Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Indonesia is preparing for a large-scale military drill involving all of its military branches

Indonesia is preparing for a large-scale military drill involving all of its military branches. According to Indonesia’s state media outlet, Antara News, General Moeldoko, the commander of the Indonesian military (TNI) said that the military joint drill of 2014 will includes forces drawn from each of Indonesia’s three military services: the Indonesian Army, Navy and Air Force.

“The military drill is held to keep the synergy among the military corps in tactical, technical and doctrine tests,” General Moeldoko said. “We also want to improve the combat power in each branch of the force and create strength.”

General Moeldoko is inaugurating the drill this week at the Peace Mission Center in Sentul in Bogor, West Java Province. He is joined by Army Chief of Staff General Budiman, Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia and Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Marsetio. The drill will take place from June 1-5, 2014, in Asembagus of Situbondo in East Java Province, in the southern Indian Ocean and in Bali.

The report did not say how many troops would be present for the drill. However, it did list the weapon systems that would be used, which suggested that the drill will be extremely large and diverse. In terms of aircraft, it said that TNI would “display and use 24 helicopters including four MI-35P helicopters, four MI-17 V5 helicopters, four BO-105 helicopters, 10 Bell-412 helicopters, two Bell-205A-1 and various armaments.”

During the drill, the Indonesian Air Force will use “40 jet fighters, such as eight SU-27/30 Sukhoi, six F-16, ten Hawk 100/200, two F-5 Tiger, 12 T-50 Golden Eagle, and two EMB-314 Super Tucano.” These will be complemented by “32 cargo aircraft, such as 16 C-130 Hercule, four B-737, three F-28 Fokker, four C-295, two CN-235, three Cassa-212 and 11 Super Puma Helicopters.”

The TNI Navy will also be strongly represented at the exercise next month. According to the report, “The Indonesian Navy will also involve 32 various types of ships and 81 units of tactical vehicles, along with eight howitzers and eight RM 70 Grad multiple rocket launchers.”

The TNI Army will also be present, with “18 Scorpion tanks, six Stormer APC tanks, two Stormer Komando tanks, two Saladin armored cars, two Saracen armored carriers, two Ferret-armored vehicles and 12 Anoa armored vehicles.”

Later next month, Indonesia will also be one of 23 nations participating in RIMPAC 2014 near Hawaii. At the time of this writing, it is not clear what Indonesia’s contribution will be to RIMPAC.

Separately this week, General Moeldoko told local media outlets that Indonesia does not need an aircraft carrier. Antara News, citing the general, said that “an aircraft carrier vessel was not necessary as the TNI could make use of any of the thousand Indonesian islands spread from Sabang to Merauke as an airbase for the airplanes of the Indonesian Air Force.”

The report went on to summarize General Moeldoko as saying that: “Small islands can be used to store, land, and park aircrafts just like it is done on a carrier vessel.”

Indonesian Navy Chief Admiral Marsetio explained that Indonesia seeks a Green Water Navy, whose primarily responsibility is for national coastal defense. “Only countries that have Blue Water Navy (a navy possessing maritime expeditionary capabilities) need aircraft carriers,” Marsetio explained. In a possible jab at China, the report then summarized Marsetio as saying that countries with Blue Water Navies tend to be aggressors towards other nations’ sovereignty, whereas Indonesia only sought to protect its own sovereignty.

As previously reported, Indonesia has recently officially been expressing concern that China is encroaching on its sovereignty in the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea. General Moeldoko wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last month that read in part: “Indonesia is dismayed, therefore, that China has included parts of the Natuna Islands within the nine-dash line, thus apparently claiming a segment of Indonesia’s Riau Islands province as its territory. An image showing the line features in newly issued Chinese passports.”

He went on to pledge that Indonesia would strengthen its forces near the Natuna Islands in response.


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