Navy needs more urban warfare training

MANILA — An official of the Philippine Navy sees the need for Navy force units, especially those involved in ground assault missions, to get more training and exposure in urban warfare.

In an interview, Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado said subsequent debriefings after the liberation of Marawi City indicated there is a need for the force to train more on urban warfare.

“We have to improve our military operations in urban terrain. We need to improve that… I guess this is the first time we undertook combat in an urban terrain with reinforced and concrete buildings so those are the things that we need to look into, improve both our trainings, doctrines and all our equipment,” Mercado said during the sidelights of the homecoming ceremonies for the returning Fleet-Marine contingent in Pier 13, Manila South Harbor on Monday.

Despite the lack of training in urban warfare, the Navy units, especially those from the Philippine Marine Corps, were instrumental in the eventual liberation of Marawi City from terrorists, Mercado added.

The Marines recaptured three important bridges in the city — Mapandi, Banggolo, and Masiu. He said regaining control of these bridges allowed the government to deploy more troops and combat vehicles in the main battle area.

Around 920 Maute Group terrorists were killed in the five-month campaign that started last May 23 when government troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts.

In the fierce fighting that followed, around 165 government troops were killed, including 35 Marine soldiers.