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Indonesia Presents White Paper On National Defence Strategy (1 Apr 2003)

On Monday, the Indonesian government released a white paper on the defence policy. The white paper, which was written by the Defence Ministry, addressed the various current threats facing the country. These issues include separatist movements, terrorism, piracy, illegal logging and people trafficking.

The white paper also appealed for sustaining the army's controversial territorial function. The territorial function involves Army bases and posts at all administrative levels down to the village level and had been blamed for TNI's dictatorship role during the leadership of former president Soeharto.

But according to Major General Sudrajat, the military's territorial function was still relevant in relation to building up the country's defence. This is because Indonesia, unlike United States or Britain, is not an established country. Indonesia suffers from armed separatist movements while the police face difficulties in controlling the movements. However, the government should monitor the territorial function closely to avoid departure from the socio-political context.

Following the People's Consultative Assembly (DPR) decree No. 7/2000, the police force is assigned with handling home security while the TNI is allocated to defend the country from external threats. The military still posses the authority to decide if it needs to intervene in handling local defence issues.

The 1998 reform movement wanted to dispose the TNI's social and political function also known as dwifungsi (dual function), as the Army has abused the role for certain interest.

Some experts argue that such wariness was not necessary as long as the military carries out its responsibility well and that the territorial function was the answer to separatist problems and will also allow the military deal with various external threats.