Indonesia hosts first-ever Asean military drills

Indonesian soldiers became a part of the opening ceremony of Asean Solidarity Exercise at Batam’s Batu Ampar port on on Tuesday.  BATAM, Indonesia – Militaries from Asean started their first collaborative activities on Tuesday in Indonesia, with a Myanmar representative present besides the bloc’s ban on its junta leaders. Asean nations have taken part in multinational defence drills before, but these are the first featuring just the bloc, which is battling perceptions of irrelevance on prominent areal problems like the problem in Myanmar and major conflicts in the South China Sea.

These are non-combat activities, however, with member forces training in places like humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, rescue operations and collaborative maritime patrols, according to the host Indonesia. “By getting together, we can create stability in the area for the favour of the people,” Indonesian military chief Margono Yudo told reporters on Batam island. He said forces from every country in the bloc, involving Myanmar, are participating  in the five-day Asean Solidarity Exercise, but he did not provide in depth description of the extent of Myanmar’s participation.

The destruction-impacted country was represented at the exercise’s opening ceremony on Batam island by a defence attache. An Indonesian military official later said to AFP on condition of anonymity that Myanmar would be a part of the drills only as an observer. Myanmar has been ravaged by stringent violence since 2021, when the military deposed democracy governer Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and presented a bloody crackdown on dissent. The governers of its junta have since been hindered  from being a part of the Asean meetings, and the bloc’s attempts to defuse the destruction have not been able to show results so far.