Allen B. West

Will U.S. create a vacuum in Philippines for Islamic jihad to fill?

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We are witnessing the ramifications of Obama’s pivoting (i.e. retreating) from the Middle East, as the region continues to descend into chaos. Obama’s original intent supposedly was to focus on the Pacific Rim. Well…he ain’t really doing that either.

According to an Associated Press report in the Asian Journal, “After more than a decade of helping fight Islamic militants the United States is disbanding an anti-terror contingent of hundreds of elite American troops in the southern Philippines where armed groups such as Abu Sayyaf (i.e. al-Qaida in the Pacific) have largely been crippled, officials said Thursday. But special forces from the U.S. Pacific Command, possibly in smaller numbers, will remain after the deactivation of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTF-P), to ensure al-Qaida offshoots such as Abu Sayyaf and the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah do not regain lost ground, according to U.S. and Philippine officials.”

Say whatever you want, but why disband something that has been successful? Unless you truly want to create a vacuum to allow these Islamic jihadists to regain their strength — which is exactly what we are witnessing in Iraq and Syria.

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I was raised to understand a basic military premise — overwhelming force – which is expressed in a simple saying: Why do you kick a man when he is down? Because he is close to your foot.

If we have these terrorist groups down, then we should keep kicking them and drive them back into the caves and jungles from whence their sphere of influence and capacity is defeated and diminished.

But that just doesn’t seem to be part of the “Obama doctrine.” Then again, as liberal progressives operate in the realm of “feel good” and emotion, it makes them feel good affording the enemy a respite — or even freeing senior members of the enemy to pursue milk and honey farms. Nope, drones don’t crush an enemy, which we are finding out – it’s like killing a mosquito here or there.

If you really want to eradicate mosquitoes, you go to their breeding ground and either drain it or spray it.

AP says the move by the Obama administration (or is it really Susan Rice’s idea?) “marks a new chapter in the long-running battle against an al-Qaida-inspired movement in the southern Philippines, viewed by the U.S. as a key front in the global effort to keep terrorists at bay. A year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. military established the task force in the southern Philippines to help ill-equipped Filipino forces contain a bloody rampage by Abu Sayyaf gunmen, who carried out bombings, terrorized entire towns and kidnapped more than 100 people, including three Americans.”

Maybe Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah are decimated and on the run?

As the report lays out, “U.S. forces are barred by the Philippine Constitution from engaging in combat, but the advice, training, military equipment and intelligence, including drone surveillance, that they provided helped the underfunded Philippine military beat back the Abu Sayyaf.

U.S.-backed Philippine offensives whittled the militants’ ranks from a few thousand fighters — mostly drawn from desperately poor hinterland villages — to about 300 gunmen, who survive on extortion and kidnappings for ransom while dodging military assaults.

“Our partnership with the Philippine security forces has been successful in drastically reducing the capabilities of domestic and transnational terrorist groups in the Philippines,” U.S. Embassy Press Attache Kurt Hoyer said in a written response to questions sent by email by The Associated Press. The remaining terrorists, he said, “have largely devolved into disorganized groups resorting to criminal undertakings to sustain their activities.”

According to the AP report, “that success has led U.S. military planners in coordination with their Philippine counterparts “to begin working on a transition plan where the JSOTF-P as a task force will no longer exist,” Hoyer said, adding there were currently about 320 American military personnel left in the south. Before the drawdown, about 500 to 600 Americans had been deployed there. Hoyer said a still-unspecified number of U.S. military personnel would remain under a new unit called the PACOM Augmentation Team to provide Filipino forces with counterterrorism and combat training and advice, and “ensure that violent extremist (i.e Islamic terrorist) organizations don’t regain a foothold in the southern Philippines.”

The United States has been fighting Islamic terrorists in the southern Philippines since the days of General John “Blackjack” Pershing. Our number one strategic imperative in combating Islamic terrorism is to deny them sanctuary, a base of operations. We should not go completely “dark” in assessing the enemy, their movements and recruiting efforts.

Somehow we completely lost the bubble with ISIS, and Boko Haram is gaining strength as well. Let us not allow the Islamist enemy to reconstitute in the Pacific — while we can’t even bother to address their movements in the southern hemisphere and South America.

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