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

There are, however, limitations to the utility of peacekeeping operations to the development of Indonesia’s force projection capability, which stem from the unwillingness to expand the military’s contribution of personnel from peacekeeping to the more robust peace enforcement operations role, demanded by Chapter VII of the UN Security Council declarations. Chapter VII peace enforcement operations come under articles 39, 41 and 42 of the UN Charter, the last of which enables the UN Security Council to take “such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Peace enforcement operations are used when conflicting parties do not consent to the presence of the intervening force; have not reached a cease-fire agreement or are not honoring it. Indonesia takes a rigid interpretation of the preamble of its 1945 Constitution, which underpins the nation’s peacekeeping initiatives, meaning that working toward the establishment of perpetual peace excludes enforcing peace through coercive measures, as is often required in peace enforcement operations. Whereas traditional peacekeeping cannot be found within the UN Charter itself, it is colloquially referred to as “Chapter VI and one-half,” as the type of action required fits between peace enforcement operations and peaceful settlements of disputes. While the Indonesian military is constitutionally prevented from participating in UN peace enforcement operations, the reality of peacekeeping is that judicious use of violence in self-defense and defense of the mandate is often required.

There does not seem any appetite in Jakarta for taking on more aggressive peacekeeping missions. This could change in the future, as it is predicted that an increasing number of future conflicts requiring UN intervention will fall, leaving an expanded Indonesian peacekeeping operation program with fewer expeditionary opportunities. It is argued, though, that recent examples of peace enforcement operations have been primarily the domain of major powers acting in concert in an ad hoc fashion outside the umbrella of the UN, such as NATO in Libya in 2011. Indonesia has the ability to carve out a niche in positioning itself as a top 10 troop contributing country, focusing exclusively on peacekeeping operations.

While the contribution of peacekeeping operations to a functional deterrence strategy for force projection is limited by an unwillingness to engage in peace enforcement operations through a rigid interpretation of Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution, by training and sending soldiers and marines on international deployment, Indonesia is able to get invaluable operational experience. This translates directly into the development of Indonesia’s force projection and deterrence capability, which in turn gives the nation the ability to rapidly respond to a deteriorating external security situation, but also in natural disaster response at home and abroad. It is necessary to understand how Indonesia’s existing and future peacekeeping program fits into the TNI structure to realize the benefits to force modernization in the form of a conventional offensive deterrence.

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