During the Marawi crisis, we used and applied the hard power approach in fighting against the ISIS-Maute terrorists and liberating Marawi City from their clutches. As such, we created, organized, and utilized JTF Marawi for destroying this terrorist group. Our Operations Cell under Lt Col Tex Suderio integrated the hard power approach into our strategy utilizing various units and capabilities under our disposal in a combined arms, joint, and interagency manner.
The SLICE Approach
In applying the hard power approach, we followed the SLICE method — Strategize, Locate, Isolate, Constrict, and Eliminate. During our time in the MBA, the SLICE approach was used to clear and liberate. The first step in strategizing and planning an operation was the identification and selection of the best suited units to accomplish the mission, as well as equipping and prepositioning these troops. Locating referred to the critical locations used by the enemy such as: Command and Control (C2) positions, logistics hubs, communication hubs, and even the locations of their hostages.
The different JTGs were also applying SLICE in their operations albeit on a much smaller scale. They were strategizing which unit to put forward in an assault, taking into consideration the need to rotate units in order to avoid fatigue, and preserve the unit’s strength. They had to locate the enemy and designate buildings and targets for fires coming from the air assets, howitzers, and mortars. They were also isolating enemies within their sectors to prevent the latter from reinforcing or being reinforced by other terrorist groups.
Clearing and constricting the enemies in their sector was among their tasks too. The units responsible for clearing blocks had to move within abreast distances of one another to reinforce mutual support, otherwise, lead elements from one unit clearing a block, may be subjected to enemy fire, coming from a block that is yet to be cleared by an adjacent unit. Finally, eliminating enemies in their respective sectors, and obtaining their objectives little by little, helped attain the bigger picture of eliminating the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group in Marawi City.
At the tactical level, troops had to adapt to the realities of urban operations and the peculiarity of the enemy tactics. It was very different from the traditional jungle warfare that our troops had been used to. Troops applied the cycle of innovation by applying, observing, assessing, and evaluating. Critical elements were the C4 or Common Sense, Critical Thinking, Creativity, and Correct Timing.