Subject: JP: Military wants battalions in border areas

June 28, 2005

Military wants battalions in border areas

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The establishment of military battalions in border areas is urgently needed due to the increasing threats to Indonesia from domestic and overseas elements, the Army chief said on Monday.

"But, the development of battalions at the country's borders must be in line with the support of funds from the government," Gen. Djoko Santoso was quoted by Antara as saying in a hearing with House of Representatives Commission I.

The plan received support from Commission I on foreign and defense affairs.

One battalion comprises between 700 and 1,000 soldiers.

Last week, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited West Kalimantan, where he said the government would increase development projects in border areas in a bid to stop or reduce transnational crimes.

However, the President did not say whether the government would station more security personnel in the border areas and conflict regions.

The prevailing law stipulates that the Indonesian Military (TNI)'s territorial role must be focused on border areas to thwart external threats to the country.

Djoko said the military's strategic units in several border areas outside Java island were not independently capable of confronting various kinds of local and overseas threats and disturbances.

For instance, he added, the Wirabuana Military Command overseeing Sulawesi island has no an air defense artillery unit, for which it has to rely on forces from other areas to confront internal and external threats.

Djoko said the Army was tasked with defending Indonesia's land territory, including several border areas.

It should therefore enhance its defense composition in every region in order for it to be capable of facing such threats, he added.

Djoko told the hearing presided over by Commission I chairman Theo L. Sambuaga that plans to establish military battalions at the borders cannot be fully realized.

"The realization is just 30 percent. The human resources are ready, but the provision of weaponry and military barracks for the battalions are not," the Army chief said while urging the government to provide the necessary infrastructure.

In response, Theo said Commission I would urge the government to allocate a budget to develop battalions at the country's borders and conflict areas.

Djoko also said the Army was preparing to mobilize troops near several areas bordering Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.

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