Indonesia, US conduct joint military drills after 19 years

Jakarta, Nov 2 (IANS) Indonesia and the US have begun military manoeuvres, the first such joint combat drills after 19 years, according to authorities on Wednesday.

The Cope West exercises, which will be carried out until November 11 in Manado, Sulawesi Island, will involve six US Marine Corps and the Indonesian air force, the US Embassy in Jakarta said.

The exercises are aimed at boosting inter-operability between the armed forces of the two countries, improving exchange of techniques related to combined air operations and promoting cooperation, the embassy added.

“US-Indonesia defence cooperation has never been stronger or more comprehensive than it is today,” Brian McFeeters, spokesperson of the US embassy, said.

“We are proud to be Indonesia’s top defence partner in joint exercises and other engagements,” he added.

In recent years, the US has strengthened military cooperation with several Southeast Asian countries to support them in the fight against terrorism and counter China’s rise in the region, where territorial disputes in the South China Sea have led to an escalation of tension.