Philippine mission winds down
Associated Press library photo April 15, 2002
An American Special Forces soldier guards the landing zone as a U.S. Pave Hawk helicopter arrives at Philippine army headquarters on Basilan island. A six-month joint counterterrorism exercise between U.S. and Filipino troops on Basilan ends Wednesday, but planning for further operations is in the works. The exercise involved 1,000 U.S. Green Berets, military engineers and support troops. The exercise has helped weaken Abu Sayyaf rebels based on the island, but officials say the war against the al-Qaida-linked extremists remains far from finished.