Garuda rising
How peacekeeping is helping the Indonesian military modernize
April-July 2016
By: Callum Cashel

Rather than destabilizing Southeast Asia, a properly implemented deterrence strategy should bring about the opposite outcome. It is the implementation process that can become a problem if it is not managed adroitly. If the TNI can create a functioning deterrence, it will erode the enduring mentality among its military leaders that Indonesia is in a weak position relative to its neighbors. Continuing to harbor this perception ensures the Armed Forces continues to be an ill-equipped, lumbering military monolith rather than like its more agile neighbors.

A modern conventional deterrence strategy involves a combination of two competencies. First, high-end platforms designed to provide a capability in specified operational settings. Second, a force projection capability achieved through rapid transportation and soldiers sustained over a defined distance to achieve the foreign policy goals for which they are deployed. Evidence of procurement initiatives taken to achieve this can be seen in plans for significant investment in high-end capabilities, including the possible purchase of 12 Russian-made Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines and the establishment of 10 new fighter squadrons apparently made up of F-16 and SU-30 variants from the United States and Russia, respectively.

Peacekeeping operations clearly have no role in the high-end capability side of deterrence; however, they are exceedingly relevant to any force projection capability development. Unlike Australia, which has been continually involved in high-tempo expeditionary combat operations for an extended period of time, Indonesia’s only experience in international military deployments has been for peacekeeping operations.

The particular method of force projection discussed in this next section is made up of three parts: the force generation and operations experience of the soldiers to be projected; the airlift and sealift required to transport them to the requisite theater; and the incorporation of this into the Indonesian military’s organizational structure.

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