Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Enduring Freedom or Enduring War?

Enduring Freedom or Enduring War?
By Erick San Juan

As I write this piece, the Senate is still investigating (in aid of legislation), on its second day the Mamasapano tragedy, with Senator Grace Poe’s committee. Each  senator have their own concern of what really happened through their kind of questioning. As I watch the Senate hearing, it came to my mind the big picture which we have to consider in order to understand ‘the play’. In this case our problem with the terrorists and bandits in the south.

Through the years there had been many efforts done both by the PNP and AFP to stop the terror acts and other acts of violence against peaceful communities in the southern part of the country. And this same perennial problem is also the reason why the US troops are ever present in the guise of fighting the terrorists. And again, the perennial question – if there is a concerted effort by both American and Filipino troops in the south to fight terrorism, why do we still have terrorists there? And the worst part is, it is known globally that our country is also used as training ground for terrorists from various terror groups. Translation – training ground for state-sponsored terrorists, that is why they are not being wiped out, they are still needed for future false flag and covert operations.

If this is the scenario that is prevailing for several years now, we are really doomed to be the next Afghanistan, or we are presently being mold as the new Afghanistan.

I would like to share here the article “Why the US Wants to Stay in Afghanistan” by Jack A. Smith (Global Research, January 07, 2014) he writes: "Afghanistan is especially important to Washington for two main reasons.

The obvious first reason is to have smaller but elite forces and surveillance facilities in Afghanistan to continue the fighting when necessary to protect U.S. interests, which include maintaining a powerful influence within the country. Those interests will become jeopardized if, as some suspect, armed conflict eventually breaks out among various forces contending for power in Kabul since the mid-1990s, including, of course, the Taliban, which held power 1996-2001 until the U.S. invasion.

The more understated second reason is that Afghanistan is an extremely important geopolitical asset for the U.S., particularly because it is the Pentagon’s only military base in Central Asia, touching Iran to the west, Pakistan to the east, China to the northeast and various resource-rich former Soviet republics to the northwest, as well as Russia to the north."

A Dec.30,2014 report in Foreign Policy by Louise Arbour noted:

“Most countries in [Central Asia] are governed by aging leaders and have no succession mechanisms — in itself potentially a recipe for chaos. All have young, alienated populations and decaying infrastructure… in a corner of the world too long cast as a pawn in someone else’s game.”

The first reason is identical with the presence of the Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines (JSOTF-P) in Mindanao. The Task Force was organized around a headquarters element, temporarily located at Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City, and 3 subordinate regional task forces. Camp Navarro is an Armed Forces of the Philippines facility. These Task Forces are: Task Force Archipelago, based at Camp Navarro, Zamboanga del Sur Province; Task Force Mindanao, based at Camp Siongco, Maguindanao Province; and Task Force Sulu, based at Camp Bautista, Jolo Island, Sulu Province.

A handful of JSOTF-P personnel also worked in Manila to coordinate activities with the US Embassy Country Team and AFP General Headquarters. JSOTF-P also includes a Joint Special Operations Aviation Detachment (JSOAD) to ensure special operations forces are able to move freely in country. The JSOAD maintains a small fleet of PC-12 and C-12 fixed-wing aircraft, complemented by Bell 214 helicopters for use in the jungle areas where U.S. and Philippine forces are collocated.

All US forces supporting Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines operate under the Kapit Bisig Framework, a mutually agreed US and Government of the Republic of the Philippines accord by which JSOTF-P accomplishes its mission through and with its partner forces. JSOTF-P does not engage in combat operations and does not operate from independent locations. Instead they advise and assist Philippine security forces where they are: on Philippine government bases, compounds and outposts in jungle, village, and urban areas. Their efforts include intelligence sharing, support for mission preparations and rehearsal, civil-military and military-information support operations, casualty evacuations, and logistics. (Source: globalsecurity.org)

That explains the presence of US troops in the Mamasapano incident.

Although the US government through their embassy here kept denying the US involvement in military operations, there are evidences on instances that showed their role in the country’s military operations, as cited here by the WikiLeaks through the report by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNNEWS.com posted at 09/14/2011:

US Special Forces troops have been directly involved in hunting down suspected terrorists in Mindanao, several diplomatic cables released by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks revealed.

Cable 06MANILA3401, classified secret and sent August 14, 2006 in the name of US embassy deputy chief of mission Paul Jones, said US Special Forces troops and ships gave "intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to the 87-plus maritime interdictions" in Jolo, Sulu during an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) campaign in the said year against Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leaders on the island.

It added that this was made possible because the US Navy's Joint Venture and Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines' (JSOTF-P) Mark V special operations crafts and rigid-hull inflatable boats are already fully integrated into the Philippine Navy. The US embassy, however, wanted to hide this from the public.

In the cable's "if asked - press guidance" section, US officials are told to say that "US forces are not directly involved in this operation, but are providing support. Our forces, in a support role, advise, train, and share information with AFP forces."

Another cable, 06MANILA4439, said US troops also helped their Philippine counterparts intercept terrorists fleeing from Jolo in 2006.

"US and Philippine forces worked seamlessly to intercept two vessels (one of them high-speed) attempting to flee Jolo for Basilan," said the confidential cable.”

The list goes on and on. If the pretext will really benefit our nation, why not? So we wonder, why the denials?

Secondly, like Afghanistan, we have virtual temporary US military bases here already and increased US troops in rotational basis through the VFA and now EDCA. And the same reason – pundits believe that we are strategically located to serve their purpose of encircling China and the fact that we have so much mineral resources in the south that they wanted to secure.

And some analysts observed that our location is conducive to trafficking of drugs aside from trafficking of terrorists.

Is it true that the US has a secret drone base in Balabac, Palawan? Need we say more?

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