For several years before the activation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Civil-Military Operations School (AFPCMOS), only the Philippine Army Civil-Military Operations School provided specialized training on Civil-Military Operations (CMO) in the entire AFP organization. While the Army CMO School training gives emphasis on skills development and understanding of CMO concepts, it only benefits mostly Army personnel, understandably because the concepts being taught were basically developed by the Army. Personnel from the two other major services who have graduated from the school are left only with army concepts of CMO as models and are hard-pressed at making it work to support Naval and Air Force operations. Consequently, development and understanding of CMO concepts and its applicability to AFP operations at a strategic level is inhibited. As the AFP’s Internal Security Operations redirects its thrusts in the conduct of Triad Operations where Civil-Military Operations is considered a vital component, the need to create another CMO school to address these perceived gaps was conceived – a school that will not compete with the existing Philippine Army CMO School, but rather, complements its programs into a multi-dimensional approach.
On the recommendation of then Commander of the Civil Relations Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (CRS, AFP), BGEN JAIME B BUENAFLOR AFP, the establishment of the AFP Civil-Military Operations School was approved on 01 July 2006 by then AFP Chief of Staff GEN GENEROSO S SENGA AFP placing it under the administrative and operational control of the Civil Relations Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines.
When the school began, then Commander of the CRS, AFP, RADM AMABLE B TOLENTINO AFP, adopting the responsibility from BGEN BUENAFLOR of nurturing the school at its infancy, provided its initial personnel, equipment and classroom requirement to support the conduct of its first ever CMO course. The first Commandant of the School was COL LEONILO R ESLAVA PAF and it was during his stint that the first regular CMO course was conducted.
The first CMO course conducted by the School was the CMO Specialist Course (7-191) Class 01-2006 which consisted of seventeen (17) enlisted personnel from the different major services of the AFP under the supervision of its Course Director, then MAJ BENJAMIN L HAO PA. The course was successfully managed and ended on 13 December 2006 with Private First Class Loida D Desor PA of the 31st Civil Relations Unit, 3CRG, CRS, AFP topping the class. In its one year of existence, the school conducted five (5) courses which resulted to fifty six (56) officers and fifty six (56) enlisted personnel as graduates.
Two courses that were also successfully conducted on 30 October 2007 were the Public Affairs Specialist Course (7-171) with seventeen (17) enlisted personnel and Civil Affairs Course (7-160) with five (5) officers and eleven (11) enlisted personnel. Two more courses were held in November 2007, capping the last of the courses for CY 2007. In addition to the regular courses, the school likewise facilitated the conduct of several CMO-related specialized training and seminars.
To build up the school’s core competence, the school reinforced its training staff by acquiring additional qualified personnel including its first civilian School Director, Professor Estrellita Punzalan-Bautista, a Wien International Scholar and graduate of Brandeis University in Massachusetts, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Sociology with honors and Graduate Associate at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio where she finished her MA in International Affairs.
On the other hand, to support the training needs of the students, the school initially procured several tri-media and information technology equipment necessary to develop the skills and knowledge required of their respective courses. In 2008, the CMO Mentors publication started to support the information and dissemination of school’s programs and activities as well as forwarding the Civil-Military Operations strategy in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In 2009, the school experienced a lull in its operation when then Commander, CRS, AFP BGEN GAUDENCIO S PANGILINAN JR AFP opted to have the courses conducted at the Philippine Army CMO School, CMOG, PA in Fort Andres Bonifacio, Taguig City since the headquarters’ main building was then undergoing massive repair and reconstruction. Other short-term courses at that time like the Documentary Video Production Training and Non-Linear Editing were outsourced at the University of the Philippines Film Institute in Diliman, Quezon City under their extension program. It was also during his time that the blessing of the new school building located at General Santos Avenue inside Camp Aguinaldo was held.
With the Change of Command the following year however, the school became reinvigorated and the approved AFPCMOS Training Program for CY 2010 was gradually conducted one by one. While still at the Headquarters CRS, AFP, only distance learning courses were conducted such as the PsyOps Officers Course and the CMO Officers Correspondence Course. In July 2010, the manpower and equipment of the School were formally transferred from the old building to the new AFP CMO School building.
Immediately after settling down, the other courses for the year were conducted such as the CMO Enlisted Personnel Course CL 04-2010, the Restructured Reenlistment Training CL 03-10, short-term training courses and other CMO-related training like the Adobe Photoshop, Combat Camera Multimedia Course CL 11-01, Mobile Training Team CMO Crash Training Program in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. The graduation ceremonies for the two officers’ CMO courses were held in the new site. Then CRS, AFP Commander BGEN JOSE Z MABANTA JR AFP was the keynote speaker during the graduation ceremony of the AFP CMO Officers Correspondence Course Class 02-2010 while then Vice Chief of Staff, AFP who later on became the 42nd Chief of Staff, AFP LT GEN EDUARDO SL OBAN JR AFP was the guest of honor and speaker during the graduation ceremony of the Psychological Operations Course CL 01-10.
The shift in the AFP thrust from Internal Security Operations (ISO) to the new AFP Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) “BAYANIHAN” signaled the full blast operations of the School. The first AFP IPSP seminar-workshop was held in the School in early 2011 with top caliber resource persons from the military and other government agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Also in the same year, the utilization of web-based technologies was taken into focus as the development of the school’s social media platforms and website were initiated by MAJ OLIVER A BAÑARIA PAF during his term as the Commandant of the school. It was the birth of the school’s official website and facebook page which introduced substantial reach and pervasive changes to communications between the school and other organizations, communities, and individuals.
Currently, the school has been gaining grounds in upgrading its Civil-Military Operations curriculum to keep abreast with the current times especially now that the government’s thrust is to win the peace with the involvement of all stakeholders and the entire Filipino nation without compromising national security. Under the leadership of the school’s current Commandant, MAJ JO-AR A HERRERA PA, the school continues to expand its network and broaden its mentorship resource by inviting esteemed guest lecturers from more government agencies, non-government organizations and other private sectors. The school has also aspired for the success of extensive interagency collaborations as it has welcomed students from other non-AFP government agencies including the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Law Enforcement and Security Integration Office (LESIO), Anti-Terrorism Council Program Management Center (ATC-PMC) and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Malacañang. Partnerships were likewise strengthened with other public sector organizations including the Presidential Communications Operations Group (PCOG), Civil Service Commission, foreign counterparts, primarily the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) of the US Armed Forces, private entities including the Ayala Corporation, The Asia Foundation and One Meralco Foundation, and top academic institutions in the country such as De La Salle University, Ateneo De Manila University and University of the Philippines.
The school’s newsletter was also revived in 2013 and has been renamed as The CMOS Herald after its predecessor, CMO Mentors, was discontinued in 2009. The publication works hand in hand with the school’s social media platforms and website in promoting projects, engagements, and activities, which build the interest of key audiences and in turn supports the accomplishment of its mission. AFPCMOS continues to magnify its reach as it persistently renders Mobile Training Team Support to the Philippine Navy Civil- Military Operations Group (CMOG), Unified Commands including SOLCOM, NOLCOM, and WESCOM, various Philippine Army Divisions and CMO battalions, Police Community Relations Group (PCRG) and Special Action Force (SAF) of the PNP. As of December 2013, the AFP CMO School conducted a total of 67 CMO courses and trainings garnering a total of 1,918 graduates in a span of seven (7) years. It continues to strive for innovations in its mentoring techniques to provide quality education and training to enrich the knowledge and skills of officers and personnel as effective CMO planners and operators.