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NEWS | April 4, 2024

US, Philippine armies enhance interoperability and defense capabilities during Salaknib 24 exercise

By Capt. Ryan DeBooy, U.S. Army Pacific Public Affairs Office

In a significant effort to bolster relations and underscore mutual dedication to regional security and stability, the United States Army and the Philippine Army are conducting Salaknib 24. This critical bilateral military exercise underscores the shared commitment of both nations to advance the modernization efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by enhancing our interoperability across all domains and reaffirming our dedication to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

An addition to this year’s iteration is the integration of the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC), marking the U.S. Army’s first regional combat training center (CTC) in the Indo-Pacific region, with a primary focus on addressing the distinctive challenges of the remote, rigorous, and austere environments. With the integration of JPMRC-X (exportable) in the Philippines, Salaknib 24 marks the debut of the most comprehensively equipped JPMRC exercise, featuring the fully instrumented JPMRC capability deployed west of the International Date Line.

“The integration of JPMRC with the Armed Forces of the Philippines during this year's iteration of exercise Salaknib underscores our unity and collective commitment to a safe, stable, and secure Indo-Pacific. This not only fortifies our mutual defense capabilities but helps to deter present and future challenges in the region," said Gen. Charles Flynn, commander of U.S. Army Pacific.

The execution of JPMRC-X in the Philippines is focused on supporting the Philippine Army’s development of its Combat Readiness Training Area (CRTA) at Fort Magsaysay and is conducted with a brigade from the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division, in coordination with the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division and 196th Infantry Brigade. The JPMRC rotation will occur from June 1 to 10, 2024, facilitating a platform to build capacity between our militaries through shared experiences and training and further develops our combined combat capabilities to defend a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Alongside JPMRC-X in the Philippines, a pivotal aspect of this year's exercise is the first deployment of the 1st Multi-Domain Task Force’s Mid-Range Capability (MRC), a land-based, ground-launched system that supports multi-domain fires. This deployment aims to enhance Philippine maritime defense capabilities, while bolstering interoperability and readiness within the U.S.-Philippine Alliance. During last year's Halifax International Security Forum, Flynn disclosed that MRC would rotate into the theater sometime this year.

"The inclusion of MRC, combined with our subject matter expert exchanges, is crucial for deepening our partnership. These efforts enhance our interoperability and demonstrate our shared commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific," remarked Brig. Gen. Bernard Harrington, commander of 1MDTF.

The deployment focuses on enhancing interoperability, readiness, and defense capabilities in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In addition to MRC, the All-Domain Operations Center Forward of 1MDTF, positioned in Northern Luzon, will serve as the central command node for its series of small, multi-domain cells dispersed across the Philippines.

During Salaknib 24, approximately 600 U.S. Army personnel will participate in the initial phase, and a projected 1,500 U.S. Army personnel in the second phase. In addition to JPMRC-X in the Philippines, Salaknib 24 will feature subject matter exchanges between the U.S. and Philippine Army to provide instruction and learn best practices in several key functional areas, including multi-domain operations, infantry operations, urban breaching, jungle operations, joint forcible entry, air and direct assaults, javelin, and anti-tank operations.

Salaknib 24 directly supports the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and USARPAC efforts in enhancing bilateral U.S. land power capacity and capabilities for joint operations. By bolstering our collective readiness with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Salaknib improves our operational capabilities and strengthens the longstanding and strong U.S.-Philippine Alliance, displaying our dedication to a free and open Indo-Pacific.