What the U.S. is doing right in the Philippines should be a lesson for what they are not doing right in other parts of the world:
The Philippine mission is a rarity in the U.S. war on terror: a largely successful counterinsurgency at minimal cost in lives and dollars.
Seventeen U.S. troops have died since the task force was established here: three in bombings, and the remainder in a helicopter crash or other non-combat incidents.
In that time, the number of Abu Sayyaf militants went from a peak of 1,200 in 2001 to about 400 today, according to the Philippine military.
Under an agreement with the Philippine government, the U.S. forces cannot engage in combat. However, with the help of U.S. intelligence, the Philippine military has killed or captured 28 Abu Sayyaf leaders, according to the Special Forces task force. Twenty-four remain at large.
Perhaps even more critically, the main Muslim separatist group is in talks with the Philippine government, leaving Abu Sayyaf more isolated than ever.
“Almost all the key leaders have been killed or captured,” Philippine Lt. Col. Roland Rodil said.