JAKARTA – Indonesia’s top military commander is seeking to step up military cooperation within the region and partners further afield to face down the maritime threat from an increasingly assertive China.
General Andika Perkasa told Nikkei Asia in an interview published on Monday that he wanted to forge closer ties with like-minded countries such as Brunei and Malaysia that have disputes with Beijing over its claim to swathes of the South China Sea.
The plan, he said, calls for greater cooperation across the different military branches to better patrol the Natuna Islands.
“I’m not gonna be embarrassed to say this, but our ability to operate patrolling in our EEZ around Natuna” can last only days, he told the news outlet.
Joint military drills are important to not only improve relations, but also offset Indonesia’s limited defence budget. If the plan with Brunei and Malaysia is realised, it would mark first-ever joint drill involving all service branches among countries disputing with China in the South China Sea, the report said.
Gen Andika said that Indonesia is seeking to include more countries in its annual joint military exercise known as Garuda Shield, and that a US military delegation will be in Jakarta in early December to discuss plans.
Building more cooperation with the Quad – security partnership between India, Australia, Japan and the United States – is “very important”, he added. BLOOMBERG