Thursday, January 05, 2012

Army renders Testimonial Review for SOCOM Commander

In this file photo, Major General Roberto "Bobby" Morales is received by the troops of the 9th Infantry Division in Albay. He once served as the Deputy Brigade Commander of the 901st Brigade based in Daraga town, Albay. (Photo by Cpl Marco Balina)

FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig CityThe Philippine Army will render a Testimonial Review for a retiring commander of an elite military unit on Friday, January 6 at the parade ground here, a military official said.

A Testimonial Review is a military honor given to retiring generals who are holding command positions or higher level staff positions in the Army.

Tomorrow, Major General Roberto Morales, the Commander of the Special Operations Command, will be the honoree.  

“Testimonial review is a cherished military tradition of the Army. It is our way of giving honors to our retiring officers for their valuable service to the country,” said Major Harold M Cabunoc, Army Spokesperson.

The Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is the elite unit of the Army which counts the Special Forces Regiment, the First Scout Ranger Regiment and the Light Reaction Battalion as its subordinate units .

Before his post as SOCOM Commander, Morales spent his his early years in the service in the frontlines  as an infantry officer during the height of the secessionist movement in Mindanao and in the fight of the government against the communist rebels.

His most notable designations include being a Commanding Officer of the Lamitan Defense Force as well as the Company Commander of “Alfa” Company of the 28th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division in Lamitan, Basilan in the early 80s.  

He also served as Battalion Commander of the 70th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division in Central Luzon; and, Brigade Commander of the 501st Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division in Northern Luzon, all in the campaign against the communist rebels.

A seasoned combat officer, MGen Morales breezed through the military hierarchy, giving him a wide variety of experiences in different staff and command positions around the archipelago.

He is one of those who contributed towards  the organization of the Light Reaction Battalion where he also served as  its first commander.

Leading this unit, he successfully steered the unit against the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers led by Commander Robot and Mujib Susukan in series of skirmishes in Talipao Sulu in September 2000. 

He is also one of the few expert on the use of the infantry's indirect fire weapons. He finished a course on mortar gunnery at the US Infantry School in Fort Benning Georgia.

"He is a hands-on leader who leads from the front, moving with the soldiers behind enemy lines. When my unit was heavily engaged with the bandits in Tandu Patung, Indanan town, then Colonel Morales effectively used the 81mm mortar thereby hitting the enemies dead on," said Cabunoc. 

Through his outstanding leadership, 15 bandits surrendered with firearms to the  Light Reaction Battalion when they were cornered by the crack teams of that unit in the thick mangroves of Buhangin Puti in Talipao town.

His unit was also credited for helping the rescue of the abducted preachers belonging to the Jesus Miracle Crusade in Bgy Mabahay, also in  Talipao town.  

In his 30 years of service, he has received numerous awards and decorations that include three (3) Distinguished Service Stars, the Gold Cross Medal for gallantry in action, thirty one (31) Military Merit Medals, eight (8) Military Commendation Medals, two (2) Silver Wing Medals as well as sixty-three (63) letters of commendations.

He was awarded eight Military Civic Action Medals, a Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Medal and a Gawad Sa Kaunlaran Medal for his achievements in community development and other non-combat pursuits.

With all his accomplishments behind him, Morales is bowing out of the service with immense pride.
Army Chief  Lt General Emmanuel Bautista will be present for the traditional testimonial review tomorrow, Jan 6,  at around 3:00pm.

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