United States and Republic of the Philippines Negotiate on Re-establishment of Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P) to Combat Transnational Terrorist Groups

United States and Republic of the Philippines Negotiate on Re-establishment of Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P) to Combat Transnational Terrorist Groups

• Research Question: As a result of continued transnational terrorist threats and support for threat groups caused by violent extremist organizations, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the surrounding region of the Southern Philippines, should INDOPACOM consider negotiating the re-establishment of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) with Republic of the Philippines?

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• Research Thesis: In the face of continued transnational terrorist threat and support for threat groups and to better promote global/regional stability, peace, and strong alliance with Republic of the Philippines, INDOPACOM must consider negotiating the re-establishment of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P). This thesis is supported by 3 primary arguments:

1. REDUCED TRANSNATIONAL TERRORISTS THREAT: The enemy initiated attacks in ASG’s primary areas of operations declined 55% from 2000-2012. The U.S. State Department annual reports estimate that the ASG declines from more than 2,200 to 400 armed members.

2. INCREASED PHILIPPINE ARMED FORCES CAPABILITIES: From 2001-2014, the Philippine Armed Forces increased their capabilities at the tactical, operational, and institutional levels. U.S. SOF contributed to this increased capability by providing training, advice and assistance to Philippine Armed Forces units at all echelons.

3. ENHANCED U.S.-PHILIPPINES DEFENSE TIES: U.S. SOF effort likely contributed to strengthened U.S. – Armed Forces of the Philippines relations. U.S. military officials noted the experience of continued U.S. assistance under OEF-P also likely diminished the Filipinos previous concerns regarding the U.S. military presence in the Philippines.

• Research Importance: After JSOTF-P ended its mission in the Republic of the Philippines in 2014, transnational terrorist groups continued to cause threat and regional instability in the southern Philippines. For 14 years, U.S. SOF provided robust types of operational assistance as a critical component of Foreign Internal Defense (FID), that includes training, equipping and advisory activities in accordance with established rules of engagement. Re-establishment of JOSTF-P may be able to sustain the comprehensive approach to ensure violent extremist organizations don’t regain a foothold in the region.

• Research Approach: I will establish evidence for three key points based on historic evidence: transnational terrorist threat and support for threat groups, regional stability, and strong alliance with Republic of the Philippines. I will touch on issues that could occur if we do not sustain the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capabilities through FID. I will also use examples of increasing presence of transnational terrorists throughout INDOPACOM and potential threats that the U.S. may have to face in the future to explain why we need to sustain Armed Forces of the Philippines capabilities.

• Key References:

https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1236.html.

https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/has-operation-enduring-freedom-philippines-been-a-success

https://thediplomat.com/2015/03/us-concludes-special-operations-task-force-in-the-philippines/

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