Light Reaction Regiment: The Sharpshooters of Death


    The Light Reaction Regiment (LRR) is the Philippine Army’s counterterrorism unit that was officially established on February 1, 2004. The LRR is mandated to conduct counterterrorism and other special forces operations on Philippine soil. The unit is sometimes known as the Philippine Delta Force due to its counterterrorism experience and lineage from receiving American special forces training and in particular Delta Force. [source].

    The LRR is based in Fort Ramon Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, where they are posted alongside the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) [source]. The unit is under the command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Operations Command (AFPSCOCOM) [source].

    The unit’s motto is Tiradores de la Muerte (Sharpshooters of Death), which was adopted from the Luna Sharpshooters, an elite unit of marksmen formed by General Antonio Luna of the Philippine Revolutionary Army [source].

    Colonel Monico E. Abang was appointed as the unit’s commanding officer, taking over from Brigadier General Monico S. Batle [source].

    1.0. History

    In 2000, The United States Pacific Command (now US Indo-Pacific Command) planning team under ADM Dennis C. Blair of Special Operations Command – Pacific (SOCPAC), the Joint U.S Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG), the Philippine Government, and the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) met in Manila to begin planning to organize, train, and equip the Philippines’ own Counter Terrorism (CT) force. [source]

    B Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) was tasked to develop a comprehensive six-month training for the 1st Light Reaction Company. The first company was composed of members from the Philippine Army Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) (SFR[A]) and the Philippine Army First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR). The training was based on the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School’s Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance, Target Analysis, and Exploitation Techniques Course (SFARTAETC), a CT training outside of CAG’s Operator’s Training Course (OTC). [source]

    The plan was reinforced and enhanced after the 9/11 attacks when the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines and designated the Philippines as a Non-Major Treaty Ally.  [source]

    1.1. First Deployment

    After the LRC was established on February 1, 2004, the unit was deployed to Mindanao to conduct hostage rescue operations.

    1.1.1. First name change

    The unit renamed the Light Reaction Battalion in 2008, was temporarily posted in Metro Manila after the events of the siege at the Peninsula Manila Hotel due to an attempted coup in November 2007 [source].

    1.1.2. Scandal

    The LRB was in a scandal when 50 operators, including 3 officers, were placed on suspension due to possible involvement in killing civilians on February 4, 2008, during combat operations against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) [source]. An investigation later revealed that an unreliable informant provided false information so that he can take advantage of the ongoing combat operations to get rid of a rival clan [source].

    During the hostage crisis incident at Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park in Manila, the unit was offered to the PNP to be involved in a possible hostage rescue op [source]. They were only told to be on standby and wait for orders.

    1.1.3. Second Name Change

    In 2014, the LRB changed names again, this time to the Light Reaction Regiment, due to their efforts in fighting against rogue Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters in Zamboanga City in September 2013. Defense Secretary Voltaire Defense Secretary Gazmin authorized the name change on January 16, 2014. This also included the establishment of three more companies to the LRR to complement the first three companies, giving the unit a combat strength of 600 operators [source].

    On September 4, 2018, the U.S. Counterterrorism Train and Equip Program provided the LRR with 5 million rounds of ammunition worth Php117.4 million ($2.2 million) [source].

    LRR commandos; via Philippine government Public Domain.

    2.0. Doctrine

    The Light Reaction Regiment is the dedicated Special Missions Unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Its doctrine is Counterterrorism, Special Operations, and Unconventional Warfare. Its main mission is to conduct surgical strike operations against high-value targets and support conventional units in conventional operations.

    3.0. Organisation

    Open sources indicate that the Light Reaction Regiment is composed of one (1) Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company (HHC), six (6) Light Reaction Companies, and the Light Reaction School (LRS). The unit’s headquarters is located in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. [source]

    3.1. Headquarters

    • Commanding Officer, Light Reaction Regiment
    • Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel (G1)
    • Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G2)
    • Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations (G3)
    • Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics (G4)
    • Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans (G5)
    • Assistant Chief of Staff for Command, Control, Communications, Computer, and Surveillance (G6)
    • Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations (G7)
    • Headquarters Support Company

    3.2. Line Commands

    • 1st Light Reaction Company (Exemius Ferratus)
    • 2nd Light Reaction Company (Nasiglat)
    • 3rd Light Reaction Company (Way Kurat)
    • 4th Light Reaction Company (Perdigones)
    • 5th Light Reaction Company (Mandaragit)
    • 6th Light Reaction Company (Dares Against Odds)


    All candidates must be Special Forces or Scout Ranger-qualified and have served at least two years in combat deployment. The Light Reaction School administers the selection and training of potential candidates. The selection kicks off with the traditional mase-mase (intense physical exercises) immediately followed by a Physical Fitness Test (PFT) without rest. After the PFT, candidates are subjected to a series of timed land navigation exercises with unknown distances and time-limit, similar to the US Army’s CAG selection process. [source]

    It ends with a panel interview with the unit’s commanding officer, available assistant chief of staffs, the unit’s sergeant major, and line company commanders. 

    4.1. The Counter Terrorism Course

    The Counter Terrorism Course (CTC) is divided into four (4) distinct modules:

    1. Combat Life-Saver Phase
    • The length of this module is three (3) weeks that teach CT candidates Tactical Combat Casualty Care Procedures (TCCCP), TCCP is the middle ground of basic combat first-aid and advanced combat medical care. 
    1. Basic Pistol/Rifle Marksmanship Phase
    • Mastering the basics is a fundamental aspect of being an operator. This phase essentially gives already SOF-qualified candidates a crash course to further enhance their existing marksmanship skillsets before advancing to more advanced modules. 

    This phase ends with a graded marksmanship test using M4 with iron sight and an M1911 pistol.

    1. Combat Marksmanship Phase
    • This phase teaches candidates how to shoot, move, and communicate in a dynamic combat environment. The TTPs in this phase are classified and unique only to the unit. 

    This phase ends with a stress test where candidates are subjected to different battle scenarios that will assess their competencies in combat marksmanship. 

    1. Close Quarters Battle (CQB) Phase
    • This is the longest phase of the whole CTC course that spans at least two (2) months. The CQB Phase teaches candidates how to conduct surgical operations on urban terrain. From mission planning to a proficient execution of the operation. 
    • This phase ends with a whole-day culminating graded pass/fail event that will test candidates in all of the modules in a series of simulated events. Failed candidates are given a chance to recycle on the next CT course. 

    Light Reaction Sniper Course (formerly known as Special Operations Target Interdiction Course)  

    The unit’s successful exploits in the Marawi Siege compelled the regiment to change SOTIC’s curriculum by applying the lessons learned during the siege. Before the curriculum change, potential snipers for the unit are culled from those who performed well during the Combat Marksmanship Phase – however, the new curriculum dictates that potential snipers should be CTC-qualified before going to the Light Reaction Sniper School. The new curriculum focuses on long-distance shooting using high-tech equipment and advanced shooting using a variety of rifles. [source]

    5.0. Weapons

    The LRR is known to have the following weapons:

    • Assault rifles
    • Sniper rifles
      • CS-LR4 sniper rifle
      • M24 sniper rifle
      • SR-25 sniper rifle [source]
    • Shotguns
      • Remington 870 shotgun
    • Pistols
      • M1911A1 pistols upgraded by Government Arsenal

    6.0. Future

    The threat from Insurgents and other terrorists in the Philippines has not gone away. While the siege at Marawi enabled the Philippine military to take out most of ISIL’s appointed leaders, there are other groups that still threaten Philippine national security. This also goes for pro-communist-inspired terrorists like the NPA.

    The LRR will continue to train with other special forces units in the Philippines and overseas in order to improve their capabilities.

    Mark Christian Soo
    Mark Christian Soo
    Mark is a graduate of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) under the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) with a Master's Degree in Strategic Studies. His research interests focus on Japanese, East and Southeast Asian defense/foreign affairs policy.

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