Ambassador Goldberg’s Remarks for JSOTF-P Change of Command Ceremony (June 2, 2014)

JSOTF-P Change of Command Ceremony Remarks

Camp Navarro
June 2, 2014

I’d first like to thank the JSOTF-P command for inviting me to this ceremony.  It’s always an honor to recognize the contributions of America’s men and women in uniform.

Colonel McDowell, I commend you for keeping JSOTF-P ready and willing to respond to the many events that took place during the last year.

The U.S. military has a history of successfully working with international relief organizations and host nations to respond to those affected by natural disasters.

Following typhoon Yolanda, JSOTF-P not only built upon that history, but exemplified what success should look like. 

JSOTF-P was the first element of the U.S. Armed Forces to deploy to the typhoon stricken areas. Your assessment teams acted as the eyes and ears for multiple agencies, including the Embassy. 

By providing a picture of what was needed and where, JSOTF-P helped ensure that multiple agencies, both Filipino and American, were able to deliver humanitarian aid and disaster relief to those who needed it most. 

Your rapid response, long hours, and hard work throughout the calamity were key components to our success.  Our success, however, did not start in the hours and days after Yolanda struck.  It began long before that with years of cooperation and interaction.

During the last 12 years, as members of JSOTF-P have come in and out of the Philippines, you’ve gained the trust and earned the respect of our host nation partners. 

Your predecessors’ successes at building and maintaining relationships mean that you didn’t have to start at zero.  What they did, and what you continue to do, allows us to start with an established and respected rapport; creating a positive condition for the next person coming in. 

This was proven during the Zamboanga crisis, when Colonel McDowell had only been here for a short time. 

JSOTF-P provided vital information and communications assets to help protect the Philippine people in the midst of the siege. Your constructive relationships with military and civilian leaders were critical in enabling JSOTF-P members to provide situational awareness to the Embassy, and contributed to the arrest of over one-hundred fighters involved in this violent attack.

In fact, over the last year, JSOTF-P has assisted Philippine Security Forces carry out  multiple operations against criminal and terrorist elements operating in the southern Philippines—individuals and organizations that would disrupt the growth of peace and security in the region.

This past year’s success was built upon twelve years of previous U.S. Special Operations Forces partnership here in the Philippines. This enduring partnership has helped shape the events of today such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement recently signed between our two nations.

Colonel Brown, as the incoming commander I encourage you to continue advising and assisting our host nations partners, so together, we’re prepared for a wide range of challenges.

Besides being prepared for problems, continue to build a better tomorrow.  JSOTF-P civil affairs teams are conduits to building and maintaining relationships as they work with local governments, the AFP and the PNP. 

These positive associations have tangible results—JSOTF-P has assisted local partners in constructing schools, coordination centers, bridges and roads.  

Colonel Brown, a high standard has been set, but I have complete confidence that you and your staff will meet it.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to come here and express words of gratitude for the hard work you, our military members do, and the impact you make here in the Philippines.

Your actions continually demonstrate our concern and support for the people of the Philippines and validate the success we’ve seen over the last 12 years—and the success we will see in the future.