“Teka muna,” the Filipino general said.

We had just exchanged pleasantries, so I started to peruse the menu at a quaint café in the quiet neighborhood of McKinley Park, away from the daily chaos of metropolitan Manila. In Tagalog, “teka muna” roughly translates into “wait a second.” The general had to take a phone call.

It was May 23, 2017, and the general was the same officer I had worked with on my first deployment to the Philippines as a Special Forces officer seven years earlier. When he hung up, he explained that an important mission was occurring at that moment, and he was simply getting updates. The call reminded me of how we used to talk during that first deployment to the country. What I didn’t know was that the mission he was tracking was particularly significant: the first engagement in what would become the Battle of Marawi. That siege would rage in the southern city for five months.

This article is part of MWI’s “Dispatches” series, featured in Army Magazine. Read it in full here.