Indonesia and US to hold joint annual military exercise
Agence France-Presse | July 25, 2005
US troops arrived in Indonesia on Monday to take part in an annual joint maritime exercise aimed at improving military cooperation with the world's largest Muslim-populated country.
Representatives of 800 US military personnel came ashore in the Java island port city of Surabaya before the manoeuvres to meet Indonesian naval officials, the US embassy said.
The Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) programme, involving the US and six Asian countries, has been held annually since 1995. But the Indonesian segment had been suspended for two years at Jakarta's request.
The revival of Indonesia's role comes at a time when Washington is eager to restore military links that were suspended over rights concerns.
But Indonesia has refused US suggestions of help to police the pirate-infested Malacca Strait, which analysts say is also vulnerable to terrorist attack.
"The purpose of these exercises is to improve military readiness and interoperability with each CARAT partner in such areas as maritime interdiction; maritime surveillance; and boarding, search, seizure, diving and salvage," a US embassy statement said.
US participants in the exercises include the guided missile frigate USS Rodney M. Davis, landing ship USS Harpers Ferry, and rescue and salvage ship USS Safeguard, the statement said.
American P-3C Orion and SH-60 Seahawk aircraft and a US Coast Guard training team will also take part in the joint exercise.
"We are excited to be in Indonesia and working with Indonesian Armed Forces," said US Rear Admiral Kevin Quinn, who is responsible for overall CARAT coordination.
He said the US servicemen, while in Indonesia, will also provide medical and dental care to local residents, reprising similar assistance extended after last year's devastating Indian Ocean tsunami.
The exercises with Indonesia follow previous CARAT manoeuvres involving Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. Further exercises are due to be carried out with the Philippines and Brunei this year.