The US Army Pacific (USARPAC) and the Philippine Army (PA) are conducting the annual bilateral training exercise, Salaknib 2023 (SN23).

An opening ceremony was held in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

The army-to-army exercise will see participation of approximately 3,000 troops from the USARPAC’s 25th Infantry Division (25ID) and the PA’s 5th Infantry Division, 7th Infantry Division, and 1st Brigade Combat Team.

Philippine Army chief lieutenant general Romeo Brawner Jr. was quoted by the Philippine News Agency (pna) as saying: “Indeed, there is much more we can learn from each other, and much more that we can do together, in the interest of Indo-Pacific security and wider security regional connectivity.”

He added: “In learning together, we enhance the capabilities and capacities to work together within the ever changing dynamics of global developments and Indo-Pacific concerns.”

The exercise, which will take place until 4 April, is intended to improve the readiness of the armed forces, boost relationships, and enhance interoperability between the 25ID and PA allies.

The participating personnel will train in a variety of military operations, such as various small-arms and manoeuvre live fire exercises (LFX), jungle training events, artillery, and mortar LFX events.

The troops will also take part in engineering and construction projects.

Philippine Army spokesperson colonel Xerxes Trinidad told pna: “The training audience will conduct bilateral exercises in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, and other venues in Central Luzon and Northern Luzon. ‘Salaknib”s first phase will precede Exercise ‘Balikatan’, slated for April 2023, while its second phase is scheduled for the third quarter of 2023.”

Last year, as many as 2,200 Filipino and US Army troops took part in the exercise.

The first iteration of the exercise was held in 2016.