|Light Reaction Company|
|The Army's Counter-Terrorist Force|
The Light Reaction Company, a stealth unit equipped with silencers, night vision equipment and high-tech headsets, is the lead “counter-terrorist force” of the Philippine Army.
The LRC usually operates in small teams at night and tracks down guerrillas, often behind enemy lines.
The military said the members of the LRC were only chosen from among the best soldiers in the army, navy and air force.
The members of the first batch of the Light Reaction Company, former Scout Rangers usually, were trained secretly by U.S. Special Forces sometime in 2001.
The training is part of the ongoing joint Republic of Philippines-U.S. anti-terrorism training, dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines, an extension of the U.S.-led international war against the Al Qaida network of Osama bin Laden. The combat veterans - among 1,200 Filipinos to be trained by U.S. Special Forces - hope counter-terrorism classes and a $100 million U.S. military aid package can change that. Aside from the trainings for these LRCs, pilots from the Air Force will be trained for night flying.
"We have all the combat experience any commander could want," said Capt. Montano Almodovar, who has spent five of his 29 years fighting guerrillas. "They have more high-tech equipment than we do. That is the help we need." The Rangers say the Americans can learn things from them, too.
But poor equipment, along with the dense, rugged jungle - helps explain why 7,000 soldiers haven't eliminated the less than 100 extremists on an island measuring roughly 16 by 25 miles. "They can eavesdrop on our radios. Even our telephone calls," Almodovar said of the Abu Sayyaf, which reportedly used ransoms from kidnapping tourists in 2000 to buy better guns, speedboats and high-tech gear. By contrast, he said Rangers have four sets of night-vision goggles and one grenade launcher per 80-man company. Creative mechanics maintain World War II-era jeeps. A dire need for helicopters keeps wounded waiting in jungle for hours or days. With no satellite monitors, informants report enemy sightings by hiking to the nearest soldiers, allowing guerrillas time to move or ambush.
The LRC was created in response to the growing number of hostage takings by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
At the height of the Burnham hostage crisis, the commander of the army's Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Brig. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, flew to Basilan island from Manila and inspected the LRC soldiers together with Col. Alexander Aleo, an Army top officer based in Basilan.
"The LRC soldiers are doing well and we are satisfied with their performance. The training of two more LRC companies, roughly about two hundred soldiers, is underway," Aleo said.
With the Light Reaction Company working in tandem with the Scout Rangers, the days of these terrorists and the rest of the threats to national security are numbered.