Military's 2022 plan: New army division vs Abu Sayyaf in Sulu

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is creating a new infantry division specialized to hunt down Abu Sayyaf and other threat groups in Sulu, military spokesman Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo announced on Wednesday, December 5.

"The 11th Infantry Division (ID) is envisioned to be effectively and efficiently engage and decisively defeat the lingering security [threats] in Sulu in the soonest time possible," Arevalo said in a Camp Aguinaldo press briefing.

It will be fully operational in 4 years, or by 2022, he said.

The 11th ID is expected to handle 3 brigades, which consist of at least 1,500 soldiers each – or about 4,500 in one division. Some divisions in conflict areas have more than that.

Two brigades, two batallions, and two special force batallions are currently deployed to guard Sulu.

Why another infantry division? Sulu has stood out as a problem area for the AFP as it remains to be the stronghold of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.

The ASG allegedly orchestrated the Basilan van bombing on July 31 which killed 10 people.

Arevalo added that other bandit and criminal groups persist on the island despite intensified military operations under martial law.

The military spokesman said that they expect to have the 11th ID fully set up by 2022. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.