100 U.S. soldiers to frontline in freeing Burnhams
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo apparently doesn't want Weblog reporting on kidnapped American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham anymore. Too bad.
U.S. Special Forces troops are already in the Philippines assisting and training the military there in the fight against the militant Muslim Abu Sayyaf Group, which is holding the Burnhams. In February, however, at least 100 more American soldiers are arriving, and they won't be staying in training camps. The Philippine government is allowing them to go to the frontline, though it insists the American soldiers won't be allowed to fight. "Going to the frontline does not necessarily mean that they will be the ones going in direct contact with the enemy," said Gen. Diomedio Villanueva. "You aren't going to see American troops on the ground hunting the Abu Sayyaf. This is taking a more active support role for the Philippine military."
Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), who visited the Philippines last week to support the Burnhams, says the "no fighting" rule isn't serious. "We'll see what happens when the trainers are on the ground," he tells The Wichita Eagle. "You may see some on-the-job training."
"I don't believe there's anything mysterious about it at all," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday about American operations in the Philippines. But clearly, if American troops are going to the frontlines, they're going to be involved in combat. It's not like the Abu Sayyaf is only going to shoot at Filipinos. And Philippine military officials are already acknowledging this. "It could happen that there could be some accidents or they could be engaged by some terrorists," Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan said in a television ...1
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