After 13 years in Zamboanga City the US Special Forces are leaving the region after the deactivation of Joint Special Operations Task Force.
A symbolic flag-raising ceremony was performed, essentially ending the agreement between JSOTP-P and the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command.
A small number of US soldiers will replace the group next month for help with terrorism issues in the Philippines.
Before the closing ceremony, a moment of silence was held to honor 17 US soldiers who died in the Philippines during their tour of duty.
The JSOTF-P’s mission was “to advise and assist Philippine security forces at the tactical, operational and strategic levels against violent extremist organizations throughout the southern Philippines” at the request of the Philippine government, according to the US embassy.
The Philippine government bans US troops from engaging in direct combat in the Philippines – or so they say.
The Associated Press reported last year that the US was dissolving the anti-terrorism group established in 2001 to fight terrorist networks led by the Abu Sayyaf groups which have inundated the island of Mindanao.
“Our partnership with the Philippine security forces has been successful in drastically reducing the capabilities of domestic and transnational terrorist groups in the Philippines,” Kurt Hoyer, the US Embassy Press Attache, told AP. He said most terrorist groups in the region “have largely devolved into disorganized groups resorting to criminal undertakings to sustain their activities.”
According to globalsecurity.org, the JSOTF-P consisted of between 500 and 600 personnel, including Army Special Operations Forces, Navy Seals, Air Force special operators, and support personnel.
Its headquarters was based at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City, and had 3 regional task forces. Several personnel also worked in Manila with the US Embassy as noted by the same source.
The JSOAD had a small fleet of PC-12 and C-12 fixed-wing aircraft, as well as Bell 214 helicopters.