JAKARTA – The United States will increase collaboration with Indonesia in areas of terrorism and maritime security, Washington’s acting secretary of defense announced on Thursday during an official visit to Jakarta.
In a joint press conference with Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, Patrick Shanahan said the decision will reinforce joint military drills, increase intelligence sharing, help carry out educational activities and increase cooperation between their armies.
“There are many things that we share in common in terms of threats, or I will consider opportunities – our ability to work in counter-terrorism, our ability to work on maritime domain awareness,” Shanahan said.
As a result of the initiative, Unit 81 of the Indonesian army’s special forces (Kopassus) – which is tasked with intelligence and anti-terror operations – will be trained by US defense teams from next year onwards.
Shanahan and Ryamizard also agreed on greater cooperation in the South China Sea, a region of significant strategic and economic importance and over which China is embroiled in territorial disputes with the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.
Shanahan’s visit was his first official tour of the Indo-Pacific region as the acting defense secretary. His trip started in Hawaii on Tuesday, and comes amid US tensions with Iran and North Korea.
Last week, US President Donald Trump announced the deployment of 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East as a protective measure against perceived threats of Iran.
Shanahan said that the reinforcement includes the deployment of 600 troops of a surface-to-air Patriot missile battalion, and another 900 soldiers in Saudi Arabia and Qatar for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance purposes.
The acting defense secretary is scheduled to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue on regional security in Singapore on Friday, followed by visits to South Korea and Japan.