By Sgt. Nicholle Salvatierra
BATURAJA, Indonesia — Paratroopers from 11th Infantry Division (Airborne), Tentara Nasional Indonesia and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducted trilateral airborne operations with the 36th Airlift Squadron during exercise Super Garuda Airborne 2022 in Baturaja, Indonesia on Aug. 3, 2022.
The operation is the kick-off event for Super Garuda Shield 2022. Part of Operation Pathways, Garuda Shield is a longstanding annual, bilateral military exercise conducted between the U.S. military and Indonesia National Armed Forces. The exercise reinforces the U.S. commitments to allies and regional partners, ensures joint readiness and bolsters interoperability to fight and win together.
The 2022 Garuda Shield exercise is significantly larger in scope and scale than previous exercises. Service members from Indonesia and the United States will be joined this year by those from Australia, Japan and Singapore. In addition to the active participants, Canada, France, India, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the United Kingdom are expected to join Super Garuda Shield as observer nations.
“We were really focusing on partnership,” said Lt. Col. Ben Wisnioski, assistant Army attaché, U.S. Defense Attaché Office Jakarta, Indonesia. “We focused on training, working with each other, and building significant rapport.”
Hundreds of distinguished visitors including Gen. Charles Flynn, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, watched as over 200 paratroopers jumped into the fields and dense tropical forests of Baturaja.
“It was the softest landing I’ve ever had,” said Wisnioski with a smile, as he pointed at his uniform, doused in thick mud.
The paratroopers then completed an airborne seizure, navigating through narrow bridges, marshes, and dense foliage to reach their objectives.
Following the parachute portion of the operation, representatives from the three armies participated in a wing exchange ceremony. Gen. Andika Perkasa, commander, Tentara Nasional Indonesia, and Lt. Gen. Kuzuki Ushijima, command chief of staff, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, pinned wings onto six U.S. Army paratroopers.
“We’re here for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Green, 2nd Platoon, Apache Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 11th Infantry Division (Airborne). “We’re just here to let our partners know we’re here to help. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
In addition to the ceremony Soldiers from the United States, Tentara Nasional Indonesia and Australian Army, showcased weapon systems to the senior leaders and distinguished visitors.
Sgt. Alexander Clarke, mortarman with 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Division, explained the functions and capabilities of the M224, 60mm Lightweight Company Mortar System.
“It’s just breaking down our capabilities and what makes them the best that we’ve got,” said Clarke. “I think we’re super grateful to be able to train alongside the [Tentara Nasional Indonesia] and get to know them better. It builds that cohesion.”
Super Garuda Shield provides opportunities for Department of Defense experimentation and joint collaboration. The exercise increases readiness of both for all participating nations. With focus on specific tasks, tactics and procedures to conduct combined arms maneuver, air assault, aviation and mission command.