TNI to increase troops guarding Freeport and ExxonMobil

Sinar Harapan – January 24, 2006
Army soldiers on guard outside ExxonMobil plant in Aceh (Detik)
Army soldiers on guard outside ExxonMobil plant in Aceh (Detik)

Emmy Kuswandari, Jakarta -- After a period of reducing the number of military personnel tasked with guarding vital installations such as ExxonMobil and Freeport, the TNI (Indonesian military) will again be increasing troops numbers assisting these companies. The increase in troops is based on a request submitted by the national police that up until now have had the duty of guarding vital installations.

In accordance with a regulation issued in 2004, the provision of security for vital installations is the responsibility of the companies themselves. If there is threat that is beyond their capacity to deal with, the company can ask for assistance from the police. According the law on the national police the provision of security for vital installations is the police’s responsibility, the TNI only provide assistance.

“Only after the national police believe that TNI assistance is needed, is there an invitation to the TNI so that that our presence there has legitimacy”, said TNI chief General Endriartono Sutarto after a security meeting providing on security to vital installations that was held at the offices of the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs on Monday January 23.

Security Minister Widodo AS, Police Chief General Sutanto, the Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro and a representative also attended the meeting from the Department of Home Affairs.

The meeting also discussed TNI personnel that are guarding vital installations such as Freeport and ExxonMobil. Certainty over the TNI’s position will remove the impression that the TNI are paid mercenaries. “Because indeed it is not the TNI’s duty to guard such things”, said Sutarto.

When asked whether large amounts of money are given to the TNI to provide security to vital installations, he rejected this. “What there is, is when the TNI is asked to guard [an installation], it turns out the government does not have the funds to accommodate the posts and other things”, he said.

According to Sutarto, there was an agreement between the government and companies where the companies agreed to bear the entire cost of the facilities and accommodation for the units providing security, including operational assistance.

He added that the order to provide security to vital installations is based on an order that flows out of a work contract. In order to provide security at Freeport the TNI already has one battalion in place.

[Translated by James Balowski.]