| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Indonesia, U.S. to hold military exercise amid heightened Indo-Pacific tensions

A senior U.S. military source said on Friday that 4,000 soldiers, largely from Indonesia and the United States, will perform a combined military exercise next week to highlight “the significance we have on a free and open Indo-Pacific area.”

The biennial “Super Garuda Shield” exercise takes place amid a backdrop of heightened tensions with China over the latter’s growing aggressiveness in the region, which the United States described as “much larger in scope and size than prior exercises.”

But Major General Stephen G. Smith, who will be directing operations on the ground in the exercise, told reporters in Jakarta on Friday that the drill should not be seen as a response to any tensions.

“This exercise is not a threat or should not be viewed as a threat to anybody, anywhere. This is a purely military-to-military exercise,” he said.

Tensions and rhetoric flared this week amid reports that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned to visit Taiwan as soon as August. But U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping managed largely to steer clear of escalation in a call on Thursday, suggesting that neither side – preoccupied with economic woes at home – wants a fresh crisis across the Taiwan Strait.

The regional exercise is set to last from Aug. 1 to 14 on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan and will also involve troops from other countries including Singapore, Australia and Japan, which is joining the drill for the first time.

  • Reuters