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U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Philippines, 2001-2014

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Technical Report

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RAND Corporation National Defense Research Institute Santa Monica United States

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This report examines the 14-year experience of U.S. special operations forces in the Philippines from 2001 through 2014. The objective of this case history is todocument and evaluate the activities and effects of special operations capabilities employed to address terrorist threats in Operation Enduring FreedomPhilippines through 1 training and equipping Philippine security forces, 2 providing operational advice and assistance, and 3 conducting civilmilitary and information operations. The report examines the development, execution, and adaptation of the U.S. effort to enable the Philippine government to counter transnational terrorist groups. An average of 500 to 600 U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps special operations units were employed continuously under the command of a joint special operations task force. They provided training, advice, and assistance during combat operations to both Philippine special operations units and selected air, ground, and naval conventional units conducted civilmilitary and information operations on Basilan, in the Sulu archipelago, and elsewhere in Mindanao provided intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, medical evacuation, and emergency care aided planning and intelligence fusion at joint operational commands and force development at institutional headquarters and coordinated their programs closely with the U.S. embassy country team. The authors conclude that Operation Enduring FreedomPhilippines contributed to the successful degradation of transnational terrorist threats in the Philippines and the improvement of its security forces, particularly special operations units. It identifies contributing and limiting factors, which could be relevant to the planning and implementation of future such efforts.

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