Indonesian military to boost presence in outlying islands

Chief General Gatot Nurmantyo ... infuiltrating foreign planes "can pray to God". Image: Republika

By Julkifli Marbun in Jakarta

The Indonesian military (TNI) will strengthen its presence in the country’s outlying and foremost islands particularly in the eastern part which still lacks personnel and weapons, says Chief General Gatot Nurmantyo.

“We need to change the paradigm. When East Timor was part of Indonesia, the Indonesian outlying and foremost island was East Timor,” he said after attending Christmas celebration at the TNI Headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta.

“Now that East Timor has changed into Timor-Leste (as an independent state), our outlying islands are Liran, Wetar, Kisar, Leti (all in Maluku province) and Alor (in East Nusatengga province).”

He said only two naval personnel and two army soldiers were now stationed in each of the islands. Therefore, the number of military personnel would be increased in the future.

Saumlaki Island which borders Australia has a radar to detect aircraft infiltrating into the Indonesian air territory.

But personnel of the radar could not file a request to the national air defense commander to send a Sukhoi jet fighter from its squadron in Makassar, South Sulawesi, if there was a foreign plane infiltrating the Indonesian territory, he said.

“If there is a foreign plane infiltrating (into the Indonesian territory) what they can do is pray to God. May the plane get out from Indonesia,” he said.

He said the TNI had evaluated its strength on the islands sharing common borders with other countries.

To strengthen the TNI’s presence on the islands, an airport would be built in Selaru Island in Maluku province, among others. As such, military planes can land there.

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