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?


    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