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


The benefits of the Army Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) and the Marine Corps (Kormar), however, are of no use without the sea or airlifts to project them. There are two types of lift: tactical and strategic. Tactical lift can be considered as the transportation of materials, personnel or weaponry within a theater of combat, whereas strategic airlift moves into the theater from without. As far as sealift is concerned, the four 8,000-ton Makassar-class landing platform docks acquired between 2007 and 2011 provide strategic sealift to a range of some 10,000 nautical miles, enough to reach anywhere of interest to Indonesia. A platform has a cargo capacity of 35 armored vehicles, 507 personnel, five helicopters and two landing craft, operated by 126 crew members. This space is enough to comfortably transport an infantry battalion configured to Kostrad and UN standards. While the platform dock is primarily used by Kormar, Kostrad is also trained in deploying from it. Importantly, the dock is a versatile capability, meaning it can be employed in combat capacities and military operations other than war interchangeably. The landing platform docks were not deployed for the Konga XXIII missions as they were not commissioned until after the first battalion was transported; in addition, the UN often provides subsidized transportation for peacekeeping contingents. In the case of Konga XXIII, the US Military Sealift Command provided a ship.

Indonesia’s airlift capability is drawn from its Air Force and is structured to provide tactical lift, using a variety of aircraft that carry a relatively small number of personnel. There are no plans for the Air Force to acquire strategic airlift capability, such as the C-17A Globemaster III used by the Australian Air Force, which has a range of 6,450 miles. It is not necessary to acquire this capability, as if required the Air Force’s tactical airlift can easily reach anywhere within Indonesia and neighboring countries from bases stationed across the archipelago. By working within the structure of the infantry battalion the TNI can adequately project a small amount of force within the region that possesses experience in conducting peacekeeping operations overseas, and which is transferrable to combat operations.


Now, we can analyze how this utility fits into Indonesia’s deterrence strategy.  The Indonesian Armed Forces is currently in the process of reorganizing a segment of its forces into combined defense command regions (Kogabwilhan), which operate contingents from all three services and are stationed in key littoral approaches and strategic flashpoints. The primary purpose of the introduction of the Kogabwilhan, according to Purnomo Yusgiantoro, a former defense minister, is that they will “serve as deterrence to other countries, as the command will have the flexibility needed and the resources for rapid deployment.” The Kogabwilhan will reportedly be based in the Natuna Islands as they lie in the South China Sea; the Papua region, because of the low intensity of separatist violence there; Aceh Province, because of the importance of the Malacca Strait as well as the potential for unrest; and Atambua, in East Nusa Tenggara Province, due to its closeness to Timor Leste and Australia.

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