Subject: RI, India to Boost Military Ties

also Calls for Bigger Military Budget

The Jakarta Globe

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Indonesia, India to Boost Military Ties

Markus Junianto Sihaloho

The Indonesian and Indian governments have agreed to enhance military cooperation, including in the fight against terrorism, a spokesman for the Indonesian Armed Forces, or TNI, said on Monday.

TNI Chief Gen. Djoko Santoso met with the Indian ambassador to Indonesia, H.E. Biren Nanda, at TNI's headquarters on Monday.

Military spokesman Air Vice Marshal Sagom Tamboen said Nanda presented a number of pictures and documents of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Sagom said the TNI regarded the information as helpful in anticipating similar terror attacks in Indonesia.

"The Indian ambassador also delivered expectations over the possibility that both countries would be able to work together in a number of areas, especially in relation to the fight against such terror attacks in Mumbai," Sagom said.

The spokesman added that both countries were committed to continuing naval cooperation through personnel exchange programs and a joint border security presence.

Other forms of defense cooperation would be discussed at the end of this month when the Indian Army chief visits Jakarta, Sagom said.

"Airborne defense cooperation will be realized in the form of the Sukhoi jet fighter's maintenance and its technicians' training in India," Sagom said.

Meanwhile, Indonesia has also been invited by Japan's Defense Ministry to attend informal regional security talks in the middle of next month.

State-run Antara news agency reported on Monday that Col. Neno Mamriono, the defense attache in Tokyo, had said Jakarta would send Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, the Defense Ministry's secretary general, to the talks.

"This is going to be an informal meeting and the first of its kind since Japan had its defense ministry," Neno said.

He said the talks would discuss regional security issues such as the rampant piracy in the Malacca Straits.

Nono said 60 percent of Japan's energy supplies were distributed through the Straits.


The Jakarta Globe Friday, February 13, 2009

Calls for Bigger Military Budget

Markus Junianto Sihaloho

Lawmakers on Thursday called on the government to provide additional funding to help the military cover its operating costs, saying that the military should get to keep a share of the funds it raises through its own activities.

"The police, Attorney General's Office and customs agency are compensated for their operations. The military should be treated the same by the government," Sutradara Gintings, a lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, said at a formal hearing between the Army and House of Representatives Commission I, which oversees defense and foreign affairs.

Echoing a sentiment shared by other lawmakers at the hearing, Sutradara said the government should issue a decree stating that any income the state receives through fines or assets accumulated through military interdictions should be shared between the government and the military.

"Please, don't use all the income for government spending. Keep it for the military," Sutradara said.

He said that he agreed with the existing policy, whereby profits from military businesses were handed over to the government.

Sutradara suggested, however, that all such funds should ultimately be distributed back to the military through the Ministry of Finance.

It is a source of shame, he said, that reports surfaced this week that the Navy has had to limit the sailing time of warships due to the low availability of fuel supplies ­­ particularly because sources of income are readily available to support military operations.

He said that the Navy had reported that it was instrumental in recovering Rp 59.5 billion ($5.1 million) by cracking down on illegal activities in Indonesian waters in 2008, suggesting that one-third of those funds should be returned to the military to cover operational costs.

Navy Chief Adm. Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, who attended the hearing, said that the Navy has proposed that the government allocate Rp 533 billion for fuel supplies every three months. The 2009 defense budget provides only 16.8 percent of that amount.

The budget shortfall presented serious risks, Tedjo said, and could result in an increase in illegal activities in the country's waters.

"We have applied to the Defense Ministry for additional funding for fuel," Tedjo said. "We expect our proposal will be delivered to the finance minister soon and that we will receive a quick response."

Yusron Ihza Mahendra, a lawmaker from the Crescent Star Party, or PBB, urged Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono to speed along the proposal.

He also urged Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati to consider the military a potential economic boon rather than a liability. Indonesia, he said, should learn from countries such as the United States, China and Argentina, which he claimed prioritized military spending over other financial commitments.

"We can see these are countries with influence, with significant bargaining power in the world," Yusron said.

"The government should back plans to build a military-industrial complex, in conjunction with the finance minister, and we should ensure sufficient funds for the military to fund its operations."

Tedjo said on Tuesday that he was concerned that the Navy's operations, including for search and rescue work and disaster relief, would be halted because of fuel-budget shortfalls and an outstanding Rp 4 trillion debt to state oil and gas company PT Pertamina.

He said that the company had refused to supply additional fuel to the Navy until the debt was paid.


Joyo Indonesia News Service

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