US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was treated to a bizarre and brutal display of military and martial arts skill by Indonesia’s special forces in which live snakes were decapitated and their blood consumed.
The press corps traveling with Mattis was expecting a standard hostage rescue drill and were totally unprepared for the fire walks, helicopter drills, and counter terrorist simulations which included attack dogs. Indonesia’s elite and historically vicious counter-terrorism force, the Kopassus, dazzled Mattis with a highly unorthodox display of military expertise at a military headquarters in Jakarta Wednesday.
Pounding drums provided the soundtrack to a fierce martial arts exhibition in which the special forces commandos obliterated flaming wooden and brick obstacles with their fists, feet and foreheads.
The fearsome warriors then took a break and shared snake blood from freshly-slaughtered cobras in a sign of brotherhood. The bags of snakes were emptied mere feet in front of Mattis before the soldiers decapitated the serpents. One soldier even tore a live snake apart with his teeth.
“The snakes! Did you see them tire them out and then grab them? The way they were whipping them around – a snake gets tired very quickly,” Mattis told reporters, as cited by Reuters.
The US defense secretary retired from active service with the Marines in 2013, and was dubbed ‘Mad Dog’ by the press for his exploits in Iraq.
“You could imagine how much training went into each individual there, that they were able to do that,” Mattis told reporters later, according to The Washington Post. “When you watch a force do that, many small things, perfectly, you can imagine that they can also put the bigger things together.”
Once the ceremony restarted, a commando rolled on broken glass while his colleague fired a pellet gun at a balloon held between his blindfolded comrade’s legs, missing only once, though no-one was injured. Another blindfolded commando reduced a cucumber, held in his colleague’s mouth, to smithereens without so much as a scratch on his assistant’s face.
The next set piece in the spectacle saw troops abseil from helicopters with their attack dog companions while the theme from ‘Mission Impossible’ blared in the background. One dog later leapt through an open car window to apprehend a mock terrorist.
“Even the dogs coming out of those helicopters knew what to do when confronting the terrorist,” a visibly impressed Mattis said.
Mattis was in Indonesia to repair ties with the country’s armed forces following abuses under the dictatorial regime of Hajji Suharto during the 1990s. Suharto was later deposed in 1998.
A US law known as the “Leahy vetting” precludes armed forces found committing human rights violations – including rape, torture and murder – from training with US troops.
“One of the sanctions is clearly that they are not allowed to go to America. They can’t do training together, and he will reopen this,” Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said after his talk with Mattis.
Mattis will now travel to Vietnam as he continues his tour of Asia.
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