The Philippine Army (PA) and the US Army Pacific (USARPAC) are planning to hold large-scale ‘Salaknib’ training exercises in 2023, reported the Philippine News Agency.

The annual bilateral combined exercise Salaknib (‘shield’ in Ilocano) is held to keep Filipino and US troops battle-ready by developing tactical interoperability.

The two militaries are likely to engage more personnel in a series of exercises.

Philippine Army spokesperson Xerxes Trinidad in a statement said that planning delegations of the PA and USARPAC met in Hawaii.

During the meet, the officials reviewed mission statement, area of operations (AO), objectives, and exercise timelines.

The delegations also discussed an expanded 2023 edition of the combined Salaknib exercise.

The number of Philippine and US units participating in the training and the exercise area are expected to be revealed later, reported the news agency.

In March this year, as many as 2,200 Filipino and US Army troops took part in a 20-day training exercise held at 1st Brigade Combat Team headquarters in Fort Magsaysay.

The troops worked on building the capability of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, which is the primary combined arms and rapid deployment unit of the Philippine Army.

Philippine Army commander Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr said the combined training reflects the “long-standing bilateral relations” between the Philippines and the US.

The two countries aim to “maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific region”, Brawner added.

In April this year, the Philippine Army reactivated the Armor Division’s 1st Tank Battalion to strengthen its capabilities.