US-Indonesia Ready to Integrate Joint Military Exercises, Especially in the South China Sea

The Commander of the American Command in the Indo-Pacific, Admiral John C. Aquilino and the Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces, General Andika Perkasa, Monday (21/3) emphasized the urgency of integrating the joint military exercises that have been carried out so far. Both of them cited the success of the joint exercise “Garuda Shield” in August 2021 as an indicator of the importance of integrating this military exercise cooperation. “Garuda Shield” which took place in several parts of Sumatra, Sulawesi and Kalimantan for two weeks and involved at least 4,500 troops from both countries was said to be the largest exercise carried out by the two countries.

“Garuda Shield is an exercise between the Indonesian Army and the American Army, there are also exercises between the air forces such as Albatross and Rajawali, as well as exercises between the navy. We plan to make one exercise, not to eliminate training per batch, but want to make a more integrated exercise so that we feel the nuances of a combination from planning to implementation,” explained Andika Perkasa.

The Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces, General Andika Perkasa said that the TNI was ready to hold joint exercises with the United States armed forces to improve cooperative relations in the military and defense fields, March 21, 2022. (VOA/Indra Yoga)

The Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces, General Andika Perkasa said that the TNI was ready to hold joint exercises with the United States armed forces to improve cooperative relations in the military and defense fields, March 21, 2022. (VOA/Indra Yoga)

Over the years, Indonesia has held joint exercises with the United States, including Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) between the Indonesian Navy and the US Navy, Bomber Exercise between the Indonesian Armed Forces of the North and the US Navy, and Garuda Shield which involved the second Army. country.

Aquilino reiterated the purpose of the existence of the Indo-Pacific Command. “The United States has been operating in Pacific countries for a long time and will continue to do so in accordance with international law. We do this with many partners, one of them is Indonesia. The exercises we carry out together are designed to ensure that the objectives of the two countries’ exercises are achieved… Whatever we do is aimed at maintaining peace and stability in the region,” he explained.

US Supports Enforcement of International Rules in the South China Sea

Earlier in an interview with the Associated Press, Commander in Chief of American Command in the Indo-Pacific Admiral John C. Aquilino said China had armed at least three of the several islands it built in the South China Sea with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser equipment and weapons. jamming, as well as placing several fighter jets; an aggressive move in the disputed area. He added that this action was in stark contrast to the assurances President Xi Jinping had previously given that Beijing would not turn the artificial islands in the waters into military bases.

Answering reporters’ questions in Jakarta regarding the latest situation in the South China Sea, Aquilino emphasized, “The prosperity in this region over the last 80 years is based on free and open access to resources in accordance with international law and order. We support the application of this rule of international law for the security, stability and peace, and prosperity of all countries. One thing we do together is operate according to the rules of international law in order to preserve peace and stability.”

Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander of the Indo-Pacific Command listens to questions from journalists at a press conference held in Jakarta during his visit to Indonesia, 21 March 2022. (VOA/Indra Yoga)

Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander of the Indo-Pacific Command listens to questions from journalists at a press conference held in Jakarta during his visit to Indonesia, 21 March 2022. (VOA/Indra Yoga)

General Andika stressed that operations to defend Indonesia’s sovereignty and maintain security in the North Natuna Sea, which lies near the disputed South China Sea, will continue – with or without the help of other countries.

“Operations towards the North Natuna Sea are always carried out, apart from exercises and partnerships with other countries, we always carry out air and sea patrols with a budget from the TNI. Actually in terms of trying to maintain security in our territory which is our right and sovereignty has been going on for a long time. We use this partnership with the US to share information and evaluate our operations in the region.”

Regarding the Plan to Purchase F15, the US: We are waiting for Indonesia

Answering questions about the development of the planned sale of 36 F15EX fighter jets and military equipment to Indonesia worth 13.9 billion dollars or around 200.8 trillion rupiah, Aquilino said that he did not have certainty about when the sale process would take place.

“I was lucky enough to meet with the Indonesian Minister of Defense earlier (Monday, March 21) and together with General Andika, we worked with Indonesian officials to make a decision. The question of the F-15 is Indonesia’s choice. We are waiting for Indonesia. Our military has the same system so it can be operated very flexibly. This is Indonesia’s decision, and we are happy to support (whatever) it is,” he explained. [iy/em]