THE Army’s 1st Infantry Division has installed Colonel Leonel Nicolas, Joint Task Force Zamboanga commander, as the new head of the 102nd Infantry Brigade.
Captain Clint Antipala, Army’s 1st Infantry Division information officer, said Nicolas was officially installed Monday, August 19, in a change of command ceremony held at the headquarters of the 102nd Infantry Brigade in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.
The area of responsibility of Nicolas now as brigade commander is the entire Zamboanga Peninsula.
Antipala said Nicolas has succeeded Brigadier General Bagnus Gaerlan Jr., who was promoted as the Assistant Division Commander of the 1st Infantry Division.
Gaerlan has served as the 102nd Infantry Brigade commander for one year and two months.
Antipala said Nicolas, a proud member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1991, is an Airborne and a Scout Ranger and well-rounded military officer with expertise in operations, intelligence and managerial acumen.
Nicolas is a graduate of Master of Management in Liceo de Cagayan University and Masters in Public Management Major in Development Security in Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP).
He also served as the chief of staff, assistant chief of staff for operations and commanded the 10th and 5th Infantry Battalions of the 1st Infantry Division, which makes him best-fitted to stir the helms of the Brigade for being accustomed to the sociological and security situation in the area and had already established “teamwork” for peace and development with local governments units.
Nicolas has committed to perform and contribute to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
He also expressed that convergence effort among government agencies, security forces, and stakeholders will truly address the problem of insurgency.
Major General Roberto Ancan, Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, who presided the change of command ceremony, thanked and congratulated Gaerlan for his accomplishments in sustaining peace and security in the brigade’s area of responsibility.
Ancan expressed confidence that Nicolas, with his expertise and capability, can sustain the gains of the brigade and can contribute in the attainment of a just and sustainable peace in Western Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Nicolas was replaced by Colonel John Divinagracia, as the commander of the Joint Task Force Zamboanga.
Divinagracia, a Zamboangueño, is the deputy commander of the Army 101st Infantry Brigade (formerly 104th) based in Basilan province.
Nicolas is set to formally turn over the command of the Joint Task Force Zamboanga to Divinagracia on Monday, August 26. (SunStar Philippines)