US supports AFP plans to crush Abu Sayyaf in 2 months

By Anthony Vargas
DateLine Philippines

The United States military promised to provide more “focused” support to its Philippine counterparts in crushing the Al-Qeada-linked Abu Sayyaf (ASG) within two months, a US military official said Thursday.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is set to deploy more troops in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu, known hotbed of lawless elements, in the coming days in a bid to end Islamic militancy.

Lt. Commander John Perkins, public affairs officer of the Joint Special Operation Task Force (JSOTF), said they believed AFP can achieve its goal of defeating terrorists within the said time frame.

“We would not be in support of the AFP if we did not have faith in their capability,” said Lt. Commander John Perkins, public affairs officer of the RP-US Joint Special Operation Task Force (JSOTF).

JSOFT was formed several years after the Philippine government supported the launching of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the US government’s global war against terrorism.

Perkins said the US military would support the AFP in its two-month campaign against Muslim terrorists.

“If our AFP counterparts believe that it can be done in two months and if they want to do two months, we are going to do everything we can to accomplish that goal,” Perkins added.

He declined, however, to give any specifics on the kind of focused support they will provide the AFP, adding that US troops will continue playing an active role in “building bridges, helping schools, building roads, and water wells for the prosperity in the region.”

“We believe it’s done not only through military force but more specifically, through education, through health services, through facilities, roads, buildings, so if we can do that I think we’re gonna have a much better success,” Perkins added.

The US military official said the death of two US servicemen in a roadside bomb attack in Indanan, Sulu last year doesn’t deter their resolve in stamping out terrorism in Southern Mindanao.

“Perkins said there are around 200 to 400 American troops scattered in the Mindanao region, specifically in Basilan and Sulu, providing humanitarian aid and technical assistance to Filipino troops that are hunting down ASG members.

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