Updated May 22nd, 2024 at 11:10 IST

Philippines Hosts First-Ever Joint Pacific Multinational Combat Training Center Rotation

The U.S. Army is exporting its Joint Pacific Multinational Combat Training Center (JPMRC) to the Philippines, aiming to bolster the country's defense strategy.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
JPMRC Philippines | Image:US Army
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Manila: In a significant move to bolster regional security, the U.S. Army is exporting its Joint Pacific Multinational Combat Training Center (JPMRC) to the Philippines. This initiative aims to enhance and modernize the defence strategy of the Southeast Asian nation. General Charles Flynn, U.S. Army Pacific commander, highlighted the Philippines' evolving defence operations during the Association of the U.S. Army’s LANPAC conference in Honolulu. “The Philippines’ concept of operations is shifting into one of the more territorial defence operations and they’re beginning to train with that,” Flynn said.  

The U.S. Army is setting up the JPMRC Exportable at Fort Magsaysay in central Luzon. This location, known for its jungle and special operations training, can accommodate large-scale collective training events. However, the Philippine Armed Forces currently lack a training centre comparable in scale to the JPMRC. The centre's setup is nearly complete, and the JPMRC rotation will commence this month, according to officials overseeing the project.  

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Balikatan and Salaknib Pave the Way for JPMRC Implementation  

Recently, U.S. and Philippine forces concluded significant joint exercises, including the initial phase of Salaknib and Balikatan, which ended on May 9. The second phase of Salaknib is starting, with the JPMRC X as a focal point. Major General Marcus Evans, U.S. Army commander of the 25th Infantry Division based in Hawaii, described the extensive joint operations conducted during Balikatan. “We executed long-range air assaults off the northern portion of Luzon with our 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and across the joint force projecting force into the islands in the Luzon Strait,” Evans explained.

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Evans further detailed the benefits of these exercises, stating, “Our experience with the Philippine Army, particularly their 5th Infantry Division and 7th Infantry Division over the past three months, has been exceptional. We will culminate this at the end of May, beginning of June with a Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center rotation forward in the Philippines, marking the first one west of the International Date Line.”  

U.S. Army Deploys Full Suite of Instrumentation to the Philippines  

The 25th Infantry Division, responsible for the JPMRC rotations in Hawaii, is deploying its full suite of instrumentation to the Philippines. This technology enables the collection of data and allows for real-time assessment and adaptation. “We will monitor our forces as well as the Philippine Armed Forces as they execute operations that simulate a combat environment,” Evans said. The U.S. Army previously took an exportable version of JPMRC to Australia for Talisman Sabre and to Indonesia for Super Garuda Shield, but this deployment includes the complete suite of capabilities.  

Evans emphasized the logistical challenges, noting the lack of infrastructure for such training in the Philippines. The U.S. Army is transporting towers with sensors and other equipment from Hawaii, using helicopters to set them up on mountains to collect training data. “It’s a Herculean effort,” Evans remarked. Over two weeks, observer controllers will provide after-action reviews using real-time data to enhance operational readiness.  

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Collaboration and Learning in a Jungle Environment  

The Army’s 25th Infantry Division, through Balikatan, is already integrated with the Philippines 7th ID headquarters. Brigadier General David Zinn highlighted the collaboration, stating, “There is a variety of expertise we learned from our Filipino partners. They understand the environment and human terrain very well, conduct civil affairs operations effectively, and adapt to the terrain quickly and tactically.”

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The JPMRC X will continue to participate in future Pacific exercises. “There are opportunities across Operation Pathways that we could look forward to in the future,” Evans said. Operation Pathways is a series of exercises conducted throughout the year between the U.S. Army and its Indo-Pacific partners and allies.  

Expanding JPMRC Rotations Across the Indo-Pacific  

The 25th Infantry Division will conduct its annual JPMRC rotation on Oahu and in Palau. The Army plans to take JPMRC to Thailand for the Cobra Gold exercise next year and back to the Philippines for future Balikatan and Salaknib exercises. General Flynn noted the growing demand for JPMRC capabilities, emphasizing the need for proper scheduling to accommodate requests.  

As the U.S. Army continues to support the modernization of the Philippine Armed Forces, the JPMRC Exportable initiative marks a significant step in strengthening defence ties and enhancing regional security in Southeast Asia. 

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Published May 22nd, 2024 at 11:10 IST