By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA – Philippine Army (PA) troops in this year’s “Salaknib” exercises have grown professionally after receiving advanced weapons training.
“This year’s iteration of Salaknib featured the live firing of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the AT4-84 mm anti-tank weapon which provided an opportunity for PA soldiers to receive professional development and training on the use of these advanced weapons systems,” Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said in a statement Wednesday.
The first phase of “Salaknib” exercises concluded on Tuesday at the 7th Infantry Division parade grounds in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.
Trinidad said further development will be gained when PA and United States Army Pacific troops meet again for the second phase in the second quarter of this year.
5th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Audrey L. Pasia and Col. Michael A. Van Welie, the USARPAC’s 25th Infantry Division deputy commander for interoperability, served as the closing ceremony’s guests of honor and speakers.
The two senior leaders commended the 3,000 soldiers from the PA’s 5th Infantry Division, 7th Infantry Division, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and other enabler units; and USARPAC’s 25th Infantry Division who trained side-by-side in a spectrum of military operations.
“To our US friends and counterparts, congratulations and thank you for sharing your time and skills with us during the almost three weeks of our combined training here at Fort Magsaysay. To the members of the PA who participated in Salaknib, congratulations also as we have also shared with our counterparts our skills in our own kind of operational environment,” Pasia said.
“Salaknib”, which means shield in Ilocano, is an annual Army-to-Army exercise geared at strengthening the interoperability of Filipino and American soldiers in various military operations.
The combined exercise also reinforces the PA’s pivot from internal security operations to territorial defense operations.
“With the performance you’ve shown, I am confident that with the combat skills and knowledge we have acquired through this military exercise, we will be able to face the challenges that we may encounter in the future,” 7th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Costelo said. (PNA)