US may send more troops for next year's Salaknib drill
The United States is eyeing to send more troops next year to expand the army-to-army exercise with the Philippines dubbed Salaknib 2020.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Philippine Army spokesman, said Salaknib 2020 was discussed when Maj. Gen. John Johnson United States Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) deputy commanding general paid a courtesy call to the Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto last Monday.
Zagala said during the call the “Philippine Army presented its organization development and updates on Sabak 2019 while USARPAC presented its plans in the Pacific for 2020 including Salakanib and Defender Pacific 2020.”
He said “Johnson, as he presented the USARPAC briefing, highlighted a proposed concept to conduct a large-scale exercise for Salaknib 2020.”
“This is all about making us more ready, and whatever challenges the future might hold. We are committed to this region, the design of (Salaknib 20200 exercise is purposeful in demonstrating that commitment,” Johnson said.
Zagala said the planned expansion of the exercise includes deployment of more troops for next year’s exercise.
“The USARPAC sent a brigade minus force composed of less than 1000 troops during the Salaknib 2019. There is a proposed concept to expand the Salaknib through the participation of more troops from the USARPAC. Under the proposed expansion, they shall send a whole Brigade composed of about 1,700 troops for Salaknib 2020,” he said.
Zagala said this year’s Salaknib exercise which was conducted from March 1 to 31 was participated by Philippine Army’s 1st Combat Team which is composed of around 1,800 personnel and 90O others from 520(th) Infantry Striker Battalion of USARPAC.
“The Army, as part of its modernization and reorganization, will organize territorial defense divisions with brigade combat teams as its main maneuver force. The Philippine Army participates in exercises with the USARPAC to gain knowledge necessary for the capability development of its own Brigade Combat Team,” he said.
“In December 2018, the Philippine Army have activated its 1st Brigade Combat Team. The Command intends to activate its 2nd Brigade Combat Team this year,” he noted.
Zagala said Salaknib, an Ilocano word meaning shield, is a bilateral exercise between the Army and USARPAC that started in 2015. Robina Asido/DMS