AP

US, Indonesia hold joint military drills amid China concerns

Aug 2, 2022, 8:30 PM | Updated: Aug 3, 2022, 2:59 am

U.S. soldiers walk during annual joint combat exercises in Baturaja, South Sumatra province, Indone...

U.S. soldiers walk during annual joint combat exercises in Baturaja, South Sumatra province, Indonesia, Wednesday, Aug 3, 2022. The United States and Indonesian militaries began annual joint combat exercises Wednesday on Indonesia's Sumatra island, joined for the first time by partner nations, signaling stronger ties amid growing maritime activity by China in the Indo-Pacific region. (AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The United States and Indonesian militaries began annual joint combat exercises Wednesday on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, joined for the first time by participants from other partner nations, signaling stronger ties amid growing maritime activity by China in the Indo-Pacific region.

More than 5,000 soldiers from the U.S., Indonesia, Australia, Japan and Singapore were participating in this year’s exercises, making them the largest since the drills were established in 2009. The exercises are designed to strengthen interoperability, capability, trust and cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta 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,” Gen. Charles Flynn, Commanding General of U.S. Army Pacific, said in the statement. “Because land forces are the glue that binds the region’s security architecture together.”

Flynn and Indonesia’s Military Chief Gen. Andika Perkasa opened the joint drills with a ceremony on Wednesday morning in Baturaja, a coastal town in South Sumatra province. The exercises will last until Aug. 14, encompassing army, navy, air force and marine drills.

The planned two-week drills opened after China’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday night it would conduct a series of targeted military operations to “safeguard national sovereignty” in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to self-governed Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory to be annexed by force if necessary.

China has also been increasingly assertive over its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea.

U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the number of intercepts by Chinese aircraft and ships in the Pacific region with U.S. and other partner forces has increased significantly over the past five years, and the number of unsafe interactions has risen by similar proportions.

“The message is the Chinese military, in the air and at sea, have become significantly more and noticeably more aggressive in this particular region,” Milley said last month during a trip to the Indo-Pacific that included a stop in Indonesia.

Milley said Indonesia is strategically critical to the region and has long been a key U.S. partner. Earlier this year, the U.S approved a $13.9 billion sale of advanced fighter jets to Indonesia. And in Jakarta last December, Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed agreements for enhanced joint naval exercises between the U.S. and Indonesia.

While Indonesia and China enjoy generally positive ties, Jakarta has expressed concern about Chinese encroachment on its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety.

The U.S.-Indonesia military exercises coincided with Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan late Tuesday, as the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island. Beijing views visits by foreign government officials as recognition of the island’s sovereignty.

Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force is participating for the first time in the exercises, saying it promotes a “free and open” Indo-Pacific vision of security and trade with the U.S. and other democracies in the region.

The expanded drills are seen by China as a threat. Chinese state media have accused the U.S. of building an Indo-Pacific alliance, similar to NATO, as a means to intentionally provoke conflict.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and Coll...

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday.

2 days ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

2 days ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

2 days ago

Donald Trump appears in court for opening statements in his criminal trial for allegedly covering u...

Associated Press

Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York over alleged hush money payments started with opening statements on Monday.

2 days ago

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

5 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

US, Indonesia hold joint military drills amid China concerns