On the Indonesian island of Java on Sunday, thousands of soldiers from the US, Indonesia, Australia, and other allies showed off their armored fighting prowess amid rising Chinese aggression in the area.
The administration of President Joe Biden has been fortifying an Indo-Pacific arc of military alliances to reassure partners concerned by Beijing’s escalating provocative moves in the disputed South China Sea, which has turned into a flashpoint for U.S.-Chinese tensions.
A total of two Leopard-2 tanks and five M1A1 Abrams battle tanks from the Australian military were stationed in Banyuwangi, a coastal region of East Java province, for the duration of the maneuvers, which lasted two weeks and started on September 1.
There will be live-fire drills included.
Since the Vietnam War, Australia has not previously sent battle tanks outside of its borders. Since 2009, the American and Indonesian militaries have participated in the Garuda Shield training exercises every year.
Australia, Japan, and Singapore, who participated in the drills last year, rejoined on Sunday, and the United Kingdom and France were added to the list, bringing the total number of troops participating to 5,000. China considers the increased drills a danger and claims that the United States is forming an Indo-Pacific alliance similar to NATO in order to contain China’s expanding military and diplomatic dominance in the area.
General Marcus Evans, who is currently in charge of the U.S. The introduction of armor capability in the large-scale drills would offer the allied forces and defense partners an opportunity to test their weaponry in combat training as they sharpen their military readiness, the Army’s 25th Infantry Division told The Associated Press in an interview on Saturday.
The Garuda Shield is taking place all over the world, including in the waters around Natuna in the southern South China Sea. Although relations between China and Indonesia are generally good, Jakarta has expressed worry over what it perceives as Chinese intrusion into its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
The “nine-dash line” Beijing unilaterally declared to delineate its rights there crosses the edge of the exclusive economic zone.
The Indonesian navy will hold a sizable practice in the waters surrounding Natuna in July 2020 as a result of increased activity by Chinese fishing boats and coast guard vessels in the vicinity, which unnerves Jakarta.
Regarding China’s long-standing hostility to American-led military exercises in Asia, Evans declined to comment.
When asked if there are plans for joint naval patrols between the United States military and allies like Japan and the Philippines in or near contested waters, Evans responded, “It is important that we maintain a continuous engagement with our regional partners and allies from a military perspective, because, again, that enhances our overall readiness.”