Last month’s crash of a C-130 Hercules aircraft which killed 140 put the modernisation of Indonesia’s military, or TNI, in sharp focus again.
In the wake of the disaster, defence minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said that Indonesia would decommission all military aircraft older than 30 years. The question is how fast can this be done?
In a country where more than 52 per cent of the TNI’s equipment has been used for over three decades, speeding up the military’s modernisation is going to be tough.
It is a challenge that President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo is determined on meeting. He’s promised to boost Indonesia’s defence budget to 1.5 per cent of GDP (currently at 0.8 per cent) to meet ‘Minimal Essential Force’ by 2024.
In this podcast, New Mandala talks to Evan A Laksmana, a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, about the challenges and opportunities for military change in Indonesia.
Laksmana outlines the key security threats facing Indonesia, civil-military relations and their impact on democracy in the country, increasing rivalry between the police and military (which may only increase under the current president), and Jokowi’s vision of Indonesia as a ‘maritime fulcrum’.
“Jokowi has a narrow agenda in what he wants to achieve in his first term,” says Laksmana. “But with a narrow agenda comes a narrow set of interests.
“Civil-military relations, defence policy, foreign policy, I’m afraid, aren’t a part of that agenda.”
Laksmana also reflects on whether other countries in the region, including Australia, should welcome or be wary of a modernising Indonesian military.
Listen to the full 14-minute interview in the player above.