Last year, SOFREP paid a visit to the Philippine Special Operations Command located at Fort Magsaysay to conduct interviews with Scout-Rangers and Special Forces soldiers. The third unit present was the Light Reaction Regiment, a unit that tries to fly under the radar, their actions often attributed to other units in the press. These gentlemen had to be interviewed in a more informal setting. The Philippine Special Operations Command harnesses the power of these three units to work together, a must when dealing with the myriad of threat groups that their country faces in extremely challenging terrain, a urban and jungle archipelago consisting of thousands of islands.
As well meaning and as skillfully executed as Philippine SOCOM was, there were some glaringly obvious omissions from the command. The Armed Forces of the Philippines have been greatly influenced by the United States military, and sure enough, American Special Forces advisors were at Fort Magsaysay the day SOFREP visited. America’s SOCOM was created in the wake of the 1980 Operation Eagle Claw, a failed mission to rescue US citizens held hostage in Iran as well as Operation Urgent Fury, the successful invasion of Grenada in 1983. Both combat operations exposed interoperability issues, particularly between the separate services of the military.
In order to conduct successful Special Operations missions, America had to get a whole lot better at working in a joint environment. The result was the creation of SOCOM in 1987, established by the Nunn-Cohen amendment and the Goldwater-Nichols Act. It was a pivotal moment of US Special Operations which brought Army units like Delta Force, the Ranger Regiment, and Special Forces under the same roof as Navy SEALs and Special Boat Teams, along with Air Force aviation assets, and many years later Marine Corps Special Operations.
The omission in Philippine SOCOM was the other branches of service, it was a SOCOM that included only the Army. In interviews with Philippine SEALs, who fall under NAVSOG, they expressed a strong desire to join a joint services SOCOM that included them. The SEALs had been working jointly with their Army counter-parts in combat for many years and wanted to make the union official. Virtually all of the Army SOF soldiers interviewed reflected the same point of view. The time had come.