13 November 2010

Army Unit Equipped With Highly Maneuverable Watercrafts

13 November 2010

Condor watercaraft for Philippine Army (photo : Zamboanga Today)

THE Army has equipped one of its elite units with highly maneuverable watercrafts to strengthen the government's campaign against terrorism, kidnappings, and piracy in Mindanao.

Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has activated a battalion of elite troops known as the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion during his visit Thursday afternoon in Basilan province.

Additionally, the Zamboanga City-based 4th Special Forces (Riverine) Battalion has been given an extended task to secure Basilan province as well. The battalion is equipped with highly maneuverable watercrafts consisting of 12 scout boats and one support boat.

Ortiz led the inauguration and blessing Thursday morning of the 12 units of newly built 23-foot scout boats and one unit of 55-foot support boat.

Lt. Col. Lincoln Tagle, 4th Special Forces Battalion commander, said that the scout and support boats were built by local boat makers under the Philippine Army Watercraft Project "Condor" through Ortiz's initiative.

"This is in response to the requirements of the AFP and the prevailing security situation in Mindanao, particularly in Basilan province," Tagle said.

Each of the scout boats is powered by a 115-horsepower outboard motor engine with a maximum speed of 39 knots while the support boat is powered with a 240-horsepower inboard engine with a maximum speed of 24 knots.

A scout boat can carry six personnel in full combat gear and two crews on board while the support boat can be manned by a crew of five and can carry 50 personnel in full combat gear.

The project "Condor" has a total cost of P10.566 million, which is just the equivalent cost of procuring one unit of light support boat that can carry only 25 personnel, Tagle said.

Ortiz said he came up with the project out of a need to secure the waterways between this city and Basilan province as it cannot be denied that terrorism, kidnappings, and piracy are among the biggest problems in this part of the country.

Ortiz added that he came up with the project "because we are facing the enemy that is highly mobile, fluid and efficient".

According to him, one solution to the aforementioned problems is to guard the waterways.

"Deny them (enemy) the use of these waterways and we shall deny them mobility and support," he added.

Ortiz activated the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion as the Philippine Army is taking over the security duties from the 1st Marine Brigade in Basilan province (which comprises of one city and 12 municipalities).

The 4th Scout Ranger Battalion is deployed alongside troops from the Army's Special Operations Command (Socom) forces that replaced the marine troops.

All of the Army troops in Basilan are deployed under the newly created Special Operations Task Force-Basilan headed by Col. Nicanor Dolojan, the concurrent Socom deputy commander.

Dolojan said the task force was created last September to take command and control of all the Army units deployed in Basilan province.

The 1st Marine Brigade was deployed to Central Mindanao, particularly in Cotabato.

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