SITUBONDO, Indonesia – U.S. Army Soldiers with 130th Engineer Brigade, Army reserve Soldiers from 412th Theater Engineer Command, and Armed Forces Indonesian (TNI) service members assigned to the 12th Construction Battalion celebrated the completion of a school restoration project with a ribbon cutting ceremony during Super Garuda Shield in Situbondo, Indonesia on Sept. 10, 2023.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jered Helwig, Commanding General of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, and Indonesian National Armed Forces Admiral Yudo Margono, Chief of Defense Force Indonesia, presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony and thanked the troops for their hard work.
“The completion of this school highlights our commitment to Indonesia and serves as a tangible demonstration of what being a good partner looks like,” said Maj. Gen. Jered Helwig, commander, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. “These children have an opportunity to grow and learn in a free and open Indo-Pacific with a bright future ahead of them because of our strong partnership.”
Hundreds of people from the local community turned out for the event to show their appreciation for the school makeover. When the ceremony was over, the U.S. soldiers made their rounds and posed for countless photos with kids and adults alike.
The combined team of soldiers started the restoration project Aug. 25 and worked tirelessly to complete the numerous tasks before the completion of Super Garuda Shield.
Some of the major completed projects included replacing a damaged roof, strengthening the electrical infrastructure, replacing water damaged walls, building culverts to mitigate flooding, adding water towers to provide running water, laying pavers to eliminate overgrowth, and a new coat of paint to give the school an outward appearance to reflect its bright future.
“I visited Indonesia a while back to do an assessment on the school so I could develop the plan for our team,” said Capt. Jay Gilani, company commander, 926th Engineer Battalion, 412th Theater Engineer Command. “When I look at what we were able to accomplish over the last few weeks, it’s a really great feeling to be part of such a transformational process and know that you are making a difference.”
While many of the training events during Super Garuda Shield focus on building combined arms readiness and interoperability, the school restoration project highlights a different aim for the U.S.– Indonesian partnership.
“I was very happy working with the U.S. Army at the school – they are very good,” said TNI Marine Pvt. Eli Nanang Sutanto, engineer, 12th Construction Battalion. “Hopefully next time we can work together again on another mission.”
Super Garuda Shield is an annual exercise that has significantly grown in scope and size since 2009. This year is the second consecutive time that this exercise has grown into a combined and joint event, highlighting the seven participating and 12 observing nations’ commitment to partnership and a free and open Indo-Pacific.