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Old 02-03-2012   #1
davidbfpo
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Default OEF Philippines (2012 onwards)

Moderator at work

I have merged a number of threads in this arena, so have locked several up: Catch All OEF Phillipines (till 2012), The US role in the Phillipines (catch all) and leaving a couple open for updates: Small War on Basilan (catch all), The Islamic Insurgents (catch all) and Communist Insurgency in the Philippines (catch all).

This thread is for updates in 2012 onwards, prompted by the next post.
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Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2012 at 09:15 AM. Reason: Amendment
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Old 02-03-2012   #2
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Default Joint action three terrorist leaders dead

The BBC News report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16867193

Washington Post:http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...djQ_story.html

Quote:
The Philippine military said it killed three of Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorist leaders in a U.S.-backed airstrike that significantly weakens an al-Qaida-linked network that had used islands in the southern Philippines as a hideout and training base....Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, a top leader of the regional Jemaah Islamiyah terror network...the leader of the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf militants, Umbra Jumdail, and a Singaporean leader in Jemaah Islamiyah, Abdullah Ali, who used the guerrilla name Muawiyah...
I note the air strike was 0300hrs by two OV10s dropping 4 x500lb bombs and no-one is being specific what the US help was.
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Old 02-03-2012   #3
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I note the air strike was 0300hrs by two OV10s dropping 4 x500lb bombs and no-one is being specific what the US help was.
The Philippine Air Force does not have much recent history of night strikes or employing guided weaponry. This would seem a substantial upgrade from what they've done in the past, especially as reports suggest direct hits on the target houses.

Local speculation along two lines...

1. The US provided targeting information and has been providing equipment and training to build this capacity.

2. The US did it and said they didn't.

Take your pick, not like we'll know.

Should be noted that Marwan is presumed dead, body was not found.
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Old 02-06-2012   #4
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Default More on the strike...

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/articl...st-3043242.php

Quote:
Surviving militants suspect that villagers secretly working for the military helped track down Jumdail, said a Philippine military intelligence official who had been helping monitor the militants. The official said militants believe villagers pretending to seek medical treatment traveled to Jumdail's hideout and left some kind of sensor that the military used to target his Abu Sayyaf lair....

...The Philippine military announced that the long-hunted Marwan and his Singaporean ally Abdullah Ali, better known as Muawiyah, were killed in the air raid along with Jumdail and other Filipino extremists. But two security officials said Sunday that new intelligence shows that Jumdail was killed but that the two foreign terror suspects are still alive and were not in the Abu Sayyaf lair that was bombed.

The military continues to insist that Marwan and Muawiyah are dead and are searching for their remains. Not a single body was retrieved by police in the bombed hilly jungle lair near Lanao Dakulah village, fueling different versions of who was killed.
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Old 03-06-2012   #5
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The attack referred to above is now being openly referred to as a US drone strike:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opi...732969894.html

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southea.../NB29Ae01.html

These are in no way impartial sources and the reports are definitely agenda-driven. They will be widely believed. They are also not entirely unbelievable: as I mentioned above, the official account of the operation does not seem at all consistent with the observed capacities of the PAF.

It's unlikely that there will be any official word on the subject, so speculation is all there is.
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Old 03-06-2012   #6
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This is the primary problem when one defines the problems between a government and its populace in terms of "threats" and then applies a military solution to resolve them. It leads to an excessive focus on the aspects of the "threat" that are identifiable. The organizations as a whole are simply members of the populace, so lack any special identification. But such organizations typically apply some framework of shared ideological beliefs, so we can focus on that. Such organizations also have leaders, so we can focus on them.

It is no wonder that in military headquarters, where endless daily briefings pound like a drumbeat on ideology and the names and faces of a handful of guys, that such organizations might come to convince themselves that if they could just make the ideology go away, if they could just get a red slash through some of those faces and names, that they would somehow be making progress.

The obsessive pursuit of such progress leads to growing frustrations with the obstacles to being able to bring to bear the full power and capabilities possessed by the military to achieve those purposes.

Things like the laws of the intervening country, the country where these organizations live and operate, and of the international community often get in the way of effectiveness.

Respect for the sovereignty of the country where these organizations live and operate is a major obstacle to effectiveness.

Tailoring the actions of any intervening country actions so as to not degrade the legitimacy of the government and security forces of the country where these organizations live and operate is a major obstacle to effectiveness.

But for the irritating self-imposed obstacles of concepts like "justice" "sovereignty" and "legitimacy" military forces could be far more effective in getting after the identifiable military aspects of such problems. At getting after the "threat."

In Afghanistan and Iraq the solution was easy. Call it a war, remove the host nation government, and 'bingo'! No more messy obstacles to effectiveness. What we learned, however, or should have learned, is that such efforts to improve "effectiveness" of military operations designed to defeat the symptomatic "threat" component of such problems between populaces and governments is more often than not antithetical to getting to an understanding and resolution of the true issues of the matter.

The great strength of the operations conducted with the government of the Philippines was that we constrained ourselves, that we sacrificed "effectiveness" in a recognition that when working with a friendly government one cannot simply ignore the law or their sovereignty, or act is such away as to call in question in the eyes of the populace the legitimacy of their own government. But in military headquarters those same targetable factors of leadership and ideology get briefed with the same frequency, constantly feeding feelings of frustration with those pesky obstacles to "effectiveness."

Don't blame the military for being the military and doing what militaries do. These are civil problems demanding civil solutions. Governments long used to not having to compromise on longstanding grievances with important, minority (or suppressed majorities in many cases, such as Bahrain) populaces, are going to have to realize that simply throwing these problems to the military to resolve can only restore suppression of the symptoms at best.

I don't know what happened in the Philippines. I know the Philippine security forces have the capacity to execute such an operation when supported by US forces within the rules, laws and agreements that have long defined and constrained that operation. I also appreciate the frustration of senior leaders with self-imposed obstacles to effectiveness.

Effectiveness is the enemy of true success in these types of situations. Look at night raids in Afghanistan. A masterpiece of effectiveness, yet every override of justice, sovereignty and legitimacy put in place to achieve that effectiveness serves to strengthen the Taliban movement across the populace, even as effective operations add to the score card virtually every night.

Effectiveness is the enemy of success. That is one frustrating concept to wrap your brain around as a military tasked with solving a problem. A problem that was never really a military problem to begin with. Currently the US Army is very focused on "the lessons learned of the past 10 years." Mostly, so far as I can tell, the focus is on how to be "more effective." I believe it is time to shift the focus of that study, of that conversation, to one of "how do we be more successful." But first we will need to redefine our measures of success.
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Old 03-08-2012   #7
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I don't know what happened in the Philippines. I know the Philippine security forces have the capacity to execute such an operation when supported by US forces within the rules, laws and agreements that have long defined and constrained that operation.
There are actually some questions being asked about that supposed capacity. Obviously there are limits to what's known, but the strike appears to have involved very precise placement of munitions in a night strike, a capacity the Philippine air force has previously either not had or kept very quiet. Even in daytime the track record is not all that good. Whether this is a new capacity developed with US help or whether the US carried out the strike is not possible to determine with the information ublicly available.

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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
The great strength of the operations conducted with the government of the Philippines was that we constrained ourselves, that we sacrificed "effectiveness" in a recognition that when working with a friendly government one cannot simply ignore the law or their sovereignty, or act is such away as to call in question in the eyes of the populace the legitimacy of their own government.
True enough... but the great weakness of those operations is that ultimately very little has changed. The core of the problem - the neo-feudal clan governance that prevails in the affected areas - is still in place. US intervention hasn't changed that and the Philippine government hasn't the will (or arguably the ability) to do anything about it.

Of course success or failure are relative to goals. If the US goal was to alter the pattern of recurring insurgency, we've probably not accomplished much. If the goal was to break or reduce the connection between that insurgency and international Islamist movements, there may have been some success. The connection between AQ and ASG was tenuous and fairly transient to begin with, and the JI connection is largely opportunistic. The "global Islamist" narrative has never had much traction in Mindanao; the fighting is over local concerns. Those concerns remain largely in place, but the area is a much less hospitable place for the international operatives than it once was.

Whether the operation was or is perceived to be a US strike, the impact will probably not be that great. The Als will sell it as further evidence of a global US campaign of drone-based destruction raining down on innocent Muslims. That will carry some weight in some places, but not much in the Philippines. The left will howl, but they've little real political influence. The average Christian Filipino is delighted to see Muslim militants being blown up, no matter who does it. Filipino Muslims have little exposure to the Als and will continue to have a generally positive view of US involvement, driven less by "hearts and minds" development projects than by the widespread perception that the US presence is a restraint on the Philippine military's customary and unwelcome mode of operations.

In short, more of the same. The US presence can keep the symptoms of insurgency, but it's not doing anything about the causes and the insurgency will probably re-emerge. It may be a constraint on internationalization of that insurgency, and strikes such as this one will certainly give JI people a disincentive to move here (they're here in the first place because Indonesia is no longer safe for them).

The question, of course, is how long to we want to stay in the picture.
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Old 03-08-2012   #8
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Agreed. OEF-P has no hope of resolving the reasons why large segments of the Philippine populace have historically been dissatisfied with their situation, and their perceptions of how the government serves to perpetuate that situation.

To continue even a very well designed and executed operation where it has no hope of true success is not smart on many levels. The one senior leaders seem to appreciate least is that where we act in ways that facilitate the development of the belief, reasonable or otherwise, that the US is somehow an obstacle to the host nation government having to listen to their people and evolve, we create the very motivation for acts of transnational terrorism against the US that led us to be there in the first place.

I doubt that 10 years ago there were 5 Pashtuns in all of Afghanistan or Pakistan who would be willing to join any AQ operation aimed at conducting an act of terrorism against America. Who believes that to be true today after 10 years of US operations aimed at forcefully subjecting the Pashtun populaces to an Afghan governance dominated by Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara? Are we creating similar lines of motivation among segments of the Philippine populace?

Its not so much about who's in charge or how they govern, it is about how the various populace groups subjected to that governance feel about it, and who they blame.
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Old 03-08-2012   #9
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Agreed. OEF-P has no hope of resolving the reasons why large segments of the Philippine populace have historically been dissatisfied with their situation, and their perceptions of how the government serves to perpetuate that situation.

To continue even a very well designed and executed operation where it has no hope of true success is not smart on many levels.
"True success" would of course depend on the goals of the mission. If the goal was "resolving the reasons why large segments of the Philippine populace have historically been dissatisfied with their situation", then of course there has been no success, nor was there any hope of success. I suspect (and hope) that the goals were rather more modest than that.

If the goal was to disrupt the connection between local militant groups and the global Islamist infrastructure, that would be a qualified success. Of course that connection was always much less than it was cracked up to be. At one point US pressure actually drove a return to Islamist/terrorist principles, but subsequently there has been some real success in dismantling the connections, largely because they never spread beyond a relatively small number of individuals.

If the goal was to improve the capacity and performance of the Philippine military, perhaps qualified success as well. They've backed away from some practices that openly exacerbated insurgency, but whether that will endure beyond our departure remains to be seen. The extent to which capacity and performance have improved in any enduring sense is really not known at this point, and won't be until we leave.

If the goal was to improve governance, I'd say we've achieved little or nothing. The governing elite have been reminded that largesse is available to those who say the words and go through the motions, but I don't see any reason to think any lasting change is in the picture.

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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
The one senior leaders seem to appreciate least is that where we act in ways that facilitate the development of the belief, reasonable or otherwise, that the US is somehow an obstacle to the host nation government having to listen to their people and evolve, we create the very motivation for acts of transnational terrorism against the US that led us to be there in the first place...

...Are we creating similar lines of motivation among segments of the Philippine populace?
Not to any visible extent, I'd say. If anything the US gets credit for being a moderating influence on the Philippine armed forces. It's worth noting that there have been no acts of "transnational terrorism against the US" emanating from Filipino-based groups. The explosives for the Bali bombs were sourced here, but that's because explosives are easy to buy and smuggle here, not because of Filipino sympathy for the agenda. A transnational terror group based in Manila planned some attacks and executed one, but they weren't Filipino and had only very tenuous connections to any local group. Kidnappings in the south were profit-driven banditry, not terrorism.

I see no significant risk that the US presence here will inflame Filipinos into attacking the US. On the other hand, I see no special gain to be achieved by staying. Staying poses some risks... the Tausug/Sama insurgency will eventually re-emerge, and we don't need to be caught up in it. We also don't want to be tempted to mess about in the Maranao/Maguindanao insurgency, even though it has more connection to global Islamic radicalism than the ASG.

We do need to be aware that the perception in much of the Philippines is that Gloria Arroyo's initial request for US assistance was orchestrated by the US in its post 9/11 moments of Bushy aggressiveness, and thus that we are here on our own initiative. Objections to that are not that widespread, but it can be a sticking point. At this point we might be well advised to announce that we believe the mission is largely accomplished, and that unless the Philippine government specifically requests that we remain, we intend to withdraw. I suspect that such a request would be made. If it wasn't and we withdrew, we'd lose nothing. If it was, there would be a new and more credible mandate.
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Old 03-28-2012   #10
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Try this site also, very interesting.

http://www.morolandhistory.com/

The war in the Philippines and Moroland in the early 1900s is fascinating. I don't know if you can easily get books about that in SA but if you can I think you would find it interesting. Once upon a time, we knew how to fight small wars.
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Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-31-2012 at 10:42 AM. Reason: Copied here due to link and edited down.
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Old 03-29-2012   #11
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Once upon a time, we knew how to fight small wars.
Mmmmm. Don't disagree, I agree with you and so does the author of "Savage Wars of Peace: Case Studies of Pacification in the Philippines, 1900–1902" (LINK) from Leavenworth. He ends:
Quote:
"As the most successful counterinsurgency campaign in US history, it is the logical starting point for the systematic examination of military intervention, civic action, and pacification operations."
However, before he gets there he also notes:
Quote:
"When the guerrilla or ladrone problem persisted, the American Army sought to do what it was trained to do—destroy the armed insurrectos."
Notably, as shown below and unlike today, with few restrictions. Also:
Quote:
"As a Philippine veteran noted, “The American soldier in officially sanctioned wrath is a thing so ugly and dangerous that it would take a Kipling to describe him.”
Comment similar to that were often made by other opponents -- until the mid 1970s. We used to be not noted for good behavior. Today, we're the good guys (By Order Of...).

From the Wiki (LINK):
Quote:
"The use of concentration camps or "zones of protection" theoretically prevented an undue loss of civilian life that would have occurred had the US Army engaged in total war on the Filipino population. However, due to unsanitary conditions, many of the interned died from dysentery."
Why were we there?
Quote:
"Support for American actions in the Philippines was justified by those in the U.S. government and media who supported the conflict through the use of moralistic oration. Stuart Creighton Miller writes "Americans altruistically went to war with Spain to liberate the Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Filipinos from their tyrannical yoke. If they lingered on too long in the Philippines, it was to protect the Filipinos from European predators waiting in the wings for an American withdrawal and to tutor them in American-style democracy." (emphasis added / kw)
My, my. We're still quite moral -- in that respect...

On Armies as servants:
Quote:
"General Otis gained a significant amount of notoriety for his actions in the Philippines. Although multiple orders were given to Otis from Washington to avoid military conflict, he did very little to circumvent the breakout of war. Notably, shortly after fighting began he turned down a proposal from Emilio Aguinaldo to end the fighting, stating “fighting, having begun, must go on to the grim end.” Otis refused to accept anything but unconditional surrender from the Philippine Army. He often made major military decisions on his own, without first consulting leadership in Washington at all."
Pesky servants just won't behave. Difference between then and now is that public attitudes have changed. A combination of Otis, some WW II incidents and MacArthur changed the rules.

The Army in the Philippines in 1900 (and up until the mid 1960s...) believed in doing something even if it was wrong. Since Viet Nam the attitude is to do nothing; particularly if it even might possibly consider going wrong. That's not the Army, that's the society from which it springs. Picture trying to do this today:
Quote:
"The shift to guerrilla warfare drove the US Army to a "total-war" doctrine. Civilians were given identification and forced into concentration camps with a publicly announced deadline after which all persons found outside of camps without identification would be shot on sight. Thousands of civilians died in these camps due to poor conditions."
Hundred if not thousands more were shot for being where they would have been better off not being. We followed much the same rules in Korea and early on in Viet Nam. Different times, different rules. Can't do that or anything approaching it today.

Then there's this:
Quote:
"On July 2. the U.S. Secretary of War telegraphed that since the insurrection against the U.S. had ended and provincial civil governments had been established, the office of military governor was terminated. On July 4, Theodore Roosevelt, who had succeeded to the U.S. Presidency after the assassination of President McKinley on September 5, 1901, proclaimed a full and complete pardon and amnesty to all people in the Philippine archipelago who had participated in the conflict."
Oops...
Quote:
Beginning with the Taraca, which occurred on April 4, 1904, American forces battled Datu Ampuanagus, who surrendered after losing 200 members of his people.[1][78] Numerous battles would occur after that up until the end of the conflict on June 15, 1913..."
Took a while...

Back to the original link:
Quote:
"In his 1902 annual report, Chaffee wrote of the need for language skills:

'An important duty as yet not taken seriously by the officers of the Army serving in the Division, but which ought not be longer neglected if they would meet to the full the demands which the situation requires and may be reasonably expected of them as enhancing the efficiency when serving here, is the acquirement of a workable knowledge, both oral and written, of the native dialect where stationed. . . . I believe that the interests of the government are deeply involved in this matter. . . . I recommend . . . a bonus of two hundred dollars to each officer and intelligent enlisted man who shall attain a state of proficiency in a native dialect, and one hundred dollars additional for proficiency in Spanish.' "
Lot of things changed, some did not...

We still know how to fight small wars -- we just aren't allowed to.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-31-2012 at 10:44 AM. Reason: Moved here from the Toulouse thread as it sits here far better
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Old 03-31-2012   #12
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I wouldn't make assumptions about sectarian conflict in the Philippines based on observations in the Middle East and South Asia, very different environment, very different conflict. The US presence in the south has been in place for over a decade and it has not in any way raised a hornet's nest or provoked more conflict. It's actually had a calming influence and has been well accepted by the local Muslim populaces, mainly due to the perception (accurate IMO) that the Philippine military and government behave better with Americans watching them. The larger Muslim groups see the US less as a rival than as a potential mediator that has in the past tried (albeit ineffectually) to persuade the Philippine government to take a less hard-line stance on many of their core issues.

It should be noted that there is not and has never been any intention to eliminate the Moros: the US forces have been scrupulously kept away from the MILF, the larger and more influential rebel group. The mission was more to disrupt one of the smaller group sand attempt to neutralize its connection to the AQ/JI trunk line, a mission that has been fairly successful, though attempts to resolve the underlying drivers of insurgency have been far less effective.



A "threat in being" to whom? Certainly not to the Chinese.

I don't see the presence in the south as a core group on which a larger force can be built on: the location and environment would be most unattractive for basing a larger force. Port and airport facilities are grossly inadequate and there'd be all manner of security/force protection issues. if the Philippine government ever decided that it was necessary to invite more Americans in, I doubt it would be built on that base, more likely they'd be positioned in completely different locations. I don't think that's very likely to happen.



Viewing external issues and indicators alone will give you a very inadequate understanding of the local issues and of why local decisions are made.



I wouldn't say the Government is idiotic, though they sometimes do idiotic things and often stray annoyingly close to idiocy. Fickle they certainly are, by design: fickleness is unavoidably built into the US political system.



I wouldn't know about India, but I don't think the Vietnamese have "aligned with the US", nor do I think they've had to sink their pride to deal with the US. They are pragmatic; they won their war and have no reason to shy away from engagement if it suits their perceived interests, whether economic or military. If it suits them they'll deal with the US or anyone else, but they'll do it for their own reasons and at their own initiative and to the extent that they see fit. They are not in the US camp, they are in their own camp.



They also have no reason or need to "take on the US and its allies".



For another thread perhaps, but it illustrates a point: just because things happen that suits the US doesn't mean that the US made those things happen. Eastern Europe and ultimately Russia rebelled against communism; that suited the US well, but it wasn't the outcome of a US strategy or of any US action. People simply got sick of submitting to a system that didn't provide for their needs and their desires. Communism didn't fall because the US brought it down, it fell because it sucks and people hate it. Similarly, people who take actions that seem to fit in with US objectives aren't necessarily pawns of US strategy, they aren't joining the US camp, or being directed by the US... they're simply following their own perceived interests, which happen, for now at least, to be at least tangentially compatible with those of the US.
Not having seen the Moro rebellion first hand, as you might have experienced being there, I would like to believe that you are right.

However, from a purely academic standpoint, it is said that Modern Muslim rebels of the southern Philippines see the Moro Rebellion as a continuing struggle against foreign rule.

As you will be well aware of the history of this area, where for a variety of reasons, the Muslims or Moro were never comfortable with the manner in which their sovereignty of the area was usurped, there is no requirement for me to elaborate.

The indicators in the open forums suggests that while the Moro Independence Movement was basically that and nothing more in earlier times, it is believed that it has been touched by the Pan Islamic fervour that has swept the world. It has also transmogrified an Independence Movement into a religious one in addition!

It is well known that Islamist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and Rajah Sulaiman movement, have been supported by groups outside the Philippines such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Al Qaeda. The fact that Islam is slowly digging in and expanding in Philippines is borne out by the fact that hard core Catholics have converted to Islam, giving rise to such movement as the Rajah Sulaiman Movement. Islamic expansion should not be taken lightly because the founder of the Rajah Sulaiman movement was converted while working in Saudi Arabia and could return to convert a whole lot of other hardcore Catholics to join the folds of Islam and fight their own (before conversion)!

While the Philippines Forces maybe ruthless in their handling of the Moro rebels, if one observes that history of this area, they are not well disposed to the Americans either. In fact, history indicates how the Spanish having lost to the Americans, through a sleight of hand, handed over the area to the US, when in actuality the Spanish had a tacit understanding wherein control of the Sulu archipelago outside of the Spanish garrisons was that of the Sultan. In fact, the Bates Treaty signed by the US assigned to the US greater power than that what the Spanish exercised. The rest is history.

In so far as the US and MNLF/MILF is concerned, suffice it to say that from January 2002 until July 31, 2002, the United States committed nearly 1,300 troops to the Philippines and $93 million in military aid to assist Philippine armed forces (AFP) in operations against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the southern Philippines, on the island of Basilan southwest of Mindanao. The U.S. action was Operation Balikatan. The CRS Report to the US Congress corroborates the same.

Is the US now merely a spectator?

No Muslim group would ever think of the US being a mediator, more so in the Philippines, they having had an unfortunate history with the US in Philippines.

In so far as the issue of the US forces in the Philippines being a ‘threat in being’, taking the aggregate of US activities in the Asia Pacific Rim, any accretion anywhere is a 'threat in being' to the Chinese since it becomes an impediment to a free run on the affairs in the region.

That apart, for the Chinese to have access to the Indian Ocean if the Malacca Straits is made inaccessible to the Chinese, the other route is through the Lombok Straits of Indonesia. Philippines and Indonesia stand as sentinel over this route.

Zamboanga and Siasi have port facilities. Jolo and Zamboanga have airfields. The C-17 is designed to operate from runways as short as 3,500 ft (1,064 m) and as narrow as 90 ft (27 m). In addition, the C-17 can operate from unpaved, unimproved runways.

So, the build up is no issue.

Local issues are important, but to believe that external threats are not taken into account, would be incorrect an assessment.

All Govts appear to be fickle when they do not subscribe to one’s pet hobbyhorses.

To believe that Vietnam is the Vietnam of the Viet Cong days would be dangerously incorrect. Communism has lost its sheen. Globalisation and economic advancement has taken its place. That is the reality and that is why Vietnam is entering into commercial propositions with foreign countries, to include oil exploration, much to the chagrin of their fraternal brothers of China and even clashing militarily with them. One should not forget the role AmCham Vietnam is playing to foster US Vietnam commercial ties. The world order has changed. It is no longer ideology driven and instead is economy driven. No country is willing to be left behind in the race. What is important to note is that the World economy is US business methods based.

As you have yourself stated the Asia Pacific region is no longer alliance based. It is need based and right now, whether you accept it or not, the need is to ensure economic progress without the threat of being disturbed by hegemonic tendencies of giant neighbours. It is here where the US plays an important role. US may not appear, for the moment, anything beyond an undesirable and yet unavoidable necessity to many a country in the region, but then the US grows on you, more so, now that the US plays its role as a partner and not as the monitor of the class.

US foreign policy, after Bush, has undergone a sea change and it is to the liking of those who were averse to the US. I have seen the change in attitude towards the US in India, a country that was not comfortable to say the least, of the US!

The US is no longer the hated bogeyman of the past.

Indeed China should have no reason or need to "take on the US and its allies". And yet, there are shrill protestations from China, even when, as you say, US undergoes routine military exercises that are no threat to China. One wonders how one should reconcile the issues that while China has no reasons to take on US and its allies and yet howls with indignation when US and its allies undertake routine activities that are not aimed at China (as per you, that is!)

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Old 04-01-2012   #13
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Default Part one (it's a subject I get verbose on)

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Originally Posted by Ray View Post
Not having seen the Moro rebellion first hand, as you might have experienced being there, I would like to believe that you are right.
I've spent some time in the affected areas. I've been interested in the conflict since living in Mindanao (79-83, more or less) and have been following it closely and digging into the history ever since, aside from going back occasionally. I've written about it now and then. It's difficult to get a handle on that conflict through Google: there's a great deal of nonsense that's been published, and without a good understanding of the context it's hard to sort out what actually fits in the picture and what's being pushed in to support somebody's agenda.

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However, from a purely academic standpoint, it is said that Modern Muslim rebels of the southern Philippines see the Moro Rebellion as a continuing struggle against foreign rule.
Yes, but the "foreign rule" in question is that of Manila.

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The indicators in the open forums suggests that while the Moro Independence Movement was basically that and nothing more in earlier times, it is believed that it has been touched by the Pan Islamic fervour that has swept the world. It has also transmogrified an Independence Movement into a religious one in addition!
Touched, yes, but only peripherally. it remains primarily a nationalist movement thoroughly rooted in local issues. "pan-Islamic" issues have limited traction with the leadership and virtually none with the masses; connection to the movement is seen primarily as a way of gaining support for the local cause. The connection to "pan-Islamic" movements is IMO consistently overstated by many sources, and not by accident.

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It is well known that Islamist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and Rajah Sulaiman movement, have been supported by groups outside the Philippines such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Al Qaeda.
Again, the extent of this support is widely overstated.

ASG is best understood as a failed attempt to develop an AQ "franchise". AQ, through Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, was directly involved in the group's founding. Almost from the start, though, there was conflict within the group between jihadi and purely criminal elements. Funding from Khalifa largely ceased after the killing of key link man Abdul Asmad in 2004, and when Abdurajak Janjalani was killed i '98 the AQ connection was severed. Janjalani's brother took over nominal control of the organization but was completely eclipsed by men like Aldam Tilao and Galib Andang. From this point on the ASG was effectively a purely criminal enterprise, receiving protection from and sharing proceeds with local government, police, and military. The group achieved its greatest notoriety during this period, and was inevitably described as "AQ-linked", despite the minimal to nonexistent connections at that time.

Ironically, the intense pressure that came on the criminal factions as the US got involved was partially responsible for an attempt to bring the group back to its jihadi roots. Military pressure effectively ended the KFR revenue stream, Tialo was killed and Andang captured and their followers largely scattered. Janjalani left the area and took refuge in MILF territory, where he made contact with RSM (more on them below) and initiated a campaign of terror attacks in the Manila area. That phase was effectively ended with the killing of Janjalani and the capture of Ahmed Santos.

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The fact that Islam is slowly digging in and expanding in Philippines is borne out by the fact that hard core Catholics have converted to Islam, giving rise to such movement as the Rajah Sulaiman Movement. Islamic expansion should not be taken lightly because the founder of the Rajah Sulaiman movement was converted while working in Saudi Arabia and could return to convert a whole lot of other hardcore Catholics to join the folds of Islam and fight their own (before conversion)!
That's exaggerated. There have been conversions among Filipinos working in the Middle East, and some have recruited other converts after coming home. The number is small and there's no evidence of significant growth. Most of the conversions are opportunistic, aimed at getting or continuing employment in the Middle East. A very small number of these did emerge as radicals, and the RSM core was drawn from this group. The group was very much centered around the person of Ahmed Santos and never recovered from his capture; it's been dormant for years. There are small groups of converts in a number of locations in Luzon, but little evidence that jihadi organizers are exploiting them; it's widely (and I think accurately) believed that Philippine security forces have informers in place throughout the network.

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While the Philippines Forces maybe ruthless in their handling of the Moro rebels, if one observes that history of this area, they are not well disposed to the Americans either. In fact, history indicates how the Spanish having lost to the Americans, through a sleight of hand, handed over the area to the US, when in actuality the Spanish had a tacit understanding wherein control of the Sulu archipelago outside of the Spanish garrisons was that of the Sultan. In fact, the Bates Treaty signed by the US assigned to the US greater power than that what the Spanish exercised. The rest is history.
That's a small part of the history. It is of course true that much of the territory Spain sold to the US was not under Spanish control when it was sold. (Mark Twain, among others, made the point that the sale and purchase of people was a poor basis for claimed sovereignty, but that's another issue.) It's also true that there was considerable conflict in the early years of the US occupation. By the 1930s the US had, however, achieved a quite amenable working relationship with Muslim leaders, many of whom actually asked the US not to include them in the grant of independence, which they referred to as "turning them over to the Filipinos". Even at that time rule by Manila was widely (though of courser not universally) seen as a greater danger than rule by the US.

Quote:
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In so far as the US and MNLF/MILF is concerned, suffice it to say that from January 2002 until July 31, 2002, the United States committed nearly 1,300 troops to the Philippines and $93 million in military aid to assist Philippine armed forces (AFP) in operations against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the southern Philippines, on the island of Basilan southwest of Mindanao. The U.S. action was Operation Balikatan. The CRS Report to the US Congress corroborates the same.

Is the US now merely a spectator?
As you say, US assistance has been focused on efforts against the ASG, not the MILF or the (now largely dormant) MNLF. The MILF has not made a major issue of this and would just as soon see the ASG dismantled, which would open the way for them to achieve a dominant position in the west... if they can overcome the legacy of internal conflict between the Maguindanao/Maranao and Tausug/Sama factions, again another story.

In actual practice, US forces have been generally well received even in the ASG areas, largely because of the perception (IMO accurate) that Philippine forces behave better when he Americans are around. That may seem contrary to some interpretations of regional history, but the observed reaction remains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
No Muslim group would ever think of the US being a mediator, more so in the Philippines, they having had an unfortunate history with the US in Philippines.
Consider this:

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquire...in-peace-talks

The US government, through USIP, played a significant role in drafting the Arroyo government's "peace agreement" with the MILF, which would have granted the MILF official recognition and a degree of control that many Filipinos saw as effectively establishing a Moro substate. The agreement was torpedoed by the Philippione Supreme Court and the US role in it widely criticized. The entire episode could be considered a failed attempt at mediation, failed not because the Muslim group rejected it, but because the government rejected it.
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Old 04-01-2012   #14
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Default Part 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
In so far as the issue of the US forces in the Philippines being a ‘threat in being’, taking the aggregate of US activities in the Asia Pacific Rim, any accretion anywhere is a 'threat in being' to the Chinese since it becomes an impediment to a free run on the affairs in the region.
The US has had a presence in the southern Philippines for over a decade, and this does not seem to have deterred the Chinese from asserting maritime claims. I see no evidence to suggest that the US presence has kept the Chinese from doing anything they want to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
Zamboanga and Siasi have port facilities. Jolo and Zamboanga have airfields. The C-17 is designed to operate from runways as short as 3,500 ft (1,064 m) and as narrow as 90 ft (27 m). In addition, the C-17 can operate from unpaved, unimproved runways.
These are extremely basic facilities even by developing world standards. They are adequate for the US to maintain a very limited level of operations in the Philippines, completely inadequate as a base for regional force projection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
To believe that Vietnam is the Vietnam of the Viet Cong days would be dangerously incorrect. Communism has lost its sheen. Globalisation and economic advancement has taken its place. That is the reality and that is why Vietnam is entering into commercial propositions with foreign countries, to include oil exploration, much to the chagrin of their fraternal brothers of China and even clashing militarily with them.
China and Vietnam have never been anything remotely like fraternal brothers, even at the peak of Communist rule.

Quote:
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One should not forget the role AmCham Vietnam is playing to foster US Vietnam commercial ties. The world order has changed. It is no longer ideology driven and instead is economy driven. No country is willing to be left behind in the race. What is important to note is that the World economy is US business methods based.
I'm not sure capitalist business methods are "US" by definition, but even if they are, the mere use of the methods doesn't mean the US is in control of those using them. Many people outside the US are using capitalist methods as effectively as the US, if not more effectively.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
As you have yourself stated the Asia Pacific region is no longer alliance based. It is need based and right now, whether you accept it or not, the need is to ensure economic progress without the threat of being disturbed by hegemonic tendencies of giant neighbours. It is here where the US plays an important role. US may not appear, for the moment, anything beyond an undesirable and yet unavoidable necessity to many a country in the region, but then the US grows on you, more so, now that the US plays its role as a partner and not as the monitor of the class.
I'd say interest based, rather than needs based. Certainly the nations in the region see a role for the US, but they certainly aren't interested in having the US "call the shots", nor do they want to join a US-dominated camp. They'll manage relations according to their own perception of their interests, which will change with time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
US foreign policy, after Bush, has undergone a sea change and it is to the liking of those who were averse to the US. I have seen the change in attitude towards the US in India, a country that was not comfortable to say the least, of the US!
That's largely true, but I don't think it's only because US policies have changed. Asian nations are also increasingly confident in their own capabilities, especially on the economic side, and more confident of their own ability to enter into peer-to-peer relations with larger countries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
Indeed China should have no reason or need to "take on the US and its allies". And yet, there are shrill protestations from China, even when, as you say, US undergoes routine military exercises that are no threat to China. One wonders how one should reconcile the issues that while China has no reasons to take on US and its allies and yet howls with indignation when US and its allies undertake routine activities that are not aimed at China (as per you, that is!)
The ritual of exercise and protest, provocation and resolution, has been going on a long time... just because media are paying more attention now doesn't mean it's a recent development. It's not about anyone "taking on" anyone else, just a bit of chest thumping; everybody involved reminding everybody else that they are around and they've made claims. Nobody wants to relinquish the claims, but nobody's in a big hurry to fight over them either. It's not an entirely calm situation, but it's not nearly as threatening or as unstable as some are cracking it up to be
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Old 06-03-2012   #15
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Very interesting.

The situation thicken.

Wonder why after such a strident support for the benign activities of China, old Panetta is asking Vietnam to allow the US ports in Vietnam.
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Old 06-04-2012   #16
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Quote:
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Wonder why after such a strident support for the benign activities of China, old Panetta is asking Vietnam to allow the US ports in Vietnam.
When has Panetta given "strident support" for any activities of China?

To be accurate, Panetta has not asked Vietnam "to allow the US ports in Vietnam", he's asked Vietnam to allow occasional US access to ports in Vietnam. These are two very different things.
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Old 07-25-2012   #17
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Good study from ICG on the often overlooked impact of local politics on peacemaking in the OEF-P area of coverage:

http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/F...-peace-process

I agree that a peace agreement won't be reached unless the local overlords are brought into the picture. At the same time, it has to be recognized that these overlords are in themselves the central obstacle to any kind of justice or economic development. A peace agreement doesn't necessarily bring peace. The conundrum here is the local elites will derail any peace agreement that doesn't protect their interests, but at the same time their interests are antithetical to the kind of long term progress that could produce lasting peace.
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Old 08-03-2012   #18
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I relocated this from the "Communist Insurgency" thread, thinking the discussion had strayed into matters better suited here...

Quote:
Originally Posted by max161 View Post
Bill and Dayuhan,

Your comments remind of the the meeting we had with MILF spokesman Moqtadar Iqbal a few years ago. As we discussed the conflict in Mindanao he made two points that were very interesting. First he said you Americans can solve the problem in Mindanao by forcing the Philippine government to give in to the MILF political and ancestral domain demands. (I think he misreads US power and influence and he was in effect telling us we should step all over Philippine sovereignty for his benefit!)

But more germane to both your points and one with which I do agree is that he said the Philippine and US governments and military forces can do all the development they want, the MILF is happy to receive development aid but he said, if the political problems are not solved the insurgency will continue. Development is useful as Bill says but it is certainly not the key to conflict resolution or the end of or even prevention of insurgency unless there are acceptable political accommodations that can made (acceptable to both sides). Otherwise regardless of the ability to physically suppress the insurgency the seeds of conflict will remain to be germinated later.
That's almost funny, and I can well imagine him saying that. Of course it isn't true... even if the US could force the Philippine Government to give in to the MILF political and ancestral domain demands, it wouldn't solve the problem.

There's a tendency in some quarters to see the Central Mindanao conflict as a fight between the MILF and the government, and to conclude that it could be resolved by an agreement between those two parties. That completely overlooks the role of the well armed and well connected Visayan settler communities, who actually outnumber the Muslims in much of the area in question. Failure to consider the interests and capacities of this group effectively doomed the MOA/AD process from the start.

Central Mindanao is less about the need for peace between the government and the MILF than the need for peace between the MILF and the settlers. In theory the government could referee this process, but the perceived interests of those two groups are very far apart and neither trusts the government, which lost credibility with the Muslims by taking the settler side in the 70s conflict and lost credibility with the settlers by trying to railroad the MOA/AD process. I really don't see much hope for progress in the near future. Any deal with the government that satisfies the MILF will be anathema to the settlers, who have the capacity to politically and judicially derail a deal, and to resort to armed conflict as well.
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Last edited by Dayuhan; 08-03-2012 at 02:24 AM.
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Old 10-07-2012   #19
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Default Another agreement...

Announced today, with much fanfasre but no hint of what's been agreed, a new agreement between the MILF and the Philippine Government:

http://www.rappler.com/nation/13750-...ro-soon-on-map

Quote:
Govt, MILF reach deal

A new autonomous political entity (NAPE) called "Bangsamoro" will soon be part of the Philippine political map, as the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) conclude negotiations on a Framework Agreement in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sunday, October 7.

MindaNews first broke news that the two sides were able to finish working on the Framework Agreement that would pave the way for the NAPE.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles confirmed that the two sides have reached an agreement.
Aquino's comments, largely in Tagalog, here:

http://www.rappler.com/thought-leade...ce-in-mindanao

It will be interesting to see what the agreement contains, and, more important, how the settler population of Mindanao, which has long seen any kind of agreement with the MILF as a sellout of its interests, will react.

It's not likely that the agreement will have a major impact on the OEF/P area of operations, looks likely that it's focused on the core MILF areas in Central Mindanao. Hard to say until the text is published.
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Old 10-07-2012   #20
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Draft agreement is here:

http://pcdspo.gov.ph/downloads/2012/...t-10062012.pdf

Will try to have a closer read and post some comments tomorrow, but initial reactions...

It's not all all clear how this is meant to differ from the ARMM, beyond some territorial revisions.

The reaction of the Mindanao settler population will be critical, and remains to be determined. This population is politically potent, has widespread support among the non-Mindanao populace, has derailed a previous agreement, and generally sees accommodation with the MILF as antithetical to its interests.

It's not clear that the Tausug, Yakan, and Sama populations of Basilan, Jolo and associated islands (where the ASG has been rooted and the core operational area of OEF/P) will accept an agreement negotiated by the predominantly Maguindanao/Maranao leadership of the MILF.

They're talking about a signing on the 15th, it will be interesting to see what reactions emerge.
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