Philippines - Dispatch by Michael Yon
-John F. Kennedy
03 June 2009
The southern Philippines has been a festering bed for international terrorists for decades. Direct links with al Qaeda and associated groups, such as Jemaah Islamiya (JI), are conclusively established. These groups are collectively responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people from dozens of countries. JI, for instance, was responsible for the 2002 Bali bombingthat killed 202 people, including my friend Beata Pawlak.
Some folks are asking why greater successes are being achieved in the Philippines with a smaller footprint than we have in Afghanistan, and they are starting to wonder if this model would work in Pakistan. There can be no simple answer; the best approach is simply to attempt to describe the situation here. A comprehensive description likely would require dozens of stories spread over months of research. Today is the third day of eight days for me, so it is important that the reader understand that my ground situation awareness in the Philippines is not of the depth which I developed in Iraq, or am developing in Afghanistan. This writing is based on talking with soldiers over the past few years who have served here, and also after talking with dozens of veterans on the ground who are engaged in the current fight.