Dodiklatpur, Indonesia -U.S. Army Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division and their Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat (TNI-AD Indonesia Armed Forces) counterparts celebrated several first-ever successes as Exercise Garuda Shield 19 came to a close on 30 August 2019.
Garuda Shield 19, the third exercise in the Pacific Pathways 19-03 rotation, achieved several training objectives through unique training opportunities that had not been conducted in the exercise's 12 previous iterations. This year's exercise featured a combined AH-64 Apache live fire range between U.S. and TNI-AD aviation, a jointly-conducted javelin missile range, and a platoon live fire range that included support by fire from both U.S. ground artillery and aviation units.
"The last two weeks should never be forgotten, because they strengthened a 70-year relationship between our two countries, as we both strive for... and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific," said Col. Kevin Williams, Commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th ID and U.S. speaker for closing ceremonies. "You all have trained together as professionals, shared expertise, and built lasting relationships. That is what Exercise Garuda Shield 19 has done for our two armies and nations this year and over the last 13 years. I am in awe of the way that this exercise has become more challenging and rewarding due to your efforts."
The combined Apache live fire range was the first of its kind for the TNI, as they engaged targets using the Romeo Hellfire missile after months of training on the weapon system. TNI forces took the lead in conducting the range, in fostering interoperability between Indo-Pacific forces and in providing an opportunity for a combined effort led by the Indonesians. This was the first ever joint-U.S. and TNI live fire with Apache helicopters.
"Exercises such as Garuda Shield are vital for the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat because they develop our capabilities and put to use our resources in a more efficient manner," said Col. Andreas Nanang, 9th Brigade Commander, TNI-AD. "The training we conducted makes us better Soldiers, and through such exercises, it helps Indonesia to better maintain peace and stability in the region."
Another first at this year's Garuda Shield was the U.S. Army's ability to conduct platoon level live fire exercises with combined air and ground support-by-fire components. U.S army infantry platoons conducted training lanes that integrated Apaches and ground artillery concurrently for the first time in the exercise's history.
More than 700 U.S Army personnel from 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii, U.S. Army Pacific Command, Hawaii, 10th Support Group, Japan, I Corps, Washington, and U.S. Army National Guard from Michigan participated in Exercise Garuda Shield 19, making it not only one of the largest bilateral training exercises in the Indo-Pacific region but a true total force representation of the U.S Army. While this year was the 13th year of Exercise Garuda Shield, the United States and Indonesia are celebrating 70 years of bilateral relations.