The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Military (TNI) plans to set up new military bases in eastern Indonesia, with Biak and Merauke in Papua and Morotai in Maluku among the options for its the location.
TNI commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo pointed out that currently Indonesian forces, especially the Indonesian Air Force, were concentrated in Java.
He added that the Air Force base in Yogyakarta was designated for pilot training, while the Malang Air Force Base in East Java was being used as a Hercules squadron base. Another Air Force base in Madiun, East Java, was used as a base for fighter jets.
Gatot said such a heavy concentration of Air Force bases in Java had led to dense commercial aviation traffic in some regions, because commercial airlines were prohibited from passing air space in the center of the island, forcing them to fly through northern Java.
"If we take a look at this, our defense forces are concentrated in Java. This is not right. We will develop military bases in eastern areas of Indonesia. This can boost the economy of those areas while at the same time allowing pilots to practice anytime. There are Biak, Morotai, Merauke and so on," Gatot told reporters after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday.
He added that TNI would also strengthen Indonesia's defense forces in outer islands, such Alor, Lirang and Wetar in East Nusa Tenggara.
"Earlier, we had East Timor [Timor Leste] as one of our outer islands facing Australia. Now, our outer islands are Lirang, Wetar and Alor," Gatot said.
"We need to increase our defense forces, so that we will have eyes and ears on our outer islands that can inform us on all developments," he added.
Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said that during the meeting, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had demanded that the development of the country's defense capabilities should happen all over Indonesia, rather than being concentrated in Java.
He added that President Jokowi had called for a higher budget allocation for TNI, with funds to exceed 1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). "If our economy grows by 6 percent, we expect the funds allocated for the Indonesian Military to be around Rp 200 trillion [US$14.9 billion] to Rp 240 trillion," Pramono said. (ebf)