Chairman Upbeat After Meeting Indonesian Leaders
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
JAKARTA, Indonesia, May 30, 2008 Meetings with Indonesian leaders here were constructive and friendly, and they hold great promise for the future, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday. Video
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is greeted by Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia is the first stop on a eight-day trip visiting Asia-Pacific nations and attending the 2008 Shangri-La Dialogues in Singapore, May 29, 2008. Defense Dept. photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen’s visit was designed to enhance military-to-military contacts and to discuss progress and challenges in the U.S.-Indonesia relationship.
Mullen praised Indonesian leaders for making the tough decisions to reform the government and sticking with the program. The chairman met with his counterpart, Indonesian army Gen. Djoko Santoso, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Ady during his visit.
Indonesian civilian and military leaders have taken steps to transform the military to a professional, external security force that can provide domestic support to civilian security forces as necessary. In 1999, Indonesian leaders decided to separate the police from the army, and they completed that process in 2000. Much like in the United States, the military would step in to a situation only if the local police were overwhelmed. The Indonesian military did great work, for example, following the tsunami that struck the country in December 2004.
As part of this professionalization of the military, successive governments have worked with military leaders to de-emphasize the role the military plays in the Indonesian congress and to put the military under civilian control.
Mullen called his visit a reaffirmation of the strong military-to-military relationship the United States has with Indonesia, noting that the two countries have worked hard to increase the numbers of activities, exercises and training opportunities.
“A few years ago, the number of activities that took place between the two militaries in a given year was in the single digits,” Mullen said during an interview yesterday. “This year it is some 130. It has increased significantly, and it is designed to reaffirm this very important partnership that we feel very strongly about.”
International military education and training is important, Mullen said, “because probably the most significant thing we can do is invest in our young officers and noncommissioned officers, because it won’t be too long before they will be leading our militaries, and having that embedded relationship when they are young is very important.”
From 1991 to 2005, Indonesia was under some form of U.S. military sanctions. Training for young Indonesian officers and NCOs in the United States halted, as did bilateral exercises. As a result, the two militaries did not train together and were unfamiliar with how to work together in operations, and that showed through during the tsunami relief operations, officials traveling with Mullen said.
In its push to reform, the Indonesian military stresses human rights training for its servicemembers. Any U.S. training for the Indonesian military would also stress that, officials said.
After wrapping up his Indonesia visit, the chairman traveled to Singapore to join Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual Asia security conference.