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Jakarta Post

House endorses Gatot as new TNI chief

  • Margareth S. Aritonang

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, July 2, 2015   /  01:20 pm
House endorses Gatot as new TNI chief

Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo - JP/P.J. Leo

The House of Representatives confirmed on Wednesday the nomination of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo to replace Gen. Moeldoko as the head of the Indonesian Military (TNI). Gen. Moeldoko is expected to retire in August.

The House Commission I overseeing defense, intelligence and foreign affairs, accepted President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo'€™s nomination of Gatot in a closed-door meeting that wrapped up late on Wednesday.

'€œWe accept and support Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo as the candidate for TNI commander as he has convinced us that he is the right person for the job. He gave us a thorough presentation, which reflected his broad knowledge of issues at the global, regional and national levels,'€ Commission I chairman Mahfudz Siddiq announced.

Earlier in the confirmation hearing, Gatot said that he would focus on protecting the country'€™s maritime interests.

'€œThere is no other alternative but a push to simultaneously build up the Air Force as well as the Navy so that we will be powerful at sea and in the air to control and safeguard the archipelago,'€ Gatot said.

Earlier in his presentation, before the House decided to conduct a closed-door session, Gatot also pledged that he would step up efforts to modernize the country'€™s aging weapons systems and military equipment in the wake of the crash of a Hercules C-130 plane in Medan that killed at least 113 people.

Gatot said that he would ensure that weapons and military equipment purchased would be brand new and not refurbished items or granted from foreign governments.

He said that purchasing new weapons and equipment would not be a burden for the government as it would remain consistent with the plan from President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo to spend 1.5 percent of the country'€™s gross domestic product (GDP) on the military.

In June, Jokowi unveiled his programs on defense and security issues, which included the modernization of primary weaponry defense systems (Alutsista) and increasing the number of military and police personnel.

Jokowi said he aimed to allocate up to 1.5 percent of the GDP for defense if economic growth stayed at 7 percent.

Jokowi said that he would gradually increase the defense budget from US$7.2 billion in 2014 to $20 billion in 2019.

In the confirmation hearing, Gatot also said that in the procurement of weapons and military equipment, he would give priority to domestic suppliers.

Even if the TNI had to purchase weapons from overseas, Gatot said that foreign contractors would have to agree to a transfer of technology and knowledge to local manufacturers.

'€œIn every purchase of weapons and equipment, we must ensure that there will be a transfer of knowledge and a transfer of technology,'€ he said.

In his decision to nominate Gatot, Jokowi has broken an unwritten tradition forged after the 1998 reform movement that the position of Indonesian Military (TNI) commander would be rotated between the Army, Navy and Air Force to prevent one of the three branches from gaining too much power.

Moeldoko of the Army succeeded Adm. Agus Suhartono of the Navy in 2013. The baton should have been passed to Air Force chief of staff Air Chief Marshall Agus Supriatna if Jokowi had wanted to stick to tradition.

Jokowi'€™s decision to propose Gatot went against the recommendation of his own party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which urged the President to maintain the tradition of rotation.

Members of House Commission I overseeing defense, intelligence and foreign affairs said that they would press Gatot on the modernization of military equipment during the confirmation hearing in light of the Wednesday'€™s crash.

'€œThe accident serves as a red light for the military, which urgently needs to upgrade its equipment,'€ Commission I chairman Mahfudz Siddiq of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) said.

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