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The US Is Still Resupplying The Philippine Military

July 30, 2017

Stock image of US Air Force C-17 Globemaster. Via Wikimedia Commons.

As the battle of Marawi enters its third month the US lived up to its role as the Philippines’ favorite armorer. While the Duterte administration publicized a recent delivery of small arms from China the US has done more than its fair share bolstering the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its struggle against a local ISIS franchise.

The fighting in Marawi began on May 23 after hundreds of gunmen loyal to the so-called “Maute Group” stormed the Muslim city’s administrative buildings and partitioned its neighborhoods with roadblocks. The response from nearby army units was swift and when most of the local population fled the urban combat began in earnest. The ensuing chaos forced President Duterte, who was in Moscow at the time, to declare martial law over the entire island of Mindanao.

But what the Department of National Defense (DND) claimed was a brief clearing operation in May dragged on for three months with no end in sight.

Eight weeks later and the government reports 400 terrorists have been eliminated while a hundred AFP personnel lost their lives, with scores left wounded, in the fighting. Thanks to the speedy evacuation of Marawi civilian casualties are minimal at less than 50 killed in various circumstances.

But the street-by-street battle to retake Marawi required constant air and artillery bombardment that either strained or depleted the military’s existing ordnance stockpile. It isn’t surprising reports have surfaced of replenishment runs from the US straight to the Philippines.

The latest involved a C-17 Globemaster transport delivering pallets loaded with munitions crates to the Philippine military on July 29. According to the US Embassy in Manila the C-17 flight to Clark, Pampanga, unloaded 992 2.75 inch Hydra rockets with 1,040 rocket motors, 250 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and 1,000 40mm M203 underbarrel grenade launchers for its new owners.

The arrival of rocket-propelled grenade launchers means the Pentagon and the State Department are now equipping the Philippine Army with RPG-7’s reportedly sourced from Bulgaria. This confirms a long-running acquisition from several years ago. The RPG-7 in the Philippine Army’s hands is supposed to replace antiquated M67 recoilless rifle.

The US Embassy described the material support as “…part of a series of upcoming transfers from the US military to multiple branches of the AFP through both Mutual Logistic Support Agreement (MLSA) and the security assistance program.” This indicates additional air deliveries are forthcoming at unspecified dates. The non-stop assistance during the AFP’s time of need is undeniable proof the alliance between Manila and Washington, DC remains intact.

The type of material sent to the AFP differs from a previous flight conducted by a Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 in early July. The cargo plane traveled across the Pacific Ocean to an airbase in Tucson, Arizona, then returned to the Philippines carrying precision bombs and other ordnance. These were essential to the close air support provided by the PAF’s OV-10 Bronco and FA-50 attack aircraft for demolishing structures inhabited by Maute gunmen.

Below is the full press release from the US Embassy:

Manila, July 29, 2017 — Officials from the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) recently delivered 1,040 2.75” rocket motors and 992 2.75″ rockets to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) through the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA). These timely transfers greatly enhance the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) counterterrorism efforts. They are part of a series of upcoming transfers from the U.S. military to multiple branches of the AFP through both MLSA and the security assistance program. Through the MLSA, the AFP is able to receive select munitions and equipment from U.S. military stock in an accelerated process reserved for allies and close partners of the United States.

The munitions and weapons deliveries will enhance the AFP’s counterterrorism capabilities, and directly support AFP members actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines, including Marawi. Upcoming weapons deliveries include 250 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 1,000 M203 grenade launchers delivered to the Philippine Army through the security assistance program.

The United States is a proud and steadfast ally of the Philippines and will continue to provide support to the AFP’s long-term modernization goals and counterterrorism needs.

 

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