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Pacific News Minute: US, allies participate in joint combat exercises in Indonesia

Super Garuda Shield 22 Air Assault Operations
Capt. Kyle Abraham/16th Combat Aviation Brigade
A soldier assigned to the TNI-AD flashes the "shacka" in Baturaja, Indonesia on Aug. 8, 2022 during Super Garuda Shield 22. Super Garuda Shield, a part of Operation Pathways and a longstanding annual, bilateral military exercise conducted between the U.S. military and Indonesia National Armed Forces, reinforces the U.S. commitments to our allies, and regional partners, joint readiness, and the interoperability to fight and win together. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Kyle Abraham, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade)

Soldiers from the U.S. and allied nations joined a live-fire drill last week in Indonesia. It was part of annual joint combat exercises amid growing Chinese maritime activity in the Indo-Pacific region.

More than 5,000 personnel from the U.S., Indonesia, Australia, Japan and Singapore participated in this year’s Super Garuda Shield exercises, making them the largest since they began in 2009.

Nine other nations, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Papua New Guinea and East Timor sent observers to the exercises, which began on August First, on the island of Sumatra.

Chinese state media have accused the U.S. of building an Indo-Pacific alliance similar to NATO. Government officials in Beijing have said the purpose would be to limit China’s growing military and diplomatic influence in the South China Sea.

Increased activities by Chinese coast guard vessels and fishing boats around Indonesia’s Natuna Islands in the South China Sea in July 2020 prompted Indonesia's navy to conduct a large drill in the area.

Connie Bakrie is a security analyst at the University of Indonesia.

She says Indonesia saw the exercises with the U.S. as a deterrent in defense of the Natuna Islands. For Washington, the drills were part of efforts to show a united front against China’s military buildup in the South China Sea.

The joint combat exercises ended on Sunday.

Derrick Malama is the local anchor of Morning Edition.
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