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    GEMA BHAKTI 2021

    Photo By Master Sgt. Andrew Jackson | Maj. Derek Betz, Air National Guard, discuses the exercise airspace management portion...... read more read more

    The armed forces of Indonesia and the United States held Joint Exercise GEMA BHAKTI 21 (GB21) a Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) staff exercise, between U.S. Indo Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI) in Jakarta, Indonesia from 21-28 September 2021. The eight-day exercise was designed to improve joint operational-level staff planning and processes during crisis response. It also promoted positive military relations, increased cultural awareness, and enhanced command and control proficiency while assuring security and stability in the region.

    “In the past nine years, Exercise GEMA BHAKTI has evolved and increased in complexity. The first year involved just a tabletop discussion focused mostly on future exercise design,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen F. Logan, Hawai‘i National Guard Deputy Adjutant General. “GEMA BHAKTI now incorporates a staff exercise with multiple scenarios.”

    This was the ninth iteration of GEMA BHAKTI, Indonesian for “Echo of Good Deeds.” USINDOPACOM and the TNI conducted planning for a scenario involving forces from the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and their TNI counterparts), as well as actors from the civilian and humanitarian communities, such as U.N. World Food Program, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and the Red Cross.

    Approximately 40 USINDOPACOM and U.S. Inter-Agency personnel, 30 TNI personnel, and additional representatives from non-military organizations took part. About 20 Hawai‘i National Guardsmen supported this iteration of GB21 and also collaborated with the TNI on the precursor operational design workshop that concluded on September 20, 2021.

    “We are here to learn from the TNI and to share from our experiences,” said Lt. Col. David Hosea, Hawai‘i National Guard military planner. “They [the TNI] have more experience in planning and participating in peacekeeping operations, and I am excited to learn from them. Building this relationship, sharing experiences, and training alongside our partners, helps maintain security and stability in the Pacific.”

    The exercise had many phases starting with a day of academics and lecture then transitioned to the staff-ex portion where the joint staff shops from G-1 (personnel) to G-6 (cyber) and special staff received the operational approach brief prepared in the previous exercise with the TNI and Hawai‘i National Guard (HING). The joint teams comprised of members from the TNI, US Army, US Navy, US Marines, and the HING analyzed the situation. The problem was dissected by each staff section where challenges, needs and capabilities are identified and then each of the findings were entered on a slide, then briefed to the commander. The goal was always to move from the “current state” to the “desired state.” In this case, moving from peace enforcement to peace keeping operations. The process that was followed is enshrined in the Military Decision-Making Process – Multinational. The atmosphere was always one of a learning environment.

    “In this exercise I have been out front quite a bit,” said 1st lt. Crystal Woods, Hawai‘i Army National Guard. “As junior officer to gain this experience and have this exposure will help set a strong foundation as I move through my career.”

    A wide variety of topics were addressed during the planning process in-order solve an ever-evolving set of issues in the complex scenario. The multinational team, that by day two, was functioning as a joint staff, grew in military knowledge and wisdom no matter their level of experience.

    “As the maritime SME (subject matter expert) and Pacific Fleet representative I read up on the National Guard and the TNI,” said Lt. Cmdr. Myrian Smith, US Navy. “I also reviewed the Multi-National Force Standard Operation Procedure to insure we had a common language.”

    The Hawai‘i National Guard-led exercise emphasized small group discussions facilitated by subject matter experts from the TNI and US forces. Each shared from their experiences and their lessons learned. Sometimes it seemed difficult to arrive with a way forward due to the different perspectives, but this was part of the process to keep a strong personality in the staff from injecting a short-sided perspective and errored thinking. Through the process of discussion, presentation, “azimuth checks,” and redressing deficiencies, the relationships are built and courses of action are developed.

    “We [the TNI] have our own way of conducting operations and the US has their way,” said Maj. Arya Justisia Sani, TNI medical officer. “In this exercise we get to know how we conduct operation verses how they [the US Military] conduct operations, but if there is a contingency we can operate in the same way. This exercise is very helpful to establish a common operating procedure.”

    The days were long in GB21 officially starting at 0745 and working in the groups through MDMP-M until well after 1700 with only one organized break for lunch where teams ate the regional delicacies. Many of the participants retreated to their rooms after each day’s assessments to read further on the scenario and researched how similar historical scenarios were addressed.

    “For the past eighteen months before this exercise we’ve had multiple MDMP engagements with the TNI,” said Capt. Curtis Trauthwein - US Army. “This exercise help both countries prepare for interoperability and planning for contingency operations. It is good to test and practice our interoperability.”

    The COVID-19 pandemic was an additional presence throughout GB12. Strict protection and testing protocols were followed every day; mask wear, temperature checks, hand sanitization and hourly room sanitization. Fortunately, these mitigations had little effect on the productive outcome of GB21. The only true loss was some of the traditional cultural exchange activities which normally occur. However, the participants found other ways to experience each other’s culture during the planning exercise.

    “What I am going to take way form GB21 are the relationships the HING and TNI,” said Gunnery Sgt. Benjamin Dao - US Marines. “They are some of the most outstanding and professional individuals and have the work ethic to meet all mission objectives. I will never forget this; they are great people.”

    GEMA BHAKTI always acted as a culmination of events for the HING and the and TNI, who are linked through the State Partnership Program (SPP). For instance, in 2019 the HING SPP and TNI had 22 separate engagements that lead to GB19. This only the second face to face engagement since late 2019, with GB20 being entirely virtual due to the pandemic. This did not diminish the caliber of the exercise or quality of the exchanges.

    “I learned a lot from my US counterparts,” said Maj. Adityo Suryo Nug - Tentara Nasional Indonesia. “We have different capabilities. We have different doctrines. We have different considerations. We learn from each other and strengthen each other in our cooperation in the hope that in the future if we have to work together, we will be able to.”

    There were many new faces on all sides of GB21 and a few old hands, but there where lessons to be learned and experiences to be had for everyone. This year’s GEMA BHAKTI was a hopeful return to normal while looking forward to the changes on the horizon.

    “GEMA BHAKTI allows us to train with our partners in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Col. Tracey Omori, Hawaii Army National Guard - Exercise GB21 Commander. “We have strengthened our connection so if we need to work together in an exercise or in real-world operations we will be more than capable.”



    Date Taken: 09.28.2021
    Date Posted: 09.27.2021 23:55
    Story ID: 406147
    Location: JAKARTA, ID 

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