Teamwork is built on mutual trust and understanding how each member of the team functions. Salaknib, an annual exercise sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and hosted by the Philippine Army as part of the larger Pacific Pathways series of exercises, helps the U.S. Army and its Armed Forces of the Philippines allies get in step with each other should they be called into a conflict.
Part of learning to work together is sharing a working knowledge of tactics and techniques, even down what weapons each nation uses and how military working dogs are trained.
While out on the range, 1st Lt. Gamaliel C. Carin, Alpha Company Commander, 451B, 1st Brigade Combat Team, Philippines Army, explained how training with the U.S. and its weapon systems gives his troops a chance to see what their allies are capable of and how the U.S. uses its BCT teams effectively.
With U.S. and Filipino Soldiers working closely together, both are learning from each other. The practical experiences from combat in the south of the Philippines and the lessons from the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan are shared between each country.
"My Soldiers got an Improvised Explosive Device class this morning from the Filipino soldiers who have come back from conflicts in the south of their country," said Capt. Glendon McCallum, company commander of Co. C, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker BCT, 2nd Infantry Division. "Getting these sorts of hands on lessons and hearing personal stories are really valuable for my Soldiers. Hearing their experience fighting in their own country has brought it home."
Soldiers from the 520th Military Police out of Hawaii got to see how the Philippine army trains it's working dogs from puppies and how its dogs are also used for search and rescue, two things that aren't done in U.S. Military Working Dog program. The Filipino K-9 battalion likewise got lessons in how the U.S. prepares its dogs for duty on the battlefield.
"If this training happened every year it would greatly benefit both the U.S. and the Philippines K-9 programs," said Staff Sgt. Michael Holmes, the K-9 subject-matter expert and plans NCO for the MWD Detachment of the 520th MPs. "We have a lot to learn from each other."
On the range, infantrymen from both countries came together to shoot each other's weapons and to see how those weapon systems each deal with the unique island conditions of the Philippines. Beyond just learning each other's weapons, training together helps build bonds between Soldiers who may find themselves fighting side-by-side in a future conflict.
"I am very thankful we can have this exercise with the U.S. armed forces," said Carin, adding that this training helped build comradery between his soldiers and the U.S. Soldiers.
The strong partnership and deep bonds created through training together will continue to benefit both countries into the future.