Thursday, August 20, 2009
U.S. Military Unit to Stay in Philippines
WASHINGTON has decided to keep an elite 600-troop counterinsurgency operation deployed in the Philippines despite pressure to reassign its members to fulfill urgent needs elsewhere such as Afghanistan or Iraq, according to Pentagon officials.
The high-level attention given to the future of the force, known as the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, illustrates the Pentagon’s difficulty in finding enough of these highly trained units for assignments to two wars — as well as for the wider effort to combat insurgencies and militancy in other parts of the world deemed to be threats to American interests.
Senior officials said the decision also acknowledged a cautionary lesson from Afghanistan: that battlefield success should be rewarded with sustained commitment, while prematurely turning the military’s attention elsewhere — as when the Bush administration shifted focus to Iraq — provides insurgents and terrorists the opportunity to rush back in.
In the seven years that the Philippines-based American force has been operating, its members have trained local security units and provided logistical and intelligence support to Filipino forces fighting insurgents.