Downsizing of US-Phl TF to affect anti-terror drive
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - March 1, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The decision of the United States to downsize and eventually phase out its Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) will have an adverse impact on the anti-terror drive in Mindanao, a senior military official said yesterday.

If the plan pushes through, local troops would have to rely on their own technical skills using available equipment in tracking down and immobilizing terrorists in the country, the officer who declined to be named said.

“Our anti-terror ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) operations will also be downgraded because almost always, we depend on our US counterparts through their hi-tech surveillance equipment that we don’t have for now, for real time information in monitoring movements and activities of local and foreign terrorists in Mindanao,” he said.

The JSOTF-P reportedly played a vital role in the killing of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25 by Special Action Force commandos. An aircraft, believed to be a US surveillance drone, was reportedly hovering over Mamasapano on the day SAF launched its operations targeting Marwan. The US embassy said no American took part in the operation, which could have been a huge success had the commandos managed to leave without losing 44 men.

Under JSOTF-P, some 500 US soldiers are deployed across the country – mostly in Mindanao – on a rotation basis.  JSOTF was organized in 2002. It is based in the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) headquarters in Zamboanga City.

“They’re satisfied with what we’ve learned, thus the reduction (in US personnel),” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was quoted in media reports as saying, to explain the US decision. The US embassy said that from the beginning, the JSOTF had been intended only as a temporary security arrangement.

But a Camp Aguinaldo insider said the US decision was in response to threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East.

 

CAMP AGUINALDO DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND SYRIA JOINT SPECIAL OPERATIONS TASK FORCE-PHILIPPINES MAMASAPANO MARWAN MIDDLE EAST MINDANAO SPECIAL ACTION FORCE UNITED STATES
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with