US reaffirms commitment to support allies vs terrorism

UNITED States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III troops the line during arrival honors at the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City on Thursday, Feb. 2. (Wesmincom FB)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (PNA) – The United States (US) government has reaffirmed its commitment to support its allies, including the Philippines, in their campaigns against terrorism and in sustaining peace.

This was relayed by US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III in a meeting with top Philippine military officers when he visited the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) headquarters in this city on Thursday, Feb. 2.

The US has been providing training and technical assistance to Filipino troops in combating terrorists like the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria-linked Abu Sayyaf Group and Dawlah Islamiyah as well as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

In a statement on Thursday, Westmincom said the meeting with Austin focused on strengthening cooperation and establishing a good relationship between the Philippine military and the newly deployed members of the United States of America Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) 511.2.

Philippine military officers who met Austin include Gen. Andres Centino, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr., flag-officer-in-command of the Philippine Navy; Major Gen. Roy Galido, Westmincom chief; and Major Gen. Araus Musico, commander of the Air Combat Command of the Philippine Air Force.

Austin also visited the headquarters of SOTF 511.2 located inside Camp Navarro before he returned to Manila. The new team of the SOTF 511.2 arrived here on Monday, Jan. 27, replacing the team headed by Major Scott Cook.

Galido said they were grateful and fortunate to be visited by the US Defense Secretary. “This shows how strong our working relationship is and how committed our most powerful ally is to help us in addressing our security issues here in the southern part of the Philippines,” he said.