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Friday, September 11, 2009

JSOTF-P honors the fallen in 9-11 ceremony

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – Service members from the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines held a ceremony at Camp Navarro today to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Eighty JSOTF-P service members gathered for the remembrance to reflect on the 2,974 people from 90 countries that lost their lives that day and to honor the memory of the service members who have given their lives in the eight years since.

The ceremony began at 8:46 a.m., the exact time that the first attack occurred on the World Trade Center in New York. In his remarks, the JSOTF-P commander stressed that the attacks were a signal to countries around the world that they could no longer turn a blind eye toward the threat of international terrorism.

“9-11 was not only a wakeup call for the U.S. but a slap in the face to other countries because of what was being done within their territory,” said Col. Bill Coultrup, JSOTF-P commander.

The colonel urged the men and women of JSOTF-P to remember their purpose, reminding them that the 9-11 masterminds had previously attempted to carry out a similar operation against the United States in the 1990s, an operation which they planned from the Philippines. While the Philippine National Police were able to break up the plot, it was an indication that the Philippines was a real area of concern for U.S. national security.

Since JSOTF-P was established in 2002, Coultrup said the task force’s presence in Mindanao has dramatically handicapped terrorist activities in the Philippines by strengthening the capabilities of Philippine security forces, helping them root out terrorist groups and deliver humanitarian assistance to those in need.

"We are here to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, that they don’t attack the U.S., and they don’t attack the Philippines. We do this by helping the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to bring peace and prosperity here and remove those breeding grounds for terrorist attacks.”

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