Greetings, SoA recently provided critical support to the US military and their Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) partners working to support the fight against ISIS and violent extremism in the Philippines. We first told you about this effort here. Over the past four months, the AFP has been engaged in fierce urban combat to retake the city of Marawi from ISIS-affiliated fighters who seized control in late-May. The battle has been more intense and prolonged than expected, leading to higher casualties, depleting AFP medical supplies, and displacing more than 400,000 people. A US Army Civil Affairs team and US Marine Corps advisors are in the area supporting the AFP and the Filipino government in their efforts to retake the city and address the growing humanitarian crisis. These teams identified critical gaps to which Spirit of America was able to respond, providing much-needed support to this important effort. First, Spirit of America provided more than 800 sleeping mats and blankets for displaced families. These supplies not only alleviated the suffering of the most vulnerable families and protected them from the elements but they also, in the words of the US Civil Affairs Team Leader, “helped build trust and relationships between all the local stakeholders.” This trust is essential as the battle continues, families remain displaced from their homes, and frustrations mount. The US military Commander overseeing all US Special Operations in the Philippines stated, “Spirit of America’s purchase of 800 blankets and sleeping maps for displaced persons…had an immediate positive impact on displaced civilian health and welfare. The small but meaningful project helped cement our partnerships with Philippine military and government organizations facing relentless threats from violent extremism.” Spirit of America also responded to a critical shortage of medical supplies at frontline AFP trauma centers. These facilities work around the clock to treat casualties, both military and civilian, as they pour in. The fierce fighting and constant flow of wounded persons quickly depleted their medical provisions. However, working with the US Marine medic advising the APF, SoA was able to provide the most critical supplies where they could provide the most benefit. The Team Leader for the US Marine Corps advisors noted that, “The medical supplies donated by the Spirit of America were delivered directly to the troops engaged in this bloody battle, significantly increasing their ability to treat the wounded and preserve the lives of these warriors.” He continued, stating that our “contributions to the Philippine Army have directly increased their ability to win this fight,” and that this effort, “undoubtedly saved lives here.” With your continued support and generosity, Spirit of America can continue to rapidly provide this critical support to our partners working on the frontlines to defeat ISIS and further US efforts and ideals around the globe. All the Best, Chris VJ
Chris is a US Army veteran having served as an Armor officer with a deployment to Baghdad in 2008-09 and then as a Special Operations Civil Affairs Officer with multiple deployments to Nepal in 2011-12.