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Cablegate: Esg-1 Intervention On Tawi Tawi: A Template For

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MANILA 004225

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/EAP AND EAP/PMBS
SECDEF/OSD/ISA/AP FOR ALLEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MASS MOPS MCAP PTER PINS PREL EAID RP
SUBJECT: ESG-1 INTERVENTION ON TAWI TAWI: A TEMPLATE FOR
FUTURE CIVIC ACTION EFFORTS

1. (U) SUMMARY. The August 9-10 intervention by
Expeditionary Strike Group-1 (ESG-1) on Tawi Tawi represents
the type of targeted, innovative civil affairs effort needed
in the Philippines. We urge US Pacific Command to make these
operations a regular part of future ESG and other naval
deployments to the region. END SUMMARY.

A VULNERABLE AREA AND TERRORIST HAVEN
-------------------------------------

2. (U) The island of Tawi Tawi is the poorest province of
Mindanao, the Philippines' poorest region. It lies amid
traditional main smuggling routes in and out of the country.
Predominately Muslim, it has in recent years also become a
transit point and haven for Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Abu
Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists.

3. (U) A perception of governmental neglect reinforces
disaffection and aids Islamist radicals who promise a better
life in a transnational Muslim state. Helping the GRP
rebuild the ties with its populace is a critical nexus in
combating the terrorist threat on the island and in
disrupting JI and ASG infiltration routes.

TARGETED CIVIC ACTION PROGRAMS
------------------------------

4. (U) The August 9-10 civil/military intervention on Tawi
Tawi by ESG-1 consisted of focused medical, dental, and
engineering civic action programs (MEDCAPs, DENCAPs, and
ENCAPs) targeting the least served members of the community.
For two days, medical and engineering personnel from the ESG
and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit joined a team of medical
personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippine's (AFP)
Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), U.S. Joint Special Operations
Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), and several
non-governmental organizations to treat almost 3000 patients.
ESG personnel helped build furniture for two schools,
distributed more than 1000 text books, and identified 288
patients for elective surgery (e.g., correcting cleft palates
and crossed eyes) by Mabuhay Deseret, the largest surgical
charity in the Philippines.

5. (U) ESG-1 also distributed several thousand public health
brochures, Rewards for Justice handbills, and the US Embassy
pamphlet "Muslim Life in the Philippines." Outreach efforts
included a live radio interview and visits of local media,
educators, and civic leaders aboard ESG vessels.

OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE RESPONSE
--------------------------------

6. (U) The local response was overwhelmingly positive. US
military personnel were warmly received, with young people
proudly displaying their "Tawi Tawi MEDCAP" T-shirts. During
a recent USDAO visit to the island, a cross section of
residents continued to rave about the ESG-1's impact.

A TEMPLATE FOR FUTURE INTERVENTIONS
-----------------------------------

7. (U) The success of this effort represents a template that
should be duplicated. These types of programs bolster the
AFP's own ability to conduct civil/military operations
successfully -- one of the objectives of the Philippine
Defense Reform program -- as well as help to (re-)establish
the links between the Philippine government and people. A
well planned series of civic action interventions that is
appropriately coordinated with USAID efforts could reinforce
the efforts of the JSOTF-P, and, over the longer term,
directly and positively impact the counterterrorism fight in
the Sulu Archipelago and southern Philippines. We appreciate
the efforts of ADM Lefever, the commander of ESG-1, and his
sailors and Marines, and highly recommend US Pacific Command
consider future efforts targeting this strategic, yet
vulnerable area.

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

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