Forces: May 1, 2003

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The focus of this year's Indonesian procurement budget shifted from the Army to the Navy and Air Force, following the shifting of the Army's domestic security duties to the police. As part of an effort to improve the Navy's performance, Indonesian leaders agreed to pay more attention to the defense of Indonesia's territorial waters by increasing the Navy's budget. The Navy will receive $77 million this year to procure weapons and equipment, $11 million more than the budgets allocated to the Army and the Air Force -- in a bid to improve its ability to guard the national territory. 

With a total of 40,000 personnel, including 1,000 in the Naval Air Service and 12,000 Marines, the Navy has been complaining for a long time about a lack of up-to-date systems. The Indonesians purchased 10,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, a squadron of naval Mil-2 helicopters and a dozen BTR-80A amphibious carriers for its Marines. With the recent commissioning of the three new warships, the KRI Lemadang, KRI Kobra and the KRI Anakonda, the Navy now has 120 warships in its fleet. The new warships were designed to increase the Navy's ability to protect the country against widespread threats of piracy, smuggling and illegal fishing. However, only 30 percent of Navy's other 117 ships are seaworthy. 

Two of these three new warships joined the Navy's 10 vessels already patrolling off Aceh waters preventing arms smuggling to the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM). The Army Chief of Staff claimed that GAM had recruited more fighters since December 2002, raising its fighting strength to 5,000 men, and was still engaged in smuggling weapons instead of disarming. - Adam Geibel


 


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