US launches military drill in Indonesia amid tensions with China

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Thousands of soldiers from Indonesia, the United States and allied countries carried out a live-fire exercise on Friday as part of annual military exercises, coming as Beijing has just carried out, according to a senior American military official, “destabilizing actions” around Taiwan .

A week after the unprecedented Chinese exercises, Washington’s allies are heading into the Pacific. Thousands of troops from Indonesia, the United States and allied countries conducted live-fire drills on Friday as part of annual military exercises, according to a senior US military official. The United States said that this joint military exercise, which began on Monday August 1 and called “Super Garuda Shield”, did not target any nation.

The head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral John Aquilino, however, on Friday raised the specter of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait after China conducted its most important military maneuvers around the island. “Destabilizing actions by the People’s Republic of China applied to threatening activities and actions against Taiwan are exactly what we are trying to avoid,” Admiral John Aquilino said at a press conference after the exercise.

The United States and its Asian allies are worried about China’s growing weight in the Pacific.

Beijing last week launched unprecedented war drills around Taiwan, which it claims to be part of its territory, in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing democracy.

China’s week-long air and sea drills have pushed tensions in the region to their highest level in years. “Every day we try to prevent war,” Admiral Aquilino said.

At least 4,000 troops in long-planned drills

The head of the Indonesian army, Andika Perkasa, however stressed that these annual exercises, scheduled until August 14, had been planned long before this rise in tension in the strait.

They take place on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Riau Islands, a province of the country made up of scattered islets near Singapore and Malaysia.

At least 4,000 American and Indonesian soldiers have been joined for this edition of “Super Garuda Shield” by forces from Australia and Singapore, as well as Japan, which is participating in the exercise for the first time.

Joint military forces fired Javelin anti-tank missiles while Apache helicopters performed maneuvers, firing volleys of machine guns and rockets into a hilly training area.

On Friday, only Australian and Singaporean forces joined US and Indonesian troops. Canada, France, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Great Britain are participating as observer countries.

With AFP

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