A selection of coverages concerning US-Indonesia mutual wish to open military ties. The intention is always well said but isn’t always well done.
February 3, 2005
U.S. Seeks Military Ties With Indonesia
By Chris Brummitt
Aboard the USS Abraham Lincold, Indonesia (AP) – The United States wants to boost military ties with the Indonesian military on the back of the two countries’ close cooperation in helping victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami, America’s ambassador to Indonesia said Thursday.
The United States cut off ties with the Indonesian military in 1999 because of human rights concerns. The Bush administration, however, is keen to see the restrictions lifted, partly because of fears that al-Qaida may launch attacks from Indonesia, which has seen a string of deadly bombings in recent years.
The U.S. military was the first foreign army to arrive in Indonesia to join the tsunami relief efforts. Its helicopters have ferried tons of food and water to the survivors.
Ambassador B. Lynn Pascoe praised the two militaries’ cooperation.
“We look forward to having much better relations with the military in the weeks and months to come, and we will certainly be working on that with them,” he told reporters.
Pascoe declined to say whether he would recommend that the U.S. Congress lift the ban.
The USS Abraham Lincoln, meanwhile, was departing from Indonesia’s tsunami-battered Sumatra island in the single biggest withdrawal of the American military aid effort since the Dec. 26 disaster.
The aircraft carrier, with 5,300 sailors and Marines aboard, “is moving out of Indonesian waters,” said U.S. Navy spokesman Cmdr. Mark McDonald. The ship is expected to head for Singapore.
In a visit to Indonesia last month, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said closer contact with the U.S. military would strengthen the Indonesian military’s commitment to human rights and allow it to better respond to natural disasters.
Wolfowitz, a former U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, is a key proponent of improved ties between the two countries. Critics say he is turning a blind eye to massive human rights abuses by the Indonesian military.
Congress has so far blocked moves to reopen ties, which were severed in 1999 when Indonesian soldiers and militia proxies took part in bloody rampage that killed hundreds of people in East Timor following its vote for independence.
U.S. lawmakers maintain that the military has not improved its human rights record since then.
Suspected military involvement in the murder of two American teachers at a U.S.-owned gold mine in the remote province of Papua in 2002 has also complicated moves to restore links.
Indonesia has long called for the ban to be lifted so it can buy new U.S. military equipment and take part in American training programs.
Indonesian military chief Gen. Endriatono Sutarto, who also attended Thursday’s ceremony, said he hoped the tsunami cooperation would “pave the way for a wider range of cooperation between the two armed forces.”
Alwi Shihab, the government minister in charge of the tsunami relief effort, said he expected more “fruitful” ties with both the Bush administration and Congress in the coming months.
Enhancing US-Indonesia security ties: An Opportunity Not to be Missed
USINDO Briefs (U.S.-Indonesia Society)
Enhancing the U.S.-Indonesian Security Relationship: An Opportunity Not to be Missed
An Experts’ Report prepared as part of a United States-Indonesia Society program to review the bilateral defense relationship at the start of the new administrations in Jakarta and Washington, D.C. The principal writer of this summary report is Eduardo Lachica with contributions from John B. Haseman on Internal Stability and Civil Security, Bronson Percival on Maritime Security and William M. Wise on Counter-Terrorism. The experts’ findings, conclusions and recommendations will be published in three reports in early 2005. The conclusions and recommendations of this report are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.-Indonesia Society.
With new administrations open for business, the United States and Indonesia have a rare opportunity to cast aside outdated attitudes and start building a mutually reinforcing security relationship. Such a relationship could givethe Bush administration a key security partner in Southeast Asia, it likewise could enhance Indonesia’s ability to attract foreign investment it needs to insure its full economic recovery and consolidate its still-fragile democracy.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a U.S.-trained former general with reformist credentials, is uniquely prepared to act on the wishes of Indonesian voters to clean up corruption, establish the rule of law and professionalize the military and the police. The Bush administration, for its part, has arenewed mandate to help democracies flourish in the Muslim world. Both nations should seize this opportunity as it presents itself for it may be another generation or longer before the same set of favorable circumstances can reappear.
The report identifies three mission areas in which the vital interests of the United States and Indonesia are closely linked and where they can effectively cooperate:
Internal stability and civil security. The United States should use the bulk of its economic assistance—$468 million in five years—to help President Yudhoyono attack the root causes of instability such as poverty, corruption and inadequate education. But at the same time the United States should devote other resources to help Indonesia reeducate its military and police and prepare them for their new roles in democracy-building. This would require a rethinking of the current restrictive U.S. policy towards the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) and the restoration of the TNI’s access to the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. The United States should also lift unnecessary restraints on the supply of non-lethal spare parts for the TNI’s U.S.-origin aircraft so that this equipment can continue to be operated safely. Other countries like Japan, Australia and Britain can make important contributions to this mission, so multi-donor coordination should be encouraged.
Counter-Terrorism. While these two nations may disagree strategically about the nature of the terror threat, they are equally determined to do what has to be done to prevent further terrorist attacks in Indonesia. The fact that Indonesian Muslims have died in all these attacks has contributed to the new administration’s decision to make counter-terrorism a high priority. Generous U.S. and Australian assistance has already provided the Indonesian police with a well-equipped counter-terrorism training facility and a specially-trained counter-terrorism strike force, called Detachment 88. These resources have to be made self-sustainable through adequate budget support. Key pieces of a credible counter-terrorism infrastructure are still not in place. The new government has to be supported in its efforts to improve the coordination of counter-terrorism activities at regional and national levels.
Maritime Security. The United States and Indonesia security concerns overlap most directly in the Strait of Malacca through which a predominant share of international trade flows. While the United States worries most about a possible terrorist attack and Indonesia about continued acts of piracy, they can effectively cooperate to deter both threats. The United States already has allocated more than $7 million to help train the Indonesian Marine Police. It can support this joint mission further by providing direct assistance to the Indonesian Navy. Future U.S. assistance packages could include support for a modern Indonesian operations center that can function in coordination with Malaysia, Singapore and U.S. facilities in monitoring Strait traffic. The costs of preventive action are small compared to those of a terrorist attack which could easily range into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The inauguration of the new reformist government in Indonesia presents the United States with a rare opportunity to carefully construct a strong security relationship with this Muslim-majority country in the geostrategic heart of Southeast Asia. Previously there were scant prospects of such an effort succeeding because of irritants over the conduct of the Indonesian armed forces and consequent U.S. congressional sanctions, not to mention the inherent sensitivity of working in this field with a country with a long tradition of anti-colonialism and non-alignment. But it can be argued that today the security interests of both countries are more congruent and the potential forcooperation higher, than at few other times in history.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is a U.S.-trained retired army officer with a mandate to shake up Indonesia’s civil and military institutions. He is the best suited of the current generation of Indonesian leaders to tackle burning issues such as corruption, the rule of law and military reform. There are no others better prepared to work cooperatively with us. Although we can count the president as one of the outstanding Indonesian products of the U.S. military schoolhouse, we should not rush him. He has to consolidate his domestic position first before breaking new diplomatic ground. He must deal with a newly-assertive parliament and the constraints of holding on to an Islamic support base. However, his domestic priorities cannot succeed without a vigorous security agenda. He cannot create jobs for the country’s 40 million unemployed and underemployed without more foreign investment. And he cannot attract that investment without a trustworthy and respected security apparatus, the integrity of the rule of law, protection of the lives and property of investors and shopkeepers, and safer neighborhoods.
The argument cannot be stated more plainly than in President Yudhoyono’s own words. “Corruption and injustice are everywhere. Our legal framework is very weak, law enforcement does not work well. The result is that there is no investment in our country,” the president said in urging government prosecutors to go more vigorously after crooks and grafters.
At the same time, in the United States President Bush has been reelected with a fresh mandate for his campaign against global terrorism. His administration probably can count on broad bipartisan support if it seeks to win over a new security partner in Asia. The benefits of U.S.-Indonesian security cooperation have long been understood and appreciated by the foreign policy community. Closer security relations would give the U.S. another active partner in fighting terrorism, smuggling and other transnational crimes in the crossroads of Southeast Asia. Such close cooperation could help, along with restored Australian-Indonesian ties, to compensate for the lack of a formal security architecture in this region. Jakarta’s consideration of U.S. cooperative efforts should remind us that we are in serious competition with China, Asia’s fastest-growing power, for the trust and goodwill of the Indonesian people.
Another U.S. foreign policy objective will be served if democracy can be made to flourish in this largest of all Muslim-majority states. While tending to our own interests, we can at the same time help President Yudhoyono succeed at the core of his reform agenda—purging corruption and inefficiency, recovering revenues lost to crime and lawlessness, providing economic security to millions in danger of falling below the poverty line.
President Yudhoyono has to show in the five years of his presidency that he can deliver. If he fails Indonesia could slip back into some form of authoritarian rule with the military once again involved directly or indirectly in politics. The United States has an equally narrow window during which it can help consolidate Indonesian democracy. The United States should seize this opportunity, for it may never reappear again in the same favorable circumstances.
The main thrust of U.S. engagement with Indonesia should be the implementation of the already-announced five-year $468 million assistance program focusing on improvements in the economy, health, democracy and the environment, including an unprecedented infusion of $157 million in support for basic education that President Bush promised in October 2003 during a visit to Bali. This U.S. effort addresses some of the root causes of instability—poverty, unemployment and the lack of education. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has affirmed that it is in “our self-interest” to see Indonesian democracy succeed.
In addition, at the earliest opportunity the United States should act on Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono’s declaration that he would welcome the revival of a more active military relationship with the United States. Mr. Sudarsono accepted the ministerial position for the second time because he believes strongly in President Yudhoyono’s overall agenda for Indonesia. Just as important, he would not have taken the job if he had not been assured of the president’s support for a more effective degree of civilian control over the Indonesian armed forces. The United States should enter into this dialogue in a spirit of true friendship but also with an ear to the political dynamics and rhetorical nuances in both capitals.
A good starting point is Mr. Sudarsono’s proposal for a National Defense Planning strategy to be consensually arrived at by the government, political parties, civic groups, and the media “assisted by sympathetic foreign observers.” Although this is an essentially Indonesian effort, he leaves the door openfor U.S. assistance. We should accept the invitation. Such an opportunity to help democratize a country we have not occupied and an army we have not defeated in battle comes rarely. The lessons we can learn from the experience would be invaluable as we seek to restore peace and stability in other parts of the Muslim world.
Mr. Sudarsono’s transformational vision is an ambitious one that could take 10 to 25 years to accomplish. He would like to train civilian and military personnel in the arts of defense planning, budgeting and management—precisely the kind of disciplines the U.S. military schoolhouse provides so well. Within two weeks of taking office, he met with the TNI commander and service chiefs to tell them that henceforth only the defense department would conduct arms purchases, a move long needed to reduce cost overruns and corruption. His goal of “rebalancing” the TNI assets to better suit the country’s “geographical space” and the “evolving regional Asia-Pacific security environment” dovetails with the United States’ desire for a more active Indonesian role in maritime security. His goal of a “democratic, transparent, accountable andcost-effective national defense” is precisely what some U.S. critics have sought from the TNI. It would be totally inconsistent of these critics to continue to deny the Indonesians the help they need to attain that goal.
There are three security mission areas—internal stability and civil security, counter-terrorism and maritime security—in which the vital interests of the U.S. and Indonesia are closely linked and where these two nations can effectively cooperate. None will be easy to accomplish and admittedly there are diplomatic risks in how Indonesian public opinion would react to an expanded U.S. contribution. Still, the U.S. has extensive experience in each of these fields and the new Indonesian government has made plain its desire for help. The United States thus should develop policies and programs that make joint cooperation in these fields possible.
A defense bill passed by the last parliament reassigns to the Indonesian armed forces (Tentara Indonesia Nasional, or TNI) the missions of counter-insurgency and counter-separatism as well as a cooperative role incounter-terrorism and maritime security. The TNI thus will be involved in all three missions and if these are to be accomplished the United States has to reconsider its policy of treating these armed forces with benign neglect. Indonesia cannot effectively contribute to the protection of international shipping in the Strait of Malacca and other strategic waterways without a more capable navy, so helping it fulfill this mission is a justifiable goal for the United States. The United States already has poured millions of dollars into the counter-terrorism mission through its assistance to the Indonesian National Police (Polri) but it has to do more to make sure the investment pays off in full.
B. INTERNAL STABILITY AND CIVIL SECURITY
Responding to Separatist and Sectarian Threats
The greatest threat to Indonesia’s internal stability is posed by separatist rebellions at its eastern and western extremes. As the coordinating security minister in the Megawati cabinet, Mr. Yudhoyono was frustrated by the failure of his plan to achieve a peaceful settlement of the long-dragging Aceh insurgency. Although weakened by renewed military actions, the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, or GAM) remains undeterred in its violent struggle for independence. Many Acehnese angry about the corruption in the provincial government and the drain of the income of the province’s natural resourcesto the center still have to be won over. President Yudhoyono also has inherited a smaller-scale guerrilla movement in Papua waged by the Free Papua Organization (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, or OPM). Papuan grievances are similar to thoseof the Acehnese – too much of the province’s vast wealth is siphoned away rather than benefiting the people. There also is great resentment over the massive resettlement of non-Papuans into the province.
The new administration is also concerned about ethnic and sectarian tensions in many regions of the country, most seriously in Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi and in the Malukus. The election of Mr. Yudhoyono’s running mate, Jusuf Kalla, as vice president gives the new team some political capital in seeking to heal the fractures between Muslim and Christian communities. He was the Coordinating Minister for Social Affairs who negotiated the halt of the worst communal violence in the Malukus earlier in this decade. Mr. Kalla is back on the job, demanding an investigation of the isolated but still frightening cases of religiously-inspired killings and bombings in Sulawesi.
Now that Mr. Yudhoyono is president he has another opportunity—arguably with better chances of success– to prove that his policy of attraction for Aceh and Papua is the right one. The large number of Acehnese and Papuans who cast their votes for him is an implicit expression of faith in his sincerity. In a teleconferenced dialogue with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last November the president reported his intention to win over the GAM and OPM through the benefits of autonomy laws that have already been passed for the two provinces. If he also succeeds in dismantling corruption in the Acehnese provincial government he could be on the way to separating the majority of law-abiding citizens from the diehard rebels.
The United States can assist the process with a combination of diplomacy, economic assistance and support for the professionalization of the TNI and the police. The U.S. should quietly inform the new government of its desire to see the peace enforced firmly but with due care not to cause harm to noncombatants. But if good-faith efforts by Jakarta still fail to move the rebels and GAM becomes increasingly more responsible for the continuing violence, the United States should not hesitate to criticize the GAM’s recalcitrance and declare support for the government’s efforts at reconciliation. As Indonesians point out, Aceh is not East Timor, a former Portuguese colony. Aceh always has been an integral part of Indonesia. Our standing in Indonesia would improve immeasurably if we show some understanding of the fear of further territorial loss felt by the great majority of Indonesians.
The United States should also continue funding programs to train provincial officials on the mechanics of operating under the Aceh autonomy law. The congressionally-funded International Republican Institute worked in this area before emergency decrees shut down the operations of most foreign non-government organizations in the province. Once the conditions allow, the United States should work with Japan and other countries to help revive the Acehnese economy. A Japanese offer of economic aid is likely to be available once GAM agrees to end its insurgency and the government succeeds in curbing military abuse and cleans up local corruption. The U.S. can complement the Japanese effort by helping in the demobilization and resettlement of GAM fighters with programs similar to what have been proposed for or undertaken in post-conflict areas in the predominantly Muslim areas of southern Philippines.
The prospects for the stability of Papua appear brighter than it has been since the end of the Suharto era. The OPM rebellion has been reduced to a few small guerrilla bands capable only of hit-and-run attacks. The Constitutional Court has overturned a controversial law that in effect would split Papua into three provinces for the benefit of powerful interests. Three Papuans were killed and dozens of others injured protesting the law. At the same time President Yudhoyono is set to fulfill his promise of a fairer deal for the Papuan people. He has created a Papua desk in the presidential office which he will head himself and staff with Papuan notables and military and civilian officials. Support for the OPM is likely to wane once Jakarta starts implementing the Papua autonomy law which has lain dormant during all three years of the Megawati administration.
Our significant economic presence in Papua and our interests in Indonesia’s national unity make it incumbent on us to be as helpful as we can in assuring the success of these efforts. The United States can extend technical assistance for the establishment of the Papua Traditional People’s Assembly which has been delayed for years by security concerns. A similar opportunity exists in the need to train a new corps of officials in managing the province and maximizing the benefits of the autonomy law, while undercutting OPM charges that “home rule” has been suppressed. We can also lend moral encouragement and material assistance to the president’s war against illegal logging whichhas been particularly injurious to the Acehnese and Papuan economies. He has urged prosecutors to spare no illegal loggers, even if they are in league withrogue military or police elements.
But while just policies and sound development may be the ultimate healer, there is no questioning the urgent need for better trained and led soldiers and policemen who can win back and hold the trust of people living in trouble areas. This plays to America’s strong suit-its capacity to transfer its traditions of professional, civilian-led policing and soldiering to foreign countries. Generous U.S. support for retraining the police has already started to bear fruit. The United States can also help improve the TNI’s performance if current restrictions on the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program are lifted and more educational benefits are provided for Indonesian officers. The U.S. administration should immediately renew its request to restore these benefits and pledge that whatever legitimate concerns the U.S. Congress still has will be satisfactorily addressed. On the political level the U.S. administration should work against efforts in the United Nations and elsewhere to reopen the Act of Free Choice process that cemented Papuan (then Irian Barat’s) relationship with Indonesia in 1969.
The Prospects of Reform in the Security Sector
The stability of the country depends to a large degree on the government’s ability to initiate performance-enhancing reforms on a whole spectrum ofcivil and military institutions. Few Indonesians understand this better than President Yudhoyono. As a lieutenant general in charge of the TNI’s socialand political affairs he was the principal author of the New Paradigm(Paradigma Baru) which showed the way the armed forces could better serve a democratic society. The TNI voluntarily gave up its privileged seats in the parliament and regional assemblies. It scrapped the controversial dwi-fungsi (dual function) doctrine that enmeshed the military in virtually every aspect of civil society. It required its officers to retire before taking civilian government posts. The TNI military justice system has been brought under the Supreme Court as an important step in civilian oversight.
While far from complete, reformasi has produced other remarkable changes. The TNI’s command-and-control problem has improved much under General Endriartono Sutarto, one of the outstanding products of the IMET program.The TNI stayed scrupulously neutral in the legislative and presidential contests in 1999 and 2004. Compare that to General Wiranto’s confession that he had little control over the actions of his troops in the field during the East Timor violence. Or to reliable reports that just six years ago regional (Kodam) commanders regularly bypassed the chain of command and reported directly to President Suharto. Professional pride as well as peer pressure from other militaries may be influencing its behavior more effectively than punitive denials of U.S. educational benefits.
Reformasi did not have enough political and financial support during the first three post-Suharto governments so it fell short in many respects. But it is due for a revival with President Yudhoyono having not only a mandate for change but also two equally reform-minded senior aides to help him: the defense minister Mr. Juwono Sudarsono and retired Admiral Widodo, who returns to public service as the Coordinating Minister for Justice, Security and Political Affairs, the post the president last occupied. The retired naval officerwas the TNI chief during the first wave of reformasi under former President Abdurrahman Wahid.
A joint defense ministry-TNI team has been formed in preparation for the eventual subordination of the armed forces under the ministry (currently the TNI reports directly to the president as does the Polri). Mr. Sudarsono is seeking to consolidate all military procurement under his ministry and involve civilian officials more closely in defense matters. He has a medium-term plan to convert TNI-owned enterprises, cooperatives and foundations into state-owned firms and to use their revenues to augment the official armed forces budget. The TNI leadership supports these structural changes in principle but will be reluctant to submit to them until the ministry and other civilian agencies concerned are staffed with officials competent in military affairs.
The U.S. has a wealth of education resources that could be tapped in support of this restructuring. A special program in defense and personnel management, budgeting and program design can be designed for Indonesian civilians and military officers at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Its Center for Civil-Military Relations offers courses and advisory assistance on defense restructuring. Candidates for TNI judge-advocate positions, senior commanders, defense ministry officials and even parliamentarians could broaden their knowledge about military justice at the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies in Newport, Rhode Island. A great deal ofcapacity building could be done through Mobile Training Teams (MTT’s) to promote community policing and provide specialized professional and management training for up-and-coming officers in military and police schools.
The U.S. should support the government’s plans to retain parts of the TNI’s territorial structure as long as the TNI does not intervene in the socio-political affairs of the local communities. There are practical reasons for the TNI keeping at least its regional commands (Kodams) and subregional commands (Korems) if it is still to be responsible for counter-insurgency and counter-separatism. Until the police can handle the job by itself, a military presence may continue to be necessary in Aceh, Papua and other conflict-prone areas.
Indonesian Police on the Move
After more than three decades as the most under-resourced and least prestigious branch of the armed forces, the Polri is transforming itself faster than its more senior sibling service, owing in large measure to significantly greater U.S. assistance. The change of its doctrine from “Fighting Soldier” to “Skilled, Commendable, Law-Abiding” is intended to drum the principle of demilitarization into every uniformed officer. New uniforms and the adoption of a more traditional police nomenclature for rank structure also emphasize the change from military service to civilian police force.
Police units working together with foreign counterparts in tracking down drug trafficking, arms smuggling and other transnational crimes are also turning up improved results. In 2003, for instance, the Polri investigated 7,140 narcotics cases—nearly four times more than the 1999 total. The qualityof the work is still mixed in newly initiated operations such as those against cyber-crime and money laundering. The Polri‘s record in illegal logging isless impressive. As of mid-2004 it had only five cases under investigation and 12 suspects under arrest. This is an area in which the police are still being outgunned by politically more powerful forces, including some TNI units which derive funding from contraband logging and other illegal pursuits.
The enthusiasm for reform is seen most clearly in the middle ranks. It is not uncommon for police inspectors and captains to be devoting a third to half their time in workshops and training missions. The notoriety of the policefor petty graft and abusive conduct still persists, however, among the general public. The INP is trying to repair its image through the enforcement of acode of ethics. Between August 2003 and May 2004 Polri dismissed 151 officers and disciplined 1,684 others for offenses ranging from corruption and abuse of authority to gambling and disorderly conduct. Police Watch, a non-government organization supported by the United States, reports improvements in cop-on-the-street performance even though these may not be enough tosatisfy some critics.
The Polri is growing rapidly in size and will be an even stronger force for change in the future. The police took in 12,000 recruits in 2002 alone and added 26,000 more since then, bringing its total force to 281,195 officers and 20,881 civilian personnel. Further expansion may be justified in sheer demographic terms. In comparison with its population of 228 million Indonesia has a policeman-to-population ratio of 1:810—still far below the 1:400 prescribed by the United Nations. Quantity alone, however, cannot assure transformational change, so many challenges remain for the Polri and the foreign institutions offering cooperative programs.
Current U.S. Assistance Programs
The United States spends more than ten times more in assisting the police than it does the TNI. This disproportion does not necessarily reflect U.S. priorities. It is simply the product of congressional restrictions and bureaucratic momentum. There remain large budgetary resources to draw from for the training of foreign law enforcement agencies. We have spent almost $1billion on rule-of-law programs in 184 countries during the 1994-1998 period. The International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Program (ICITAP), housed at Justice but funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and overseen by the U.S. State Department, has an average annual budget about $50 million worldwide. With funds from ICITAP as well as from the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) program and others specifically intended for counter-terrorism, the U.S. has been able to provide $36million in assistance for Polri over the last four years.
By contrast, funding for military assistance in Southeast Asia, except for the Philippines, has been declining since the end of the Vietnam War. The IMET program, which at its prime helped shape President Yudhoyono’s career when he was a young infantry officer and those of other future military leaders as well, has been virtually dormant for more than a decade because of crippling congressional restrictions. It has effectively been supplanted by the so-called Expanded IMET, or E-MET program which gives priority to civilians and selected military officers, and the better-funded Regional Defense Counter-Terrorist (RDCT) fellowships. These programs amount to less than $1 million a year and are also restricted by congressional instruction to “non-lethal” courses like defense management and civil-military relations.
U.S. assistance to the police is justifiable at current or even higher levels but policy-makers should reconsider whether the disproportionate attention to the TNI’s needs serves their objectives. While E-IMET and RDCT are valuable in their own right, they do not provide the same opportunities that IMET does for creating the lasting personal relationships that promote easier communications between our two militaries. Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, theTNI chief, is one of the last few IMET alumni still in active service. There are strong concerns in both countries that a decade of IMET restrictions has dried up the reservoir of personal contacts and goodwill that served both countries the years. A cross-section of active duty and recently retired senior Indonesian military officers were unanimous, in discussions with the authors of this paper, in calling for the resumption of the full IMET program. “We are becoming an inbred military,” a senior retiree closely identified with the reformist camp said. “We must start all over again from the beginning to train our young officers as well as our more senior officers.”
In the current restrictive environment other military-to-military programs are limited to exchange visits among senior officers, attendance at conferences and seminars sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), and training opportunities primarily in the fields of health care, safety, and disaster response. At the regional level, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Commandand its component commanders have restarted the Bilateral Defense Dialogue (BDD) with their Indonesian counterparts. Indonesian officers attend a variety of conferences and symposia sponsored by PACOM components, including the International Sea Power Symposium, the Pacific Armies Management Seminar, Pacific Air Force Disaster Management Symposium, and a variety of medical conferences and training exchanges. Exchanges have also been initiated on the departamental level through the Indonesian-U.S. Security Dialogue (IUSSD), conducted by a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense on the U.S. side and a Secretary General from the Defense Ministry on the Indonesian side.
The other major tool of military cooperation is the provision of critical spare parts and other equipment. Here, too, the U.S. effort is severely limited by law. A five-year arms sales embargo has caused virtually all of the U.S. manufactured aircraft fleets (F-5, F-16, C-130, UH-1) to become inoperable because of a lack of spare parts and other maintenance problems, or to be operated in unsafe conditions. The restrictions recently have eased to allow the sales of non-lethal equipment like C-130 spare parts, and for “safety of use” items for weapons systems (such as aircraft pilot ejection systems). Further fine-tuning of our regulations could open larger markets for U.S. vendors. Indonesia has a high priority requirement for improved airlift and sealift capability, both to secure its huge maritime expanse, and to move troops toreact to natural disasters and flash outbreaks of major communal conflict.
After the United States, Australia has the second largest military relationship with Indonesia with a robust bilateral training program and an education assistance program similar to IMET. It has brought several dozen studentsper year to Australian military schools. Canberra conducts a number of training programs every year in both Australia and Indonesia. The relationship between the Australian Special Air Service (SAS) and the Indonesian Army Special Forces Command (Kopassus) was once particularly strong. Like the United States, Australia suspended virtually all aspects of this program in 1999 to protest the TNI role in East Timor violence.
Australia has slowly resumed its education program. Indonesian officers are again attending courses in Australian military schools. In June 2004 Australia resumed its relationship with Kopassus, but only in the realm of counter-terrorism. Kopassus‘ Unit 81, which is the TNI’s elite counter-terror unit, participated in a conference of Special Forces and counter- terrorism experts. Australian Defence Force chief Peter Cosgrove has indicated that training between the Indonesian and Australian Special Forces would resume but only inmissions such as hostage rescue.
Britain is helping Indonesia erect the intellectual infrastructure to plan for and operate a modern military. The Indonesian defense ministry’s first-ever white paper issued in 2003 was in part the product of British advisers who helped craft the form, although not the substance, of this historic document. The British are also providing seed money for a graduate course on defense studies at the Bandung Institute of Technology. The classes ideally will each be made up of 15 civilians and 15 uniformed officers. The British also opened some seats for Indonesian officers at the Royal College of Defense Studies. British money also quietly supports discussion groups on military reform without necessary endorsing comments made during their meetings. The TNI traditionally has been a self-managed organization but educational/civic ventures such as these eventually can broaden the talent base of civilians able to take turns at the helm.
Indonesia’s ASEAN partners and a few other Asian countries conduct military relations at a variety of levels and degrees of complexity. Indonesian officers and those from other ASEAN nations regularly attend each other’s staff colleges and engage in joint training exercises although economic considerations have lowered the tempo of these activities.
Other countries have responded to the shortage of military hardware created by the U.S. arms embargo. European and Asian countries have sold or donated a variety of air, ground, and land weapons systems to Indonesia in recent years. Non-traditional suppliers include Russia, Ukraine, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore. Some of those vendor countries also provide training in weapons systems acquired from their inventories. For example, Russia is training Sukhoi and helicopter pilots for the Indonesian Air Force and Army, respectively. Despite Indonesia’s search for reliable equipment suppliers, no other country has a military relationship that approaches the scope of what the U.S. and Australia had previously attained. At the same time, the United States should not oppose the provision of needed military equipment, especially small arms and ammunition, by NATO allies, while discouraging to the extent possible the export to Indonesia of irrelevant or “prestige” weapons systems.
The outpouring of international assistance to the police has been heartening. After the October 2002 Bali bombing the number of national or institutional contributors jumped from 15 to more than 30. The U.N.-sponsored Partnership for Governance Reform estimates that the INP receives close to $50 million a year in donor assistance.
Japan is investing in a project to determine whether its highly regarded neighborhood-based policing methods can deter street crime in Indonesia’s urban areas. Germany is providing in-country training in riot control, while China has donated a thousand motorcycles. The United Nations-supported Partnership for Governance Reform has been effective in mobilizing donor support for the police. It serves as an informal clearinghouse of information about donor activity in this sector.
C. COMBATING TERRORISM
A Transnational Threat
The horrific bombing of a Bali night club in October 2002, followed by the attacks in Jakarta of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in August 2003 and the Australian Embassy in September 2004, have placed Indonesia, by its own admission, on the frontline of a global war against terrorism. Jemmah Islamiyah (JI), the transnational group believed to be behind all three incidents, is still “active and dangerous” in the judgment of the International Crisis Group (ICG). Interrogations of the more than 200 JI members arrested in Southeast Asiain recent years indicate that the organization is larger than previously thought, “with a depth of leadership that gives it a regenerative capacity,” according to the ICG. JI communicates with and has received funding from al Qaeda, but the ICG notes “it is very independent and takes most, if not all operational decisions locally.” In all likelihood JI is now a cluster of small groups with few links with each other, making them harder to penetrate and less likely to require higher authority for launching further attacks.
Legal Environment for Counter-Terrorism
According to the U.S. State Department’s annual survey, Patterns of Terrorism 2003, Indonesia’s counter-terrorism efforts are “hampered by weak rule of law, a poorly regulated financial system, and serious internal coordination problems.” The government, however, did enhance its legal framework in September 2003 by passing amendments to its anti-money laundering law, which strengthened the government’s legal authority to combat terrorist finance. Indonesia has also created a financial intelligence unit with U.S. assistance.
Unlike its neighbors, Singapore and Malaysia, Indonesia lacks an Internal Security Act that would give the government broad powers to arrest and detain terrorist suspects without having to charge them with a crime or bring them to a speedy public trial. Given Indonesia’s recent history, it appears very unlikely that the president would propose or the legislature would pass such legislation. So persons suspected of terrorist activities must be identified, investigated, arrested, interrogated, prosecuted and convicted under existing criminal laws.
In March 2003, Indonesia adopted a comprehensive antiterrorism law, defining various acts of terror and providing police and prosecutors with broader powers to combat terrorism such as extended pretrial detention periods andthe use of electronic evidence in court. The government, however, has been unwilling to ban JI, contending that the group never formally applied for recognition and thus cannot be banned. According to the U.S. State Department, “[t]he absence of such a prohibition has impeded police and prosecutors in arresting and trying suspected terrorists and will most likely further hamper prosecutors’ efforts to put JI leaders behind bars.”
Indonesia’s Response to Terrorism
The Indonesian government was slow to recognize that the nation faced a serious terrorist threat. The bombings in Bali that killed 202 mostly foreign tourists and the J.W. Marriott Hotel blast that killed 12 forced the government of then-President Megawati into action. President Yudhoyono’s new government, in office for little more than a month, is continuing the anti-terrorism campaign. The Polri has arrested more than 100 suspected JI members – most of them in 2003 — including numerous senior JI leaders, a number of regional and subregional commanders, most of the masterminds of the Bali attack, several key planners of the Marriott bombing, former instructors at JI training camps, and financiers of terrorist attacks. On November 10, 2004 the Polri arrested four additional terrorist suspects associated with the Marriott and Australian Embassy bombings.
In President Yudhoyono’s inaugural address, he identified counter-terrorism as a national priority. The fact that Indonesian Muslims died in in all these attacks may also have contributed to the new president’s decision. Shortly after assuming the presidency, the president held a teleconference with the regional police chiefs (Kapoldas) during which he vowed to “crack down hard” on terrorists. He ordered the police to arrest Malaysian terrorists Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohd Top, the suspected masterminds of the Australian Embassy bombing, during the first hundred days of his administration.
Counter-Terrorism Policy Coordination
One of President Yudhoyono’s greatest challenges will be improving counter-terrorism policy coordination. The president’s confidants say he wants to personally control counter-terrorism policy (as well as policy on separatist movements). The president may choose to set up a National Security Council-style system to bring together cabinet ministers and agency heads to advise him on issues like combating terrorism.
Overseeing the implementation of this policy represents a further challenge. The President has yet to establish the mechanism to coordinate the operational activities of the principal counter-terrorism arms of the government: the Coordinating Minister for Justice, Security and Political Affairs, the intelligence services, the police and the TNI, and customs and immigration.
One approach mentioned by analysts would be to assign the Coordinating Minister, retired Admiral Widodo, responsibility for executing the president’s instructions. Admiral Widodo may not have the authority to make policy, but would be well placed to direct its implementation. The coordinating ministry that he oversees now includes representatives of the Department of Defense, TNI, Polri, Immigration, Customs and the national intelligence agency, Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN). At the time of Yudhoyono’s inauguration, the coordinating ministry had a counter-terrorism desk with approximately 10 persons assigned primarily to coordinating donor assistance. If the Coordinating Minister’s responsibility for counter-terrorism expands, his staff may grow as well.
Intelligence Capabilities and Coordination
Indonesia has three major intelligence agencies, BIN, military intelligence, Badan Intelijen Strategis (BAIS), and police intelligence, plus intelligence elements in the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank of Indonesia. These agencies tend to operate independently of each other and do not function as a classic “intelligence community” in the sense that there is no architecture to promote joint intelligence collection or analysis, nor is there a formal mechanism for intelligence sharing among agencies. Some sharing does occur, but primarily as a consequence of personal relationships among senior intelligence officials.
Following the Australian Embassy bombing, the intelligence agency heads met to discuss how they might better coordinate their counter-terrorism activities. They reached no conclusions, since the meeting took place in the midst of the presidential election campaign. With the campaign over and President Yudhoyono inaugurated, the intelligence agencies are now awaiting presidential instruction to create a special task force on counter-terrorism intelligence. This task force would presumably outline agency responsibilities as well as direct the Finance Ministry to watch out for possible fund transfers to terrorist groups.
National Intelligence Agency
BIN is comprised mainly of active duty and retired military intelligence officers. According to a senior military intelligence officer, the agency has good analytical capability, but needs to gain a better “sense of the situation” on the ground. BIN developed much of the intelligence information that supported the initial investigation of the Bali bombing. Several sources, however, describe relations between BIN and the Polri as seriously strained.
BAIS formerly had a domestic intelligence mission that included, but was not actively focused on counter-terrorism. TNI senior officers recognize that intelligence is the key to counter-terrorism, and many observers believe that BAIS is the strongest of the three intelligence agencies. They contend that BAIS is better equipped by its culture to mount penetration operations against terrorist groups. However, it lacks the legal authority to conduct domestic infiltration operations. In the meantime, several sources report that cooperation between BAIS and the Polri remains quite limited.
The Polri has primary responsibility for collecting and analyzing information about terrorist elements, but the police intelligence system appears to be less formalized and more limited than either BIN or BAIS. Although the police do have former BAIS officers who transferred from the armed forces to the Polri when it became independent of the TNI in 1999, the police intelligence system may be geared more to supporting investigations than pre-empting terrorist attacks. Observers noted that the police lack a classification system for handling sensitive information and a central document storage system for database management. Moreover, the police culture encourages police officers to develop their own informants and maintain their own information, rather than forwarding source data and information to a higher headquarters where it can be combined with data from other sources for analysis. A U.S. Embassy officer described the police as skilled in surveillance and other investigation techniques, but also noted Polri‘s lack of forensics and other advanced technical training and modern equipment, including computers.
Bank Indonesia (the Central Bank of the Republic of Indonesia) has a financial intelligence unit that is charged with investigations under Indonesia’s comparatively weak money laundering law. According to U.S. Embassy officials, this unit does not have an interactive relationship with other counter-terrorism intelligence units. The Finance Ministry is reportedly developing a capability to trace the flow of terrorist funds, but little is known about the comparative effectiveness of this activity.
Operational Counter-Terrorism Forces
In Indonesia, counter-terrorism is primarily a law enforcement problem. Thus, the Polri constitutes the government’s principal counter-terrorist force. The TNI, however, retains a counter-terrorism mission and capabilities in the specialized areas of anti-hijacking and explosive ordnance disposal.
Indonesian National Police
Initially, to investigate the Bali bombing, the police established an ad hoc task force headed by Brig.Gen. Gores Mere, considered by many to be Indonesia’s premier criminal investigator. He had previously attracted attention by his handling of the Tommy Suharto corruption case. The counter-terrorism task force was built around the Polri‘s special counter-narcotics force headed by Gores Mere. He was reportedly given carte blanche to choose an “all-star team” of investigators. The ad hoc task force on counter-terrorism he assembled reported directly to the Polri chief. The Indonesian press described the task force as having about 35 personnel. They were responsible for the entire spectrum of counter-terrorism operations: establishing informant networks, opening initial investigations, conducting surveillance on suspects, arresting and interrogating suspects, and preparing cases for prosecutors. Indicative of the task force’s abilities, JI spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir blamed not only the United States for his arrest and trial, but also Gores Mere.
As the terrorist threat grew, the Polri recognized that Indonesia needed a permanent unit to combat it. In 2003, the Polri began assembling Special Detachment 88 in Directorate 6 of the Criminal Investigation Division, to be Indonesia’s primary counter-terrorism force. Formally established in March2004, Detachment 88 is under the command of Brig.Gen. Pranowo, considered a highly effective trainer. Although Gores Mere has apparently moved on to other responsibilities, the ad hoc task force on counter-terrorism still exists in some form. Detachment 88 and this task force work together on some counter-terrorist operations, though in some cases they operate separately. The Indonesian plan is eventually to merge these two units into a single counter-terrorist force.
Indonesian Armed Forces
The defense bill passed by the last parliament identified 14 missions for the armed forces, including counter-terrorism. Department of Defense officials acknowledge that TNI should play a supporting role in counter-terrorism, with the police in the lead role. But, senior military officials believe that Indonesia should bring all its resources to bear on this problem, and that includes involving TNI. They argue that the TNI’s territorial structure, which puts a non-commissioned officer in every village in the archipelago, is a built-in asset that should be mobilized to acquire actionable intelligence. Senior military officers point out that the police are skilled in investigating incidents after they occur, but only TNI with its vast network of deployed personnel, can successfully infiltrate terrorist groups, learn their plans and prevent terrorist incidents before they happen.
It is clear from interviews with senior officers that the military sees several advantages in carving out a stronger counter-terrorism mission. First, counter-terrorism is an important government priority and TNI involvement might hasten the refurbishing of the military’s reputation. That reputation was seriously tarnished at home and abroad during the East Timor conflict andalso by initial suspicions of TNI involvement in the killing of foreign teachers in West Papua. Second, having a counter-terrorism mission provides access to foreign training and equipment. Third, counter-terrorism provides a justification for retention of the TNI’s territorial command system.
The TNI’s principal counter-terrorism resource is Unit 81, a Kopassus element with an anti-hijacking and hostage rescue mission. This unit trains regularly and maintains a high state of readiness, though, like the police, Unit 81 suffers from a shortage of equipment. According to a senior Kopassus officer, the most significant shortfall is in explosive ordnance disposal. The unit has dog teams to locate bombs, but needs to build a capability to detect and identify explosive devices by type and size.
Unit 81 training focuses on hostage rescue in both urban and jungle environments. The unit’s facilities are equipped for anti-hijacking scenarios involving buses and aircraft Kopassus trains about 250 soldiers annually in counter-terrorism skills and techniques.
Unit 81 has a training relationship with the Jakarta international airport through the Communications Division of the Department of Transportation. There apparently is no joint training with the Indonesian Air Force or Navy. Unit 81 conducted a counter-terrorism hostage rescue exercise with the police at the parliament building in Jakarta in 2003, but there is no formal coordination mechanism between Kopassus and the police. Because Kopassus can no longer depend on the United States for assistance, Unit 81 has had to become virtually self-sufficient in training. Training relationships with Australia, United Kingdom, France and South Korea have also been curtailed, although Kopassus still trains with Singapore and Thailand.
Regional Counter-Terrorism Cooperation
Indonesian officials acknowledge that regional cooperation on counter-terrorism remains limited and ineffective. Some initial steps have been taken, but Southeast Asia lacks formal mechanisms for intelligence sharing and for converting actionable intelligence into operational response. Counter-terrorism cooperation among Southeast Asian governments comes more often as a result of personal relationships between senior military and police officials than through a regularized system of regional cooperation and secure communications channels. Still, the heightened threat of terrorism has encouraged more active interchange among regional governments.
For example, meeting in Kuala Lumpur in May 2002, ASEAN home affairs ministers agreed to take concrete steps to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism. ASEAN foreign ministers, meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell in Brunei in August 2002, agreed to establish a regional intelligence network, take steps to block the transfer of funds to terrorists, and tighten border controls. On July 1, 2003 Malaysia established a Southeast Asia Regional Center for Counter-terrorism (SEARCCT). SEARCCT is expected to focus on regional training, information sharing, and public awareness campaigns, according to the U.S. State Department’s report, Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003. In August 2003, SEARCCT hosted a training program sponsored by the U.S. Treasury’s financial intelligence unit and Malaysia’s central bank on combating terrorist financing. Other nations, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia, are also expected to provide trainers and training materials to the center. Singapore and Malaysia have on occasion provided information to the Indonesian authorities that led directly to the arrest of terrorist suspects. Finally, ASEAN army commanders meeting in Jakarta in September 2004 agreed to exchange information on terrorist threats, but did not establish a mechanism for doing so.
These initial steps toward regional cooperation are welcome, though in the view of many analysts, not sufficient to deal with the threat. Moreover, according to a senior military intelligence officer, Indonesia’s participation in regional intelligence exchanges is hampered by lack of computer resources. This requires sharing of actionable intelligence to be done by telephone, which is neither reliable nor secure.
U.S. Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) and Other Programs
U.S. Embassy officers are satisfied with their relations with Indonesian counterparts, although they recognize that much remains to be done to build national capacity. While the American role in counter-terrorism is not welcomed by some critics, the U.S. assistance program has achieved significant success. Indeed, the State Department has commended Indonesia for its progress in counter-terrorism and pledged continued cooperation.
Indonesia is a major recipient of U.S. Anti-Terrorism Assistance, a congressionally-funded program administered by the State Department’s Office of Diplomatic Security (DS). DS specialists conducted a “needs assessment” inIndonesia in 2001. The assessment resulted in an Indonesian decision to train 100 investigators, 150 special weapons and tactics (SWAT) personnel, and 50 bomb disposal technicians and post-blast investigators over a three-year period. (Indonesia already had 50 bomb disposal technicians who had received training in the United States.)
The U.S. objective is simply to enable the Indonesian police to apprehend as many JI operatives as possible. To this end, DS operates three ATA training courses: on investigative techniques in case management, SWAT techniques and bomb disposal and post-blast investigation.
ATA in-country training in Indonesia began in 2003. In July 2003 the U.S. program graduated 30 counter-terrorism investigators who were sent to the counter-narcotics force headed by Gores Mere. They were assigned to counter-terrorism “chase and capture” teams and comprised the ad hoc taskforce referred to above. In October 2003 the program graduated investigative teams and bomb disposal technicians who would eventually become national assets inDetachment 88. Equipped through ATA funding, Detachment 88 was officially established in March 2004.
The United States has funded the Indonesia ATA training program at $5.1 million for FY02, $5.1 million for FY03, and $8.0 million for FY04. The program provides both training and specialized equipment. INP personnel who have no record of human rights abuses are eligible to participate. The program does not involve the training of paramilitary units.
The United States has funded construction of a $3.5 million counter-terrorism training facility east of Bogor at Megamendung. This facility includes facilities for simulating counter-measures against terrorist attacks. Indonesians then built another counter-terrorism training facility on a soccer field at the Polri academy on the site of a former Japanese tea plantation at Semarang. Australia funded much of the construction of this facility. The Semarang training site has facilities similar to those in the Megamendung facility. The site has 54 wireless remote controlled cameras to monitor training exercises. The Indonesians also constructed a four-story hotel on which to practice assaults and extractions. In addition, the Semarang site has a mock aircraft, a train in a train station, and a “boat in a moat” where students can practice hostage rescue and related activities. A U.S. source indicated, however, that this training site is not being fully used by the police due to lack of operations and maintenance funds.
Having built up these units, the Indonesians’ task now is to make them sustainable. This will require development of staff capabilities and added instructor resources. The U.S. program will complete training for the 300 Indonesian police in FY05. The United States and Indonesia will want to develop a strategy that will ensure continued operation of the counter-terrorism training program.
D. MARITIME SECURITY
Why the Concern
The Strait of Malacca remains open to a dramatic and costly maritime terrorist attack. Through this Strait flows as much as 40% of the world’s trade and 80% of the oil imports of Japan, Korea and Taiwan. An attack by terrorists would send a shock wave through the economies of neighboring countries, significantly raise freight and insurance rates, and cause a massive diversion of commercial shipping to expensive alternative routes. Moreover, maritime powers would have to consider intervention to protect their commercial shipping.
Although terrorists have yet to attack naval or commercial shipping in the Strait, JI, reputedly al Qaeda’s major ally in Southeast Asia, has bombed other “soft” targets in Bali and Jakarta. Indonesian counter-terrorist authorities naturally are focused on preventing a similar attack by a terrorist network with degraded, but still dangerous, capabilities. But Strait shipping is among the softest of targets in the region. Al Qaeda has crippled both naval and commercial vessels elsewhere; JI has planned attacks on ships in Southeast Asian waters. Though less likely than another suicide bombing on land, a terrorist hit in the Strait would be far more destructive than a repetition of the previous attacks.
Indonesian-U.S. cooperation is essential to accelerate the formation of an effective regional coalition to improve maritime security in the Strait. Fundamental Indonesian economic interests and U.S. counter-terrorism strategy overlap most directly in the Strait of Malacca, although the Sunda and Bali straits are also strategic passages and potential target areas.
Terrorism and Piracy
Those who warn of this possible menace in the Strait of Malacca cite planned or actual attacks by al Qaeda and its affiliates on ships as well acts of piracy that continue to plague this waterway. Those who dismiss the terrorist threat as alarmist argue that pirates have no interest in a terrorist incident that would draw attention to their lucrative activities. But this debate is misleading. Whether terrorists cooperate with pirates or not, pirates in the target-rich Strait have convincingly demonstrated how easily terrorists could cut this crucial artery of international trade.
Al Qaeda has a well-known record of terrorism at sea, including the October 2000 bombing of the moored USS Cole in Yemen and the attack on the Limburg oil tanker off the Yemeni coast in October 2002. An advanced al Qaeda plan to attack warships in the Strait of Gibraltar was discovered in mid-2002. Perhaps of more immediate relevance are plans to attack shipping in Southeast Asia. When Singapore began investigating the presence of JI in its midst, it learned of the group’s plans for suicide attacks on visiting U.S. warships. Former Indonesian intelligence chief Hendropriyono warned publicly in August 2004 that captured JI members have confessed to planning maritime actions.
Although a gas/air explosion of an LNG/LPG tanker would be technically extremely difficult, a ship transporting part of the huge amount of ammonium nitrate traded throughout the region could be turned into a floating bomb. A small boat attack leading to a petroleum tanker fire, on the Limburg model, if carried out by terrorists, would also have an enormous economic and psychological impact, causing insurance rates to soar and frightening away investors.
Published figures on piracy do not reflect the true extent of the problem, since most attacks probably go unreported. However, even these figures are striking. From 1991 to 2001, of the reported 2,375 actual and attempted pirate attacks worldwide, 66% occurred in Southeast Asia. In 2003, of a total of445 acts of piracy, 189 occurred in Southeast Asia. Of these, 121 attacks took place in Indonesian waters – more than in any other country in the world. In the Strait of Malacca, pirate attacks reported to the International Maritime Bureau jumped from 16 in 2002 to 28 in 2003.
The Current Response: Too Little, Too Late
Terrorism is a transnational threat. Several countries share responsibility for maritime security in the Strait, as do, many argue, users of this key maritime chokepoint. Singapore and increasingly Malaysia are taking steps to enhance maritime security in their parts of these waters. In July 2004, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore initiated coordinated patrols in the Strait. Japan and the United States have highlighted the threats of piracy and terrorism respectively, and provided limited training. But Japan’s efforts are hampered by political diffidence and the U.S. Regional Maritime Security Initiative (RMSI) has yet to produce concrete accomplishments.
If terrorists did attack a commercial ship, Indonesia would receive the lion’s share of the blame. Fairly or not, it would probably be criticized for inattention, for the paralyzing infighting among the several ministries that share responsibility for maritime security, and for the decrepit condition of many of its ships. Since most ship attacks in the Strait can be traced back to Indonesian shores, allegations of official corruption are sure to accompany other denunciations.
President Yudhoyono recognizes the link between security and foreign investment, but in the public perception suppressing terrorism remains alow priority in a crowded field of Indonesian problems.
For under-funded maritime security agencies, including the Navy, piracy and “sea robbery” (a term for piracy in territorial waters) are old and familiar problems, one concern among many. Indonesia’s part of the Strait of Malacca constitutes only a tiny percentage of Indonesia’s extensive waters, in and across which illegal fishing and smuggling routinely take place, at a cost of several billion dollars to the national treasury. Another pressing issue, on the back burner for the past year, is how to redistribute Indonesia’s maritime security responsibilities among the many agencies that claim a piece of that pie.
The Indonesian Navy and Marine Police are not oblivious to piracy, or the potential for maritime terrorism, but their capacity to act is hampered by inadequate equipment and training. In addition to the July 2004 “coordinated” patrols with its Singaporean and Malaysian counterparts, the has ordered a crack-down against piracy in the waters around northern Sumatra. It is also reportedly prepared to allocate funds from its limited budget to upgrade communications capabilities.
Plans and Strategies
As noted earlier, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono has spoken of “rebalancing” the Indonesian armed forces’ assets to better suit the country’s geography and the regional environment. A few Indonesian political-military experts have begun to argue, mostly in private, that Indonesia’s armed forces should be restructured to reflect modern threats to the country’s national security. Although Indonesia continues to face an insurrection in Aceh and scattered violent ethnic conflict elsewhere, there has long been no credible conventional external threat. Instead, defense intellectuals point to non-traditional issues, such as terrorism, piracy, and smuggling, as the real threats to the country’s security. The archipelagic nature of the state would suggest that control of the nation’s waters must become a priority in combating such non-traditional or asymmetric threats.
At this time, Indonesia does not have a coordinated plan to address maritime security. The Coordinating Agency for Maritime Security (BAKORKAMLA), established in 1971 to coordinate maritime security among the seven agencies involved in maritime security, has been strangled by bureaucratic conflict since the police were separated from the armed forces in 1999. It has reportedly not met for more than a year.
A plan to rationalize responsibilities for maritime security was presented to then-Coordinating Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2003. However, with so many other issues crowding the Indonesian agenda, it appears to have lost its priority.
Agencies and Programs
The Indonesian Navy, Sea Communications Directorate General, and the Marine Police are the most prominent of the several agencies claiming jurisdiction in the maritime sector. In addition, with decentralization, individual provinces have sought to fund maritime security assets to combat piracy. Indonesia possesses the largest navy in Southeast Asia. The Navy employs about 56,000 men and women, including 16,000 well-regarded Marines, or slightly more than one-sixth of the entire Indonesian armed forces. However, the Indonesian fleet, for decades a heterogeneous collection of ships, has deteriorated rapidly since the Asian financial crisis of 1997. With inadequate funding, more than half of the fleet of about 115 ships is reportedly either in maintenance or inoperable. The Sea Communications Guard and Rescue (KPLP) directorate shares, along with the Marine Police, the responsibility for all archipelagic waters, harbors and the coastline out to 12 nautical miles. Its inventory of approximately 125 ships and boats includes many vessels well past serviceability. Sea Communications also administers the Indonesian Maritime Institute (IMI), which is similar to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point.
The small marine police force claims primary law enforcement responsibility for territorial waters. About 4,700 police personnel man 350 ships and boats. The maritime police, recipients of extensive foreign assistance, have reportedly rejected suggestions that their service become Indonesia’s “Coast Guard.” With the rapid post-Suharto decentralization of Indonesia’s old centralized structure, provinces have found new authority and resources at their command. Several have stepped forward to offer to purchase patrol boats for the navy. Jakarta, however, has stated that “questions of defense priorities” must bedecided at the national level.
Indonesia could probably muster sufficient resources to significantly increase the effectiveness of maritime security patrols in the Strait incooperation with other states, but to do so it would have to leave other large swaths of its own waters even less protected.
Although resource constraints will need to be overcome to further enhance Indonesia’s contribution to maritime security in the region, even more important are a number of organizational steps that can rapidly improve the operational effectiveness of those agencies responsible for maritime security. These include clarification of roles and missions, an essential first step to improve inter-agency coordination. A subsequent step would be to consider reorganization of Indonesia’s limited maritime platforms to more effectively fulfill its stated goal of improved cooperation with Malaysia and Singapore. A third would be Indonesia’s formulation of its own plans, based on lessons learned in the Strait of Malacca, which might serve as an Indonesian model for effective surveillance of its own sea space, particularly other potential chokepoints in Indonesian waters. Finally, limited amounts of funding will be needed to upgrade communications capabilities within and between Indonesian agencies and with partner countries, and to establish a maritime information center which can assess and coordinate reactions to threats to maritime security.
Political support will be crucial to the accomplishment of these objectives. Other maritime priorities–for example, a campaign to suppress illegal fishing–may have a stronger claim on Jakarta’s limited defense budget.
The U.S. Response
In mid 2003, the U.S. Department of State raised concerns about the potential for maritime terrorism in Southeast Asia and Admiral Thomas Fargo of the U.S. Pacific Command publicly called for increased maritime cooperation in the region to address the threats of terrorism and arms proliferation. Subsequently, the U.S. government sought to reconcile the Pacific Command’s Regional Maritime Security Initiative (RMSI), with a broader goal of overcoming all maritime security problems throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans, with more focused plans to encourage the formation of a coalition of littoral states to combat piracy and maritime terrorism in the Strait of Malacca. The initially negative reaction to the RMSI by some regional states was due to the mistaken belief that it would entail preemptive or unilateral actions against suspect vessels. Separate from RMSI, but designed to enhance Indonesia’s maritime security capabilities, is a U.S.-funded training program for the Indonesian Marine Police, which arguably has stimulated competition with the Navy.
Current U.S. programs consist of:
a) ICITAP: $7.65 million has been allocated over several fiscal years for training the Indonesian Marine Police, but this training has only recentlybegun. Additional funds are in the pipeline.
b) U.S.-supported conferences, training and exercises, often administered by the U.S. Pacific Command. In keeping with congressional prohibition of U.S.-funded “combat training,” the Indonesian Navy has not been invited to participate in recent major naval exercises
c) U.S. Coast Guard and inter-agency studies of Indonesian maritime security needs.
Japan has long been concerned about piracy in the Strait of Malacca chokepoints. Tokyo has used Japanese Coast Guard boats and patrol aircraft to conduct a continuing series of bilateral training exercises with Southeast Asian countries for the past four years. In 2002, it also launched, through the ASEAN Plus Three (all ASEAN states and Japan, China, and South Korea) mechanism, a major international effort to address piracy which was called the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Anti-Piracy in Asia (RECAAP). This initiative includes funding for an intelligence collection center, but progress on this center has been slow, since Tokyo is reluctant to choose between Malaysia and Singapore as a location for this center. For Indonesia specifically, in addition to training in Indonesian waters, Tokyo has reportedly provided at least one vessel and limited training grants in Japan.
India committed frigates to escort high-value U.S. assets through the Strait of Malacca during Operation Enduring Freedom relating to the Afghanistan conflict in 2002. It also conducts exercises with Indonesia and Singapore. New Delhi has expressed interest in participating in RMSI. Australia works with Indonesian maritime security agencies to address the formerly high-profile issue of the smuggling of illegal aliens into Australia.
E. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In reviewing the history of U.S. policy affecting security relations with Indonesia we are struck by how narrowly it is constructed, locked in a time warp and not in line with the current concerns of both countries. Indonesia is no longer the abusive autocracy of the Suharto years, and the TNI is no longer the out-of-control force the policy sought to punish. Yet it continues to block reengagement with the Indonesian armed forces as though time has stood still since 1992 when the IMET ban was first imposed.
The TNI is still a proud institution commanding the respect of the political elites but its ascendant days are long gone. In a recent Foreign Affairs article Brookings Institution fellow Lex Rieffel found the TNI to be “operationally lame and well past its prime” with serious problems renewing its equipment and recruiting high-quality officers. This is a relevant point for policy-makers who justify the status quo on the grounds that it enforces good behavior on soldiers. In reality it is when armies are isolated and starved of sustenance that breakdowns in discipline occur, thus harming civilians and even threatening the authority of the state.
The rationale behind this policy is vanishing as the events in question recede in time. The East Timor leadership has stated on numerous occasions that it does not support prosecuting the indictments handed down by the United Nations Serious Crime Unit, and will follow a policy of reconciliation, not retribution, in its relations with Indonesia. President Gusmao, Foreign Minister Ramos-Horta, and retired Bishop Belo have all stated their support for a resumption of the U.S. IMET program, on the grounds that it produces more moderate and more internationally sophisticated officers.
U.S. policy-makers must also consider if these sanctions can still stand the test of fairness. Indonesia’s failure to punish the instigators of the East Timor violence is the result of the weakness of the entire justice system. That cannot be fixed by punishing the TNI alone. The tribunal that found no guilt on the part of most of the accused officers and the appeals courts that threw out most of the surviving cases are entirely civilian institutions. The United States should join other countries in helping President Yudhoyono strengthen the legal and judicial arms of his government. And perhaps his well-respected Attorney General, Abdul Rahman Saleh, can find it easier toopen new cases against those responsible for the East Timor mayhem and to bring them to justice.
The United States should continue to address the other major congressional concern —the ambush of American teachers near the giant Freeport-Indonesia gold and copper mine in Papua – until it is fully resolved. But in the midst of a global war on terror the prospects of reeducating the Indonesian military should not be held hostage to the outcome of a single criminal investigation. The U.S. Department of Justice already has indicted a non-TNI individual as the chief suspect and it appears to be only a matter of time before arrests and an indictment are made.
The TNI already has complied with some of the earlier U.S. conditions but in effect the policy still makes U.S. reengagement conditional on structural reforms beyond the TNI’s ability to deliver alone. The Indonesian defense minister would not be able to make “publicly available” audits of TNI expenditures until the government is able to fully fund the armed forces -a standard by most accounts many years away from realization. The United States may get better results by raising the level of engagement in step with progress on these reforms.
If our objective is an improvement in the professionalism of the TNI, we should seriously consider trying to help strengthen the TNI rather than continue weakening it by a policy of isolation. Doing so requires almost a paradigmatic change in thinking but this is precisely what underlines the new government’s approach. Mr. Sudarsono seeks to develop the armed forces into an “important element for democratization in Indonesia” because “civilian forces, mainly political parties, are still in a mess.”
The TNI has taken some steps to reduce the incidence of misconduct in combat zones, including the issuance of human rights manuals. The replacement of territorial troops by better-trained “Rajawali” units with a “hearts-and-minds” approach in dealing with civilians is likely a factor in the recent decline of complaints about TNI and police misconduct in Aceh. The TNI reported that it recently arrested some 500 soldiers and charged many for crimes against civilians. The recent Human Rights Watch report alleging the systematic torture of GAM supporters, however, is one reason for reformers to avoid complacency, even though the validity of these charges is still undetermined and has been challenged by Indonesian authorities.
Our point is not to diminish the value of human rights, which should remain an important element of our relations with Indonesia, but to enhance them and protect them more effectively through an expanded and mutually beneficial security relationship. The following recommendations are intended to meet our twin objectives of supporting the national interests of the United States and Indonesia and helping Indonesia improve the professionalism and capability of its armed forces and police.
The United States should remove the conditions for funding the regular IMET program at the proposed level of $600,000 for FY2005 and $1.4 million for FY2006. This will provide a significant increase in the number of Indonesian officers attending U.S. military courses and allow us to start making up for a lag of more than 10 years in close soldier-to-soldier schoolhouse interface.
Apart from IMET, a portion of the proposed Advanced Education Initiative for Indonesia (AEII), which is proposed by USINDO and a group of U.S. educators, could provide field-grade and lower flag-rank officers the opportunity to work for graduate degrees in strategic studies and business management in U.S. universities. Who knows how many other Yudhoyonos are still out there making their way up the ranks? The TNI and the U.S. defense department should be encouraged to renew programs to send promising young officers with high career potential and English-language proficiency to special advanced degree programs such as that arranged several years ago at Norwich University in Vermont. The U.S. Government could assist by identifying U.S. educational institutions with appropriate programs or an interest in establishing such programs.
The benefits would be shared by both sides. The U.S. can once again establish important personal relations with future TNI leaders. It would be to America’s benefit, too, if Indonesian officers gain an important first-hand exposure to the military’s role in a democratic society and the practical aspects of civilian control of the armed forces. Indonesia would be rewarded with a future supply of well-rounded officers who can fill senior positions in the modernized security structure Defense Minister Sudarsono envisions. Ultimately, the two armed forces can take the first steps towards interoperability in a broad range of potential scenarios, including peacemaking and peacekeeping operations, disaster relief, and counter-terrorism.
Critical Parts Supplies
The Indonesian defense ministry has been stepping up its efforts to acquire a new generation of aircraft from Russian, East European and other sources out of concern about the unavailability of spare parts for its U.S.-origin aircraft. Even though the U.S. is not yet at a point where it can resume arms sales to Indonesia, we should assure the TNI that non-lethal, safety-of-use equipment and spare parts that can keep these aircraft operational will be made available in a timely manner.
The United States should also offer to deploy and fund a maintenance and readiness mobile training team (MTT) to assist the Indonesian Air Force (IAF) in restoring U.S.-supplied airframes to an acceptable level of readiness. The emphasis should be on the strategic airlift fleet of C-130s with the next priority on F-5 and F-16 fighters. The United States should also consider follow-on assistance in the provision of spare parts to meet the most critical needs identified by the team. Air force officers holding key logistics and maintenance positions should be invited to attend appropriate training courses in the U.S. with funds from the restored IMET program. Our objective is to help the IAF restore its ability to transport police and military forces in a timely manner to the scene of natural disasters, outbreaks of communal violence or terrorist incidents.
Indonesia has awakened to the threat of terrorists in its midst and has started to act decisively against it. Since the Bali bombing theIndonesian police has arrested more than 100 suspected JI members and raised its investigative and reaction capabilities with generous U.S. and Australian assistance. President Yudhoyono is stepping up the pressure with a directive to the police to capture the masterminds behind the Marriott hotel and Australian Embassy bombings in the first hundred days of his administration. But key pieces of a credible C/T infrastructure are still not in place. Despite the enactment of a comprehensive antiterrorism law, the weaknesses in the legal system combined with political sensitivities inhibit prosecutors from cracking down harder on Islamic extremists. The United States can facilitate the prosecution of suspected terrorists by making available critical information from the interrogation of former JI leader Hambali who remains in U.S. custody.
The wheels of justice also may move faster if a special prosecutor were to be put in charge of terrorist crimes. To improve policy coordination, the Yudhcyono administration is reportedly considering establishing a National Defense Council chaired by the president that brings together the heads of key departments and agencies of the government. One approach to improving cooperation among counter-terrorism agencies would be to establish an interagency counter-terrorism center at the national level to coordinate intelligence and operational planning at the top-most level. The United States should provide material and advisory assistance for their institutional capacity-building.
U.S. anti-terrorism programs have borne fruit in the form of a fully-trained, well-equipped police unit called Detachment 88, which will serve as Indonesia’s main counter-terrorism resource. The challenge for Indonesiais to maintain this and other U.S.-trained assets at an acceptable level of readiness, which would require further budgetary support. The U.S. should develop a strategy to ensure the sustainability of its $18 million investment in these programs. Other donor countries with economic interests in Indonesia should be encouraged to contribute to the strengthening of this counter-terrorism capacity.
A maritime terrorist attack in the Strait of Malacca would devastate the economies of Singapore and Malaysia, and significantly impact Indonesia’s trade, much of which flows through Singapore. Since an attack could conceivably originate in Indonesia, Jakarta stands the risks of being subjected to a torrent of criticism and panic-induced disinvestment. Such a spectacular attack also would be widely perceived as a serious setback for American policy in Southeast Asia. The costs of preventive action are small compared to the potential costs of a successful terrorist attack, which could easily range into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
It is time for the U.S. Government to make a concrete contribution to improving maritime security in the Strait of Malacca. That should include the continuation of current programs for the maritime police and congressional approval of a larger share of U.S. military training support to the Navy. The United States should also consider the allocation of as much as $50 million for communications upgrades, an information/maritime intelligence fusion center and a modern operations center, capable of operating in conjunction with Malaysia, Singapore and U.S. facilities. The United States also should fund Indonesian radars (estimated to cost $40 million) to complement the Malaysian radar system across the Strait.
If U.S.-Indonesian security cooperation does expand as this report proposes, more attention should be paid to coordinating project design and implementation. The four U.S. agencies involved—the Departments of State, Defense and Justice and the U.S. Agency for International Development—as well as the U.S. Pacific Command have different agendas and cultures. At the end of the day there should be a clearer picture of how the totality of the effort can achieve the desired results. So far there are strong arguments for leaving the primary oversight responsibility with the U.S. Country Team in the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. It can assess in-country conditions and get feedback better than any interagency team inside the Beltway. But the Country Team should also work more closely with Washington parent agencies in crafting a strategic and cohesive vision of U.S. objectives and the methods by which these can be achieved. To our knowledge no such roadmap is yet available to guide policy-makers or implementers
The sheer multiplicity of donor activity also makes it incumbent on the United States and other governments to consult with each other on a regular basis. Efforts by the World Bank-sponsored Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) to inventory donor contributions in the security sector should be encouraged. Japan which, like the United States, has a large stake in the stability of Indonesia should be encouraged to do more to help professionalize the armed forces and the police. Donors should consider the necessity of a clearinghouse for assistance in the security sector similar to what the CGI does for economic assistance with periodic meetings for consultation and aid pledging. The “donor club” that mustered multinational assistance for the U.N. intervention in East Timor could serve as a model.
A robust program of exchange visits at several levels of seniority should be reinstated as soon as practical. Candidates for such visits, in addition to the senior-officer exchanges and conference attendees already approved and implemented under current policy, could include mid- and senior-level officials at the Department of Defense, mid-level tactical unit commanders and staff up to the rank of major general, and key officers at TNI educational institutions. IMET and other programs should also be targeted towards military officers assigned to duties of particular concern to U.S. congressmen and their staff, such as the Staff Judge Advocate office and the Military Police.
Revival of Peacekeeping Missions
The Bilateral Defense Discussions (BDD) should include preparing the TNI to resume its once-active role inparticipating in U.N. and other peacekeeping operations. Indonesia has a laudable record of support for such missions going as far back as the 1960s and displayed more recently in Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, both the TNI army and marines need modernization training and familiarization with the newest peacekeeping doctrine and international procedures
Dealing with Kopassus
The Defense Department should undertake due diligence to determine whether it can follow Australia’s lead and resume a working relationship with Unit 81, the Kopassus elite counter-terrorism unit. The U.S. counter-terrorism posture calls for such contacts with the forces of cooperating countries that could be called upon to respond to a terrorist incident. The problem is that Kopassus has a poor reputation in U.S. political circles. The dilemma is that pariahs like Kopassus and the Police Mobile Brigade may also be the same forces that can help save American lives and property from unanticipated violence in Indonesia.
About the writers
Eduardo Lachica is a former Washington bureau chief of The Asian Wall Street Journal and an independent researcher on Southeast Asian security affairs. He is a coauthor of other papers on civil-military relations in Indonesia.
John B. Haseman, a retired U.S. Army colonel, writes extensively about Indonesia for defense and security journals. He served 10 years at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, and was U.S. Defense and Army Attache from 1990 to 1994.
Bronson Percival, a former U.S. Foreign Service Officer and professor at the U.S. Naval War College, has served in several Asian countries including India, Indonesia and Malaysia. He is currently Senior Adviser for Southern Asia and Terrorism at the Center for Strategic Studies at the Center for Naval Analysis.
William M. Wise is president of the Sorrento Group, a foreign-policy consulting firm, and an adjunct professor at George Washington University. He served as Deputy National Security Adviser to the Vice President and Chief of Policy at U.S. Pacific Command headquarters. He was also a consultant to the National Commission on Terrorism and the Hart-Rudman Commission.
The Jakarta Post
Friday, February 4, 2005
U.S. Urged to Restore Military Cooperation with RI
By Yenni Djahidin, Washington D.C.
A soon-to-be published study recommends that the United States remove its restrictions on the Indonesian military (TNI). The study, to be released in March, says that both countries would benefit from a restoration in military to military cooperation.
“The United States needs a strong security partner in Southeast Asia,” says Eduardo Lachica, one of the four authors of the report and a former correspondent of The Asian Wall Street Journal.
The plan to issue the study follows reports that aides to the new U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice are recommending that she report to Congress that Indonesia is cooperating with U.S. authorities in the investigation of the killings of two American teachers in Papua, in a bid to have restrictions on the TNI eased.
Lachica said that Indonesia is the best choice for the Americans because of its strategic location and also because it is the largest Muslim country in the world.
“Indonesia could be a major argument for democracy in the Muslim world,” Lachica said. He also said that the U.S. was not crusading against Islam, but wants to help “moderate Muslims”.
He adds that the Indonesian armed forces could not be blamed entirely for its poor human rights reputation. He said the country’s civilian government should take some of the blame because it has under-funded the TNI.
“We want the TNI to stop making money by itself. We want it to be fully funded (by the Indonesian government),” he said. Lachica said the TNI needs a budget of about US$ 3 billion a year, but presently receives only around $1 billion a year. He added that Indonesian officials have said it will take at least five years for the government to provide sufficient funds to cover the military budget.
Lachica said the cost of security is critical because without security, the government can’t function very well.
“Security is a public good and public goods always come with a cost,” he added.
Lachica also said that by punishing the TNI, the U.S. Congress was recognizing the sovereignty of the TNI (as an entity separate from the Indonesian state).
“(The U.S.) should deal with the Indonesian government because we believe in the supremacy of the civilian government of Indonesia,” he said.
The study recommends that the U.S. restore the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program with Indonesia. IMET allowed Indonesian officers to attend military courses in the United States.
The program was stopped following the 1991 killings of protesters in Dili, East Timor. Military aid was further severed in 1999 following thedestruction and killings in East Timor, blamed on the TNI, before and after a plebiscite that led to the territory’s independence.
He said that IMET had become a symbol of the TNI’s pariah status and now the military wants to get its status back.
Lachica claims that the more TNI officers are exposed to American military training and culture, the more they would accept the idea of civilian supremacy of the armed forces.
“The one thing that American officials didn’t say is that they want to get to know TNI members personally,” Lachica said. “It’s for selfish, practical reasons,” he said. Citing the recent tsunami disaster relief effort in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, he said the U.S. military blended in very well with the Thai military because they conduct regular exercises.
“In Aceh, there was confusion for the first few days between the Indonesian and the U.S. military personnel because they don’t know each other and never hold exercises together,” Lachica said.
Another reason for restoring IMET, he said, is that other countries, such as China and Japan, want to forge ties with the TNI.
The study, entitled Enhancing the U.S.-Indonesian security relationship: An opportunity not to be missed, also recommends that the U.S. help Indonesia with counter terrorism efforts, maritime security and peacekeeping missions.
Sponsoring the study is the United States-Indonesia Society (USINDO), a non-government organization that promotes better understanding between theUS and Indonesia. Its members include former foreign service officers from both countries and big corporations such as Freeport McMoran, Exxon-Mobil, and Coca Cola. Co-authors of the study are John B. Haseman, Bronson Percival and William M. Wise.
International Herald Tribune
Saturday, February 5, 2005
After the Tsunami
When Military Ties Save Lives
By Stanley A. Weiss
Phuket, Thailand The devastation of the Indian Ocean tsunami was answered with a massive global outpouring of charity and the largest humanitarian effort in history. Yet not all the relief efforts across the region were created equal, and a tale of two countries reveals that the attitude of local militaries made a crucial difference.
Here in Thailand, within hours of the disaster, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra accepted an offer of assistance from the United States. Within days, the Americans set up a regional command center at the air base in Utapao, where military teams from nine nations have managed the largest military operation in Asia since the Vietnam War.
Across the Straits of Malacca in the devastated Indonesian province of Aceh, cooperation has not been as smooth. Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a retired general, has publicly thanked foreign troops and relief groups. But elements within the Indonesian armed forces haven’t been as welcoming.
In the first days of the disaster, foreign aircraft bearing emergency aid were denied landing rights, and some aid groups were turned away. Relief workers have had to obtain special permission and military escorts when traveling war-torn Aceh. The arrival of U.S. troops in the coastal city of Meulaboh was delayed when Indonesians feared the sight of marines coming ashore would smack of an invasion.
Why the reluctance to embrace the Americans?
As the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, religious sensitivities – and Washington’s war on terror, seen by many as a war on Islam – are surely factors. But the lack of closer military-to-military ties may explain why some in the Indonesian armed forces remain wary of the United States. Since Washington suspended International Military Education Training with Jakarta over military abuses in East Timor in 1991, an entire generation of Indonesian military leaders has had little or no contact with America.
Only after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, did Washington resume some counterterrorism training and joint military exercises with Indonesia. And only after the tsunami were U.S. restrictions eased on the sale of military equipment so Indonesia could repair its crippled C-130 cargo planes and ferry aid to Aceh.
In contrast, the United States and Thailand have had deep military ties for decades. Utapao was a key base for American B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War. Every year, U.S. and Thai forces lead Cobra Cold, a huge multinational training exercise focused on peacekeeping and disaster relief. These relationships paid off during disaster relief efforts.
Likewise in India, whose navy has held exercises with the Americans in recent years, joint search and rescue missions off Sri Lanka were described as “seamless.” The U.S. ambassador, David Mulford, says that because military ties build mutual trust, it took only a few phone calls after the tsunami and “both countries opened up, no secrets.”
Alas, the self-righteousness of those in Congress who oppose military education and training programs that help build modern, professional militaries that respect civilian control and human rights! Who pays the price for denying soldiers access to such training and ties with the United States? In this case, desperate tsunami victims who depend on their militaries to deliver life-saving food and medicine. As U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said in Jakarta this month, “cutting off contact with Indonesian officers only makes the problem worse.”
Yudhoyono, who himself received military training in the United States, may be the man to break the impasse. When I spoke with him last year, he stressed the importance of resuming military-to-military ties. Elected in a landslide last fall, Yudhoyono has the clout to implement his reformist agenda. The United States, by increasing its influence with rank-and-file soldiers through renewed ties, can help him build a modern, professional military.
Given political, cultural and religious sensitivities in Asia, Washington is rightly avoiding using military aid during the tsunami tragedy as a Trojan horse for an expanded military presence in the region. But an early lesson of this post-tsunami world is that the military ties often scorned by critics can – and do – save lives in times of peace as well as war.
(Stanley A. Weiss is chairman of Business Executives for National Security, a nonpartisan organization in Washington.)
In These Times
February 7, 2005
The Other Aftershock
Bush Administration Seeks Normalization
of Ties with Indonesia and Its Brutal Military
By Tim Shorrock
The Bush administration and the Pentagon are leveraging warmer post-tsunami relations with Indonesia to convince Congress to lift its restrictions on full military ties with the world’s largest Muslim nation. But lawmakers and human rights groups say the Indonesian government must first account for its past abuses in East Timor and end its repressive military tactics in sections of the country seeking independence.
“Many of my colleagues and I firmly believe that now is not the time to advance efforts toward normalizing military relations,” wrote Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, in a January 18 letter to Adm. Thomas Fargo, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command who is leading the Pentagon’s efforts. Evans’ views are widely held in Congress, where even Republicans are wary of the Indonesian army, known as the TNI, and its record of corruption and brutality.
The administration’s push began in January, when Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz visited Aceh province, where an estimated 220,000 people were killed by the tsunami. The U.S. military relief effort marked the highest level of U.S.-Indonesian cooperation since 1991, when Congress imposed a ban on U.S. training of Indonesian officers under the State Department’s International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. Upon his return, Wolfowitz urged Congress to reevaluate the IMET restrictions. “We can have more positive influence that way,” he told PBS’s “Online News Hour.”
The congressional ban, which also includes restrictions on U.S. arms sales to Jakarta, was extended in 2000 after militias trained by the TNI rampaged through East Timor on the eve of the country’s historic independence vote, killing hundreds of people and wrecking the capital city of Dili. Under legislation passed last fall, Congress declared that IMET training cannot begin until the State Department confirms that the Indonesian government has fully cooperated in the FBI’s investigation into the August 31, 2002 murders of two American employees of the mining giant Freeport McMoRan during a military-style ambush in West Papua province.
After her televised confirmation hearings, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress that the administration is “currently evaluating whether to issue the required determination.” But she was unequivocal on the training funds. “IMET for Indonesia is in the U.S. interest,” she said in a written response to questions posed to her by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.). IMET, she added, will “strengthen the professionalism of military officers, especially with respect to the norms of democratic civil-military relations such as transparency, civilian supremacy, public accountability and respect for human rights.”
But recent actions by the TNI have not helped the administration’s cause. At the time of the tsunami disaster, Aceh had been closed to outside observers and humanitarian groups since May 2003, when martial law was declared. By all accounts, TNI’s fighting with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) — the armed group seeking independence — has been savage.
Last November, Human Rights Watch said it had “substantial evidence” that Indonesian security forces “have engaged in extra-judicial executions, forced disappearances, torture, beatings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and drastic limits on freedom of movement in Aceh.” The watch group also cited the “massive internal displacement” of “tens of thousands of civilians [who] have fled their homes or been forcibly relocated by the military for operational reasons.”
A similar situation is unfolding in West Papua in the eastern part of the archipelago. In January, the TNI launched an offensive against the Free Papua Movement (OPM) — the group fighting for independence there — driving an estimated 14,000 people from their homes in the Central Highlands.
The TNI responded to the tsunami like it was an extension of war. International aid agencies arriving on the scene objected to the military’ssevere restrictions on humanitarian operations and its demands that all relief flow through the army. The TNI made the situation worse by launching attacks on GAM units and withholding relief from civilians suspected of supporting the fighters. (In mid-January, the TNI said it had killed 120 rebels and accused them of trying to derail aid efforts, a charge denied by GAM leaders.) Apparently stung by international criticism, the newly elected government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sent a delegation to Finland on January 28 to open talks with GAM’s leadership.
Many U.S. lawmakers are still deeply uneasy about links between elements of the TNI and fundamentalist Muslim groups inside of Indonesia. Moreover, the Indonesian government’s actions in West Papua, the site of the 2002 killings, is raising more questions about the TNI’s ties to violent militia groups.
Last July, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that a Washington grand jury had indicted Anthonious Wamang in the attack on the mining employees. Ashcroft identified Wamang as an “operational commander” of the military wing of the OPM. Rice, in her comments to Congress, said that the FBI had “uncovered no evidence indicating TNI involvement” in the murders.
But according to Elsham, an independent human rights group in Papua that has investigated the attack, Wamang has close ties to the Indonesian military. John Rumbiak, Elsham’s director, told In These Times that Elsham has evidence that Wamang was “armed, wined and dined” by TNI officers and was once flown by the military to Jakarta, where he stayed in luxury hotels courtesy of the TNI — his ostensible enemies.
“The truth behind the killings of the two Americans is that the TNI was involved,” Rumbiak says. “The issue is, were these military people operating as individuals or as an institution?”
Patsy Spier, a teacher who lost her husband in the 2002 Papua attack and was herself seriously wounded, said in an interview that she has “no doubt” that the FBI — which collected its own forensic evidence in Indonesia — had enough evidence to bring a case against Wamang. “But who ordered [the attack], and who supplied the guns and the ammunition?” she asks.
Spier says the FBI has offered to return to Indonesia to help apprehend additional participants in the attack and assist in issuing indictments, but “Indonesia hasn’t responded.” This case “should remind us why the training funds were held up in the first place,” she said. “They’ve got to be willing to bring to justice those people who committed crimes and are still in service.”
TIM SHORROCK, a freelance journalist based in Washington, is writing a book about corporations and foreign policy. He can be reached through his blog at http://timshorrock.blogspot.com.
Winning Friends and Influencing U.S. Foreign Policy
By Diane Farsetta – PR Watch. Posted February 7, 2005.
A litany of well-documented human rights concerns has isolated the Indonesian military on the world stage. To help clean up its image, the Indonesian government has turned to U.S.-based PR and lobbying firms.
“I hope that, as a result of our efforts, as a result of our helicopter pilots’ being seen by the citizens of Indonesia helping them, that value system of ours will be reinforced,” said Colin Powell, one week after the tsunami wrought havoc across South and Southeast Asia.
Contemplating the public relations benefits of aid efforts following so many deaths may seem callous, but the United States wasn’t the only country hoping to benefit from images of uniform-clad do-gooders distributing food and water to traumatized villagers.
The Indonesian province of Aceh, “Ground Zero” for the tsunami, has been under declared or de facto martial law since mid-2003 (and through most of the 1990’s before that). In May 2003, the Indonesian military launched its largest offensive in nearly 30 years, in Aceh. Weeks later, Indonesian Communications and Information Minister Syamsul Muarif complained that the news from Aceh focused on “soldiers dragging corpses” instead of efforts to rehabilitate schools. “We are weak in international public relations, and because of that, reports by foreign media are often damaging,” he explained.
Most observers say it’s a well-deserved bad rap.
Indonesia insists its Aceh offensive is targeted at armed pro-independence forces (the Free Aceh Movement, known by its Indonesian acronym, GAM). However, the organization Human Rights Watch found “extrajudicial killings, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and torture” of young men the military believes, “often without evidence, to be members or supporters of GAM.” Amnesty International documented “human rights abuses so pervasive that there is virtually no part of life in the province which remains untouched.” They concluded, “The Indonesian security forces bear primary responsibility for these human rights violations, although GAM has also committed serious human rights abuses.”
Over the years, a litany of well-documented human rights concerns has increasingly isolated the Indonesian military on the world stage. To help clean up its image, the Indonesian government has turned to U.S.-based PR and lobbying firms.
Hill & Knowlton and White & Case contributed to Indonesia’s lobbying bill for mid-1991 through 1992, which totaled $6.8 million. Based on a 1991 communications plan commissioned from the Robinson Lake Sawyer Miller firm, Indonesia “gave foreign journalists information kits, with T-shirts and calendars, which try to explain its side of ‘negative stories,'” reported the Australian. Following the Indonesian military’s 1991 massacre of hundreds of peaceful protesters in East Timor, the government paid Burson-Marsteller $5 million, “to help improve the country’s human rights and environmental image,” according to the Far Eastern Economic Review. In 1996, Indonesia signed another $5 million contract with Burson-Marsteller.
In early 2001, Indonesia’s Sekar Mahoni Sakti Foundation hired Advantage Associates, “to create a positive view of Indonesia with the U.S. Congress, Administration, and Department of Defense,” according to U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act filings. One goal was “to lift an embargo on spare parts for the C-130 military aircraft.”
More recently, the war on terror has been Indonesia’s PR theme.
Then-Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri was the first foreign leader to visit the United States after September 11, 2001, arriving one week after the attacks. “Jakarta had considered postponing the trip,” Stanford professor Donald Emmerson told a Congressional hearing. “In the end, the American side decided it wanted to proceed, knowing the public relations value of early and visible support by the ruler of the world’s largest Muslim population.”
Indonesia also realized the PR potential. The government retained APCO Worldwide in 2003, to pitch its importance as a “front-line state in the war on terrorism,” wrote the PR trade publication O’Dwyer’s. The deal included media outreach and legislative meetings. In 2004, Alston & Bird contracted with an Indonesian logging magnate to “position” the country “as a solid ally in President Bush’s war on terror and one that is committed to democracy and human rights.” In addition to policymakers and reporters, Alston & Bird was directed to sway other U.S. “opinion-shapers,” including “think tanks and academia.”
Indonesia’s most influential ally may be former U.S. Senator – and current Alston & Bird special counsel – Bob Dole. In January 2004, the Far Eastern Economic Review reported that Indonesia had hired Dole as a lobbyist. “Among the issues Dole might address is the restoration of a program to train Indonesian military officers in the United States,” according to National Journal’s Congress Daily.
Shortly afterwards, Indonesia denied having a “blanket contract” with Dole. Government spokesperson Marty Natalegawa said, “There is an expression of readiness from the gentleman to help Indonesia on a case-by-case basis.”
Other U.S. image assistance followed. In December 2004, six U.S. Pacific Command officers led a three-day discussion for Indonesian Army, Navy and Air Force members, on “how to present information and news to the press.” The Jakarta Post reported, “The officers shared experiences in dealing with the media.” One U.S. officer “hailed the Indonesian military program to embed journalists during the operation to crush rebels in Aceh.” He remarked, “We did the same in Iraq.”
Yet the payoff has been slow in coming. A ban on U.S. military assistance for Indonesia, enacted after the military’s post-referendum devastation of East Timor in 1999, remains mostly intact, although it has come under increasing attack from the Bush administration and some members of Congress.
Then came the tsunami. While the Indonesian military’s involvement in humanitarian efforts is necessary and normal, local and international observers have complained of aid obstruction and continued operations against supposed GAM rebels. Australian journalists who witnessed a military attack were told by an Indonesian commander, “Your duties here are to observe the disaster, not the conflict.”
In a PR faux pas, Indonesia’s first head of relief operations in Aceh was Major General Adam Damiri, who has been indicted by a United Nations-backed tribunal for war crimes in East Timor. After he was replaced, the Washington Post remarked, “Damiri’s continued role at the air base could have complicated U.S. efforts to provide humanitarian assistance.”
Now, the momentum might be on the Indonesian military’s side.
In January 2005, Powell offered Indonesia spare parts for C-130 military aircraft. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, long a proponent of close military ties, declared during a mid-January visit to the country, “Everybody loses a great deal… when you cut off [Indonesia’s] contact with [our] military.” Reports in influential media like the New York Times wrongly claim, “Even proponents of the [Indonesian military] sanctions… acknowledge that the best hope for developing an army whose conduct fits a democracy is to train officers in the United States.”
“The tsunami must not be used as an excuse to sweep away U.S. military restrictions on Indonesia,” warned the East Timor Action Network’s John Miller. But if that happens, many U.S. PR firms share the blame.
Diane Farsetta is senior researcher at the Center for Media and Democracy.