Combating the Maute Group in the Philippines

We previously discussed the small arms capabilities of the so-called Islamic State-affiliated Maute group, we will proceed to cover the opposing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that have been successful in crushing the rebel uprising. Despite this success, there is still a rocky road ahead of the security forces when it comes to their task at hand. A number of these high-quality photographs are from a photo essay by David Sim on the International Business Times.

The fight does seem critical enough for the Philippine Government to purchase 300 5.46x45mm NATO M4s, 200 .45 ACP Glock 21s, 4 M134D Miniguns, and 100 40x46mm M203 UBGLs as Jane’s has recently reported. In addition to the small arms, 25 rubber boats were also purchased, possibly to conduct riverine operations against vulnerable portions of Marawi. This news was only announced at the beginning of the month and signifies that the Philippino Marines are possibly going short on rifle and UBGL inventory due to the intensity of the fighting. The Miniguns are most likely going to be mounted in helicopters as their use on the ground would be severely limiting the capabilities of the 6,000 rounds per minute machine guns. The presence of Glock 21s in .45 ACP has a bizarre if true background story behind it, that has to do with the countries current President finding the caliber his personal favorite and thus insisting that AFP forces adopt it. Max Defense, a Philippine defense industry blogger has this to say about it

This is actually surprising, considering that Pres. Duterte himself already mentioned in the past that the pistol to be distributed will be Glock 30 .45 calibre pistols. Apparently this was his personal choice, as he prefer handguns on .45 calibre rather than 9mm, and because Glock 30 sounds similar to “Du30” which is a monicker of his family name.

Also in one occasion, the president also mentioned of an alternative to Glock 30, using M1911 “Commander” pistols as well. “Commander” refers to a post-war M1911 variant which is shorter and lighter than the standard M1911, and was based on the 1950s Colt Commander pistol by US arms manufacturer Colt. Here is why it is surprising:

Philippine Marine Corps (PMC)

The Philippine Marines are overall better equipped than their Army counterparts with more sophisticated small arms, optics, and equipment. Of particular note are the ATPIALs, optics, and picatinny mounted flashlights. Readers will notice that in some of the photographs we can blatantly see signs of rust on parts. This in part to do with the tropical environment, but also is due to a lack of weapons maintenance on an individual level. Most of these AR15s with 14.5 inch barrels are 5.56x45mm NATO Remington R4s, of which the AFP purchased 63,000 in 2014. As of now the author cannot identify the optic, but it appears to mimic the design of Aimpoint’s popular M68 CCO.

This Marine has a modified M60E3, with a picatinny rail forend, updated buttstock, pistol grip and forgrip. Notice the shoter barrel and bipod mounted to the handguard instead of the barrel like the older M60.

The Marine on the right is armed with an MSSR, or the Marine Scout Sniper Rifle. This is essentially an armorer rebuilt M16A1 with mostly modern components such as the Harris bipod, Magpul stock, Bushnell scope, and even Pmags in some cases. It is a mostly Philippine creation, necessitated due to working on a tight budget. News of the rifles going to be used in the Marawi battle was even widespread in late May.

These photos were taken by the Filipino reporter Raffy Tima, and show the measures to which the Marines are using to attempt to get RPG warheads to prematurely detonate before scoring a catastrophic hit on their armor. The second photograph shows what appear to be a special task force of Marines armed with H&K 416s. The 550 cord wrapping around the buttstock compartment pad is to keep the pad from falling off during use. A very common problem even among the initial 500 or so Low Rate Production M27s in use by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Philippine Army Infantry

Differentiating from the Marines use of a digital camouflage field uniform, the Army dons an older BDU design when it comes to utilities, and issues tan boots compared to the black boots in use by the PMC. Both services have been seen with only Kevlars instead of armored plates or vests. This could be due to budget issues, but in the hot tropics where the humidity and temperatures can become dangerously high in addition to running with gear all day, can make for an unsafe combination. Thus, both services are trading protection for mobility.

Note the lack of orange tipped tracer ammunition and the rust forming on the individual links.

The mix of M14s, early M60s, and even M16A1s make for a very eerie resemblance to photographs of U.S. troops during the Vietnam War. This particular photograph taken of Marines during the siege of Zamboanga in 2013, before Mawari.

While taking a look at the Philippine Army M14s, this photograph cropped up, unrelated to the current unrest in Marawi, is the active use of .30-06 M1 Garands that U.S. collectors have been dying to get their hands on for so long. This makes the Philippine Army one of the last remaining standing armies actively using a Second World War service rifle. Granted, this is most likely a reserve unit as well.

Local Security Forces

Not much has been said about the local security forces other than that the law enforcement are taking heavy casualties, but this photograph has emerged of a militia-like group combating the Maute group, conducting their salat prayers, with a 5.56x45mm NATO IWI Galil and a 45 round magazine inserted.

U.S. “Advisors”

Raffy Timy is a Filipino journalist who recently shared these photographs of U.S. Special Operations advisors currently working with Philippine Commandos. The photographs were taken covertly and it appears to show them in civilian attire armed with weapons for self-defense and not in an offensive role. This particular “team” also appears to have reinforced a U.S. contingent already there on the island. Notice the NVGs mounted in broad daylight. I guess those jeans are too tight to stuff them into?



Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • HKmaster

    The AFP’s newly received m4 carbines are of the LMT MRP variety. Some of the nicest guns we’ve got in a while!

  • jonp

    Rust in a tropical clime is a real nightmare. It seemingly forms right in front of you.

    The fight in Mindanao is a real problem from all reports. Dutarte’s insistence on not asking for US help in training his fighters has resulted in a real goat*****. I understand that now he is kinda relenting on the tough rhetoric and turning a blind eye towards the US “advisors” who are just helping train them at this point. The Philippines is a forgotten front in the war on terror. As the war in Iraq and Syria has decimated ISIS they are moving to friendlier climes and there is a worldwide recruitment effort for their terrorists to head to Mindanao. Libyans, Chechnians, Syrians, Somalis are all there

    • KestrelBike

      And those countries are probably buying their plane tickets for them to leave….

    • glenn cheney

      More to the story that that. Since overt photos were taken, and Miles turned the kitty loose, let it be said deployments of uniformed specialists are there.
      Recently, so I’ve read, the ISIS mission was to commandeer a treasury known to hold precious metals, bwtfdik, anyhoo- I’ll assume our uh, guys, we’re successful on their co-vert opp with the friendlies.
      As for us minions, “we wuz home watchin TV all night, we didn’t see nuthin.”

      • jonp

        I know there is more but I just gave a little overview. It’s important for people to remember that the battle againt the terrorists is not confined to the Sandbox. The weapons employed by the Marines and Army are very interesting in their mix,

        • glenn cheney

          Rodger that Sir.
          Looks like cartledge necklaces will again be in fashion in certain circles.

  • Brassporkchop

    Going to venture a guess and say the aimpoint-like sight is a DI optical Raven. Affordable and made in South Korea for their own military.

    • roguetechie

      I’m going to try something from DI soon, but not until after I play with my new build until fall at least, especially since I just ordered or am going to order a healthy chunk of new stuff hitting the market for it even though I already bought everything to build it one way

      • Stan Darsh

        “…I just ordered or am going to order a healthy chunk of new stuff hitting the market for it even though I already bought everything to build it one way”
        The struggle is real!

        • roguetechie

          I curse strike industries some days…

          For not even $315 shipped I basically can’t not try their pdw stock kit and their ambi charging handle!

          Though, I will not be installing the included “patented cheek weld piece” which appears to be presenting it’s nether regions in order to be mounted…

  • Timothy G. Yan
  • James Young

    This is a very interesting post. Hasn’t the Philippine army/marines been updating their weapon systems like other countries seem to be doing (Aus, NZ, US, India, etc)? I believe the Remington M4s were part of this as mentioned.

    • john huscio

      There were/are big problems with those m4s

    • Sermon 7.62

      Duterte went to Moscow asking for AK but he didn’t get it.

      • Giolli Joker

        Duterte went to Moscow and the attack on Marawi started right while he was there, therefore he flew back in emergency before being able to meet Putin, IIRC.

        • Sermon 7.62

          No, he met him. And during the meeting he was told about the attack.

      • Mk.28

        Prior to that trip, intelligence told him that threat is imminent..

  • Raginzerker

    Damn, those m4’s must rust like crazy, being in the tropical climete AND being made by Remington???

  • Brett baker

    To the private forces in the photo: Kill’em all let Allah sort’em out.

  • Uniform223

    Those special forces/operations guys?
    US Army Special Forces (more famously known as Green Beret), Navy SEALs, MARSOC, DEVGRU, CAG/The Unit.

    I thought the President of the Philippines didn’t want help from the US and wanted closer ties to Russia and China. Maybe those are Russian Spetsnaz (not likely IMO).

    • noob

      Foreign Internal Defense, or “Hi, I’m here to help. How about you and him fight?”

    • Paul Rain

      They haven’t exactly been helping. War was going better before the victors of Iraq and Afghanistan (those places have been working out well) showed up uninvited.

      • Robert B. Stanford

        What war are you talking about? Are you calling this current situation a war? I wouldn’t call taking months to eliminate a few hundred insurgents in your own country a great success, so how exactly was it ‘going better’ before the US offered to help? And where do you think the Philippines get its weapons from?

    • Mk.28

      Yup!! He didn’t.. A General did.. bypassed him..

      • angpilipinongayon

        It’s the MDT and VFA protocols that enable the generals bypassed Malacanang.

    • angpilipinongayon

      If it would be possible, the US forces will join the fight, but it is really impossible without the PH authorities going to prison for allowing it.

      Anyway, in a hypothetical scenario wherein the US forces will join the fight, it would be a major news in the US I guess.

  • Uniform223

  • noob

    45ACP: made for the Philippines, used in the Philippines since 1905

    • B-Sabre

      Awesome book. I particularly like the line about how the Japanese made themselves “the most egregious buttheads of the 20th century”.

      • Scott Connors

        Which says a lot, considering the competition.

        • B-Sabre

          True enough. Apparently the Japanese beat the Germans in sheer ferocity and barbarity. Dot instance, the Japanese army had words for “body reducing kiln” and “thousand man grave”.

  • therealgreenplease

    I wonder how effective the wood is at detonating the RPGs prematurely. You’ve got to admit, it’s a clever hack in a pinch. Necessity is the mother of invention.

    • B-Sabre

      I have my doubts about it. For maximum effectiveness, a shaped charge needs to detonate about 3x its diameter from the target – the pointy nose on RPG HEAT warheads is mostly empty, and provides the necessary standoff from the target. The wood would cause the warhead to detonate early, and degrade the jet somewhat – but is it enough to make the thin armor on those M1117s effective.

      • 2805662

        They’re upgraded V-100 and V-150, not M1117. Old school.

        • B-Sabre

          Yeah, drop survivability a couple of notches. The thick stuff on the lower hull will help (including the inadvertent standoff), but the busted up crate on the turret….not so much.

    • robin

      in the first few days of the encounter they lost 3 armored vehicles… now cant hear any new losses so it seems effective.. they’re dealing with RPG-2 home made so its good enough.

    • Irfan Zain
  • Giolli Joker

    “Philippino Marines”
    Again, it’s Filipino.

  • John

    >The 550 cord wrapping around the buttstock compartment pad is to keep
    the pad from falling off during use. A very common problem even among
    the initial 500 or so Low Rate Production M27s in use by the U.S. Marine
    Corps.

    Seriously?

    A $2,000, $3,000 rifle needs paracord wrapped around the buttpad to keep it from falling off?

    Heckler and Koch is in bigger trouble than I thought.

    • Yeap, this was one of the things fixed on the production run of M27s for the Fleet. In addition to the pistol grip compartment cap being lost, the “Tactical Tough” scope covers, the plastic handguards.

  • Petto

    That M60 is the latest E6 like Danish army has just in black

  • Jeez Louise

    FrogLube works surprisingly well here in the Philippines. Pretty good corrosion resistance. Does not coagulate and gum up the parts. Dust and grime does not stick to the moving parts. Still smells minty fresh.

  • .45

    They are being supplied with 300 5.46×45 M4s? Never heard of that round, is it a good one?

  • Joseph Tulisanes DeMesayad
  • Yanna

    Though needs confirmation, I think those personnel with the m1 garlands are members of the CAFGU..a civilian armed unit…

  • Noel Teitoku

    but he is sick and dying they say, sad la

  • TZH .

    tell me how the Zamboanga siege fared? I seem to recall that my family over there dealt with it a little better than Marawi. regardless all of this is very sad. aquino in most cases was spineless especially when dealing with his most powerful allies to whom they cannot seem to do any wrong in his eyes. however the Zamboanga siege was was handled much better. in terms of showmanship, joseph estrada dealt a blow to the rebels when he went on his all-out war.

  • mike d

    Man these cafgus on the last picture are awesome

  • John Pate

    Things rust while you watch them in the Philippines jungles.

    Duterte has such overwhelming popular support he can do whatever the hell he wants.

    • Jeez Louise

      He is not that popular. A vocal minority worships him, the majority reluctantly supports him, and many are critical of him. It’s just that the media is trying to paint a picture of the Philippines as willing participants to Duterte’s murderous regime. The truth is that we are silenced by fear of reprisals from his jack-booted thugs, both official and clandestine.

      And yes, things do rust fast in the Philippine jungle. My answer as I’ve posted here is FrogLube. Anyone who has bought FrogLube and hated it, donate it to a Filipino gun owner. We’ll take it!

      • John Pate

        Amoungst the people I’ve talked to in Lapu-Lapu City he appears to meet with high approval. Do Filipinos say something different to somebody who isn’t white?

        • Jeez Louise

          He is ethnically Visayan/Cebuano, so no surprises there. Filipinos tend to be tribalistic and will approve someone more if s/he’s from the same ethnolinguistic group. Just like Marcos and the Ilocano people. Duterte is more popular in the Visayas and Mindanao, whom he shares the same language and ethnicity.

          Even with that base of supporters, his popularity is dropping. His popularity down south will never waver, they will support him all the way to hell.