Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Despite rapid military modernisation, Indonesia will continue to promote diplomatic approaches and peaceful resolutions when it comes to territorial disputes, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said.
In his address to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the Indonesian Military (TNI) yesterday, he boasted newly acquired advanced military weapon systems, but was also quick to remind the military not to be easily engaged in armed confrontation.
"Indonesia loves peace but the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia [NKRI] is not negotiable. It must be understood that there are many ways to maintain and protect our sovereignty. Remember, war is the last option, [use it only] if there are no other options left," Yudhoyono told thousands of military personnel from the three services at the Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in East Jakarta.
Following a decade of internal reform at TNI, the government's initial efforts to modernise old military hardware began in 2011. The modernisation programmes have seen cooperation and procurement deals with countries such as South Korea, Germany and Australia.
Yudhoyono said that the government enhancement of its military had been on the back of Indonesia's improving economy.
"It has been a long time since we last modernised our military equipment. As our financial posture gets stronger, we will increase budget allocation for the defence sector, prioritising the procurement of newer and more modern equipment to replace [existing equipment]," said Yudhoyono, himself a retired Army general.
To allow his audience to envisage how strong the TNI would be, he revealed the new war machines, which are due to arrive in the coming years.
"Weapons that will soon strengthen the Army include two battalions of battle tanks, canon panzers, field artillery and air defence guns up to calibre 155 millimetre, tactical and strategic multiple launch rocket system [MLRS], air defence missile and a number of attack and assault helicopters," he said.
The Navy, he continued, will receive new Sigma-class corvettes, diesel-electric submarines, missile fast boats, guided missile destroyers, multi-role light frigate, training tall ship, maritime patrol aircraft, anti-submarine warfare helicopters, amphibious tanks, panzers and MLRS.
The Air Force, meanwhile, will continue to receive aircraft, such as CN-295 medium transport, C-130H Hercules heavy transport, trainers, combat SAR helicopters, Super Tucano ground attack aircraft, Sukhoi Su-27MK-2 jet fighters, T-50 advanced trainers and refurbished F-16 jet fighters.
"We don't have any intentions to be involved in the "so-called arm race" in the region. There is no intention to make this country militaristically more aggressive. We maintain our foreign politics policy of 'millions of friends and zero enemies'," Yudhoyono said.
The defence budget has seen constant increases since 2011, when it was allocated 47.5 trillion rupiah (US$4.95 billion). It was then increased by 35.58 per cent to 64.4 trillion rupiah in 2012. The budget may further increase by 20.65 per cent to 77.7 trillion rupiah in the 2013 State Budget draft. This will make the Defence Ministry the state body with the highest budget next year.
Observers have said that the improving budget in the sector has been hampered by the fact that more than half of the funds are used to pay personnel salaries.
Activists have repeatedly criticised the TNI and the Defence Ministry for their lack of transparency in the procurement of military equipment. Human rights defenders have also called on the TNI to punish its officers involved in violence against civilians.
Prosperous Justice Party lawmaker Mahfudz Siddiq from the House of Representatives' defence commission urged the TNI to "enhance its personnel's capabilities to ensure all efforts to modernise the main weapon systems, in order to achieve the minimum essential force by 2025, would effectively take place".