BATURAJA, Indonesia — Over a thousand U.S. Armed Forces waited in anticipation to start operations with their Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat (Indonesian National Army) counterparts during the Garuda Shield opening ceremony on August 4, 2021.
“Today opens Garuda Shield for the 15th year and also provides a lot of firsts,” said Gen. Charles A. Flynn, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific. “Two divisions are at Garuda Shield, the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg North Carolina, and the 25th Infantry Division out of Schofield Barracks Hawaii. This exercise also extends over three islands and enables the unique capabilities of the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Complex.”
This year’s U.S. Army Pacific-sponsored exercise, hosted by the Indonesian armed forces, is the largest iteration of the exercise since it began 15 years ago, backed by the theme “Together We Can.”
“Through the ground, sea, and air, the tactical training activities focus on the operational and strategic challenges facing our country and region,” said Flynn.
Light Fighters from Task Force Warrior, the 25th Infantry Division, enablers from across the United States and the Indonesian Armed Forces connected at every level as partners of an enduring relationship.
“Indonesia is a partner nation that shares a lot of our values,” said U.S Army Col. Jeffrey VanAntwerp, Deputy Commander of Operations for the 25th Infantry Division. “This exercise goes beyond tactical interoperability. It is about partnership, our hosts--our friends recognized the opportunity to conduct training and took every precaution to ensure the health of both forces.”
VanAntwerp added, “real interoperability goes beyond just talking to each other. It is about understanding each other, anticipating each other's moves, and what we are going to do. You can’t do that virtually, so our partners made it happen here in Indonesia.”
The two-week Garuda Shield joint-exercise continues to solidify the U.S. – Indonesia Major Defense Partnership and advances cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
"The most powerful thing that’s happening at Garuda Shield is relationships," said Col. Neal Mayo, commander of Task Force Warrior, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. "It’s about creating a partnership that goes beyond this exercise, and we’re certainly going to take advantage of every opportunity to build our combined training readiness throughout this exercise, but the foundation of it all is relationships."
“I hope that we can continue to enhance as a symbol of strength and a manifestation of our military diplomacy in realizing peace, security, and stability from this Garuda Shield joint exercise,” said Gen. Andika Perkasa, Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army (Indonesian: Kepala Staf Angkatan Darat or KASAD).
Garuda Shield provides realistic training and educational opportunities through the command post, field training, live fire, aviation and medical exercises.
“We are a combined army: we train together, we jump together, and our airborne operations make the relationship stronger as we stand together shoulder-to-shoulder,” said Col. Fendri Navyanto Raminta, 17th Airborne Brigade Commander, Indonesian Armed Forces.
Over 550 82nd Airborne Division Soldiers and over 90 Indonesian paratroopers jumped out of U.S. C-17 aircraft and into the Baturaja drop zone, starting one of the joint exercise’s key events.
Through the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Complex, Garuda Shield builds expeditionary readiness at multiple echelons through real-world execution of the U.S. Army’s Operating Concept.
"Exposing our soldiers to this kind of environment and these conditions, coupled with collaboration with our Indonesian counterparts, gives them invaluable experience that's hard to replicate," said Flynn.
Garuda Shield 21 is a two-week joint exercise between the United States Army and the Indonesian Armed Forces that reinforces our commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, improves interoperability and enhances the jungle warfare ability of both armies in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
“My thanks to all of you, the Indonesian Army, thanks to your leadership Gen. Andika, and thanks for the great teamwork between the U.S. Army and the Indonesian Army during the 15th iteration of Garuda Shield," Flynn said during his remarks at the opening ceremony. "I look forward to future Garuda Shield exercises and further building our partnership together."