As part of the newly devised national security strategy, the U.S. will seek to strengthen alliances and build new partnerships in the Indo-Pacific/South Pacific region.
That apparently includes building new security partnerships with Indonesia.
Defense Secretary James Mattis traveled to Jakarta earlier this week to meet with his Indonesian counterpart. Following their meetings, he said the U.S. wants to help Indonesia realize its ambition to become a “maritime fulcrum” in the region.
On that basis, the U.S. wants to work together with Indonesia on countering terrorism in the Asia-Pacific, Mattis said. [source]
(Analyst comment: No doubt that the U.S. and Indonesia are both interested in countering terrorism, given that the latter has a history of battling Islamic terrorism within the country. There is also a maritime threat in the region, in the form of piracy. However, the underlying case for bolstering Indonesia’s maritime — read naval — forces is as a useful additional ally against China.
President Trump sincerely wants to build a 350-plus ship Navy, as does the Pentagon, but even if he were suddenly to get help from a bickering Congress in the form of the lifting of sequestration and real annual budgets, building a fleet that large will take longer than his constitutionally allowable time in office. So the next best thing is force multiplication: Supplementing the U.S. Navy’s presence in the Indo-Pacific and Asia-Pacific regions with the naval forces of allies and strategic partners.
The biggest fear among our allies — in Asia in Europe as well — is that Trump’s “America First” foreign and domestic policy means he leaves them out in the cold if or when stuff hits the fan in their parts of the world. What they don’t understand that ‘America first’ also means defending American interests abroad, which I believe Trump will certainly do. Sending emissaries around the world to reassure allies, strengthen alliances and forge new security arrangements is exactly the right way to both reassure our friends we’re not going anywhere, and convince them to contribute force multiplication assets that will sorely be needed in the coming years as China continues its rise. — JD)