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Philippine Scouts and Constabulary

Philippine Scouts and Constabulary. Challenged by the climate and terrain of the Philippines and by the linguistic diversity of its inhabitants, the U.S. Army recruited Filipino collaborators into its ranks soon after the outbreak of the Philippine War in 1899. Organized into companies commanded by American enlisted men holding local commissions, these Philippine Scouts after the war garrisoned isolated parts of the islands, freeing American soldiers to concentrate near Manila. Provisional Scout regiments took the place of U.S. troops withdrawn for service in World War I. Financial constraints made these regiments the mainstay of the garrison thereafter. Raised from a peacetime strength of 6,000 to 12,000 early in 1941, the well‐trained and long‐serving Scout units proved to be the greatest obstacle to Japanese victory on Bataan during World War II. After the liberation of the Philippines in 1944–45, the organization was reformed and considerably enlarged. These “New Scouts” performed garrison duty in the western Pacific until disbanded following Philippine independence on 4 July 1946.

Filipinos had been eligible for Scout commissions since 1901, and in 1908 the U.S. Congress authorized West Point to accept Filipinos. But when it became evident that routine promotions would lead Filipinos to command regular officers, the army ceased commissioning Filipino officers (1933).

The Philippine Constabulary was the Philippine government's national police force, established in August 1901. The constabulary's initial duties were similar to those of the Scouts: suppressing bandits and the remnants of guerrilla forces. Under the command of U.S. Army officers until 1917, the constabulary was headed thereafter by Filipinos. Although its law enforcement duties came to predominate over its military functions, the constabulary formed the nucleus of the Philippine Army, created in 1936, and contributed the Second Regular Division to the Bataan campaign.
[See also Bataan and Corregidor, Battles of; World War II, U.S. Naval Operations in: The Pacific.]

Richard B. Meixsel

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