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Unconventional Warfare: Are US Special Forces Engaged in an ‘Offensive War’ in the Philippines?

Focus on the Philippines Special Reports, No. 1, January 2006

, by Focus on the global south

Since January 2002, US Special Operations Forces (SOFs) have been stationed in the southern Philippines and have not left since then. Their deployment has significant implications for issues of peace and security in the southern Philippines, on democracy in the country and its sovereignty, on the geo-political balance in the region, and on the US’ global military posture. But - because of domestic historical factors and the current balance of political forces - it is on the claim that the US Special Forces are not engaged in “actual combat” that their continuing presence in the Philippines seem to stand.

Five years after the initial deployment, this report gathers the available information and evidence regarding this claim. It relies on publicly available information provided by US troops themselves who, in writing about their missions for military publications, have gone on record to describe their experiences in ways that cast their operation in a different light. It is based on first-hand interviews with witnesses who have dared to come out and who claim to have seen US troops in action. It gathers various separate news articles, reports, and papers offering little-known or little-discussed information on the mission and puts them together to provide a bigger and more coherent picture. Finally, it studies and analyzes overall US global military strategy in order to contextualize their mission.

It finds that the US troops may not only be waging war within the Philippines, they may also established a new form of U.S. bases in the country.

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