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Selva says US military ops in PH ‘worth considering’

The Vice Chairman of the United States Joint Chief of Staff said that reinstating US military operations in the Philippines was worth considering to strengthen the fight against the Maute local terrorist group in Mindanao.

General Paul J. Selva was responding to the question of US Senator Joni Ernst on counter-terrorism operations during his reappointment in the US Senate in Washington DC on July 18.

A video recording of the hearing was posted on the US Senate website.

During the hearing, Ernst expressed concern that the short-term terror brought about by terrorist groups like Maute in the Philippines might turn into a “long-term catastrophe.”

Selva agreed with Ernst and acknowledged that the Philippine Army’s presence was key to the success of US forces’ efforts in conflict areas in the Philippines.

“In every case where we see that resurgence of terror networks, particularly in the fragile areas of the southern Philippines, I think it’s worth considering whether we reinstate a named operation,” Selva said.

“Not only to provide the resources that are required but to give the Pacific commanders and field commanders in the Philippines the kinds of authorities they need to work with indigenous forces,” he added.

Ernst said that US lawmakers want to be more involved in Southeast Asia to suppress the terror threat in the region.

Since the full-blown war against terrorists started in May, the US has provided military assistance and air surveillance to the Philippines to reclaim Marawi, the city terrorized by the Maute group.

Last month, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement released by Pentagon that a long-running military operation to help the Philippines fight terrorists canceled three years ago.

He said the cancellation of military aid to the Philippines limited the number of assistance the US could send. He added that US special forces could only have advice and assist role in Philippine’s military endeavors.

US intelligence has confirmed allegiance by various terrorist networks in the Philippines since 2016. American military officials have also assessed and monitored the movement of people from Southeast Asia to Iraq and Syria.

Mattis urged the defense chiefs of the region to act immediately. by sharing intelligence information with countries like Singapore which also face the same concern of terrorist powers growing in the area.

Armed Services Hearing: https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/17-07-18-nomination_–selva