Posted by: JWP | 11/30/2009

Philippine military unable to keep terror groups at bay

By Travis J. Tritten, Stars and Stripes

Pacific edition, Monday, November 30, 2009

MANILA, Philippines — Eliminating al-Qaida-linked terror groups is not likely to end problems in lawless Mindanao.

It might be only the beginning of the struggle.

“Having eliminated Abu Sayyaf, will the Philippine police or the Philippine armed forces be in a position to maintain its deterrent presence in force for a long period of time, or will it have to pull out to go someplace else … while allowing the Abu Sayyaf to regenerate?” asked former Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, during an interview with Stars and Stripes.

The Philippine military is now overstretched and ill-equipped to maintain such a presence, said Teodoro, a Harvard University-educated lawyer who resigned earlier this month to run in the country’s May presidential election.

Without being beefed up, the military would likely be unable to hold onto its victory, and the Mindanao region would slip back into the hands of the insurgency, he said.

“I think that is the story of the repetitive insurgencies in the Philippines,” Teodoro said. “We have low defense spending, and we try compromise mechanisms such as peace talks without the guarantee of the armed forces or the police to stay in force in order to solve the internal conflicts.”

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U.S. aids Philippines in battle against IEDs, al-Qaida-style warfare

By Travis J. Tritten, Stars and Stripes

Pacific edition, Monday, November 30, 2009

JOLO, Philippines — The attack was unusually deadly, and it came in a nightmarish form familiar to U.S. servicemembers fighting thousands of miles away in Iraq and Afghanistan — a homemade roadside bomb.

It was Sept. 29 on this remote Philippine island when an improvised explosive device laid by a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida sheared an American Humvee in half. The blast killed Staff Sgt. Jack M. Martin III and Sgt. 1st Class Christopher D. Shaw as well as a Philippine marine passenger.

The two U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers were helping the marine move food to a neighboring camp, part of an ongoing yet largely hidden effort to counter Islamic terrorism by winning the hearts and minds of impoverished Filipinos.

Seven years into the mission here, about 500 U.S. military advisers remain embedded deep in the jungles of the southern Philippines, assisting the nation’s military as it takes the lead against a violent Islamic insurgency.

So far, U.S. expertise and money have helped the Philippine government win pockets of stability and support. But the assistance has not been sufficient to stamp out persistent violence, and the ultimate goal of peace and stability remains elusive.

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JSOTF-P Civil Affairs Company Earns AFP Medals for Philippines Work

By Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly

Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines Public Affairs

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – Sixteen members of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) Civil Affairs Company received medals from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in ceremonies held in Manila and in Zamboanga City Nov. 23.

“I am so proud of these Soldiers for their outstanding efforts supporting the AFP with development projects and training,” said Col. Bill Coultrup, commander of JSOTF-P. “They have been working non-stop to assist the AFP making a difference in the community, and contributing to peace and development in Mindanao.”

The servicemembers are from the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), headquartered in Fort Bragg, NC, have been working in central Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago for the last nine months.

During this time, civil affairs teams have assisted the AFP in turning over 41 new schools, local government buildings, water wells, roads and other infrastructure projects in addition to helping repair and renovate dozens of others.  read more

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