Military cooperation – Indonesia will not go begging to the US

Kompas – June 15, 2010
Defense Minster Purnomo Yusgiantoro (Tribune)
Defense Minster Purnomo Yusgiantoro (Tribune)

Jakarta – The government does not feel that it needs to get concerned about military cooperation with the United States, including over assurances about continued restoration of joint training between the two country’s special forces. The government, in this case the Department of Defense and the Indonesian Military (TNI) will not go begging in order to have this cooperation reopened with US parties.

Accompanied by the army, navy and air force chiefs of staff, these assertions were made by Defense Minster Purnomo Yusgiantoro and TNI Commander in Chief General Djoko Santoso when they attended a working meeting with the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I on defense in Senayan, Jakarta, on Monday June 14.

“There is no urgency over (Kopassus, the army’s elite special forces) training. Actually military cooperation between the Indonesian military and the US has continued to take place since 2001 when the embargo against us was lifted. At the time, the two countries then formed the Indonesia-USA Security Dialogue forum, which has already met eight times”, said Yusgiantoro.

Tjahjo Kumolo from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) parliamentary faction called on the government to have the courage to insist on a clarification of the relationship, bearing in mind that various incidents [that have occurred in Indonesia] keep being linked with delays in the planned arrival of US President Barack Obama. Kumolo added that the government does not need to go begging to the US.

Yusgiantoro protested assumptions that link the lack of clarity surrounding the restoration of joint military relations with, among other things, the cancellation of visit to Indonesia.

“If it is said that Obama canceled his visit to Indonesia, and one of the reasons for this is linked with Kopassus, it think this perception is incorrect. Obama also canceled his visit to Australia, right, one of his country’s allies, including in the defense field”, said Yusgiantoro.

A similar statement was made by Santoso. He even stated that military cooperation between the two countries has become more frequent since 2008. He conceded however that for Kopassus, joint training has still yet to be realised.

“But, a number of senior military officers and the US government have indicated their desire to reopen cooperation with Kopassus. Hopefully this will come good. [Although] certainly there are still obstacles in the Congress. However, we will no go begging”, said Santoso.

Santoso also asserted that it was untrue that military cooperation with US has been constrained by incidents of past human rights violations. (DWA)

[Translated by James Balowski.]