment 8 hit the ground, the SEALs soon moved in to fill a sniper and reconnaissance role, spotting enemy movement 700 meters away from their hide site.
The Maute Group is yet another secessionist group in the Philippines that seeks to carve out a province of their own in the southern portions of the archipelago in which they would enforce strict Islamic law. In many ways, the Maute Group is just a pack of bandits with an ideological cover. In February of 2016, Omar Maute and his brother Abdullah directed his terrorist organization to capture villages, towns, and municipalities in Lanao del Sur which provoked the reaction they wanted from the Philippine government.
The action was designed to raise the group’s public profile, scare civilians into joining their cause, and to attract overseas jihadi finance networks. The Maute Group had pledged their allegiance to ISIS and was now rising their black glad above villages in Lanao. Meanwhile, Omar Maute was forging an alliance with Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
“We are looking at the targets who are complacent, doing their every day routine but facing the direction they expect the infantry to infiltrate from,” said “Carlo,” a Philippine Navy SEAL platoon leader in an interview with SOFREP. The snipers radioed any intelligence information they gathered back to headquarters until the time came for them to engage. The enemy had .30 millimeter sniper rifles and a home-made .50 caliber Barrett. The SEALs were firing their 7.62 DMR sniper rifles. They soon found that at 700 meters the enemy was not able to hit the broadside of a barn. The SEAL snipers were highly skilled marksman who had attended both Army and Marine sniper schools before bringing those tactics back to NAVSOG and implementing the best of both courses into their unit.