Indonesia will begin hosting the five-day Komodo Multilateral Naval Exercises (MNEK) today in the Makassar Strait off the South Sulawesi
Indonesia will begin hosting the five-day Komodo Multilateral Naval Exercises (MNEK) today in the Makassar Strait off the South Sulawesi coast.
Navies from a diverse array of countries friendly to Indonesia will take part. This notably includes China, North Korea, and Russia but also its diplomatic adversaries like the US, South Korea, the UK, Australia, and Japan.
MNEK’s emphasis on joint humanitarian and disaster response drills plus associated on-shore community goodwill events likely makes it easier for these rival nations to take part. Anything more combat-focused would have most likely not obtained buy-in from participating countries due to necessary information-sharing and joint operations between rivals. That Indonesia maintains military ties with these nations reflects the balancing act of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s administration between the US and China, despite Jakarta’s territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea. Economically, China is Indonesia’s most important trade partner, accounting for 19.5% of Indonesia’s trade. However, the US remains the most important security partner for Jakarta.
Expect that dynamic to remain in the short-to-medium term. By way of comparison, the annual US-Indonesian Garuda military exercises held later this year are of a far larger scale and concentrate on pure combat interoperability between the two militaries and Western allies.