Friday, January 14, 2011

Veteran army commander takes over Mindanao brigade

PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 14, 2011) – A decorated and veteran army commander in Mindanao was named as the new chief of the 103rd Infantry Brigade in the southern Philippines.

Colonel Daniel Lucero, who was also a former military spokesman and civil affairs chief, replaced Brigadier General Rey Ardo.

Lucero, the current president of the Philippine Military Academy Class 83, has master’s degrees in Political Science at the University of the Philippines and also in International Relations in Australia. He studied in the United States, Australia, and France among others.

Lucero served as military commander in Basilan province and other areas in Mindanao and was a former spokesman for the Southern Command military headquarters in Zamboanga City.

He is a known advocate of peace and development and his assignment to lead troops in Mindanao is expected to bring about change aimed at promoting non-violent means to resolve insurgency, one soldier who previously served under him in Zamboanga City said.

The Southern Command which is now known as Western Mindanao Command has direct supervision over 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur which is under the 1st Infantry Division in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province.

“Colonel Lucero is a very good commander. He is an honest officer, smart and hardworking,” another army sergeant said.

Lucero, in an article he wrote in 2009 entitled ‘Revisiting the military’s Rambo culture,’ said it is imperative for the military to change its operational (combat) culture and instead focus on peace and development.

“Fighting a war against an invading army is very much different from confronting the insurgents who are Filipinos - our own people. The conventional mindset of using an overwhelming force to annihilate an enemy has been seen to be futile in the counterinsurgency campaign against the communists.”

“The use of force without due regard to the sensitivity of the people would create more insurgents and will further alienate the army from the people. Needless to say, the Malayan counterinsurgency campaign’s formula of ‘winning the hearts and minds’ still stands and offers keys to unravel this four-decade security dilemma,” he wrote.

Lucero also recommended the following schemes and processes: Our national leadership to assign an overall head who will orchestrate and control all counterinsurgency efforts of the government who are involved both in the use of the soft and hard powers of the state; Optimize the utilization of former communist rebels in tactically, ideologically, and doctrinally advising all government agents involved in counterinsurgency.

Give primacy to attract the insurgents to join the mainstream of society than planning to neutralize them through the use of violent means; Reorient the military mindset of army officers which would pave the way for more openness, willingness to listen, and foster intellectual curiosity that would allow everyone’s voice to be heard before decisions are made; Emphasize to all military commanders that all military actions should first and foremost support political and civil affairs objectives.

Emphasize to all stakeholders of Philippine democracy that the insurgency problem that the nation is facing is a political war rather than a military one; Emphasize to all political leaders that the solution the insurgency problem is heavily reliant on their unwavering support and selfless programs than through the use of military means alone; and deconstruct the existing dominant warrior ethos in the army and create a compassionate mindset which gives emphasis on the principles of social contract with the people – regardless of their political leanings - which the army has sworn to protect. This suggests the reorientation of the existing education and training programs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Everyone in the army has been aspiring for peace and progress. However, this aspiration will just stay as a delusion if we insist to maintain a military culture that has been proven to be unresponsive, swayed with a false optimism that the outcome will change despite our assertion. The means inside the army’s toolbox should not be just guns and bullets,” Lucero said. (Mindanao Examiner)

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