PaCom, Indonesia Recommit to Shared Security Interests
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
JAKARTA, Indonesia, April 11, 2008 The top U.S. officer in the Pacific met today with Indonesian President Bambang Yudoyono to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the region and applaud Indonesia’s role in maritime security, peacekeeping and other security initiatives.
Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, answers questions from members of the press in Jakarta, Indonesia, April, 11, 2008. This is Keating’s second visit to the country as commander of Pacific Command. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Elisia V. Gonzales
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, wrapped up his two-day visit here praising Indonesia’s role in promoting maritime security in the strategic Straits of Malacca.
During a joint news conference with Yudoyono, Keating noted the close cooperation among Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines that is improving their collective maritime domain awareness and law enforcement capabilities. This cooperation, Keating said, is paying off through enhanced security in the busy Malacca Straits, a transit point comparable to the Suez and Panama canals in terms of ship traffic.
Keating said he congratulated Yudoyono on the Indonesian Defense Force’s peacekeeping operations around the world, and urged a closer military-to-military relationship so both countries’ armed forces are better prepared to work together to promote their shared security interests.
Citing violent extremism as the greatest threat to the region, Keating said he and Yudoyono pledged to promote information and intelligence sharing, military and law enforcement engagement, and “whatever else is required” to prevent terrorists from operating here.
“We want to make it very difficult for those committed to violent extremism to move in Indonesia or anywhere in our area of responsibility for which I am in charge,” he said.
Echoing sentiments expressed yesterday during his meetings with Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono and Gen. Djoko Santoso, chief of defense, Keating encouraged greater military-to-military engagement through exercises, leadership development programs, and more personnel exchanges.
Yudoyono, who has attended several U.S. military schools through the U.S. International Military Education and Training Program, supported the idea and told Keating he welcomes the opportunity for troops to learn from each other.
Yudoyono expressed particular interest in cooperating in humanitarian assistance and disaster response preparedness -- a key focus here after a magnitude 9.1 underwater earthquake in December 2004 caused a tsunami that leveled much of Indonesia’s Aceh province.
Keating assured Indonesian leaders yesterday that PaCom will continue helping Indonesia develop disaster response plans to ensure it’s ready to jump into action should disaster strike.
As today’s news conference concluded, Keating reaffirmed his great respect for the Indonesian armed forces and said he looks forward to building on the strong bonds that already exist between the Indonesian and U.S. militaries.
The upcoming Indonesia-U.S. Security Dialog, scheduled for next week in Washington, is expected to be the next major step in that direction.