Strengthening Maritime Security in Natuna

Strengthening Maritime Security in Natuna

Other than the traditional security aspect, this MP also introduced non-traditional aspects. The insertion of non-traditional concerns, such as IUUF and piracy, on the urgency for this MP, shows a good sign that the government understands that a change in status quo is needed not only
on the traditional security but also on the non-traditional front. Better than that, the government identifies four main non-traditional issues that it seeks to address in this MP, which could assist feld assets in designating
priority strategies and allocating the necessary resources for those
strategies. A particular concern for the Indonesian public, due to the
widespread and in-depth coverage by the mass media, has been the
IUUF by foreign nationalities, with the focus on Vietnam and China.
The Indonesian government, represented by the Ministry of Marine
and Fisheries Affairs, has estimated that in 2020-2021 alone, IUUF by foreigners had snatched 30 trillion IDR worth of fsheries resources in the Natuna region only, out of the 150 trillion IDR worth of fsheries potential in the area. These resources could have been very useful for the Indonesian fisheries economic sector, and therefore a robust build-up from the government would be welcomed.

As the traditional and non-traditional issue in Natuna has been offcially recognized and needs to be solved, this MP has mandated the Defense Ministry/Navy and Bakamla to prop up the capabilities of their assets in the Natuna Region. This MP has also managed to divide the responsibility between the Navy and Bakamla, for the former is mainly responsible for “defense” while the latter is responsible for “security”. It is worth mentioning that in this MP, the Navy’s defense responsibility reinforcement would be infrastructure building and its support through the Strategic Island Military Infrastructure (Sarpras Militer Pulau Strategies). The details regarding the military infrastructure that is going to be built in Natuna are not disclosed within Presidential Regulation No.85/2021. Nevertheless, some key predictions are evident to be found in other regulations, including but not limited to the General Policy of National Defense for 2020-2024. In a section called “defense area development policy”, it is stated that there would be an integrated military unit “as an operational unit for the Joint
Regional Defense Command (Komando Gabungan Wilayah Pertahanan/Kogabwilhan) which is equipped with an integrated sensor
reinforcement to the Operations Control Command Center (Pusat Komando Pengendalian Operasi/ Puskodalops) by building coastal radar and long-range cameras in the Natuna Region. Moreover, former Acting Governor of Riau Islands Province Bahtiar Baharuddin has stated in November 2020 that the military is going to built a Main Naval Base (Pangkalan Utama TNI Angkatan Laut/Lantamal) and Naval Combat Group (Gugus Tempur Laut/Guspurla) in Natuna. This statement is confrmed in April 2021, when the Commander of the Armed Forces Hadi Tjahjanto and Chief of Police Listyo Sigit lays the foundation stone of Integrated Marine Security Post (Posko Kemanan Laut Terpadu) and the Command Headquarters of the Naval Combat Group (Markas Komando Guspurla) of the First Fleet Command (Komando Armada I/Koarmada I) in Natuna. In the same month, Navy Chief of Staff Yudo Margono signed the inscription for the construction of the Submarine Auxiliary Station (Stasiun Bantu/Sionban) and the inauguration of the Mess Tjiptadi in the same region.

This building up of military forces shows that Natuna Island will operate as a forward operating island that could support the duty of the military in defending the territorial integrity of Indonesia. Indonesian servicemen would have better infrastructure to support their duty, which would
increase their morale as they feel that government is wholeheartedly supporting them. As stated in Presidential Regulation No.85/2021, Indonesia hopes to create a deterrent effect that would make foreign nations think
twice before conducting aggressive and provocative behavior in the Natuna region, including but not limited to China and Vietnam. However, as mentioned before, increasing military posture in Natuna should be accompanied by stronger diplomatic measures to reduce the tension peacefully, and if possible, permanently. More incentives should be provided to reduce the potential of military confrontation and escalation, while at the same time, seek common ground and tacit understanding through confidence-building measures and permanent settlement under international law. Indonesia should make this message clear to all stakeholders in the region, including Vietnam and China, as the key is that they need to understand the message to avoid misunderstanding. Indonesia should seek a more balanced “stick and carrot” strategy, which translates into increased costs if the other side is showing non-cooperative behavior, while at the same time, reducing the cost of cooperative behavior. Nevertheless, this infrastructure reinforcement would be the much-needed birthday gift for the TNI as it enters it’s 76’s anniversary.

While defending territorial integrity lies in the responsibility of the military, it seems that Bakamla is chosen by this MP to be responsible for the maritime security patrol inside the Indonesian Natuna sea jurisdiction. Indeed, there are several major issues concerning the issue of maritime security in Indonesia, including but not limited to the long-awaited Draft Omnibus Bill on Marine Security (RUU Kamla) and Draft Government Regulation on Security, Safety, and Law Enforcement Governance in
Indonesian Waters and Indonesian Jurisdiction (RPP Kamla). Due to
these two planned regulations, rumors have spread that domestic rivalry arises between the legal authority of governmental agencies in the realm of maritime security and law enforcement. As observed in the recent congressional hearing between Bakamla and Committee I of the House, maritime security enforcement in Indonesia faces many issues, including the overlapping authority between government agencies, the shortage of fuel, the shortage of ships, and the lack of aerial-based information. However, apart from internal problems, the government’s efforts to improve law enforcement capabilities and maintain security in the Natuna
Sea Area through Bakamla are a necessary breakthrough to reduce law violations by foreign parties. In this MP, UAV procurement is the cornerstone of a new approach to face novel maritime security challenges.

Although the type of the UAV is yet to be disclosed, Bakamla’s Research and Development Team has mentioned that it should be able to be launched from a naval vessel. Taking into account the UAV used by other maritime security agencies, such as the United States Coast Guard (USCG), then the UAV that Bakamla seeks could mirror that of Boeing Insitu ScanEagle. The USCG believes that ScanEagle is a cost-effective way to address the operational requirement for a constant aerial surveillance capability, as it
significantly broadens maritime awareness and disseminates the much-needed information on hazards and threats. Moreover, as it needs to have sea-borne capabilities, this UAV could also have an extended period to be
able on station in comparison to a land-based variant. Or, Indonesia might take it to the next level by procuring VTOL drones instead, as, unlike Scan Eagle that requires launch and recovery equipment, a VTOL UAV does not require any additional equipment on the fight deck to support operations.
Hence, the government would have a more solid foundation and experience to build a network-centric command and control, which increases the interoperability between branches.

However, the procurement of this UAV should not outshine the importance of passing legislation that supports the reform on maritime security and law enforcement procedures, including RUU Kamla and RPP Kamla. According to Bakamla, RUU Kamla was supposed to be included in the 2020
national legislation priority program, but it was shelved and replaced with the Continental Shelf Draft Bill (RUU Landas Kontinen). Indeed, the old regulation on the continental shelf, which is the 1973 Continental Shelf Act, is outdated as it still refers to the 1958 Geneva Convention, whereas in 1982 there was a new international law called the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Nonetheless, it does not mean that the progress on RUU Kamla and RPP Kamla should receive much less attention, as it is important for Indonesian maritime security. In the recent congressional hearing, the House’s committee I has agreed with Bakamla that the urgency of RUU Kamla is suffcient to make its way to the next
year’s national legislation priority program. However, the committee believes that some domestic stakeholders still need more convincing
on the true intention of Bakamla through this legislation, and thus
calls on Bakamla to prepare an Academic Paper (Naskah Akademik)
to convince the last few remnants of insecurity within domestic politics. Through this paper, RUU Kamla would have a solid foundation that would reinforce the argument for its urgency, without interfering with the interest of other domestic actors.

One last thing that should be pointed out in this MP is the preferred outcome. In all standards, having zero percent of jurisdiction violation in the Natuna Sea is a little bit unrealistic. It is possible, but with the current capacity and capability, it would not be an easy task. Even with the surveillance assistance from UAVs, Bakamla still has a lot of issues to provide maritime security, including the lack of legal authority, the lack of
fuel, and the lack of ships. To get a better picture of the situation, Bakamla acknowledged that the minimum number of vessels that it needs to provide maritime security is 77, while currently it only has 10 vessels with various tonnage. In the Natuna Region alone, Bakamla only deploys two or three
out of the ten vessels it has, while the minimum number of vessels that it needs to cover the 90 thousand square kilometers North Natuna sea is five vessels. One way to make this goal more achievable is to increase the funding so that more infrastructure could be built and more marine security equipment to be procured. In this regard, the government should have set more realistic goals, which the second and third preferred outcome arguably fulflls. By 2022, the government did not expect 100 percent equipment and infrastructure adequacy for both the Navy and Bakamla, as each was targeted 40.59% and 44.17%. This is arguably a more rational target in comparison to the first one. Complementarily, the slight
increase in Bakamla’s adequacy in comparison to the Navy could indicate that the government is beginning to use the grey zone strategy to counter the grey zone strategy used by China and Vietnam. As these two nations use
fishing and coast guard feets to undermine the territorial integrity and marine security in Indonesia, it is unwise to utilize military forces in counter measuring these activities due to international norms. Instead, non-military forces should be addressed by also non-military forces to even the scale. (Fadhil Haidar Sulaeman)