A stern, ramrod-straight-looking Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) corporal in his crisp khaki shirt and green pants stood guard in front of piles of iron ballot boxes on the ground floor of the headquarters of the Electoral Commission (Comelec) in Intramuros, Manila. The situation was tense. The synchronized elections have just ended and the national canvassing commission has just been set up. In a few hours, the next president, vice-president and 12 senators of the Republic would be proclaimed. And the task imposed on the Marine Corporal was simple: no one touches the ballot box without proper authorization.
Shortly after all the ballot boxes had been unloaded, a white-haired, bespectacled man approached the pile of iron containers and, in an authoritative voice, ordered burly men to pick up the ballot boxes and to bring them to the second floor. The Marine immediately intervened, saying, “I’m sorry, sir. But the orders given to me are not to allow anyone to obtain these ballot boxes without proper authorization, sir!” The man said calmly, “That’s good to know. But I am the president of Comelec. The Marine, a bit startled, replied softly but with conviction in his voice, “I’m sorry, sir. But I only take orders from my commanding officer.”
The last thing we heard was that the corporal was summoned to the office of the president of Comelec after the canvassing. He received a letter of congratulations for his earnest dedication and wholehearted devotion to duty.
AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT Two of the Navy’s four Armored Assault Ships (AAVs) with Marines aboard propel themselves to “attack a hostile beach” in San Antonio, Zambales, after “close air support”. Floating, air and land assets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines participate in this annual one-sided exercise called “agit-Pa” (or Dagat-Langit-Lupa) aimed at harnessing the interdependence between the Philippine Navy, Air Force Philippine and the Philippine Army to deal with various contingencies regarding maritime security, territorial defense, counter-terrorism and natural disasters and calamities. Photo by Marine Corps Public Affairs Office
That, and many similar undocumented but oft-told anecdotes of the Marines’ strict discipline and wholehearted obedience to orders—which some jealous colleagues may consider a matter of common sense—earned PMC soldiers a reputation as men. ideal for serious business. Letters were on file from local government officials communicating to higher headquarters in Manila requesting that transfer orders for Marine units assigned to their areas be suspended. There were photos to show residents appealing through signs lined in the streets asking not to withdraw the Marines from their respective towns.
The Contemporary Philippine Marine Corps
The PMC is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) force of choice for deployment in major national emergencies requiring lethal and non-lethal responses. Filipinos are used to seeing their Marines guard various other vital facilities, among them the Philippine Senate, the House of Representatives and the Rizal Monument. But only a few know that they are guarding remote and isolated posts on the fringes of our territory, serving and serving as “strategic corporals” in the geopolitical evolution of the South China Sea (Western Philippine Sea) .
Tomorrow, November 7, 2022, the PMC turns 72. Since 1950, when six officers and 230 enlisted personnel volunteered and were sworn in at Fort San Felipe at Cavite Naval Base, “A” Company then led by Lt. Manuel Gomez as its first commander has is metamorphosed into the size of a body. With 10,000 men and women making up the only AFP unit capable of conducting amphibious warfare, the PMC has four brigades of marines, three brigades of marines (reserve) under its operational control, a combat support brigade, two units regiment-sized, four support groups, 12 marine battalions and 12 support battalions with Major General Charlton Sean Gaerlan as the 35th commander.
The raison d’etre of the PMC, as envisioned by then Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, is to be an easily deployable and hard-hitting maritime force to strike a hostile enemy entrenched on the beach anywhere in the world. country. Today, the PMC has far exceeded its mission and expectations. It plans to become a combined arms unit for the conduct of amphibious operations in support of the Philippine Navy mission.
The Future Philippine Marine Corps
The amphibious nature – and the capability that comes with it – makes the PMC unique as an AFP unit, not to mention its rich heritage and rich combat experience. Its growth as an organization should therefore reflect this competence vis-à-vis regional and global defense and security challenges. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine transcended President Vladimir Putin’s quick-finish war of attrition. The situation in Taiwan remains tense and evolving following the visit of US President Nancy Pelosi and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s third term as head of the ruling Communist Party. In this developing security environment, the future PMC need not abandon its traditional role, but must be prepared to embrace an expanded function.
It is with this degree of foresight that the PMC has developed the Marine Corps Operating Concept (MCOC) 2021 – The Archipelagic Coastal Defense Concept and its framework. The MCOC in turn defines the Marine Operating Forces as a “mission-appropriate, scalable and adaptable maritime force with capabilities ready to conduct maritime and sustained maneuvers ashore, as well as a well-defined doctrine of multinational engagement and cooperation”. established”. The overriding objective of the PMC is to support the achievement of the country’s national homeland defense military objectives in the maritime and air domains through an archipelagic coastal defense strategy.
The advent of technology, which is reshaping current and future warfare, presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the future PMC. While the corps has its modest share of technological advancements with the acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles and marine imagery and targeting support systems that give it immense combat advantage, other armed forces possess UAVs. and even newer, more sophisticated robots. And the availability of the scarce modernization funds it needs, as other AFP service branches do, is a challenge.
While some people are eyeing the idea of the PMC as a separate branch of service, with at least three Marine Divisions, each deployed primarily to three Area Commands in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, that may still be far over the horizon. Besides the move involving a huge national security investment, he is not yet ready to cut his umbilical cord with the Philippine Navy.
In the meantime, happy 72nd birthday, Philippine Marine Corps! Aooorah!