JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia and the United States held Joint Exercise GEMA BHAKTI 21, a Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff staff exercise between U.S. Indo Pacific Command and the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI) in Jakarta Sept. 21-28.
The goal of the eight-day exercise was to improve joint operational staff planning and processes during crisis response. It also promoted positive military relations, increased cultural awareness, and enhanced command and control proficiency while assuring security and stability in the region.
“In the past nine years, Exercise GEMA BHAKTI has evolved and increased in complexity. The first year involved just a tabletop discussion focused mostly on future exercise design,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen F. Logan, Hawai‘i National Guard deputy adjutant general. “GEMA BHAKTI now incorporates a staff exercise with multiple scenarios.”
This was the ninth iteration of GEMA BHAKTI, Indonesian for “Echo of Good Deeds.” USINDOPACOM and the TNI planned for a scenario involving forces from the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and their TNI counterparts), and civilian and humanitarian actors, such as the U.N. World Food Program, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and the Red Cross.
Approximately 40 USINDOPACOM and U.S. interagency personnel, 30 TNI personnel, and additional representatives from non-military organizations participated. About 20 Hawai‘i National Guardsmen supported this iteration of GB21.
“We are here to learn from the TNI and to share from our experiences,” said Lt. Col. David Hosea, Hawai‘i National Guard military planner. “They [the TNI] have more experience in planning and participating in peacekeeping operations, and I am excited to learn from them. Building this relationship, sharing experiences, and training alongside our partners helps maintain security and stability in the Pacific.”
The exercise began with a day of academics, then transitioned to the staff-ex portion where the joint staff shops from G-1 (personnel) to G-6 (cyber) and special staff received the operational approach brief prepared in the previous exercise with the TNI and Hawai‘i National Guard (HING).
The joint teams of members from the TNI, U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and the HING analyzed the situation and briefed the commander, following the process enshrined in the Military Decision-Making Process – Multinational.
“In this exercise, I have been out front quite a bit,” said 1st Lt. Crystal Woods, Hawai‘i Army National Guard. “As a junior officer, to gain this experience and have this exposure will help set a strong foundation as I move through my career.”
The Hawai‘i National Guard-led exercise emphasized small group discussions facilitated by subject matter experts from the TNI and U.S. forces.
“We [the TNI] have our own way of conducting operations and the U.S. has their way,” said Maj. Arya Justisia Sani, TNI medical officer. “In this exercise, we get to know how we conduct operation versus how they [the U.S. military] conduct operations, but if there is a contingency, we can operate in the same way. This exercise is very helpful to establish a common operating procedure.”
Participants strictly adhered to COVID-19 protocols, which curbed some traditional cultural exchange activities. However, the participants found other ways to experience each other’s culture.
“What I am going to take away from GB21 are the relationships (between) the HING and TNI,” said Gunnery Sgt. Benjamin Dao, U.S. Marines. “They are some of the most outstanding and professional individuals and have the work ethic to meet all mission objectives. I will never forget this; they are great people.”
The Hawaii National Guard and the TNI are linked through the State Partnership Program (SPP). This exercise was only the second face-to-face engagement of the SPP partners since late 2019, with GB20 being entirely virtual due to the pandemic.
“I learned a lot from my U.S. counterparts,” said Maj. Adityo Suryo Nug, TNI. “We have different capabilities. We have different doctrines. We have different considerations. We learn from each other and strengthen each other in our cooperation in the hope that in the future if we have to work together, we will be able to.”
Col. Tracey Omori, Hawaii Army National Guard - GB21 commander, said
the exercise “strengthened our connection, so if we need to work together in an exercise or in real-world operations, we will be more than capable.”