SITUBONDO, Indonesia — U.S. Army Soldiers with 130th Engineer Brigade and Armed Forces Indonesian service members assigned to the 12th Construction Battalion, completed two different projects to improve training during Super Garuda Shield at 5th Marine Training Center (Puslatpur), Situbondo, Indonesia, Aug. 16 - Sept. 1, 2023.
The combined team of Soldiers elevated a range berm to support small arms live fire training, and widened and reinforced a stretch of nearly 2 kilometers of unimproved road to permit tracked vehicles.
The improved road connects the main post with the range and significantly reduces the travel time between the two locations. The road will also benefit the local community as it’s more resilient to the rainy season that can make the road impassable.
“We were really lucky to be working with them,” said Indonesian National Armed Forces Army Sgt. Wicaksono, chief supervisor engineer with the 12th Construction Battalion. “Sharing our experiences and knowledge about engineering. By the end of the project we were all close friends, the road will be a lasting memory of the partnership we shared here.”
The combined team of U.S. and Indonesian Soldiers celebrated the completion of their hard work by hiking to the top of Baluran overlook. The peak sits above the 5th Marine Training Center where they could get a bird’s eye view of what they accomplished.
“We had the opportunity to actually work together during this exercise, and grow together,” said U.S. Staff Sgt. Timothy Galutira, heavy equipment operator, 130th Engineer Brigade. “We worked on the road and struggled together. At the end of the day, all of us would go get food together and relax. We shared out experiences both professionally, and about our lives. We are all like family now, and it was hard seeing them leave today.”
One of the benefits for the Hawaii-based Soldiers are the opportunities they get when the deploy to exercises like Super Garuda Shield. Due to the scope of the projects, they often get more time operating heavy equipment which builds their familiarization and enhances readiness.
The 130th Engineer Brigade regularly deploys across the Indo-Pacific to support Operation Pathways exercises. Elements from the unit are often in multiple countries at any given time during the peak training season.
Super Garuda Shield is an annual exercise that has significantly grown in scope and size since 2009. This year is the second consecutive time that this exercise has grown into a combined and joint event, highlighting the seven participating and 12 observing nations’ commitment to partnership and a free and open Indo-Pacific.