Search JSOTF-P Blog

Monday, September 28, 2009

JSOTF-P assists in rescue efforts during Manila flooding

By Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly
Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines Public Affairs
MANILA- Members of Joint Special Operations Task Force- Philippines assisted the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the rescue of 52 people affected by massive flooding during Tropical Storm Ondoy, (known as internationally as Ketsana) in Cainta, Metro Manila Sept. 27-28.

Navy SEAL Teams One and Seven, Naval Special Boat Teams 12 and 20, and U.S. medical personnel attached to JSOTF-P worked directly with AFP and the Philippines National Disaster Coordinating Council, rescuing people from rooftops, delivering food, and giving out medical supplies.

Rescue teams from JSOTF-P launched two F470 Zodiac boats in the flood waters of Cainta and worked through the night transporting people to schools, churches, and evacuation shelters. Teams also assisted with the rescue of a pregnant Filipino woman in labor, stranded in a flooded-out house.

"These people lost their houses, cars and might still be looking for family members. I wanted to do anything and everything I could do to help the Filipino people. I was glad I could be a part of the rescue efforts, “said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Jonathan Porter. Porter was a JSOTF-P medic on scene to provide direct medical care.

According to Philippines Disaster Management Services, the floods displaced hundreds of thousands of people and the most recent reports indicate that there are more than 100,000 people who have been relocated.

“The work the U.S. military did was terrific,” said Roman Romulo, Pasig City Congressman. “I was very thankful for U.S. support. Your teams were able to successfully go to Santa Lucia High School to help deliver food. It was a big boost that your people were helping us.”

On Sept. 26, JSOTF-P teams delivered 500 pounds of food to Santa Lucia high school. Additionally the following day, a civilian helicopter contracted by JSOTF-P unloaded and distributed an additional 4,000 pounds of food and water in Canita, northeast of Pasig city.

The response to Ondoy was a collaborative effort among Philippine civilian governmental agencies, the AFP, the people affected and assistance from Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines.

“I don’t think we could have done anything without the help of the Filipinos. They were just great in helping us. They had translators, guides, “ said Porter.“They were able to tell us where to go. When we were looking for a house, the police and local citizens would help us and the rescue was a collaborative effort among governmental agencies and the people affected,” he said.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

AFP and JSOTF-P Support Operation Smile, in TAWI-TAWI

TAWI-TAWI, Republic of the Philippines (Sept. 24, 2009) A Navy SEAL assigned to Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines assists a female doctor from Operation Smile Philippines in boarding a Mark-V special operations craft. JSOTF-P members from Task Force Archipelago (TF-62) transported the group of doctors so that they could perform 24 surgeries of cleft lips and pallets to patients in Tawi-Tawi Island, southern Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jerel Jones/Released)

By MCC(SW/AW) Jerel Jones
Joint Special Operations Task-Force-Philippines Public Affairs

TAWI-TAWI, Republic of the Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines and Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines provided medical supplies, security escorts, and transportation, enabling 10 civilian doctors from Operation Smile Philippines to perform 24 surgeries Sept. 23-26.

Located at Datu Halon Sakilan Memorial Hospital in the province of Tawi-Tawi, the event was a collaborative effort of many organizations, coming together for a greater cause.

“Without the help from the AFP and the JSOTF-P, this event may have not been possible,” said Rachel P. Halipa, president of the Rotary Club of Bongao, Tawi Tawi.At the hospital, doctors corrected cleft-lips and pallets of patients ranging in ages two to 65 years old. One patient, a 65-year-old man, was overcome with emotion after his procedure.

“Thank you, thank you. I no longer have to be looked at like some kind of a monster,” he said.

The supplies AFP and JSOTF-P supplied enabled the doctors to perform their surgeries and also aided in the patient’s comfort. AFP Marine Battalion Landing Team TWO (MBLT-2) provided cots and JSOTF-P distributed crayons, coloring books, stuffed animals, and various other toys for children recovering from surgery.

“When we work together we can do these great things, so we will continue working with the AFP and the local government units to provide these services for the people of the Republic of the Philippines,” said U.S. Army Capt. Peter E. Murphy, civil affairs team leader.

Since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile volunteers have treated more than 130,000 children born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities in 51 countries.

“It is because of the assistance of the AFP and JSOTF-P that the children will now be able to have a better childhood and a better life from the kindness of the hearts of the doctors that participated,” said Halipa.

JSOTF-P and AFP treat hundreds of patients at MEDCAP in Zamboanga

By Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly
Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines Public Affairs

090926-N-1008D-003 ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (Sept. 26, 2009) Col. Walter Cayce, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines command surgeon, provides basic medical care during a Medical Civic Action Program in the Campo Islam barangay in Zamboanga Sept. 26. JSOTF-P, working side-by-side with AFP counterparts, local government and health officials provided medical services to more than 600 patients in the Campo Islam barangay. (JSOTF-P photo by Mass Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly/released)

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines and members of Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines, working side-by-side with regional health officials, treated more than 600 patients during a Medical Civil Action Program Sept. 26 at the Cambo Islam barangay.

The MEDCAP was a collaborative effort among numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations, including Naval Forces Western Mindanao, Western Mindanao Command, 3rd Air Division, Camp Navarro General Hospital, 1306th Dental Dispensary, Naval Task Group “Central” 4th Civil Relations Group and local officials and health officers.

Amid torrential rain falls, numerous patients received dental extractions, circumcisions and were treated for other minor ailments. The city of Zamboanga provided the spaces for the medical teams to work in collaboration with John Spirig, Sr. Memorial Elementary School via the use of classrooms, tables, audio visual equipment and staging areas. Many of the school’s faculty members were on-hand, showing their support for the local community. The teachers normally work Saturdays, but instead hosted this event, enabling hundreds to receive medications, surgical procedures and routine care.

“We are really very, very grateful to the Naval forces, American forces for giving us assistance in terms of medical and dental. A lot of medicines were given today,” said Hadja Sarifa Muin Harvey, officer in charge of the elementary school.

Campo Islam was assessed by leaders at WESTMINCOM to be an area in need of these services.

“Before we conduct activities like this, we check the profile of the barangay or the target area. In this particular barangay, we looked into individual services that this community lacks and then provided services,” said Maj. Tauaon Macaumbos, organizer and civil military operations group commander, WESTMINCOM.

For Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Lashawn Jones, the project was especially meaningful.

“This project helps me see first-hand why we are here and how we can work with all of our partners to provide the Filippino people with a better way of life. For me it was very rewarding and gratifying that we could be here to do this,” said Jones.

Coloring and comic books, crayons, and candy were handed out to the children as they waited for their care. A few impromptu dance and singing performances also aided in supplying entertainment as people waited for treatment.

“The presence of the military doing this kind of thing is very good. It will promote understanding between the community and the military. This shows that the military is taking care of us,” said Datu Ahmad Narzad K. Sampang, barangay chairman.

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.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

JSOTF-P assists with Philippine Superferry search and rescue

By Lieutenant Lara Bollinger
Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines Public Affairs

A Philippine Navy patrol boat and an 11-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat operated by members of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines comb the waters looking for survivors Sept. 6, 2009 following the sinking of a Superferry off the coast of Zamboanga del Norte. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class William Ramsey)

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – The Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines dispatched five boats and a civilian helicopter Sunday to assist the Philippine Navy in search and rescue efforts after a Superferry—carrying nearly 1,000 people—capsized and sank off the coast of Zamboanga del Norte.

At the request of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, JSOTF-P sent two Mark V Special Operations Craft, two 11-meter Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) and a Maritime Support Vessel to assist Philippine Navy and Coast Guard rescue personnel. A civilian helicopter contracted by JSOTF-P also flew to the scene to provide search and rescue support from the air.

“The close relationship established between the U.S. forces and Philippine naval forces led to a quick and timely coordination of assets to support rescue efforts,” said Lt. j.g. Mike Ameche, one of the U.S. officers on-scene conducting rescue operations.

Members of U.S. Naval Special Boat Team 12, along with SAR swimmers from U.S. Navy Seal Team 7, conducted organized searches over 30 square miles for 11 hours, checking nearly 30 life rafts for survivors and scavenging relief supplies from the rafts to deliver to more than 100 survivors onboard a Philippine Navy vessel. The MSV crew provided 200 bottles of water for the U.S. teams to distribute with the relief supplies. Three JSOTF-P corpsmen were on hand to provide medical evaluation and treatment to injured survivors onboard.

“Many of the survivors suffered from dehydration and exposure, but of the 110 survivors onboard the Philippine Navy ship we only found three people who were injured,“ said Chief Petty Officer Jason Henry, one of the U.S. Navy corpsmen on scene.

One of the injured survivors, a 20 year-old female, was transported by U.S. Navy personnel from the Philippine Navy vessel to the MSV for medical treatment by JSOTF-P corpsmen.

JSOTF-P teams remained on site into the night to assist Philippine rescue forces in continuing search efforts. According to authorities, nine people died in the incident and several others were injured, while one person remains unaccounted for. The close coordination between Philippine Navy and Coast guard, U.S. military assets, and civilian craft led to the safe recovery of more than 950 survivors.

“Our contribution to the rescue effort was small, but we were glad to be able to assist," said Col. Bill Coultrup, JSOTF-P commander. "The success of this search and rescue effort is due to the incredibly quick and effective response by the AFP, the Philippine Coast Guard and the civilian vessels who came to the aid of the sinking ferry. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost their loved ones in this terrible incident."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

AFP, JSOTF-P dedicate school in Taglibi

PATIKUL, Philippines -- Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Marine Battalion Landing Team Five along with Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines joined local officials to turn over an Elementary School in Taglibi Barangay, Patikul, Sulu in a ceremony Aug. 26.

The new Datu Uddin Bahjin Central Elementary School (DUBCES) was funded and renovated by JSOTF-P to replace the original building, which was burned down by Abu Sayyaf militants while they held hostage three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross earlier this year. The loss of their only elementary school profoundly impacted the Taglibi community.

Teachers like Ustadz Tusop E. Asanual, local Imam and Arabic teacher at DUBCES, were deeply grateful for the new school, expressing the hope that this project brought to teachers and students.

"For teachers, it is also a part of our accomplishments, because without our request our dreams will not come true," Asanual said.

DUBCES was reconstructed by MBLT-5 using materials provided by JSOTF-P. The total cost of this project was approximately 470,000p.

This project is the second school that has been reconstructed this year by AFP and JSOTF-P after attacks by ASG. A third reconstruction is underway for Obal school in Sumisip, Basilan. Projects like these bring hope and security to communities that have been terrorized by local militants.

Following the ceremony, MBLT-5 soldiers also handed out books to the school children.