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Old 05-21-2008   #21
PhilR
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Default Not so Fast?

I found this ICG report "The Philippines: Counter-insurgency vs. Counter-Terrorism in Mindinao" to be very good (http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/d...n_mindanao.pdf). I will say off the bat that while I have been tracking the Philippine situation from a perch in Okinawa, I am in no way am qualified to say how accurate the ICG report is. My experience from Iraq is that their stuff is good, if somewhat dated and is skewed by whoever they were able to actually interview.
What I found interesting, however, is the distinction they draw between counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism. They assert that counterinsurgency seeks to split the insurgents from the people while counter-terrorism seeks to split the extremist terrorists from the more moderate insurgents. I'm not sold on the whole prospect, but I like the consideration of the complexity of the situation. It rang familiar to Iraq where there are multiple groups and the approaches that work with one, may actually make the situation worse by empowering (or threatening) another. In the case of the Philippines, the ICG asserts that the US success in Basilan and Jolo is driving the terrorists closer to Mindinao and may upset the balance between the government and insurgents (MILF, MNLF) there.
Actually, its much more complicated than that, but my point isn't whether the ICG is exactly correct in this instance, but their approach is a worthwhile call to always be aware of second and third order effects (a dirty word) from both "successes" and "failures" in counterinsurgency--to be wary of anything called a "model," which to unthinking minds gets applied where it shouldn't.
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Old 05-23-2008   #22
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Military Review, May-Jun 08: From Enduring Strife to Enduring Peace in the Philippines
Quote:
....The conflict in the Mindanao has at least three interrelated dimensions: political, security, and economic. The point at which these three dimensions converge is marked by tension, but it also holds the potential for cooperation. It is towards this point that efforts for peace, in the form of amnesty, reintegration, and reconciliation (AR2), should be directed.2 AR2, a multi-staged and multidimensional approach to healing a fractured society, is fundamental to achieving a sustained peace. While there have been many attempts to pacify the Mindanao via AR2, these overtures have mostly been short-lived and narrowly focused. Hence, the conflict persists, and it will continue to do so until the GRP expands the breadth of its proposed AR2 solutions.....
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Old 12-27-2008   #23
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Default Treading Softly in the Philippines

Max Boot and Richard Bennet discuss why a low-intensity counterinsurgency strategy seems to be working in the Philippines at The Weekly Standard.

Quote:
The war on terror that the Obama administration is inheriting comes with a decidedly mixed record. Stopping attacks on the American homeland since 2001 has been the Bush administration's biggest accomplishment. Turning around the war effort in Iraq, which was on the verge of failure in 2006, has been another signal success. But, as the Mumbai attacks remind us, the threat of Islamist terrorism has hardly been extinguished...

Almost forgotten amid these major developments is a tiny success story in Southeast Asia that may offer a more apt template than either Iraq or Afghanistan for fighting extremists in many corners of the world. The southern islands of the Philippines, inhabited by Muslims known as Moros (Spanish for "Moor"), have been in almost perpetual rebellion against the Christian majority ruling in Manila...
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Old 03-31-2009   #24
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Default Quantifying Success in the Philippines Part 1

Part 1
I think we can agree that the limited press the JSOTF-P/AFP operations in the Southern Philippines has received has been largely positive. The strategy is working and there has been definable progress. I would like to offer some specific examples of how and why the operation was successful.
I recently graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School where I wrote a thesis that examined the recent US/GRP operations in the Southern Philippines, specifically Basilan and Sulu. The paper outlines the strategy that SOCPAC and the JSOTF-P developed to assist the AFP and improve their capacity to counter the ASG while addressing the conditions of relative deprivation on Sulu and improving the perceived legitimacy of the GRP. I also have the benefit of having served at the JSOTF-P during Operation Ultimatum in 2006-2007.
Laying the ground work:
Concerned by indications of a significant Al Qaeda presence in Mindanao and increased terrorist activity, PACOM and SOCPAC began working on a plan to improve the capacity of the GRP to address this internal challenge.
The first step in developing the strategy to combat terror in the Southern Philippines was to reestablish the US/RP mil to mil relationship that had been virtually severed in 1992. In February 1999, the Philippine government ratified the Visiting Forces Agreement which restored protections to U.S. military personnel deployed to the Philippines. This was the first step in renewed cooperation between the U.S. and GRP and was essential in paving the way to reestablishing U.S./RP military exchange training. The seven years of little US military exchange and aid had taken a toll on the AFP and degraded their capacity.
The next step was to coordinate the legal justification for U.S. assistance.
To reinforce and demonstrate U.S. respect for Philippine sovereignty, PACOM and SOCPAC planners worked with the GRP to develop the legal justification to support the presence and assistance of US forces. Fortunately, the U.S. and RP had previously signed a Mutual Defence Treaty (MDT). The U.S. is the only country with which the RP has a MDT. As planning progressed, this document became the framework on which the future strategy would be built. The importance of this document cannot be overstated. The MDT was the cornerstone document that supported U.S. military assistance to the Philippines, but there was a problem. The MDT was written to address outside threats and the Philippines was facing internal threats of insurgency and terrorism. Opponents to U.S. involvement within the GRP were adamant that U.S. involvement was not supported by the Philippine Constitution or the MDT. In response, PACOM representatives and the Arroyo administration drafted the Terms of Reference (TOR) for Balikatan 02 which outlined and clarified the extent of U.S. assistance. The TOR stated that the U.S. presence in the Southern Philippines would not exceed six months; U.S. forces would not participate in combat operations although they were authorized to defend themselves if attacked; all operations would be AFP-led; and U.S. personnel would always be accompanied by AFP personnel. This agreement was followed by the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement and Kapit Bisig which further reinforced the legal justification and extended the US presence.
During my thesis research, I interviewed Undersecretary Edilberto P. Adan, Executive Director for the Office of the President, Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFACOM), who told me that these documents have withstood close scrutiny and frequent challenges by members of the Philippine Congress. The establishment of the US Task Force and its continuing efforts depend on these agreements.
By 2000, with the kidnapping of several U.S. citizens by the ASG and an overall increase in attacks by terrorist and insurgent groups, President Arroyo approved a SOCPAC plan to address the threat. The plan included improving the counterinsurgency capacity of the AFP as well as establishing a counter-terrorism capability which included establishing the Light Reaction Companies (LRC) a counterterrorism force, A Naval Special Operations capability, Security Assistance funding and training for Army units in Mindanao and the establishment of a Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG) to coordinate the efforts of Philippine Counter Terrorism Forces. These forces played a significant role during Operation Ultimatum in targeting the ASG and have proven a highly capable force.

These initiatives pre-dated September 11, 2001 and the GWOT and set the conditions for the deployment of US forces to Basilan as part of JTF-510 and later the establishment of the JSOTF-P and operations on Sulu Island.

The Sulu Strategy:
The COIN model that was developed for Sulu expanded on the Basilan Model and included valuable lessons learned during the previous three years.
The strategy included four lines of operation:
• PSF Capacity Building: The JSOTF expanded assistance and advice to include not only the AFP, but also Philippine police and other security forces. The goal was to assist them in providing a secure environment for the Sulu residents.
• Targeted CMO: The JSOTF assisted the RP in conducting engineering, medical, dental, veterinarian projects as well as fund and facilitate major projects to improve local quality of life and demonstrate GRP concern for regional citizens.
• Intelligence Operations: Collected, fused, and disseminated timely and accurate intelligence to the right agencies.
• Information Operations (or influence ops): Emphasized the success of GRP efforts in the first 2 lines of operation to change perceptions about GRP legitimacy.
The desired end-state was that “the increased capacity of the PSF in combination with reduced local support to terrorists will deny the enemy sanctuary in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago as well as the use of vital Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCS).

I won’t go into a blow by blow on Operation Ultimatum here for fear of making this so long that no one will read it but I would like to cover some key indicators of the success of the Indirect Strategy on Sulu and Mindanao.
*Continued in next blog*
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Old 03-31-2009   #25
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Default Quantifying Success in the Philippines Part 2

Part 2

Capacity Building: The JSOTF-P set out to improve the capacity of the AFP to conduct both kinetic and non-kinetic operations.
Preparing the AFP units on Sulu for Operation Ultimatum presented the JSOTF-P with some significant challenges. In late 2005, before the JSOTF-P had arrived on Sulu and Special Forces detachments had not begun exchange training with the AFP, the AFP launched Operation Shadow, an offensive on Sulu to destroy the ASG. The offensive involved artillery and aerial bombardment of areas on Sulu believed to be ASG safe havens and caused significant damage to property as well as the population’s approval of the government. The AFP operation also experienced significant logistical challenges and after just 12 days, unable to resupply combat units, the AFP returned to their bases and ended the offensive.
Once you compare that outcome with the performance of the AFP during Operation Ultimatum you begin to get a sense of just how much progress the JSOTF-P had made in increasing the capacity of the AFP to conduct combat operations. Op Ultimatum lasted 8 months during which time the AFP remained largely in the field in pursuit of the ASG. On D-Day, of Op Ultimatum, the AFP conducted two simultaneous, nighttime, beach landing assaults and over land movement to 5 separate ASG targets, hitting them simultaneously. The AFP sustained themselves in the field while receiving some transportation support from the JSOTF-P. The JSOTF-P also assisted in the development of a partnership between MIG9 (the AFP intelligence unit organic to WESMINCOM) and the LRC which resulted in several highly successful raids.
The AFP also demonstrated dramatic improvements in conducting Joint Operations including air and maritime assets. Initially hesitant to employ OV-10s in conducting close air support, the JSOTF-P worked with pilots, improving their bombing accuracy. The improved accuracy of these strikes led the AFP ground forces, especially JSOG units, to employ these assets more frequently. The JSOTF-P also assisted the AFP in developing basic NVG capabilities which greatly enhanced the AFP's ability to conduct nighttime infil and Medevac operations.
The Bottom line is that the AFP was able to keep the ASG under tremendous pressure which in turn significantly disrupted their operations, movement and ability to conduct attacks on Sulu or in other parts of the Philippines.
Civil Military Operations:
As planning began for Op Ultimatum, the AFP was concerned with the MNLF on Sulu becoming involved in the fighting. The AFP had fought a major war against the MNLF in the 1970’s and tensions were still high. Through negotiations with MNLF leaders the AFP was able avoid a confrontation with the MNLF. This achievement is significant because it kept the thousands of MNLF members out of the fight and allowed the AFP to pursue the ASG. A similar agreement with the MILF in Mindanao called for the MILF Central Committee to denounce the ASG and JI as bandits and outlaws, clearing the way for the AFP to conduct operations in MNLF and MILF areas against ASG and JI targets. I would argue that the ongoing peace negotiations between the GRP and the MNLF and MILF contributed significantly to the success of these agreements to not interfere with AFP operations. The MNLF/MILF desire to resolve their claims for independence and continue to participate in the peace process forced them to become more moderate, or at least publicly. This meant that they had to distance themselves from more extreme members of their groups. While the MNLF likely still provided some support to the ASG/JI on Sulu during Op Ultimatum, they avoided any implication of major support which allowed AFP to more effectively pursue and target them. The situation with Commander Kato and Bravo is similar in that the MILF Central Committee publically distanced themselves from the “Rogue Commanders” which effectively split the MILF and allowed the AFP to target them.
After the successful operations on Basilan, the AFP, who in the past had sometimes employed a more heavy handed approach, embraced the effectiveness of the Indirect Approach. Although they admit in after action reports that they underfunded CMO initiatives during Op Ultimatum, they are working hard to correct this shortcoming. In September 2007, the AFP established the AFP National Development Support Command (NDSC). This command was established to centralize government, non-government, and military efforts to conduct civil-military operations. The establishment of the NDSC institutionalized the valuable lessons learned during the Basilan, Bohol, and Sulu. The NDSC is a unified command and has become the Philippine government proponent for CMO, development, and disaster response. The
NDSC also has operational control of all AFP engineer units as well as the authority to establish task forces to operate in support of regional unified commanders. This command will also coordinate the efforts of all Civil Affairs, SOT, and SALAAM teams in the specific region to maximize synchronization of effort. The NDSC mission “is to undertake development projects in support of national development programs to establish a physically and psychologically secure environment conducive to socio-economic growth.”

The success of the CMO approach had not gone unnoticed by the MILF
who had begun to conduct their own MEDCAPS and CMO projects in Central Mindanao.
The effectiveness of the JSOTF-P’s indirect strategy is illustrated by the quote from the Deputy Chairman of the MILF Committee on Information, Khaled Musa, who stated in an article posted on the Central Committee website April 2007, that the AFP/U.S. Indirect Approach
was “more lethal than brute force.”

*Continued in next blog*
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Old 03-31-2009   #26
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Default Quantifying Success in the Philippines Part 3

Part 3

Information Operations:
SOCPAC and JSOTF planners developed a comprehensive IO strategy to
support the deployment of AFP and U.S. forces to Sulu. This phased strategy had been
effective in driving a wedge between the foreign fighters and the local population by
publicizing the manipulative and self serving nature of the foreign fighters by
highlighting the brutality they used on the populace. In the next phase, the information
strategy was able to separate the population from the insurgents by advertising the
improved socioeconomic conditions due to the improved security situation. It also
discredited the ASG by highlighting their brutal attacks on the population. The JSOTF
also developed excellent rapport with many RP journalists and gave them a direct line to
the JSOTF Commander and his staff. By doing this, the JSOTF staff encouraged
journalists to contact the JSOTF directly to get the Commander’s explanation of
developing situations. In this way, the AFP/JSOTF was able to get the correct story out
quickly and effectively. The JSOTF developed iron clad credibility by providing quick
responses to media inquiries and quantifiable proof to support the JSOTF position.
Media analysis conducted by the SOCPAC MOST team and Brand Labs
demonstrates a significant trend in Philippine media coverage of the Sulu operation. In
late 2005, when the U.S. first began deploying to Sulu, the media carried mostly negative
stories about the U.S. involvement. By August 2006, less than one year later, the number
of negative stories had dropped to a minority percentage. In April 2008, MOST
reported media coverage of Balikatan 2008 consisted of 306 articles of which the
majority (58 percent) were neutral and viewed as objective. Thirty percent were
assessed as negative and 11 percent were positive. This was a significant improvement
over the 2005 media coverage.
In September 2007, an ASG pamphlet was found on Sulu that illustrated that the IO themes were reaching the ASG leadership. The pamphlet bore the publishers mark of H.I. Media Bureau and had been prepared by Abu Hamid Al-Luzoni. Abu Hamid Al-Luzoni was otherwise known as Ahmed Santos, the leader of the Rajah Solaiman Islamic Movement (RSIM), a group known to have assisted the ASG in conducting the Superferry bombing in 2005. In the pamphlet, titled in
English, “Frequently Asked Questions,” the ASG leadership defended their actions and
provided a counter-argument to the themes distributed by the AFP/JSOTF. The ASG
document asserts that their jihad was legitimate and they make a feeble attempt to support
this assertion with quotes from the Koran. In a series of questions and answers, the
ASG explained why it was necessary to kill fellow Muslims and civilians describing
them as not being true Muslims because they work with the enemy (Shaytan forces)
against the Mujahadeen. They also explained their rape of women as their right and choice under “Sabaya,” that was defined in the pamphlet as taking a woman as a concubine. The pamphlet goes on to explain why Al Harakatul (the original name for the ASG) conducts kidnap for ransom, will not accept peace negotiations, and does not do drugs. The pamphlet provides a thoroughly unconvincing argument and an excellent example of a product intended to counter a successful information campaign.

I hope that this information sheds some light on how and why the Indirect Approach strategy was and continues to be successful in the Southern Philippines. I think the important lesson to take away from this operation is that SOCPAC and the JSOTF-P did not apply a template from some previous campaign but instead recognized that the strategy had to be built around the context of the local conditions. Developed from in-depth assessments and analysis, the strategy was constantly reassessed and modified to address the specific conditions where effects were needed. Lines of Operations (The Joint Pubs definition) were applied and sequenced differently from area to area and from island to island. While the Indirect Strategies of Basilan and Sulu do not offer a template for other areas they do provide some significant lessons learned and a starting point for developing a successful counterinsurgency strategy in other conflict areas.

Major Jonathan Hastings
Student, CGSC
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Old 04-01-2009   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goesh View Post
Thanks for posting that success story. There are more out there like that and the Public needs to hear more of them. I remember when the Corps of Engineers completed their 1200th project in Iraq - I think it was a school renovation - and there wasn't a peep about it in the national media.
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Old 10-01-2009   #28
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Default Soldiers killed in the Philippines

On 30 SEP 09, two US Service members were killed in the Philippines. This marks the first time in 7 years that a US Service member has been killed there.

What are everyone's thoughts on how this will change how the US operates in the Pacific Theater. In addition, don't forget that the Philippine Senate is attempting to get the VFA re-negotiated, while others are calling to remove US Soldiers from the country all together.
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Old 10-01-2009   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiet Pro View Post
On 30 SEP 09, two US Service members were killed in the Philippines.
Quiet Pro,
Thanks for the heads up on the story ! Please also include the link(s) so the rest of us don't have to go searching around. In this case, searching around turned out to be useful. USPACOM and CNN stories jive as far as their vehicle driving over something - one was an IED and the other a landmine

Please also take a second to introduce yourself here.
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Old 10-01-2009   #30
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Stan-

Sorry I didn't post links. I was kinda in a hurry to get to class (work). I found a bunch of links. The one think I noticed was that several places noted the guys were SeaBees while others stated they were Special Forces. I haven't been on Jolo for a couple of years, but I am guessing they were SeaBees. I did see a 5 gallon water can explode (along with the aftermath) in Mindanao in 2006. Fortunately, the only casualty was a bad guy. The ASG set up a great ambush that looked like it was going to be initiated by the IED. We assessed that the IED failed to detonate and when the bad guy was checking it he blew himself up. The AFP resupply convoy went through safe and sound.

I am surprised that there have not been more incidents involving US Soldiers considering we have had a permanent presence in the Philippines since 2002.

I am also concerned that the Lawless Elements and ASG are now using RPGs alongside the improvised RPGs they have always made.

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Old 10-02-2009   #31
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Default Unfortunately we lost two SF NCOs

DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Thu, 01 Oct 2009 20:11:00 -0500

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 763-09
October 01, 2009
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

On the Web: http://www.defenselink.mil/Releases/

Media Contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public Contact: http://www.defenselink.mil/faq/comment.html or +1 (703) 428-0711 +1

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GovDelivery, Inc. sending on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense · 408 St. Peter Street Suite 600 · St. Paul, MN 55102 · 1-800-439-1420

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died Sept. 29 in Jolo Island, the Philippines, from the detonation of an improvised-explosive device. The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Killed were:

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher D. Shaw, 37, of Markham, Ill.

Staff Sgt. Jack M. Martin III, 26, of Bethany, Okla.

The incident is under investigation.

For more information media may contact the U.S. Army Special Operations Command public affairs office at (910) 432-6005; after hours (910) 689-6187, or visit http://news.soc.mil .
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Old 10-02-2009   #32
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Sir-

Thank you for providing the link. Of course, when a US Service member is killed it is a sad day but this one hits a lot closer to home.

Jeremy
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Old 10-02-2009   #33
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Default BBC chimes in quietly

The BBC News report adds some context: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asi...ic/8279852.stm (Incudentally far more coverage on the natural disasters in the region).

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Old 10-05-2009   #34
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Default New group BNLA claims responsibility for killing US commandos in Jolo

New group BNLA claims responsibility for killing US commandos in Jolo

Sunday, 04 October 2009 0 0:00

By Al Jacinto, Reporter

ZAMBOANGA CITY: A previously unknown group has claimed responsibility for the roadside bombing that killed two US Special Forces soldiers and a Filipino Marine in Jolo on September 29 and alleged that American troops have been engaged in combat operations in the southern Philippines.
Madarang Sali, who identified himself as deputy supreme commander of the Bangsamoro National Liberation Army (BNLA), said the attack in Indanan town that claimed the lives of Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Shaw of Markham, Illinois, 37; and Staff Sergeant Jack Martin 3rd of Bethany, Oklahoma, 26, was in retaliation for what he said were continued operations by American and Filipino troops against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Sulu province.

Even before the attack, allegations have been raised of US involvement in combat operations in the country, a violation of both the Philippine Constitution and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

The MNLF signed a peace deal with the government in September 1996, but many of its members remain disgruntled with the accord and have accused the government of failing to uplift their living standards.
Shaw and Martin belonged to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, the US Department of Defense said, contrary to earlier pronouncements by the Philippine military that the two were members of the Seabees, the US Navy’s construction battalion.

Sali said in a statement that MNLF and BNLA fighters planted the improvised explosive device that killed the three soldiers and wounded two more Philippine Marines.

“The BNLA and MNLF members planted the bomb. The US forces are really involved in the operations in Sulu. The landmine used in the attack was that of the BNLA,” Sali said, belying statements by Marine Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, blaming the Abu Sayyaf for the attack and the subsequent bombing of bridges in Sulu.

Dolorfino earlier said government forces were tracking down 200 Abu Sayyaf fighters led by four senior commanders—Dr. Abu, Albader Parad, Isnilon Hapilon and Yasser Igasan—and two operatives of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiaah, Mauiya and Quayem.

“It is purely the operations of the BNLA and the MNLF, not the Abu Sayyaf or the Jemaah Islamiah,” Sali said.

The BNLA is led by Lt. Gen. Abdulnasser Iskandar, and the MNLF fighters are under the command of
Ustadz Habier Malik, Khaid Ajibun and Tahil Usman, Sali said.

Sali, who also described himself as the spokesman of the Bangsamoro Federated States of Sulu Archipelago, said fighting again broke out on Saturday afternoon in Bunot village in Indanan.

It was also in the town where Marines assaulted what authorities claim was the main Abu Sayyaf camp in
Sulu on Eid’l Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

There has been talk that US Special Forces troops joined this operation, which the military said left 42 combatants dead.

Sali last week said the military offensive actually targeted the MNLF in Sulu. He said Ajibun escaped a military raid last week.

Sali said only 10 MNLF rebels had been killed in the fighting—seven under Malik and three under the command of Ajibun.

He warned of more attacks against the Americans if they continue participating in combat operations in Sulu. The US and the Philippine government maintain that no Americans are engaged in combat despite persistent reports from civilians and civil society groups.

“Fighting again erupted and they will suffer defeat. The Bangsamoro revolutionary forces have declared a jihad [holy war] against the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine government for the Bangsamoro homeland,” said Sali.

The clashes erupted after the rebels bombed a bridge in Bunot on Friday, the third time in two weeks they have attacked a bridge.

On Thursday, the rebels ambushed Marines in Panamao town, sparking a fierce firefight that left one soldier and three rebels dead. Nine soldiers were also wounded.
http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php...mandos-in-jolo
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Old 10-05-2009   #35
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Default MNLF ally owns up to attack on US troops

MNLF ally owns up to attack on US troops
10/03/2009 | 07:10 PM


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – A group claiming to be allied with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) of Nur Misuari claimed responsibility on Saturday for a roadside bombing that killed two US Navy personnel and a Filipino marine in Jolo Island last Tuesday.

Madarang Sali, deputy commander of the Bangsamoro National Liberation Army, said the attack on the American soldiers was in retaliation for the continued operations of the US and Philippine military against the MNLF in the southern province of Sulu.

“The BNLA and MNLF members planted the bomb. The US forces are really involved in the operations in Sulu. The land mine used in the attack was that of the BNLA," Sali said in a statement.

The MNLF, chaired by former Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Nur Misuari, has maintained its armed units despite its after the group signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government.

The MNLF signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996, but many of its members were disgruntled with the accord and accused the government of failing to uplift their living standards.

Sali last week said the military offensive targeted the MNLF in Sulu. He said Ajibun escaped a military raid last week in the province.

Sali said fighting between rebels and government troops broke out again late Saturday afternoon in the village of Bunot in Indanan town.

“Fighting again erupted (in the village) and they will suffer defeat.The Bangsamoro revolutionary forces have declared a jihad (holy war) against the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine government for the Bangsamoro homeland," said Sali, who is also the spokesman for the Bangsamoro Federated States of Sulu Archipelago.

The clashes erupted after rebel forces bombed a bridge late Friday in the village of Bunot. It was the third time rebels bombed bridges in Sulu in a span of two weeks.

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the bombing of the bridges and the attack on the US forces.

Dolorfino said troops were tracking down at least four most senior Abu Sayyaf leaders – Dr Abu, Albader Parad, Isnilon Hapilon and Yasser Igasan – including two foreign Jemaah Islamiya terrorists Mauiya and Quayem and some 200 followers.

But Sali said Dolorfino was just engaging in propaganda. “It is purely the operations of the BNLA and the MNLF, not the Abu Sayyaf or the Jemaah Islamiya," he said.

He said the BNLA is headed by Lieutenant General Abdulnasser Iskandar, while the MNLF are under the command of Ustadz Habier Malik, Khaid Ajibun and Tahil Usman.

The killing of the two US Special Forces soldiers further bolstered suspicions that American troops are often engaged in counterterrorism operations in Sulu, where 42 militants and soldiers were killed in recent clashes in Indanan town.

The Philippine military previously blamed the extremist Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah for the attack on the US soldiers. It said those killed in the roadside bombing were non-combatants, but members of the US Navy Seabees who were involved in humanitarian missions in Sulu.

US Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney earlier said the soldiers “lost their lives serving others and we will always be grateful for their contributions to improve the quality of life on Jolo."

The military did not immediately respond to Sali’s claim.

Sali said only 10 MNLF rebels were killed in the fighting – seven under Malik and three more under the command of Ajibun. He warned of more attacks against US troops if they continue participating in combat operations in Sulu.

US troops have been are deployed in Sulu since 2006 and assisting the Philippine military in defeating the Abu Sayyaf. Although security officials deny US forces were directly involved in combat operations, there were numerous reports from civilians and various civil groups that American soldiers actually participated in the operations aimed at capturing or killing militant leaders in Sulu and other parts of Mindanao.

On Thursday, Moro rebels ambushed Marines in Sulu’s Panamao town, sparking a fierce firefight that left one soldier and three gunmen dead. Nine soldiers were also wounded in the clashes. - Geonarri Solmerano, GMANews.TV
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/173747/m...k-on-us-troops
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Old 10-05-2009   #36
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What the local insurgents are writing on their websites.

http://www.luwaran.net/index.php?opt...ews&Itemid=372

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August 27, 2009 - The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Sulu is bracing for war after the government forces assaulted the MNLF lair in Matanguli Island, Balabac Palawan on August 19 which resulted to the death of 7 MNLF regular members.
http://www.luwaran.net/index.php?opt...ews&Itemid=372

Quote:
The call to jihad circulating in Sulu and nearby islands, purportedly coming from Commander Habier Malik of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is verified as true and genuine.

Malik studied in one of the Islamic universities in Saudi Arabia and it is only logical that he gives Islamic color to his efforts, the report added.
http://mnlf.net/ENCOUNTERS/Marang%20...20Soldiers.htm

Quote:
With the death of two U.S. soldiers in Sulu doing developmental works, according to reports, it’s now high time for President Obama to listen. “Piecemeal solution like constructing school building, clinic or a stretch of road in the conflict-affected areas here is not the solution to the problem,” said the MNLF secretary general. Since the American government has a hand in this lingering problem in the South of the Philippines, the same American government must again help in resolving it.

When asked how, the Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University graduate said: America and the United Nations must exercise their governmental influence and institutional rights in implementing fully all their pertinent resolutions, mandate and covenants, particularly the one—The Granting of Independence to all Colonized Countries and Peoples of the World—vis-à-vis, the Bangsamoro country.
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Old 10-05-2009   #37
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The terms "IED" and "land mine" are used interchangeably in local media reports. My understanding is that the device was of the type commonly used by the communist NPA, detonated by a direct observer.

The "Bangsamoro National Liberation Army" is a new arrival, possibly yet another MNLF splinter faction, possibly a rather grandiose name for the followers of a single autonomous leader or group of such leaders. There's no shortage of armed groups in the area and affiliation with any one umbrella group is often nominal and transient. We'll see.

Given the recent threat by the CPP/NPA to target US personnel and given the close similarity to devices and tactics the NPA has been using for years, I have to wonder if there could be some collaboration involved. By no means certain, but a possibility.

There has been a good deal of talk in Manila lately about US forces engaging in combat, which would violate the existing Visiting Forces Agreement. It's driven largely by the left, which has limited influence but is capable of making a good deal of noise, but a number of mainstream politicians have picked up on it, largely to be seen wielding the nationalist card in the upcoming elections, and simply because the issue draws media coverage. The GMA administration is talking about renegotiating the agreement, which would probably result in few if any changes, but there will be pressure to terminate it.

This incident is being used to support claims that US forces are operating in combat zones. It wouldn't be such a big deal, but very recently a female Philippine Navy officer, who had previously (and I suspect accurately) accused senior officers of appropriating funds for joint exercises, came out with a whole barrage of charges against US forces in the area. Among others, she claimed that US forces were participating in combat operations, were having prostitutes shipped into camps to service them, were engaging in racist behaviour toward Filipino officers, etc etc. Before that we had the infuriatingly avoidable circus of the Daniel Smith rape case. Of course all the allegations have two (or more) sides, but the media and politicians eat it up and the politicians and a segment of the populace does take note. The government of course denies all but at this point the government has so little trust that their denial is reflexively taken as confirmation.

There is of course a great deal of talk about ulterior or self-serving motives on the part of the US. In some ways I think the best US policy would be to announce that unless the post-election government clearly indicates a desire to continue the current operation, the US will unilaterally terminate it. That would effectively cancel out the allegations that the US is angling for a permanent presence and toss the ball back to the GRP, and when push came to shove I think most officials - even many of those who like to make an issue of the deployment - would prefer to see the US presence continue.
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Old 10-05-2009   #38
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Originally Posted by Quiet Pro View Post
I am surprised that there have not been more incidents involving US Soldiers considering we have had a permanent presence in the Philippines since 2002.
It's best to never use the term "permanent presence". Sounds crazy, I know, but stuff gets picked up. Not long ago someone dug out an old interview with a US officer who proposed that foreign support for the ASG and MILF would justify a US combat role under the mutual defense treaty. That made it into a lot of newspapers here, wildly distorted.

A permanent presence is what a lot of critics in Manila are accusing the US of trying to build.

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Originally Posted by Quiet Pro View Post
I am also concerned that the Lawless Elements and ASG are now using RPGs alongside the improvised RPGs they have always made.
Are RPGs appearing regularly? They've always been quite unusual in Mindanao and surrounding islands, mainly because the Philippine military and police don't use them and illicit sales from the AFP and police are the main source of the black market small arms that end up with the various armed factions. If a substantial quantity of RPGs have been brought in it would indicate a relatively new external source of weaponry.
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Old 10-08-2009   #39
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Dayuhan-

I'll agree... I shouldn't have used "permanent." I know how sensitive people can be about that word. But, I don't think I was wrong. I haven't taken the time to research this, but from 2002 until 2009 I believe that there has always been a US personnel in the RP that I can think of.

RPGs. I can't confirm or deny this. I saw it mentioned in a couple of news articles... and I cannot find them now. I guess I should have done more research on this before I began to let my fingers hit the keyboard. Lesson learned on this also. Although, if the RP was seeing an increase of weapons from external sources it would create another big problem. Not to mention what inferences you could gather from that.
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Old 10-16-2009   #40
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I usually say the US presence has been continuous from 2002-present... whether or not it becomes permanent is something the Filipinos need to decide. I'm personally not convinced that an indefinite presence in the southern Philippines is in the US interest, and I suspect that we may have achieved as much as we're likely to achieve there. The conflict can be (and has been) supressed to a certain extent, but it cannot be resolved without major reforms on the part of the Philippine government, which I don't expect to be forthcoming. I'm not sure we want to stick around indefinitely.

On RPGs, local news is notoriously unreliable on these details. I'd think it unlikely, though not impossible, that they are being widely used. There is some foreign support for the ASG, MILF, and MNLF, though far less than is often claimed. It normally comes as money, though: moving money is a lot easier than moving shipments of weapons, and there's plenty of hardware available here to anyone with the means to pay.
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