Small Wars Journal

Filipino Troops Credit U.S. Intelligence, Training for Helping Them Beat ISIS in Marawi

Filipino Troops Credit U.S. Intelligence, Training for Helping Them Beat ISIS in Marawi by Seth Robson - Stars & Stripes

Filipino troops guarding the ruins of a city freed from Islamic militants last month said American training and intelligence gave them an edge against the 1,000 insurgents who fought to nearly the last man.

The Marawi battle zone — encompassing about half of a town once home to 200,000 mostly Muslim residents — is Southeast Asia’s version of Mosul, Raqqa or any other Middle Eastern city reduced to rubble by the Islamic State group’s bloody reign of terror.

After five months of fighting, the Philippine government declared victory in Marawi; however, it might be years before life there returns to normal.

On Wednesday, houses and shops in the battle zone were pockmarked with bullet holes and blackened by fire. Streets were full of rubble, the rusting wrecks of damaged vehicles and the bones of the dead. Soldiers said they pulled 23 cadavers from the zone earlier in the week.

Standing beside a downtown bridge across the Agus River that 13 Philippine Marines gave their lives to secure, Capt. Alex Estabaya said skills learned from American Green Berets were invaluable during the fight.

The Philippine Scout Rangers are experts in jungle warfare; however, U.S. Special Forces, including veterans of urban combat in Iraq, taught them close-quarters battle tactics during annual training exercises, said the 37-year-old 1st Scout Ranger Regiment officer.

“They had experience in Iraq. They showed us how to clear rooms and the basic principles of close-quarters combat — things like entering with a small number of personnel and operating in small teams,” he said.

Green Berets taught the Scout Rangers to exploit sensitive sites, a skill that helped them gather intelligence in Marawi, Estabaya added…

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