JAKARTA, Indonesia — Soldiers from the U.S., Indonesia and five other nations began annual training exercises Thursday on Indonesia's main island of Java while China's increasing aggression is raising concern.
American and Indonesian soldiers have held the live-fire Super Garuda Shield drills since 2009, and Australia, Japan and Singapore joined last year. The United Kingdom and French forces are participating in this year's exercises, with a total of about 5,000 personnel.
China sees the expanded drills as a threat, accusing the U.S. of building an Indo-Pacific alliance similar to NATO to limit China's growing military and diplomatic influence in the region.
Brunei, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, South Korea, and East Timor also sent observers to the two-week exercises in Baluran, a coastal town in East Java province.
The commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, Gen. Charles Flynn, said the 19 nations involved in the training are a powerful demonstration of multilateral solidarity to safeguard a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
“Super Garuda Shield 2023 builds on last year's tremendous success,” Flynn said in a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on Tuesday, “This joint, multinational training exercise displays our collective commitment and like-minded unity, allowing for a stable, secure, and more peaceful, free and open…