Lt. Col. Jo-ar A. Herrera is the 16th Commanding Officer of the 53rd Infantry “Matapat” Battalion (53IB) Philippine Army, headquartered at Camp Major David P. Sabido, Guipos, Zamboanga Del Sur. He assumed office from March 5, 2020 to August 8, 2022 to lead the Battalion to serve and secure the communities in the area in pursuing its various counter-insurgency programs, counter-terrorism, and civil-military operations.
Before his current position, Lt. Col. Herrera was the Deputy Director of the Joint Doctrine Development Center, AFP Education, Training, and Doctrine Command. He is the first Director of Operations Research Center, Philippine Army (ORCPA) at Philippine Army Headquarters, Fort Andres Bonifacio, Taguig City, Metro Manila. He led the unit tasked to conduct strategic research, special studies, policy studies, and lessons learned for the Philippine Army.
Lt. Col. Herrera was the Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations (G7) of the 1st Infantry “TABAK” Division (1ID), Philippine Army; Head of Plans and Research Branch of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Education and Training, Education and Research (OG8), Philippine Army; and Commandant of Armed Forces of the Philippines, Civil-Military Operations School, among others.
After his tour of duty in Mindanao, then Capt. Herrera assumed an assignment in the Philippine Military Academy as a tactical officer and a military instructor. He devoted his time to mentoring the cadets to teach, train, and develop the next generation of leaders in the country.
As a leader developer, he introduced the concept of Servant Leadership in the academy as part of the cadets’ leadership philosophy and character development. His initiatives and creativity exposed the cadets to various professional disciplines and helped bring the academy in a strategic interest of producing selfless leaders for the nation.
Hero of Cabatangan
As a Second Lieutenant in the Philippine Army fresh out of the Academy, Lt. Col. Herrera was assigned in Mindanao, where he figured in numerous combat actions in Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan, Davao, and Zamboanga peninsula. From 1999 to 2006, he served in various tactical and managerial positions, including platoon leader, commanding officer, and battalion intelligence officer of 57th Infantry “MASIKAP” Battalion, 6th Infantry “KAMPILAN” Division.
He led various successful undertakings during his tour of duty in the Mindanao-Sulu Archipelago. In 2001, he was acknowledged as “HERO OF CABATANGAN” during a successful rescue of 15 civilians (women and children) taken hostage by rogue Muslim rebels at Cabatangan Complex, Zamboanga City. Through efficient negotiation, he was able to settle disputes between warring clans in Maguindanao. He figured in numerous peace negotiations in South Cotabato and Sarangani Provinces, resulting in the surrender of 238 communist terrorists and 51 MILF rebels.
The Marawi Crisis
Lt. Col. Herrera was serving his tour duty as the G7, 1ID when the newly created Joint Task Force Marawi, led by then Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista appointed him as Spokesperson and tasked him to spearhead the creation of the Civil-Military Operations Coordinating Center (CMOCC) to initiate measures for taking care of the affected hundreds of thousands of civilians who evacuated from the war-torn city.
Through the effective communication strategies of information operations under his leadership, the Philippine Army was able to counter the extremist narratives and propaganda by the terrorists.
Lt. Col. Herrera is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy “MASIKHAY” Class of 1999. He took his Command and Staff Course (CSC) at Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College, Singapore in 2019. Lt. Col. Herrera also completed the Overseas Joint Warfare Course at the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
He attended a series of career-oriented education, specializations, and training at various military schools in the country and abroad. His most notable foreign training study is the Psychological Operations Course at the US Army John F Kennedy Warfare School and Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He received a US Army Commendation Medal and the Distinguished Honor Graduate Award for graduating number one in his class.
Lt. Col. Herrera attended Basic and Advance Officers Infantry Course at Training and Doctrine Command, Philippine Army. He is a Scout Ranger and Combat Diver qualified.
He holds a Master of Arts in Social and Development Studies from the University of the Philippines and a Strategic Communication Certificate from the Singapore Management University.
Lt. Col. Herrera was a distinguished graduate student at the University of the Philippines – Baguio. His master academic paper titled ”An Organizational Leadership Assessment of the Philippine Military Academy” was internationally recognized as an outstanding paper by The Randall L. Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence at Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, in March 2010.
In May 2012, “The Dynamics of Security and International Relations” International Conference at Carol I National Defense University in Bucharest, Romania, published his paper, “Legal Pluralism and the Dynamics of Winning Peace in Mindanao.”
Lt. Col. Herrera speaks on leadership, conflict management, and counter-radicalization to diverse audiences to promote mutual understanding and effective collaboration among the next generation’s most important and influential leaders in places such as Manila, Hongkong, Seoul, China, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, and Denver, Indianapolis, Washington DC, Georgia, USA.
• “Breaking Free from Communist Deception: Compelling Stories of Youths Recruited, Deceived by CPP-NPA,” 2020, 53IB, PA.
• “Restoring Fragile Peace: The 2000 Battle for Central Mindanao,” 2019. Operations Research Center (ORC), PA.
• “Marawi and Beyond: The Joint Task Force Marawi Story,” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Liberating the Islamic City (Combat Operations),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Knowledge Triumphs (Intelligence Operations),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Translating Tactical Gains into Strategic and Moral Victory (Information Operations),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Dominating The Urban Terrain (Combined Arms),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Enabling the Maneuver (Combat Engineering),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Rolling to Victory (Armor Operations),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Dominating Lake Lanao (Waterborne Operations),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Defeating Terrors (Special Operations Forces),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Softening the Threat for the Killer Punch (Fire Support),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “The Game Changer (Close Air Support and Airmobile Operations),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Engaging and Involving the Communities (Civil-Military Operations),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Legitimizing Tactical (Public Information),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Breaking the Barriers of Trust (Countering Violent Extremism),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Hitting the Core (Psychological Operations),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Truth Conquers (Social Media Operations),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Elevating the Role of the Female (Female Soldiers),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Supporting the Frontliners (Sustainment Operations),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Connecting the Forces (Communication and Cyber Systems),” 2018. ORC, PA.
•-“Leading From the Heart (Leadership),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “Honoring the Dauntless and the Benevolent (Fallen Soldiers and Civilian Supporters),” 2018. ORC, PA.
• “OG8 Journal,” 2016. OG8, PA.
• “NCO Leadership Lesson Handbook,” 2016. OG8, PA.
• “Observer Controller Training Handbook,” 2016. OG8, PA.
• “Opposing Forces Handbook,” 2016. OG8, PA.
Doctrinal Books and Research Studies
• Lead author, “Civil Relations Service Doctrine,” 2015. CRS, AFP.
• Lead author, “Territorial Defense Doctrine,” 2015. AFP.
• “Legal Pluralism and the Dynamics of Winning Peace in Mindanao,” 2010. The Integritas: Philippine Military Academy Journal.
Journals and Articles
• “The Malayan Emergency: Are Lessons Transferable to the Counter-Insurgency Operations in The Philppines?,” 2020. The Army Journal: The Academic Journal of the Philippine Army Vol. 16 Issue 1, PA.
• “Multilateralism in ASEAN’s Regional Security Infrastructure: Focus on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism,” 2019. OSSSM Digest Vol. 24 No. 3: Prospects and Challenges in Counter-Terrorism, AFP.
• “Breaking Extremist Narratives: The Joint Task Force Marawi Story,” 2018. Countering Extremism: Now What?,” Centre of Excellence for National Security. S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU, Singapore.
• “The Marawi Crisis: Insights from Ground Zero,” Nov. 17, 2018.Philippine Daily Inquirer.
• Co-author. “A Well-Educated, Highly Trained, and Doctrine-Based Army,” 2016. Assistant Chief of Staff for Education and Training G8 Journal, Philippine Army.
• “Spawning Anti-Terrorism Success: The AFP Civil-Military Operations School Emerges as the Prime Mover in Counter-violence and Radicalization Interchange,” 2015. Asia Pacific Defense Forum.
• Contributor, “AFP Civil-Military Operations School,” 2013. Ang Tala Magazine CRS, AFP.
• Outstanding Achievement Medal
• Distinguished Service Medal
• 7 Gold Cross Medals
• 3 Meritorious Achievement Medals
• 12 Bronze Cross Medals
• 31 Military Merit Medals
• 2 Gawad sa Kaunlaran Medals
• 18 Military Commendation Medals
• US Army Commendation Medal
• 5 Military Civic Action Medals
• Long Service Medal
• Silver Wing Medal
• Anti-Dissident Campaign Medal
• Anti-Secessionist Campaign Medal
• Luzon Campaign Medal
• Mindanao-Sulu Campaign Medal
• Presidential Unit Citation Badge
• Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Operation Ribbon
• Combat Commander Kagitingan (valor) Badge
• Rifle Expert Badge
• Command Citation for Best Company
Leadership and Public Service Awards
• Dangal ng Bayan Award – For exemplary conduct and ethical behavior in public service (highest award given by the National Government), 2006
• Cavalier Award for Army Operations – PMA Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award, 2006
• Asia 21 Young Leader, Asia Society, 2007
• Best Junior Officer – 6th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, 2002
• Best Officer – Civil Relations Service, AFP, 2015
• Outstanding Cordilleran for Public Service, 2006
• Finalist, Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldier (TOPS), Metrobank Foundation, 2007
• Command Citation for Best Company – 57IB, 6ID, 2003
• Command Citation for Outstanding Service – Civil Relations Service, AFP Annual General Inspection, 2014
• Commendation for Outstanding Adjectival Description, PA Annual General Inspection, 2020
• Certificate of Excellence, 1ID Annual General Inspection, 2021
Lt. Col. Herrera is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/joarherreraafp