FORT MAGSAYSAY, Philippines - U.S. Army soldiers and Philippine soldiers conclude their annual bilateral exercise Salaknib 2023 (SN23) on April 4, 2023, at the “Grandstand” field on Fort Magsaysay.
The program consisted of remarks from Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Costelo, 7th Infantry Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Audrey L. Pasia, 5th Infantry Division Commander, Brig. Gen. Alvin V. Flores, Exercise Control Group Director, Col. James B. Fernando, the Exercise Control Group Chief Controller, and Col. Michael A. Van Welie, Deputy Commander for Interoperability, 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army.
Salaknib is an army-to-army exercise between the U.S. and the Philippine Army that has been held since 2016. Exercises like Salaknib increase military readiness, and interoperability, strengthen relationships and enhance and enrich the jungle warfare ability of both the U.S. Army and the Philippine Army.
During the ceremony, the senior leaders commended the 3,000 soldiers of both armies for their hard work, commitment, and training during SN23.
“I am confident that the combat skills and knowledge we have acquired through this military exercise, we’ll be able to face the challenges that we may encounter in the future,” says Maj. Gen. Costello.
After his remarks, he left the soldiers with a quote by H. Jackson Brown Jr. “the best preparation for tomorrow, is doing your best today.”
The U.S. and Philippine Army successfully executed over 20 subject matter expert exchanges or SMEEs.
For this SN23, we introduced new training and equipment including Javelin Weapon Systems, Silent Tactical Energy Enhanced Dismount (STEED) equipment, Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems (CUAS), Helocasting training, Fast Rope Insertion/Extraction System and Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction Systems (FRIES/SPIES), Chemical, Biological, Radiology, and Nuclear (CBRN) training and more. Every reoccurring exercise is an experiment opportunity where we can build upon our collective strengths.
SN23 also included another successful Jungle Operations Training Course (JOTC) instructed by our 25th Infantry Division Lightning Academy with 116 U.S. Army graduates and 29 graduates from the Philippine Army.
We simply continue enhancing our relationship, our partnerships, and our overall readiness for combined combat readiness with every following exercise.
“This commitment serves as an indicator of our resolve to work together, to meet and defeat shared threats to this region,” says Col. Van Wellie
“Our purpose as an Army in this region is to preserve peace and deter those who undermine that objective. To do this, frankly, we need to be mentally and physically prepared for conflict. We need to be comfortable operating in the region, we need to be able to sustain ourselves forward and we need to be experts at fighting together. Everything we have done and achieved over these last few weeks has served to build interoperability and readiness across our two armies.”
Col. Van Wellie concludes his remarks by reminding the soldiers of the purpose of exercises like Salaknib.
“What we do here matters. What we do builds ‘kapatiran’, the bond of brotherhood and sisterhood. They say, the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in battle… and I know we have sweat a lot!” says Col. Van Wellie.
Salaknib is a firm demonstration of the U.S. commitment to our long-standing alliance.