MWI Hosts talk on Siege of Marawi

By Maj. Emmanuel Sioson Department of Military Instruction

December 13th, 2018 | News, News and Features
 Maj. Emmanuel Sioson provides introductory comments preceding a video on the Siege of Marawi Photo by Doreen Pasieka

The Modern War Institute hosted its ninth speaker series event on Nov. 19. The title of this series was “Special Operations Forces in the Philippines: The Siege of Marawi.” This speaker panel continued a theme of urban warfare previously discussed by panels on the Battle of Mogadishu and the Battle for Mosul.
Utilizing the Siege of Marawi as the backdrop, panelists focused their discussion on counterterrorism efforts against ISIS, application of Mission Command and the importance of collective effort.
After quick welcoming remarks, the panel opened with a video depicting the Siege of Marawi, produced by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Forces Regiment.  The video included a brief history of global events that influenced domestic issues and led to the siege. The video included helmet camera footage of the battle itself from the brave Filipino soldiers embroiled in conflict as well footage from ISIS fighters on the ground.
Following the video, the commander responsible for Special Operations in that region of Asia, Lt. Col. Ryan Armstrong, provided five themes for the audience to consider throughout the panel discussion. The first theme focused on the “ends,” specifically, that the mission was required to prevent the emergence of ISIS in South East Asia and provide a hedge against near peer competitors.
The following two themes centered on the power of a joint and interagency team while recognizing the importance of the partner forces. Finally, his last two themes explained Mission Command and the value of being small, but capable.
After Armstrong set the scene, the panelists illustrated the conflict in three phases. The panelist included Capt. Emma Lehner, Task Force Intelligence Officer, Marc Jackson, State Department Political-Military Officer, Capt. Adam Jannetti, initial military commander in country, Capt. Robert Morris, Civil Affairs Executive Officer and USAID Liaison, and Maj. Emmanuel Sioson, subsequent military commander in country. During the discussion, they described the events that led to the conflict, actions taken during the siege and post-conflict non-lethal efforts. All the while, highlights of teamwork between agencies and trust among colleagues permeated the comments.
Overall, the event provided insight on an underpublicized effort that successfully defeated an ISIS emir, eradicated his caliphate and built political capital for our diplomats in the geopolitical arena.
“(The panel) relates to the discussions of ends, ways and means that we have had within DS320 (Landpower),” Class of 2021 Cadet Ryan Witter, who attended the panel, said. “Many of the methods used to create a strategy on a scale as large as this conflict, and as complicated, requires a plan of action that incorporates a desired outcome, method of completion and resources needed for mission success.”
Given post-discussion interest on Twitter, the Modern War Institute will work to schedule a follow up panel to provide an opportunity for joint Special Operation Forces and conventional teammates to offer their perspective and lessons learned; thus, exposing staff and faculty to wider perspective on the Siege of Marawi.