RI Shift to Maritime Defence

June 1, 2016, Jakarta Post

With the launch of a new defence strategy on Tuesday, expectations are high that the Defence Ministry will build a maritime defence system that supports the government’s vision of transforming the country into a global maritime power.

Unlike a 2008 version that focused on territorial defence, the 2015 Defence White Paper released on Tuesday incorporates the global maritime axis and state defence concepts to deal with potential threats over the next five years.

“We need to revise out defence programs and make them in line with the government’s policies”. said the Defence Ministry’s director general for strategic defence, Maj. Gen. Yoedhi Swastanto.

He said the document highlighted maritime strategy development by military and nonmilitary agents. The state defence program, meanwhile, was part of a strategy to support a military approach to maintaining maritime safety, he added.

The new white paper defines future challenge in two categories factual and non factual threats, both of which are increasing as the government focuses on economic growth, which consequently requires military power enhancement.

Factual threats consist of terrorism and radicalism, separatism and armed rebellion, natural disasters, border area violations, piracy and natural resources theft, epidemics, cyber attacks and espionage, trafficking and drug abuse.

Meanwhile, it defines does not specify the non-factual threats, but warns that as a nation with tremendous potential, Indonesia is prone to dynamic threats, which could become factual and eventually put the national interest and honor at risk.

According to the white paper, the strategic plan emphasizes the government’s commitment to meet the minimum essential force (MEF) in its weaponry systems, although it excludes any mention of preparation for war.

It says a stronger weaponry system aims only to protect the country’s integrity and sovereignty. In addition to the development of military institutions, it also includes the development of nonmilitary institutions to improve the national defence posture and make the country “a sovereign and independent nation with a strong character based on mutual cooperation”.

The strategy to develop nonmilitary institutions also includes the establishment of defence offices in the regions, a plan that has triggered opposition over concerns of military invervention in public affairs.

The defence white paper states that the establishment of such regional defence offices is meant to “bridge the interests of the defence aspects of military and nonmilitary defence in the area”.

Responding to the defence paper, Muradi of Padjajaran University in Bandung said it would provide thorough guidance for decision – making on affairs.

“High- ranking officials, including the defence minister and the Indonesian Military commander, can no longer make any decisions, regarding weaponry procurement for example, based on their subjective judgements.” Muradi said.

“All decisions must comply with actual needs.” He said, adding that as the country was attempting to develop the maritime sector, defence policies should focus on the Navy and Air Force, which would be frontline actors.

Defence analyst Connie Rahakundini Bakrie of University of Indonesia said a strategic defence document would be meaningless unless the government set up a national security council as mandated by the 2002 National Defence Law.

“ Defence strategies aimed at protecting national interests must come from a comprehensive  assessment by the national security council that comprises the Defence Ministry, The Home Ministry and the Foreign Ministry,” Connie said. “This is because defence policy cannot stand by itself”.

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