FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – A battle-hardened soldier who had served in various hot spots of Mindanao for more than 14 years, will be installed as the next Commanding General of the Philippine Army.
Lieutenant General Noel A Coballes, 54, will assume as the 55th Commanding General of the Philippine Army, replacing Lieutenant General Emmanuel T Bautista who was recently installed as the Chief of Staff Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The President of the Republic of the Philippines and the AFP Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency President Benigno S Aquino III, will preside the Change of Command Ceremony on Tuesday, January 22, at about 3 p.m. at the Hunters ROTC Guerrilla Field/Headquarters Philippine Army Grandstand in Fort Bonifacio.
Coballes started his military career in the battlefields of Mindanao as the Platoon Leader of the 26th Infantry Battalion, 4thInfantry Division.
Later on, he joined the First Scout Ranger Regiment and commanded the line companies under the 2ndScout Ranger Battalion which saw action in various hotspots in Mindanao.
He also led four different Task Group Panthers (TGP), a command and control unit that supervises the operations of Scout Ranger companies. The TGP that he led in Basilan in 1995, was credited for the neutralization of several Abu Sayyaf terrorists who were responsible for the kidnapping of civilians in the area.
Once again, he distinguished himself in combat as the Battalion Commander of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion which was employed to confront the armed threats in Maguindanao and North Cotabato from 1997-2000.
He personally led his unit in many decisive battles, earning for him the admiration and respect by his peers and subordinates.
He is among the most bemedalled military officers in the AFP having been twice awarded the Distinguished Conduct Star, the second highest combat medal for bravery, for his exemplary combat actions.
He is also a recipient of three Distinguished Service Stars, five Gold Cross Medals for gallantry in action (3rd highest combat medal), two Bronze Cross Medals, and several Military Merit Medals, and Commendations both from the military and other institutions.
Born on February 1958 in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Coballes is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA)“Mapitagan” Class of 1980. He finished the rigorous 4-year military course at the Top 15 out of 106 cadets.
He successfully stirred the Filipino Peacekeeping Unit who served under the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) from 2001 to 2002. Holding then the rank of a Lt Col, he led the 604-strong Filipino contingent that helped international peacekeeping operations in East Timor during its transition to an independent state.
He also commanded the Army’s 105th Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division in Basilan; and also the 1003rd Infantry Brigade, 10th Infantry Division in Davao area.
He also served as the Commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, Special Operations Command, one of the elite units of the AFP.
He had excellently performed several staff duties in various capacities as Chief, Plans and Program Division and eventually becoming the Executive Officer of OJ3, GHQ; Assistant Chief of Staff for Education and Training, G8 of the First Scout Ranger Regiment; Deputy Commander and Executive Officer and eventually the Officer-in-Charge of the Scout Ranger Training Center; Assistant Section Chief at the Combat Arms School, TRACOM, PA; aside from his numerous Board and Committee memberships.
Prior to his designation as Army Chief, he was the 40th Vice Chief of Staff of the AFP. In concurrent capacity as VCSAFP, he was also the Chief, Office of Ethical Standard and Public Accountability, AFP; the Commander, AFP Disaster Response Task Force; and Commander, AFP Wide Service Support Unit. He likewise chaired the AFP Housing Board, the AFP Medal for Valor Board, AFP Gender and Development Focal Point Committee, and the AFP Legislative Affairs Board.
Coballes also commanded the Western Mindanao Command, during which time he led the campaign for peace in Zamboanga Peninsula, Lanao Provinces, Misamis Occidental, and the Island Provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
His campaign against terrorism and lawlessness led to the neutralization of 15 Abu Sayyaf Group members and foreign terrorists including Abu Sayyaf leader Umbra Jumdail @ Doctor Abu and two leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah.
He also served as Commander of the 1st Infantry Division. His leadership was highly commended for the peace and development initiatives in his area of responsibility.
Fulfilling his dream of becoming one of the elite warriors in the Army, Coballes completed the Scout Ranger Course as a young Lieutenant on 16 December 1980.
He also took several career and specialization courses including the Infantry Officer Basic Course on 01 October 1987 where he graduated at the top of his class; the Infantry Officer Advance Course at the US Army Infantry School on 01 December 1989; the Pre-Command Course on 24 November 1995; the Basic Airborne Course on 01 February 1996.
He was in the top 10 of his class when he took the Philippine Army Command and General Staff Course. He also earned the degree Master of Strategic Studies from the US Army War College on 09 June 2007.
To hone his management skills he finished the Strategic Human Resource Management Course at the Asian Institute of Management.
He is one of the so-called 'shooting generals', a group of star-rank officers which actively participates in shooting competitions. He also engages in other outdoor sporting activities such as mountain biking, golf and scuba diving.
He is happily married to the former Ms Lorna Paglinawan of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte with whom he has four lovely daughters: Sue Ann, Carolyn, Mae Ann, and Maria Alexis.