US Deploys Troops In Southern RP Island

September 19, 2007 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 19 Sept) – About a dozen US soldiers have been deployed to the southern Philippine island of Basilan to help troops defeat terrorism, officials said Wednesday.

“At the request of Western Mindanao Command a small number of US forces have moved to Basilan to support Task Force Thunder in their efforts against the Abu Sayyaf Group,” Maj. Eugene Batara, a Filipino army spokesman, said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) created the task force to crush growing Abu Sayyaf presence in Basilan island, where militants decapitated ten Marines in Al-Barka town in July.

He said the American troops, assigned to the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines, are part of the ongoing U.S. support in operations against terrorist organizations throughout Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

“This support includes the sharing of information as well as the planning and execution of Civil Military Operations. U.S. troops have commonly supported AFP operations on Basilan going back to 2002, and have worked with the AFP most recently to conduct medical clinics and participate in engineering projects,” Batara said.

He said the presence of U. S. advisors in Basilan is similar to what American forces are doing in Sulu. “They are helping us defeat terrorism and at the same time working with AFP to carry out humanitarian activities,” he said, adding, the U.S. troops would not be involved in combat operations.

More than a thousand U.S. troops were previously sent to Basilan five years ago to train Filipino soldiers in anti-terrorism exercises dubbed as Balikatan 2002.

The Balikatan, which means “shoulder-to-shoulder”, is a series of annual trainings aimed at improving combined planning, combat readiness, and interoperability while enhancing security relations and demonstrating U.S. resolve to support the Philippines against aggression and assist the local military to build capacity to counter terrorism. (Mindanao Examiner)

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