U.S. Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis watched members of the Indonesian military showing off a variety of rare skills during his three-day visit to the nation in eastern Asia this week.
In a series of demonstrations at the headquarters of Indonesia’s armed forces, troops reportedly drank snake blood, walked on fire, smashed bricks with their heads, and rolled their bodies in broken glass.
Specific routines included blindfolded soldiers slicing a cucumber in another soldier’s mouth and shooting a balloon in-between another soldiers legs. According to Reuters, one of the shots missed, but nobody was injured.
The highlight of the event involved the use of live snakes, including a king cobra. Soldiers cut off the snakes’ heads and fed snake blood to each other.
“The snakes! Did you see them tire them out and then grab them?” Mattis later told reporters. “The way they were whipping them around—a snake gets tired very quickly.”
“You could imagine how much training went into each individual there, that they were able to do that,” he added. “When you watch a force do that, many small things, perfectly, you can imagine that they can also put the bigger things together.”
Special forces in Indonesia demonstrates to Mattis their ability to eat snakes. pic.twitter.com/I24p5adzsG
— Paul D. Shinkman (@PDShinkman) January 24, 2018
The event ended with the soundtrack of the film Mission Impossible as the soldiers simulated a hostage rescue operation.
Mattis made the trip to Indonesia with the goal of improving maritime cooperation in the region. Indonesia’s location between the Indian and Pacific Oceans makes it strategically crucial to America’s interests. A common cause of concern is China’s expanding territorial claims, which have reached the waters off of Indonesia’s Natuna Island.
Cooperation between the two countries all but collapsed in the 1990s amid evidence of widespread human rights abuses, forcing the U.S. to curb the relationship.
In recent years, the military has also come under scrutiny for their use of “virginity tests” on female recruits, despite the World Health Organization declaring they have little to no scientific validity.
Mattis will leave Indonesia for Vietnam, which is also developing their military to push back against China’s expansionist agenda.
In the National Defense Strategy published last Friday, the Pentagon announced their intention to “[restore] American’s competitive military advantage to deter Russia and China from challenging the United States, its allies or seeking to overturn the international order that has served so well since the end of World War II.”