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JSTOF-P Set to be Disbanded

Marines and Philippine troops during relief operations in 2013.
(DOD photo)

By Harold Hutchison

The Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P), which has been instrumental in combating terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah, is reportedly on the chopping block. Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines had been going on since 15 January, 2002.

According to a report by FoxNews.com, the joint task force, formed four months after the 11 September, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, is slated for deactivation at an undetermined date. Since its inception, 17 American military personnel who had been serving as advisors have died. One of the groups, Abu Sayyaf, had kidnapped over a hundred people, including three American citizens.

Among the many operations and missions carried out by JSOTF-P is the Balikatan exercises. JSTOF-P also assisted in the wake of the typhoon last year that left thousands dead and created tens of thousands of refugees.

“Our partnership with the Philippine security forces has been successful in drastically reducing the capabilities of domestic and transnational terrorist groups in the Philippines,” Kurt Hoyer, the press attaché for the U.S. embassy in the Philippines, told the AP.

The Philippines have been involved in increasingly tense disputes with the ChiComs over the South China Sea. The country, where U.S. forces were based until 1991, has been attempting to re-build its military, and has, among other thing, acquired two Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters built in the 1960s. A number of its naval vessels were built during World War II.