The Philippine Army (PA) has completed a three-week military drill dubbed as “Salaknib” Exercise 2021 with its counterparts from the United States Army held in Palayan, Nueva Ecija over the weekend.
Colonel Ramon Zagala, Army spokesperson, said 400 Filipino and American Army personnel participated in the bilateral exercise which ended on Sunday, July 31.
The drill was aimed at developing the PA’s capabilities by training in various warfighting functions “all geared to achieving combined arms approach in any type of mission,” Zagala said.
There were a total of 15 training events held during the exercise including urban operations; intelligence operations; combat engineers operations; indirect fires; medical planning; counter improvised explosive device (IED) operations; military police operations; K-9 operations; sustainment and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) defense development.
The exercise was completed a day after Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced last July 30 that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) will continue as President Duterte ordered the retraction of its termination. The President made the decision after he was met by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Malacanang last week.
The VFA, enacted in 1999, contains the guidelines and conditions where US military and civilian personnel can operate in the Philippines. Duterte threatened to terminate the military pact last year allegedly after the US government cancelled the travel visa of administration ally, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.
“With the continuation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, both armies expect to continue with the [Salaknib] exercise in the coming years,” Zagala said.
After the exercise, Zagala said soldiers from both countries expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to train with each other amidst the pandemic situation.