Indonesia is stepping up preparations to host the 2014 Komodo multilateral naval exercise between ASEAN and eight of its dialogue partners, which is slated to take place in April next year.

According to Colonel Amarullah Octavian, Sea Combat Task Force chief of the Indonesian Navy’s Western Fleet, the islands of Batam and Natuna in Riau province have been designated as the exercise areas.

The drill, which aims to improve naval cooperation capabilities in disaster response, rescue and relief, will involve 28 warships and 4,500 soldiers from 18 countries, including the 10 ASEAN members and Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, the Republic of Korea and the United States, Octavian said.

The 18 participating countries will also join a Counter Terrorism Exercise (CTx) to be held at the Indonesian Peace and Security Centre in Sentul, Bogor , in West Java in September this year.

The CTx will be co-hosted by Indonesia and the US as co-chairs of a regional counterterrorism initiative under the ASEAN Defence Minister Meeting Plus (ADMM+) framework.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) includes Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.-VNA