Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Air Force will likely deploy a pair of General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the Philippines to assist the struggling Philippine Army finish-off some 100 ISIS-inspired Muslim terrorists still holding out in the besieged Muslim city of Marawi on Mindanao island.
The Reapers will be armed with smart bombs and missiles and will be tasked with both reconnoitering positions of the so-called Maute terrorist group and unleashing their ordnance on these terrorists who began their attack on this city in Lanao del Sur province on May 23.
The Pentagon is considering a plan to conduct airstrikes on ISIS in Marawi, according to sources in the U.S. defense department. The deployment of the Reapers is expected to be announced this week as part of the collective self-defense doctrine.
The U.S. military has been sharing intelligence with the Philippines for years.
“We have had a consistent CT (counter terrorism) presence in the Philippines for 15 years now,” said , Pentagon spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is currently visiting Manila, said the U.S. was providing the Philippine government with “intelligence capabilities” in the fight against ISIS. These include the recent transfer of two Cessnas and a couple of UAVs “to allow them to have better information with which to conduct the fight down there.”
“We’re providing them some training and some guidance in terms of how to deal with an enemy that fights in ways that are not like most people have ever had to deal with.
“I see no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of other human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counternarcotics activities.”
Last month, Gen. Paul Selva ,vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed the idea of naming the mission in the Philippines, saying that naming it would provide more funding.
“In every case where we see the resurgence of terror networks particularly in the fragile areas of the southern Philippines,” said Gen. Selva before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“I think it’s worth considering whether or not we reinstate a named operation, not only to provide for the resources that are required, but to give the Pacific Command commander and the field commanders in the Philippines the kinds of authorities they need to work with indigenous Philippine forces to actually help them be successful in that battle space.”
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