JAKARTA, Indonesia -- “The long-standing partnership between the United States and Indonesia serves as an indicator of the many opportunities we can further cooperate in our shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) commander, during his first visit here Dec. 12 and 13.
Brown met with U.S. and Indonesian senior leaders approaching the 70th anniversary of the relationship in 2019, seeking to advance cooperation between the two nations.
During the two-day visit, Brown met with Vice Admiral Didit Herdiawan, Indonesian Armed Forces deputy chief of defense, Air Chief Marshal Yuyu Sutisna, TNI-AU chief of staff, as well as the U.S. ASEAN and Embassy officials and local media representatives. The general was accompanied by his wife, Sharene, who met with military families and visited area schools and developmental programs to share perspectives and gain insight on airmen and family care.
Brown showcased the command’s priorities of being “ready, resilient and postured for the future,” emphasizing how the relationship with Indonesia plays a critical role due in part to shared values, interests and perspectives in the region.
“Our partnership is of mutual benefit to our airmen, our nations and the entire region,” Brown said, stressing the number of challenges present in the Indo-Pacific. “Our National Defense Strategy highlights five different challenges, China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and violent extremists. Of those five, four of them are in this region. The vast majority of our partners share these challenges, but more importantly, we share the same values and interests alongside of them, serving as opportunities to work closer together in addressing them.”
As the world’s largest archipelago with over 17,000 islands, Indonesia’s location near major sea lanes from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean showcases its strategic importance in ensuring a stable and prosperous region. These include the Malacca Strait between Sumatra and Malaysia and the southern part of the South China Sea, where nearly one-third of the world’s trade, and two-thirds of the oil transits.
The U.S.-Indonesia relationship provides an important stabilizing presence in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region, Brown said. “Being free in terms of security and free of coercion, and free in terms of values and political systems… and being open in terms of access to the global commons in which our global economy depends on, and free to continue to fly and sail wherever international law allows.”
In addition to shared security challenges, discussions throughout the visit focused on opportunities to cooperate further in areas of humanitarian aid and disaster response, counterterrorism, F-16 upgrades, future acquisitions, maritime domain awareness, professional development and educational exchanges, and expanding multilateral exercises and engagements with like-minded nations.
Yuyu shared appreciation for PACAF’s cooperation and coordination following the earthquake that struck Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island in September. Airmen and C-130Js were sent to partner with local authorities and USAID, providing critical relief and further showcasing the importance of relationships across the region so prone to impacts from weather and natural disasters.
“Being able to exercise in advance of a crisis or conflict is critical to our ability to respond together,” Brown said. “It’s not only valuable to the relationships of those who receive the aid, but also to the military relationships and the interoperability gained.”
The visit enhanced planning efforts and focus for several future engagements, to include Airman-to-Airman talks, State Partnership Program activities with the Hawaii Air National Guard, Cope West and Pacific Airlift Rally, as well as participation in the PACAF-hosted Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium in Fall of 2019. Indonesia was among 18 nations represented at the inaugural symposium in 2017, the largest gathering of air chiefs to date, representing 700,000 airmen across the region.
“We are excited about the many opportunities to work and train together ahead,” Brown said. “It helps to assure our partners within the region, and deters those who would want to counter a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Brown’s visit was just one part of the ongoing effort to strengthen the relationship between the two nations, as Indonesian Armed Forces Chief of Defense Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto met with U.S. defense officials in Washington DC and Virginia Dec. 9-13.