Fort Magsaysay, PHILIPPINES – Approximately 60 soldiers from U.S. Army Pacific Command, led by the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade, trained side by side with the Philippine Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team from July 9-31, 2021 at Fort Magsaysay as part of Salaknib ’21.
Salaknib is a Philippine Army-led, bilateral exercise sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific designed to contribute to and enhance U.S. and Philippine defense readiness and tactical interoperability while strengthening the relationship between the two longstanding partners.
“The U.S. has a deep, sustained alliance and partnership with the Philippines,” 5th SFAB’s Force Package 21-2 Commander, Lt. Col. Anthony Gore said. “It is a fundamental priority for the U.S. to continue enhancing our alliances and building on our existing partnerships through bilateral exercises like Salaknib.” .
The training focused around numerous subject matter expert exchanges involving disciplines like fire support, engineering, communications, military intelligence, how to counter improvised explosive devices, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives, and K-9 military working dogs.
“Our combined team of Philippine and U.S. Army participants during Salaknib ‘21 was grateful for every opportunity we had to train together during this 21-day exercise.” Force Package 21-2-I Operations Officer Maj. James Gibson said.
Joining the 5th SFAB at Salaknib were elements from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Command, and 8th Theater Sustainment Command’s 520th Military Police Detachment.
“Watching my Team Leader, a Captain, lead U.S. planning with his Philippine Army counterparts was impressive,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Frank, Senior Operations Advisor, Team 5212, 5th SFAB. “However, it wasn’t until getting to witness the culmination of all our combined efforts during Salaknib ‘21, that I truly realized the art of multinational operations.”
The 5th SFAB began sending Soldiers to the Philippines earlier this year as part of a concerted effort to maintain a consistent presence in the Indo-Pacific.
“Salaknib ‘21 provided an opportunity to continue to build relationships, share experiences, and increase trust as we strive to maintain and enjoy the benefits of an environment that safeguards security, stability, prosperity and peace in the Indo-Pacific,” Lt. Col. Gore said.
The brigade plans on sending teams to the Philippines periodically to enhance the longstanding partnership between the two nations and set conditions for major exercises like Balikatan and Salaknib, held annually in the Philippines. The exercise was the first time the U.S. Army’s 5th SFAB served as an exercise lead for USARPAC.