Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines (JSOTF-P)
The mission of the Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines (JSOTF-P) is to, at the request of the Philippine government, work alongside the AFP to defeat terrorists and create the conditions necessary for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Southern Philippines. The JSOTF-P consisted of between 500 and 600 personnel, including Army Special Operations Forces, Navy Seals, Air Force special operators, and a host of support personnel from all four U.S. military services. 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.
The members of JSOTF-P operated "by, through and with" their Philippine Armed Forces counterparts in a officially strictly non-combat role, providing humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected communities, and training and sharing information with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. JSOTF-P's humanitarian missions included: Medical and Dental Civic Action programs to deliver care where access to care is limited; Veterinary Civic Action Programs to provide farmers livelihood assistance; and Engineering Civic Action Programs to provide local communities infrastructure improvements such as schools, water wells, roads, piers, and medical centers. JSOTF-P also worked to build AFP capacity through subject matter expert exchange programs (SMEEs) to exchange lessons learned on subjects such as explosive ordnance disposal, tactical combat casualty care, marksmanship, and small unit tactics, civil military operations planning, maritime operations, and casualty evacuation. JSOTF-P also shared intelligence data and other information to assist the AFP in planning future operations.
The Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines was established by Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC) in July 2002, as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines (OEF-P), to support the comprehensive approach of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in their fight against terrorism. Prior to this SOCPAC and its components were deployed to the Philippines as Joint Task Force 510. Joint Task Force 510 was inactivated with the activation of JSOTF-P. A decision was made by SOCPAC to have B-170, 1st Special Operations Group and its 4 A Detachments, previously assigned to JTF-510, remain deployed to continue oversight of previous projects.
On 21 February 2002, 10 members of JSOTF-P were killed in a helicopter crash while conducting a mission to transport US personnel and supplies from Zamboanga City to Basilan Island. During 2002 JSOTF-P personnel were involved in the training of the Philippine Army's Light Reaction Company. Between August through September 2002, members of the JSOTF-P participated in more than 20 Medical Civic Action Projects (MEDCAPs) on the island of Basilan and in Zamboanga City, Mindanao. In late 2002, a spate of bombings in Mindanao and attacks on AFP forces in Jolo led to increased force protection requirements for US personnel, restricting them heavily to their facilities and large civic action missions.
Training of AFP units and CAFGU milita began again in February 2003. By 2004, JSOTF-P had returned to the field as Combat Advisory Teams, something that had been part of the original JTF-510 mission. Naval Special Operations Forces were also added to JSOTF-P's contingent, adding to Army and Air Force elements already deployed.
In 2005, the JSOTF-P continued operations in Minadao, along with additional Air Force Special Operations Forces personnel, to assist the AFP during Operations Layas and Pugad. Also during 2005, the Task Force deployed elements to Jolo to help contain the spread of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Between 2006 and 2007, the Task Force patricipated in AFP Operations Ultimatum I and Ultimatum II in Jolo. These operations were directed against both the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah.
In 2008, JSOTF-P committed more than $6.5 million to 70 humanitarian assistance projects to improve the quality of life for communities in need in Mindanao. The AFP and JSOTF-P delivered free medical and dental care to 10,000 beneficiaries, and over 10,000 similar actions during the Balikatan 2008 exercises.
In 2009, the AFP and JSOTF-P conducted more than 40 joint Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAPS) delivering free care to more than 8,000 people in Mindanao.
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