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Super Garuda Shield exercise showcases multinational partnerships, interoperability

Gusty Da Costa

The cornerstone of the military partnership between Indonesia and the United States was on display August 1-14, 2022, as Super Garuda Shield represented one of the largest multinational exercises in the Indo-Pacific.

Super Garuda Shield 2022 had more than 4,000 combined personnel, including from first-time participants Australia, Japan and Singapore. It also featured the first trilateral airborne jump among Indonesia, Japan and the U.S.

Observer nations included Canada, France, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, South Korea and the United Kingdom. (Pictured: Paratroopers with the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Indonesian National Armed Forces and U.S. Army’s 2-11 Infantry Regiment conduct an operation with the U.S. Air Force’s 36th Airlift Squadron to kick off Super Garuda Shield in August 2022.)

“When we’re together like this, we are stronger,” said Gen. Charles Flynn, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific. “Together as a multinational force, Garuda Shield is an important expression of our teamwork, our interoperability and our unity as a group of nations that seek to have a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and maintain a rules-based order.”

Gen. Andika Perkasa, commander of the Indonesian National Armed Force, or Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI), welcomed participants, saying he hoped the exercise would strengthen relationships. “I hope the friendship may continue until the end of the exercise and be useful in the future,” he said.

Garuda Shield is a longstanding annual exercise between the TNI and the U.S military. It is part of the U.S. Army Pacific’s Operation Pathways, which aims to expand the U.S. Army’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.

Held at three locations in Indonesia, Garuda Shield was an opportunity to strengthen interoperability, capability, trust and cooperation, and to increase communication among ground forces.

The Army is a stabilizing institution, Flynn said. Garuda Shield represents the enduring bond between Indonesia and the U.S. and is a symbol of regional cooperation among land forces, according to Flynn. “And I believe you will find Garuda Shield 2022 challenging and rewarding as you increase your proficiency,” he said.

“Capitalize on this opportunity to know each other and build relationships at the individual level because they matter,” he said. “Army to army, nation to nation.”

Garuda Shield included: force integration training; small unit training; airborne operations and training; a combined arms live-fire exercise; field training; engineering civic assistance projects; a high mobility artillery rocket system rapid infiltration mission; and maritime and amphibious ship-to-ship operations including visit, board, search and seizure.

Indonesia and the U.S. signed an agreement to allow Australia, Japan and Singapore to support future iterations of Garuda Shield.

“This Indonesian-led exercise has grown in scope and scale. Every time we can build our joint readiness is a great opportunity for us and the region,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Smith, commanding general of the U.S. Army’s 7th Infantry Division. “The growth of this exercise shows its importance and how these nations view this as a consequential area within the Indo-Pacific region.”

Gusty Da Costa is a FORUM contributor reporting from Indonesia.

IMAGE CREDIT: STAFF SGT. MATTHEW CRANE/U.S. ARMY

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