‘This is not only to counter terrorism and insurgency but more on humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions’

The activation of military joint task forces (JTF) is aimed not only to expedite combat responses against enemies of the state, but more importantly during disasters, a military official yesterday said.

Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Public Affairs Office (AFP-PAO), said the decision to activate JTF in various areas throughout the country was made by the military top brass to enable quick responses during combat and disaster responses.

Under the JTF set up, Detoyato explained that most senior commander, usually Army major general, could utilize all military resources under it, including naval and air assets.

Without the JTF, he said that the Army commander still needs to get the approval of military unified commanders for the dispatch of naval and air assets.

“With the joint task force setup, Navy and Air Force assets are place under the control of the most senior commander which is the division commander. They can be readily available when you need them for immediate response,” Detoyato said.

“He (division commander) can directly order for the dispatch of naval or air assets, so coordination is much easier and there is synchronization of operations,” he added.

Detoyato stressed that the JTF setup will not only be advantageous during combat operations against enemies of the state or counter terrorism mission but more importantly during disaster response.

“This is not only to counter terrorism and insurgency but more on humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions,” Detoyato said.

He cited the recently activated JTF Bicolandia which has jurisdiction over the Bicol Region which is prone to typhoons and other natural calamities.

According to Detoyato, naval and air assets are as vital as Army troops during humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations.

“Logistics run is key during HADR operations so we need all available assets — land, air and sea, to provide proper and timely responses,” he said.

Detoyato said that with JTF Bicolandia, the military’s 9th Infantry Division (ID), under Maj. Gen. Jesus Mananquil Jr., can now easily and immediately respond to any emergency.

The same applies with the JTFs Sulu and Basilan, which are battling the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group; JTF Central in Central Maguindanao; JTF Zampelan, among others.

“Practically, it is an integration of all military units in one area to ensure prompt and well-coordinated responses,” Detoyato said.