U.S. Troops Establish New Kind Of Base In Southern Philippines: Report

August 15, 2007 at 7:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines – A Bangkok-based international research organization that has been following the US military in the Philippines today warned that US troops spotted in Mindanao are not only involved in the ongoing warbut that they have also established a new kind of US base in the South.

According to Focus on the Global South, the US troops spotted by theAgence France Press photographer belong to the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), a unit that has been indefinitely stationed insouthern Mindanao since 2002.

Contrary to previous efforts by the US and Philippine governments to portray the troops as participating only in temporary training exercises called the Balikatan, it has since been revealed that this unit has stayed on and maintained its presence in the country for the last six years.

Contradicting claims that they are not involved in the fighting, Focus has gathered pronouncements by US troops themselves who have gone on record to say that their mission in the south is “unconventional warfare” – a US military term that encompasses combat operations.

With the Philippine government not giving a definite exit date, and with US officials stating that this unit – composed of between 100 to 500 troops depending on the season – will stay on as long as they are allowed by the government, it is presumed that it will continue to be based in the Philippines for an indefinite period.

Beyond being involved in the war, Focus draws attention to this unit having effectively established a new kind of basing in the Philippines.

According to Focus’ research, the JSOTF-P’s stationing in the south is a prototype of the new kind of overseas basing that the US has introduced as part of its ongoing effort to realign its global basing structure.

Since 2001, the US – which has more than 700 bases and installations in over 100 countries around the world – has embarked on the most radical realignment of its overseas basing network since World War II.

Part of the changes is the move away from large permanent bases – such as the ones in Subic and Clark – in favor of smaller, more austere, more low profile bases such as the JSOTF-P’s presence in Zamboanga and in other places in southern Mindanao.

In terms of profile and mission, Focus points out that the JSOTF-P is very similar to the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa which was established in Djibouti in western Africa in 2003 and which has been described as a sample of the US austere basing template and the “model for future US military operations.”

Focus believes that the Philippines is one of the “nodes for special operations forces” that former Defense Secretary Donal Rumsfeld himself revealed the Pentagon would establish as part of its changes in Asia.

Focus notes that US troops themselves refer to their base in Jolo as “Advance Operating Base-920.”

(Focus on the Global South’s research on the JSOTF-P, Unconventional Warfare: Are US Special Forces Engaged in an ‘Offensive’ War in the Philippines?, was published earlier this year and can be downloaded for free from: http://www.focusweb.org/index.php? option=com_remository&Itemid=105&func=startdown&id=23)

REFERENCE:Herbert Docena, Research Associate, Focus on the Global South

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