Indonesian Army combat readiness alarming, weaponry system investments an urgency

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The Government plans to modernize TNI’s ancient and obsolete weaponry systems. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

IO – Executive Director of the Indonesian Defense Studies and Strategic Studies Institution (Lembaga Studi Pertahanan dan Studi Strategis Indonesia – “Lesperssi”) Rizal Darma Putra has declared that President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) and Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto’s commitment to modernize the Indonesian Armed Forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – “TNI”)’ weaponry system deserves a vote of support. 

The Government’s plan to modernize TNI’s ancient, obsolete weaponry systems is part of the effort to satisfy Minimum Essential Force (MEF) requirements according to the National Strategic Plan. “Modernizing our weaponry system is an absolute necessity. The Government is on the right track with its 25-year Defense Investment Planning,” he said, in a written statement on Friday (04/6/2021). “There are two major benefits of this strategy: It allows consistency in securing our National Defense and Security Equipment, and it improves TNI’s NDSE readiness.” 

Information received by the Lesperssi declares that the Government is preparing strategies for funding primary defense equipment. First, the percentage of defense budget to GDP at 0.8% will remain consistent for 25 years ahead. Second, the budget set to cover National Defense and Security Equipment priority requirements for 2020-2024 will be USD 125 billion. Third, to seek alternative funding sources, to reduce the burden of securing National Defense and Security Equipment on the National Finances. “Even though it may sound fantastic, we must tell you that spending USD 125 billion on weaponry systems for 25 years is conservative. In fact, it is quite small when you compare it to potential Indonesia GDP for a quarter of a century,” Rizal said. 

Rizal went on to report that Indonesia’s defense expenditure continued to decrease in comparison to economic growth over the past six years. In 2013, national defense expenditure was 0.9% of GDP, down to 0.78% of GDP this year. “In other words, there is still room for the State to purchase new weaponry systems. In other words, Minister Prabowo has properly calculated the effective proportions for weaponry system investments,” he said. 

Andi Widjajanto, defense expert and primary defense politics analyst for LAB 45, expressed his amazement that the Government’s plan to modernize TNI’s weaponry system should be deemed as “controversial”. “It is perfectly understandable that the Government cannot be totally open about the plan for the Presidential Regulations concerning the Procurement of National Defense and Security Equipment. Most documents are classified, after all. When I heard that the budget will be set at IDR 1,760 trillion, I ventured to find out just how the Ministry of Defense arrived at a IDR 1.7 quadrillion figure without using its internal data,” he said in the Akbar Faizal Uncensored YouTube channel interview recently. “I don’t go in and sniff it out. Instead, I look for public data, such as data from military balance, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Janes.com,” he said. 

Andi went on to deny the accusation made by military observer Connie Rahakundini Bakrie that the Government is being needlessly secretive when it created this regulation. “It is hugely regrettable that somebody leaked the document to the public. I personally believe that the IDR 1.7 quadrillion budget in the Draft Regulation has undergone proper procedures, such as the ones listed in the Defense Law, TNI Law, and Defense Industry Law. After all, the process for calculating budgetary needs for procuring weaponry systems in Indonesia has been systematically regulated since 2006.” 

Andi went on to say that IDR 1.7 quadrillion for procuring National Defense and Security Equipment cannot be called “fantastic”. “IDR 1.7 quadrillion is nothing, really. Actually, we need much more than that, but we must be realistic: our current economy cannot afford it. While current analyses show that we are not going to be in a state of war anytime soon, spending just that much is enough,” he said. 

He further denied Connie’s allegation that PT Teknologi Militer Indonesia (“TMI”) monopolizes our national defense industry. “Privately-owned companies can now participate in the defense industry in Indonesia since the validation of the Job Creation Law. In fact, we are open for foreign investors to invest in our defense industry. Really, it is simply impossible for PT TMI to monopolize defense procurement even though derivative regulations to the Job Creation Law are issued. Just using the most basic business calculation, it will take about IDR 600 trillion or about 30% of the total procurement requirement of IDR 1.7 quadrillion. It’s just too big an amount. No single company in Indonesia can afford it, not even if it is a State-Owned Enterprise,” Andi said.  (Ekawati)