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TURNING POINT: Rethinking the War on Terror

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/ 30 January) – The state security forces ought to rethink its strategy in fighting terrorism to avoid the repeat of the embarrassing and devastating  Marawi siege. Although the situations are hardly similar, by all indications the AFP strategy will remain the same: overwhelming the enemy  with a greatly superior number of combatants and war material.  Reportedly, 5,000 troops were already unleashed to pursue and overwhelm a band of Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the thickness of the Jolo jungle. This knee-jerk move invites incalculable disaster to the pursuing troops. The soldiers are likely unfamiliar with the terrain and their huge number make them very target for ambush.  An infantry even with air support has no match to the hit- and- run combat of the ASG, who is home in the Jolo jungle..

You cannot defeat terrorists with conventional war strategies.  Terrorists should be fought the way they fight but in much better fashion. Not an infantry but an elite  Gurgkha-like trained commando force is needed to hunt and pursue them wherever they may scamper. If a number is captured they should be treated in the same manner they treat their victims, or much more to paralyze in fear the survivors in the run.

The rule of engagement with terrorist is the doctrine of “lex talionis,” an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” There is no other way. Terror is the only antidote for terror. The Gurgkha commando way of paralyzing the will and the spirit of the communist guerrillas during the formative years of Malaysia might be effective in eliminating jungle-camping terrorists.

The ASG terrorists are very mobile target. Once they are disadvantaged in the jungle, they could easily retreat, blend and disappear into the community. The community becomes hostage and shield.  This tricky situation may demand an  Israeli-commando strategy to extract  targets without incurring unnecessary cost to the civilian community in lives and properties. The latest Marawi debacle and the burning of Jolo in 1974 to flush out the MNLF rats must not repeat.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines)

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