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Cablegate: Scenesetter for General Bryan Brown

VZCZCXRO5138
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0977/01 0850839
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 260839Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RHMFIUU/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5835
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNS/COMSOCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000977

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USSOCOM FOR GENERAL BROWN FROM AMBASSADOR KENNEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR MASS MOPS MCAP PREL RP
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR GENERAL BRYAN BROWN

1. (SBU) General Brown, welcome back to the Philippines! A
lot has changed since you visited in 2005. The Armed Forces
of the Philippines is demonstrating impressive combat prowess
in ongoing operations against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah
terrorists on the island of Jolo. You will have a chance to
see some of these improvements yourself on the ground during
a day-trip to Jolo where you will meet Brigadier General
Rafael (who has been selected for his second star), the Task
Force Comet commander, and Lieutenant General Cedo, commander
of Western Mindanao Command. An office call with Secretary
of National Defense Ebdane will allow you to take the pulse
of the new Defense Secretary, who assumed office on February
1. Your dinner with Chief of Staff General Esperon, a former
commander of the Philippine Special Operations Command,
should provide the opportunity for a frank, productive
exchange with this soldier's soldier. At all your meetings,
we ask that you raise our concerns over unlawful killings,
some of which have been attributed to the military and
police. We'll have a chance to exchange views over a private
dinner at my residence at the start of your visit.

INCREASED COMBAT PROWESS
------------------------

2. (SBU) With U.S. support, the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) has begun to demonstrate impressive combat
prowess in its ongoing anti-terrorism campaign on the
southern island of Jolo. AFP troops -- including Soldiers,
Sailors, Airmen, and Marines -- have remained engaged in
sustained action against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah
terrorists since August 1, 2006. Successful operations have
hammered away at the terrorists and led to the deaths of
Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Solaiman, the top two leaders of
the Abu Sayyaf Group

3. (SBU) You will have the chance to see for yourself on
Jolo the close interaction between Joint Special Operations
Task Force-Philippines and Task Force Comet and the other
forces of Western Mindanao Command. U.S. special operators
are providing critical intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance support. Combined U.S.-Philippine civic
action missions are working to shape the battlefield and peel
the terrorists away from the population. U.S. planners are
helping the AFP refine efforts to track down the remaining
terrorist leadership, including Dulmatin and Umar Patek, the
two Jemaah Islamiyah bombers responsible for the 2002 Bali
Bombings. Military Information Support Teams (MIST) have
played an extremely important role in supporting the Rewards
for Justice program by encouraging individuals to step
forward with critical information that led to the military
operations against Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Solaiman. A
MIST public awareness campaign on the dangers of improvised
explosive devices has saved civilian lives and prompted Jolo
citizens, including children, to tell the AFP where bombs are
hidden.

COMMITMENT TO DEFENSE REFORM
----------------------------

4. (SBU) Much of the success on Jolo can be traced to the
Philippine Defense Reform Program, which is transforming the
Philippine military into a more transparent, accountable, and
effective institution. This U.S.-supported effort aims at a
complete restructuring of the military establishment ranging
from personnel management and logistics to acquisition and
training. With the advice of the Joint U.S. Military
Assistance Group and a 13-member team of U.S. experts, the
AFP and Department of National Defense have already
registered significant gains. Improved operational readiness
rates for aircraft and vessels, casualty treatment, night
helicopter medical evacuations, and tactical field skills on
Jolo are directly attributable to U.S. training, advice, and
assistance. U.S. Special Force troops are helping jump-start
the newly begun Battalion Retraining Program, which will
retrain all 72 Army and 12 Marine battalions.

URGING ACTION AGAINST UNLAWFUL KILLINGS
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Six soldiers have been charged with involvement in
the killing of local leftists, journalists, and others.
Opposition groups claim more military involvement; no one has
been convicted to date. The killing of civilians by security

MANILA 00000977 002 OF 002


forces without corresponding prosecution greatly undermines
the rule of law, creating a culture of impunity that itself
undermines democracy. We have consistently urged our
Filipino counterparts to address the problem squarely,
investigate the allegations of Philippine military
involvement, and hold any perpetrators accountable. They
have taken important steps, such as establishing a
presidential commission, a police task force, and a military
human rights office, but more could be done. Your trip is an
opportunity to reiterate to senior military leaders the need
to take decisive action to resolve the issue of unlawful
killings, which threatens to tarnish the impressive victories
the AFP is winning in the field.

Visit Embassy Manila's Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm
KENNEY

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