Marawi attack reminded value of US alliance to PHL security – US admiral

“The attack on Marawi City served as a reminder of the value of our alliance to Philippine security and stability,” United States Pacific Command (US PACOM) commander Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. told the House Armed Services Committee on February 14.

It can be remembered that US forces provided technical assistance and reconnaissance capabilities at the height of Marawi City siege. However, no US forces joined the actual battle.

The US also delivered munitions and weapons to enhance Philippine military’s counterterrorism capabilities, and directly support AFP members actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines, including Marawi.

“One event dominated the counterterrorism fight in 2017: the siege by ISIS in the Philippines and recapture by government forces of the Philippine city of Marawi,” Admiral Harris said. “It was both symbolic of the larger struggle against violent extremism and also an anomaly characterized by unique circumstances and opportunities.”

Harris pointed out two themes that can be derived from the Marawi attack with regards to the defeat of ISIS in the Indo-Pacific.

“First, localized threats can quickly transform into international causes. An early and effective response is vital to control the fight and own the narrative,” he said.

“Second, counterterrorism operations are extremely challenging and most regional forces are poorly equipped for such fights,” he noted. “Our engagement strategy and capacity-building efforts have remained – and will continue to remain – focused on enabling regional counterterrorism forces to win whatever fights they face.”

“Through multinational collaboration, we can eliminate ISIS before it spreads further in the area,” he said.