U.S. boosts Filipino troops’ communication during raids
Stars and Stripes August 26, 2009
U.S. special operations troops assisted with Aug. 12 raids in the southern Philippines — and helped treat the injured — but were not directly involved in combat, according to U.S. Embassy officials.
According to The Associated Press, more than 400 Philippine military and police staged the raids on Basilan Island in search of roughly 150 Abu Sayyaf members. The clashes left 23 Philippine troops and 31 guerrillas dead, according to the AP.
The U.S. Joint Special Operations Task-Force Philippines, which has worked in the country since 2002, supported those raids "by sharing information and providing technical capabilities to assist (Armed Forces of the Philippines) leadership in communicating with their forces in the field," according to an e-mail from an embassy official in Manila.
U.S. troops also treated the wounded Philippine marines and soldiers at "an AFP camp located away from the fighting," she said.
"No U.S. forces were involved in combat, and no U.S. troops were fired upon during this operation," she said.
U.S. troops cannot fire unless fired upon, according to the rules of engagement for the task force.
"We do not engage in combat operations and we do not knowingly put ourselves in situations where combat may occur," the official said.
She also said "our deepest sympathies go out to the families" of those killed in the action.
The U.S. task force helps train the Philippine troops to stomp out the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim terror group that engages in kidnappings for ransom, beheadings, assassinations and extortion in a push to create an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao.
Pentagon officials recently announced that the 600-person task force will remain in the Philippines despite pressure to use those resources in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the New York Times.