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Anti-terrorism strategic cooperation between U.S. and Philippines

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Jumel G. Estrañero |

It takes more than military alliances to execute a risky and challenging operation involving terrorists. Some 1,200 Filipino and US forces took part in the interagency drills held at Clark Air Base in Pampanga and in Honolulu, Hawaii from Sept. 18 to 26.

Urban warfare refers to fighting inside heavily-populated areas, using buildings, houses and other areas, as concealment points, for attack against conventional military units

An American aircraft carrying 162 passengers and crew bound for Hawaii took off from Sydney, Australia as part of the scenario. But eight Filipino IS-inspired “hijackers” took control of the plane and diverted it to Clark, Pampanga. As part of the exercise, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Bureau of Investigation along with elements of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) worked together for the rescue of the hostages.

I believe that the recently concluded Tempest Wind, the counterterrorism bilateral drills between the Philippines and the United States, centered on a hijacking scenario by IS-inspired terrorists that can definitely be simulated by our soldiers in the field in immediate need.

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There have been 6ID’s accomplishments, specifically in contributing immensely to the prevention of the reinforcements coming from Central Mindanao apart from the Division’s other successful operations

Meanwhile, I assume that RP-US military drill cooperation has already earmarked to ISIS-led Maute terrorist groups same with other regional hub terrorist groups to warn their subordinates about this. Also, it insinuates other propaganda groups in the Philippines to react against the government saying their usual rhetoric that U.S. must be junked by all means. These people have no idea what Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) is all about.

In fact, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Tempest Wind is pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement to honor all agreements with other countries. The Tempest Wind was approved by the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board last November.

As for the government, AFP and Department of National Defense (DND) shall revisit Presidential Memorandum Order No. 37 (14 Pillars Against Terrorism) and the Presidential Memorandum (16-Point Counter Program) of the government regarding means and way in combating terrorism. Generally, the forerunner serves as a perfect opportunity to assess the needs of the new security environment in the Pacific region, especially now that terrorism has become evident in our current security landscape.

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In fact, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Tempest Wind is pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement to honor all agreements with other countries

On 12 Sept 2017, five (5) Daesh-inspired Maute members were neutralized. They opted to continue with their terrorist ways and refused to heed the call to surrender, be treated humanely, mend their ways, and live a life of a true believer of Islam. AFP’s doctrine rests on AFP Military Strategy for Combating Terrorism.

In application, the 6th Infantry Division (6ID) of Joint Task Force Central highlighted Philippines effort in combating the terrorist group. There have been 6ID’s accomplishments, specifically in contributing immensely to the prevention of the reinforcements coming from Central Mindanao apart from the Division’s other successful operations that further degraded the terrorist threat capability.

The Task Force Marawi implemented Operation Plans ‘Total Defense’ and ‘Iron  Shield’ which has thus far effectively prevented the spill-over of terrorists to Cotabato City and other significant locations in Area Of Responsibility (AOR) in Southern Mindanao.

Some 1,200 Filipino and US forces took part in the interagency drills held at Clark Air Base in Pampanga and in Honolulu, Hawaii from Sept. 18 to 26

With the on-going Marawi siege, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has started to update its urban warfare doctrine  in lieu of emerging trend of violence in the Philippines. That could serve as the basis of creating or crafting a new doctrine pursuant to lesson learned in these (urban warfare) operations in Marawi.

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To highlight, urban warfare refers to fighting inside heavily-populated areas, using buildings, houses and other areas, as concealment points, for attack against conventional military units. Usually, the guerilla or terrorists force is more incline to participate in this kind of warfare due to their disregard for human life, private and public property. Also, sniping and use of improvised explosive devices and booby-traps are also a predominant feature of this type of fighting.

The writer is a defence and security analyst based in the Philippines. He has co-authored many books including the Handbook of Terrorism 2019 (Philippines). His works have appeared in Eurasia Review, Global Security Review and Geopolitical Monitor.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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