Balikpapan – Indonesia and the United States began their annual joint military exercise code-named Garuda Shield in East Kalimantan on Wednesday amid the growing geopolitical tension in the region triggered by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
Unlike previous events, the current joint exercise involves all three branches of the Indonesian Armed Forces, according to Major Dimas Yamma Putra, commander of the Infantry Battalion 623 during the opening ceremony in the provincial capital of Balikpapan.
Furthermore, the exercises will be joined by service members from a number of countries either as participants or observers until its conclusion on August 14. They include Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Singapore, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and the United Kingdom, Dimas said.
The growing number of participating countries leads to renaming the exercise into "Super Garuda Shield."
"The Super Garuda Shield joint military exercise aims to promote regional and international cooperation and cultural interactions and to maintain military readiness among participating countries," Dimas said.
Co-organized by the Indonesian Army and the United States Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), the 16th Garuda Shield will employ military resources from participating countries in field training exercise, live-fire exercises, improvised-explosive devices disposal exercises, joint amphibious operations, and austere airfield operations, among other things.
The overall exercises will take place in East Kalimantan, South Sumatra, and Riau Islands.
"I'm proud to see how Garuda Shield has grown since last year – expanding this summer to a joint, multinational exercise that includes all of our service components," Gen. Charles Flynn, Commanding General of U.S. Army Pacific, said in a statement.
"It's a symbol of the U.S.-Indonesia bond and the growing relationship between land forces in this consequential region... because land forces are the glue that binds the region's security architecture together."
The US Embassy in Jakarta said the Garuda Shield exercise involves approximately 2,000 US troops, 2,000 Indonesian Army soldiers, and additional participants from partner nations.