Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Michael Shanahan during a troop inspection at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Jakarta on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Dhemas Reviyanto)

Shangri-La Dialogue Signals Closer Military Cooperation Between Indonesia and the US


MAY 31, 2019

Jakarta. Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu met his United States counterpart, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Michael Shanahan, during a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Jakarta on Thursday.

Ryamizard and Shanahan agreed at the meeting to strengthen defense partnerships between Indonesia and the US in light of regional and global challenges.

The two countries will work together on increasing defense capabilities through dialogue forums, official visits, training and education. 

"[We will increase] cooperation in the defense sector, including through trade and arms transfer programs [Defense Trade and Arms Transfers or DTA 7]," Ryamizard said in a statement after the meeting.

Indonesia will also help to retrieve the remains of US soldiers left behind in World War II battleship wrecks in Indonesian waters, such as the USS Houston. 

The two ministers also confirmed a joint integrated training between US special forces and the Indonesian Army Special Force (Kopassus) next year.

Last year, Indonesia had asked Shanahan's predecessor Jim Mattis to ease restrictions on US military contacts with Kopassus, a unit of the Indonesian military accused of human rights abuses in East Timor.

An outright US ban on contact with Kopassus was lifted in 2010.

Ryamizard said the joint training next year will focus on combat medic, training soldiers in first aid and trauma management at the front line with no doctors.

"We will follow the American way [in combat medic]. US soldiers will keep on fighting even if they've lost a limb," Ryamizard said.

Kopassus commander Maj. Gen. I Nyoman Cantiasa said a combat medic training will give special force soldiers the skills to conduct minor surgery in the middle of a battle.   

"If they get shot, they can do the minor surgery themselves on the battlefield. The goal is to be able to stay alive for up to three days until they find a hospital," the two-starred general said.

The joint training will be conducted in Indonesia in 2020.

Another agreement was made in the meeting to enhance information sharing on regional threat analysis through Asean Our Eyes (AOE), a strategic information exchange platform for Asean member countries.

Ryamizard said Indonesia has also conveyed its support for a peaceful settlement of the South China Sea conflict. According to the minister, Indonesia fully respects the conventions of international law, especially the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS 1982, and the diplomatic and legal processes involved in resolving the long-running conflict.

"Our strategic partnership with Indonesia is rooted in shared interests and a common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific that safeguards the rules-based international order," Shanahan stated on his Twitter account.

Shanahan's visit to Indonesia was part of the preparations for the "18th Asia Security Summit: Shangri-La Dialogue" from Friday to Sunday in Singapore. The Shangri-La Dialogue is the premier defense and security summit in Asia-Pacific.