Lieutenant General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. succeeded General Rey Leonardo Guerrero as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff on 18 April 2018.
Galvez was a Fellow of the Asian Institute of Management TeaM Energy Center (AIMTEC) for Bridging Leadership’s 2007 Bridging Leadership Fellows Program (BLFP). During this time, he was Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations (CMO) of the AFP’s 2nd Infantry Division (ID) in the Southern Tagalog Region.
Galvez has been serving in the military for over 36 years, primarily in conflict zones and conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. Before his appointment as AFP Chief of Staff, he was the 9th Commander of the Western Mindanao Command. He led the successful defense of Lamitan City at the height of the Zamboanga siege in 2013 and most recently led the rescue of around 2,000 civilian hostages while neutralizing the forces of the Maute group during the five-month Marawi siege.
His first salvo as Battalion Commander with the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion (SRB) in May 2000 led to the death of 10 of his men and fatally wounded 16 others. Despite this traumatic encounter, the 1st SRB was recognized as the Best Scout Ranger Battalion for 2000 and 2001, and the Best Battalion for Combat Operations in 2002 for their operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu and Basilan.
Galvez has received numerous awards, including a Philippine Legion of Honor, three Distinguished Service Stars, two Outstanding Achievement Medals, six Gold Cross Medals, eight Bronze Cross Medals, 40 Military Merit and Commendations Medals, and a Wounded Personnel Medal.
He also received the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s “Salamat Po” Humanitarian Award and the Order of Lapu-lapu, Level of Kamagi for his performance as the Unified Commander during the Marawi siege.
His Life Mission
Described by his men as kind-hearted, Galvez is committed to pursuing non-violent resolutions to insurgencies and armed conflict in the country. His combat deployment to Mindanao for nearly seven years strengthened his resolve to secure peace.
“I experienced the anguish of seeing people die unnecessarily and witnessed so many times the pain and agony of dying soldiers, civilians, and enemies,” Galvez said. “People in the community began to ask, ‘When is this useless war going to end?’”
This lingering question motivated him to enhance his capabilities as a military leader and develop more collaborative and peaceful means to address violence and armed conflict. Building on his extensive military education at the Philippine Military Academy (1985), Galvez pursued a Master’s degree in Project Management at the University of New South Wales, Australia in 2004 and completed executive leadership development programs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and AIM’s TeaM Energy Center for Bridging Leadership. These courses and development programs equipped him with different leadership and change management approaches to help him realize his life’s work.
Becoming A Bridging Leader
“What we (the military) came from was more traditional. We looked at our forces as ‘men of war.’ Through BL, we see ourselves as ‘men of peace.’ This concept was not totally new but we struggled to ‘sell’ this concept to people. For many of us Filipinos and for many in the military, ideas die easily. This is because not many know how to support ideas with a process and systemic approach,” Galvez said.
As a BLFP fellow, Galvez endeavored to secure peace by “winning the hearts and minds of people.” The challenges he encountered in the process — managing multiple roles and responsibilities, reassignment to the Operations Arm of the 2nd ID — led him to form a core group through which he could co-create change to secure peace through non-violent means. This resulted in a shared vision of peace and development in Regions 4A and 4B.
Galvez introduced new success indicators and, together with his core group, proposed a people-centered approach to military operations instead of an enemy-centered one. Under his leadership, military operations were evaluated based on the engagement of influential stakeholders in solving issues related to poverty, land, and health instead of body counts. The nature of military efforts shifted from combat operations to programs focused on developing the youth, barangays, and indigenous peoples.
Further, a CMO battalion was created to complement and supplement existing battalions' combat operations and intelligence. Through the CMO battalion, the military worked closely with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government units, sharing know-how regarding internal security operations. This increased the efficiency and reach of the military in the region.
“The PNP is skillful in legal operations, which offsets a weakness of the military,” Galvez explained. As such, the AFP-PNP partnership provided a basis for including paralegal operations in the Division. This helped address “legal offensives” of insurgents against the military.
Communities of Change
Given the military’s new focus on sustainable peace through CMO and paralegal operations, combat was limited to emergency situations. The Division’s CMO battalion also became a regular unit with funds to support its operations.
Over the first half of 2008, enemies were peacefully neutralized through CMO 57% of the time, as opposed to enemy neutralization by combat (2%). After the military shifted its approach from “instruments of war” to “instruments of peace,” the communities where the Division operated began to see them in a more positive light. They became more welcoming, leading to an increase in the demand for the military’s youth programs.
“Even the LGUs became motivated to start something of their own or to support military efforts because they can see the CMO battalion hard at work in the communities,” Galvez said.
One of their PNP partners also shared, “I feel happier with (CMO) than catching and fighting criminals. I’m providing justice to the community.”
In August 2008, the 4th Infantry Division (Central Mindanao) and 7th Infantry Division (Central Luzon) began to periodically consult the 2nd Infantry Division to learn how to integrate CMO into their operations.
Galvez credits BL for shaping him into a leader who was able to co-create these changes. “Because of the new leadership framework of dialogue and collaboration, I was able to employ a wider perspective and effect more far-reaching changes.”
He shared similar sentiments at the Eisenhower Day Celebration Forum hosted by AIMTEC last 09 November 2017, reflecting on his experience during the Marawi siege.
Galvez noted that what helped him succeed during the siege was the support of national and civilian authorities, the military’s good relationship with the Amai Pakpak Medical Center and Mindanao State University, and the strong declaration against the Daesh-inspired Maute group made by the Ulamas, 41 mayors in Mindanao, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
During the forum, Galvez also shared that the AFP adopts a whole-of-nation and modified development governance-security framework in its campaign against violent extremism, to secure peace and well-being in the country.