Thousands of soldiers from the United States, Indonesia, Australia and other allied forces demonstrated their armor capabilities on Sunday in combat drills on the Indonesian island of Java at a time of increased Chinese aggression in the region.
President Joe Biden’s administration has been strengthening an arc of military alliances in the Indo-Pacific to reassure allies alarmed by Beijing’s increasingly provocative actions in the disputed South China Sea, which has become a battleground for U.S-Chinese rivalries.
During the drills, Australian forces deployed five M1A1 Abrams battle tanks and the Indonesian military, deployed two Leopard-2 tanks for the two-week combat exercises in Banyuwangi, a coastal district in East Java province which began Sept. 1. It will include live-fire drills.
It was the first time Australia deployed battle tanks outside its territory since the Vietnam war.
The Garuda Shield drills have been held annually between American and Indonesian soldiers since 2009. Last year’s participants —Australia, Japan and Singapore — joined again Sunday and the list expanded to include the United Kingdom and France bringing the total number of troops taking part in the drills to 5,000.