- The Garuda Shield joint training between Indonesia and the US will include more than a dozen countries, such as Britain, Australia and Japan
- The annual military exercise strengthens defence ties between the US and some Asia-Pacific nations, as tensions with China continue to spike in the region
The annual military exercises between Indonesian and US armies will include more than a dozen countries this year, officials said Sunday, as tensions with China continue to spike in the region.
The Garuda Shield joint training will see militaries from 14 countries – including Britain, Australia and Japan – participate in ground drills and beach-landing exercises from August 1-14 in Indonesia’s South Sumatra archipelago and the East of Borneo island, the Indonesian Army said.
A US official said thousands of soldiers will participate in the event, which would be “the largest” edition since Garuda Shield was established in 2009, Albert Tambunan, an Indonesian military spokesperson said on Sunday.
This year’s expansion of military cooperation signals an increase in defence ties between the US and some Asia-Pacific nations, with tensions flaring in the disputed waters.
The region abuts up to the flashpoint South China Sea – a vital waterway that Beijing claims almost in its entirety, and has been a key point of contention between several Southeast Asian nations and China during annual meetings.
But Ian Francis, chief of the Office of Defence Cooperation at the US embassy in Jakarta, called the expanded war games a “natural outgrowth of Indonesian military’s continuing capability and their willingness to work more broadly with partners”.
“This really demonstrates that the US has a growing security cooperation relationship with Indonesia,” he said.
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