With the Objective of the unit to be a reliable, capable and responsive armor unit in line with the Army Transformation Roadmap, various projects were initiated by the Commander of Mechanized Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Nicanor E. Dolojan AFP through the auspices of the Armor Capability Development Office of the unit. Under the said Office are three main branches, namely; Doctrinal Development, Career Management and Materiel Development, all of which are currently full of activity with research and development in line with the Division’s two (2) major initiatives in ATR, the Armor Capability Development Program and Soldier of Excellence Program.

Material Development: Additional 142 Armored Vehicles for the Mech Division

     There will be an additional 142 Armored Vehicles for the Mech Infantry Division which is expected to arrive before the end of 2014.The last time the unit was able to receive such number of Armored Vehicles was in the 90’s when 150 units of Simba Fighting Vehicles (SFV) were delivered. With the transformation of the unit from a Light Armor Division to a Mechanized Infantry Division, the unit immediately recognized the problem of having additional Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) to fill up the requirement of the current Mechanized Division TOE.

      The 142 Armored Personnel Carriers will come in different configurations and divided in two batches. The first batch will consist of 114 units of M113 A2 sourced out through the US Excess Defense Article (EDA) and is expected to arrive before the year ends. The next batch will consist of 28 units of M113 A2, 14 of which will have a 76mm turret categorized as Fire Support Vehicle (FSV), another 10 units (4 units of 25mm and 6 units of 12.7mm) will be equipped with a Remote Control Weapons System (RWS) and another 4 units of Armored Recovery Vehicle.

      Although bulk of the 75 billion Peso- budget for the modernization cup goes to the Navy and the Air Force, through the procurement of Fighter Jets and Navy Ships, Maj. Gen. Dolojan made sure that the Army will still get a chunk of the said budget by defending the need for the acquisition of additional armored vehicles. He likewise made sure that the vehicles to be procured will have a big impact in the battlefield. He had reservations in the initial plan to buy only a number of armored vehicles. “If we really want the Mechanized Divsion to be responsive and capable, we need more armor assets,” he reasoned out. He further argued that the vehicles to be procured must offer a big improvement in terms of capability with emphasis on the firepower department. This is the reason that a number of these units about to be acquired is armed with the Remote Control Weapon System (RCWS).

Remote Control Weapons System

      The Remote Control Weapon Station, which is also commonly referred to as a Remote Weapon System, (RWS) is a remotely operated weapon system for light to medium caliber weapons which can be installed on ground combat vehicle or sea and air-based combat platforms. RCWS is currently used on modern armored vehicles, as it allows a gunner to remain in the relative protection of the vehicle. RCWS allows under-the-deck operation from any position (gunner and/or commander) without occupying space inside the vehicle. The weapon station also includes a high-performance day/night sight, a laser range finder and a thermal imager. A powerful on-board computer enables effective target acquisition as well as fire on the move capability.

      A number of Armor officers are already excited about the arrival of these units since its a big leap in terms of weapon technology and can be a great advantage against the enemy . Lt. Col. Pacianito DZ Castillo GSC (CAV) PA, the current G3 of the unit shared “last month one of the gunners of our APC was hit by a sniper fire. If we have these RCWS at that time, it could have been different. He could have even spotted and neutralized the sniper using the thermal sights”.

      “On an armored vehicle, the gunners are the most important force, but at the same time the mostvulnerable. Bringing the guy in the hatch inside has been the simple thought behind development of Remote Weapon Stations (RWS). It’s all about safety. Safety of the gunner equals less pressure and stress on this function during operations in hostile environment”, MAJ ROMMEL M PERENA, the Chief ACDO said.

Career Management:

     On career management, the Mechanized Division was recently cited as one of the AFOSes ( or MOS) that seriously gives attention to the career of its officers and enlisted personnel. As part of the Division’s IMPLAN on the institutionalization of NCO Empowerment and in ATR Initiative, the Soldier of Excellence Program, ACDO exerted its effort in the formulation of the Progressive and Sequential Career and Specialization System (PSCS System) for the Enlisted Personnel of the Division. The PSCS System, upon approval and publication, will soon be the Division’s SOP for managing the organic Enlisted Personnel and will replace the LABde SOP on the Career Management and Development Program for Enlisted Personnel. This SOP will highlight the policies and procedures on how to shape a soldier to become professionally developed from the moment he/she become a Private and/or joined the Armored Cavalry and steps up the ladder of NCO ranks. It encompasses the assignment programs, career, specialization and skills enhancement training and self-development programs that a soldier needs to become technically and tactically proficient and be effective in warfighting primarily, and as well as in other assignments classified as admin, technical and specialty duties. This SOP is now on the finalization stage and will be implemented by 4th Qtr CY 2013.

Doctrine Development:

     During the 2nd Qtr of CY 2013, the former Chief, ACDO, Lt. Col. Lauro G. Oliveros (CAV) PA led the effort in setting up initiatives in doctrine development as part of the Division’s ATR Initiative, the Armor Capability Development Program. Hence, out of the 24 ArmorManuals that the unit should have, only one manual, the Light Armor Operations Manual was promulgated, others are classified as Supplemental Publication. Thus, Lt. Col. Oliveros initiated the creation of Armor Doctrine Review Board headed by our very own Chief of Staff, Col. Felicisimo C. Budiongan GSC (CAV) PA with the G-Staff and Commandant, The Armor School as members. This Board will supervise the overall doctrine development projects of the Division which includes the determination, review and validation of all manuals to be updated, revised and/or developed prior to the approval of the Division Commander and presentation to TRADOC and likewise the selection of highly qualified doctrine writers to compose the PMTs. After the initial Board Meetings, the Board has already selected PMTs/Doctrine Writers and already submitted a total eight (8) Proponent Advices (PAD) to Doctrine Center, TRADOC for further approval. The eight (8) manual project proposals are as follows: the Armor Operations Manual, Light Armor Operations Manual, Mechanized Infantry Operations Manual, Cavalry Operations Manual, Scout Platoon Operations, Threat to Armor Manual, Armor Convoy Operations and Mechanized Infantry Operations in Urbanized Terrain. Upon approval of the said PADs, the designated Doctrine Writers will start the research and development and write the manual draft. Hopefully, by the end of 2014, those cited manuals will be promulgated and will serve as our basis in the conduct of our operations and in training our soldiers.

     Also on Doctrine Development, Maj. Gen. Dolojan initiated the review on the proper utilization of Mechanized Units in the ISO setting. Although mechanized units are viewed as a combat arms suited for conventional warfare, mechanized units are also able to provide a commander fighting in an ISO setting a greater flexibility that can be afforded by a non-mechanized unit. Foremost reason is that mech units can be employed as a mounted force or a dismounted force. This simply implies that, mech units can also fight the enemy as an infantry unit without bringing their tanks due to restriction in terrain.