(The Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is pulling the Marines out of Sulu as it passes on to the Army the responsibility of dealing with the Abu Sayyaf bandits and other lawless groups operating in the island province.
Sources said from Sulu, the 2nd Marine Brigade under Brig. Gen. Martin Pinto would be reassigned to the provinces of Lanao.
The Army’s Special Operations Command (Socom) under Brig. Gen. Donato San Juan will take over the anti-terror and anti-crime operations in Sulu.
Aside from being a base of the Abu Sayyaf, Sulu has become the center of kidnapping activities by gangs who sell their victims to the bandit group.
“There’s no written order yet. The Marines were advised verbally to prepare to move to their new assignment anytime soon,” one of the sources said without explaining the reasons for the changes in the military’s field operations.
In June this year, six members of Socom’s Joint Special Operations Group were killed in a friendly fire at the height of fighting between the Marines and the bandits in Patikul. The military has created a panel to investigate the inciden
The Army and the Marines used to be deployed to Sulu as well as in Basilan at the height of the government’s anti-terror drive in 2008.
Later, under the AFP’s new Fleet-Marine concept, Army troops were pulled out from the island province and were redeployed in the mainland, leaving the Marines with the responsibility of combating the Abu Sayyaf.
With the return of the Army to Sulu, it is expected that the elite special forces, the scout ranger and the light reaction regiments will be redeployed in the area.
“We are professional soldiers. We will go wherever we are ordered to go by our commanders,” one Marine officer said when asked to comment on the impending transfer of the 2nd Marine Brigade. Source:http://www.philstar.com/nation/2014/08/17/1358288/afp-pulling-out-marines-sulu