Subject: TNI's new command center makes E. Timor nervous

The Jakarta Post June 4, 2002

TNI's new command center makes E. Timor nervous

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang

The Indonesian Military (TNI) Headquarters has yet to consider transferring the headquarters of the Udayana Regional Military Command from Denpasar, Bali, to the East Nusa Tenggara capital of Kupang, Udayana Regional Military Commander Maj. Gen. Willem T. da Costa said on Monday.

The two-star general, however, said that a Strategic Command Center, under the supervision of the Udayana Regional Military Commander, would be established in West Timor's town of Atambua, which borders the Democratic Republic of East Timor.

"It's not true that the Udayana Regional Military Command will be moved to West Timor. The truth is that there will be a Strategic Command Center in Atambua," Da Costa said.

He said that the establishment of the strategic command center was not meant to invade or disrupt the neighboring country.

"The command will be a non-permanent one. If the problems of refugees are settled and no threats come from East Timor, it will be phased out," he said.

The commander said that if there were attacks launched against West Timor, TNI's jetfighters would reach Kupang in less than an hour.

Rumors of a plan to move the Udayana Regional Military Command to Kupang have given cause for concern to East Timorese people, including President Xanana Gusmao and representatives of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNPKF).

"President Xanana Gusmao and the UNPKF representatives recently met with me in Denpasar, asking whether the TNI would set up a regional military command (Kodam) in Kupang. I told them it was not true," Da Costa said.

He said Gusmao asked whether the rumor to transfer the Udayana Regional Military Command to Kupang was politically motivated and intentionally launched to frighten the East Timorese.

"I've heard that the Udayana Regional Military Command will be moved to Kupang. If it (the rumor) was true, there will be rumors that the TNI will invade East Timor," Gusmao said as quoted by Da Costa.

Separately, Chief of the Wirasakti Resort Military Command, overseeing East Nusa Tenggara province, Col. Moeswarno Moesanip said on Monday that in an attempt to support the operations of the strategic command center in Atambua, the TNI Headquarters would send a fresh battalion, consisting of 600 troops, to defend the border areas in East Nusa Tenggara.

"The 407 Combat Detachment of Central Java's Diponegoro Regional Military Command will be deployed at the border areas to replace the 641 Combat Detachment from Kalimantan's Tanjung Pura Regional Military Command," Moesanip said.


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