Philippines, US military starts Salaknib exercise
The Philippine and United States' military exercise, dubbed Salaknib was formally opened in a ceremony Wednesday morning.
1Lt. Catherine Hapin, public affairs chief of the 7th Infantry Division, said Friday the opening ceremony for the drill led by Brigadier General Lenard Agustin, commander of the 7th Infantry Division and US Army 7th Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Willard Burleson III was held at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.
“It is one of the two military exercises to be conducted with foreign forces this year,” she said.
Hapin said the exercise will be participated by the 1st Brigade Combat Team (1BCT) which was activated on December 15, 2018.
“Since 1BCT is only few months old, the Training and Doctrines Command (Tradoc) with the US Army counterpart shall design, develop, implement and evaluate training programs needed by the said unit for its planning and maneuver capability enhancements,” she said.
“Aside from the planning and maneuvers, one of the highlights of this year’s military exercises is the Humanitarian and Civic Action (HCA) activities of SABAK 2019,” she added.
Hapin said the HCA activities include the “construction of elevated one-storey, three-room concrete masonry unit building with comfort room and septic tank in Brgy. San Pedro, Moncada, Tarlac and construction of two-classroom building in Pag-asa Elementary School, Brgy. Pag-asa, Orani, Bataan.”
In a press release, the United States Embassy in the Philippines said “Salaknib is an annual, bilateral exercise sponsored by US Army Pacific and hosted by the Philippine Army. “
It noted that this year’s drill that will be joined by more than 1,600 soldiers will be conducted around the area of Fort Magsaysay, Palayan, and Nueva Ecija from March 4 to 24, 2019.
The US Embassy said the other activities are a jungle field training exercise, a bilateral Command Post Exercise , various Subject Matter Expert Exchanges, and Cooperative Health Engagements (CHE).
According to Hapin the “army-to-army training exchange between the Philippine Army and United States Army Pacific Command (USARPAC)” is “focused on enhancing the skill competencies of both armies in the conduct of field specialization in support to counter-terrorist operations.”
“Salaknib is the first phase Sabak 2019 which stands for Salaknib-Balikatan while Balikatan, the second phase of the military exercise, is an annual military-to-military training exchange between the Armed Forces of the Philippine and US Pacific Command (USPACOM),” she noted.
“The Visiting Forces Agreement signed in 1998 between the Philippines and the American government led to the establishment of the military exercises with the foreign forces. The series of bilateral exercises is annually planned in response to the challenges and needs of each country and designed to enhance the armed forces capability of both countries,” she added.
Hapin said Agustin also emphasized the importance of the exercises on the relationship of the two states as he welcome the participating forces.
“Being the administrator of Fort Ramon Magsaysay, it is both a pleasure and an opportunity for the 7th ID to welcome the participants of Salaknib and Balikatan 2019,” Agustin said.
“We hope that the exercises will not only strengthen the Philippine-US alliance but will contribute to the security and stability of our countries”, he added. Robina Asido/DMS