Tactics aimed at countering terrorist activities in the Philippines changed significantly in June, after a Filipino citizen carried out the first suicide bombing there.
Before the attack, U.S. and Philippine officials had believed that the country’s citizens were generally averse to suicide attacks, the Defense Department’s inspector general stated in an Aug. 9 report on Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines.
The U.S.-supported operation is aimed at helping the Philippine government fight ISIS and other terrorist organizations. The report addressed activities that took place this year from April 1 to June 30.
Before the attack, officials in both countries also believed that militants there “simply adopted the ISIS ‘brand’ without its ideology,” the report stated.
The Philippine government also had trouble quelling the terrorist fund-raising tactic of kidnapping persons and demanding ransoms, according to the report.
The report also cited the annual Balikatan military exercise that took place in April, involving 7,500 troops from both countries. Now in its 35thyear, Balikatan included counterterrorism, maritime security, close-air support and amphibious operations, as well as humanitarian missions and civic assistance.
The report noted that the U.S. anti-terrorism thrust in the Philippines is not simply a military enterprise. As Balikatan was happening, and throughout the year as well, the State Department oversaw training sessions with Philippine law enforcement entities.
Additionally, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided funding to rebuild communities. The agency estimated that terrorist-related violence displaced as many as 51,000 Filipino citizens in the southern part of the country. Thanks to the construction projects, the report stated, many of them were able to return home.