Army: US providing ‘technical assistance’ in Marawi operations
The United States has been providing “technical assistance” to the Philippine military’s ongoing operations in Marawi City.
“Some visited here for technical assistance,” Ltc. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesperson for the Army’s First Infantry Division, said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
He clarified that US troops are not participating in combat operations, but emphasized the commitment of both countries to fight terrorism.
“Meron agreement with the US counterparts in counterterrorism. Katatapos lang ng Balikatan recently; these are all pertaining to exercises, training, technical assistance. ‘Yun atin ang cooperation with US counterparts,” Herrera said.
(There is an agreement with the US counterparts in counterterrorism. The Balikatan exercises just finished recently; these are all pertaining to exercises, training, technical assistance. What we have is cooperation with US counterparts.)
The annual Balikatan exercises are part of a Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries signed in 1951. This year’s drills were held only last month, which focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
President Rodrigo Duterte wanted the Philippine-American exercises scrapped last year but was eventually talked out of it.
Only on Monday, the United States donated counterterrorism weapons, including pistols, machine guns and grenade launchers, to the Philippine Marines as part of its military assistance program. Some of these will be used in Marawi City.
The US was also said to be involved in the ill-fated Mamasapano incident in 2015 by providing “real-time intelligence support, training, equipment and humanitarian support.” The botched operation killed 44 Special Action Force troopers. JE