What are the causes of the transformation of defense progress in Indonesia?
The current state of defense in Indonesia cannot be ignored. Despite still being a developing country, Indonesia is going through a defense revolution. The world seemed to need to point this out.
According to data from the Lowy Institute Asia Power Index 2021, Indonesia is now considered an Asian middle power. Indonesia is ranked ninth out of 26 nations for overall strength, with a score of 19.4 out of 100.
In terms of military capability, Indonesia is ranked 13th overall, with defense budget data ranked 10th, armed forces ranked 11th, weapons and platforms ranked 13th, and Asian military posture and signature abilities at 13th rank.
Meanwhile, in terms of military manpower, Indonesia is among the top 10 in Asia. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Indonesia will be ranked eighth in Asia in 2021, with 395.50 thousand troops. China remains the leader in this regard, with a total of 2.03 million people.
Efforts to strengthen the defense are currently underway. Indonesia’s defense equipment upgrade targets 70% of the minimum troops needed by 2024. (MEF). The realization of the MEF has been improved since the realization of the MEF in 2020 represented only 62.3% of the State budget. This happened in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, which caused defense spending to be diverted to deal with the pandemic.
The establishment of reserve components of at least 3,000 soldiers, which did not exist before, resulted in several advances in the defensive advancement of Indonesia. Then there was the Dassault Rafale fighter plane, an Italian frigate, the Airbus A400M military transport plane, the scorpene submarine and the Maung tactical vehicle.
Some analysts believe that this defensive development will pique the interest of the global community, especially industrialized nations engaged in global politics.
Advancing Indonesia’s defense capabilities has the potential to strengthen Indonesia’s bargaining power in the international arena. Additionally, there are difficulties in superpower relations that could steer this.
Tensions between the United States, Russia and China have put the world in danger. The idea of the “western” and “eastern” blocs that existed during the Cold War seems to be resurfacing now.
Due to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, the United States had to contend with Russia as the leader of the Western bloc. On the other side, the United States is in conflict with China over the issues of Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Amid these tense geopolitical circumstances, Indonesia has the ability to defuse conflicting superpowers. Indonesian military force can be employed as a peacemaker, and Indonesian officials can seize this opportunity to ensure global security.
The eminent personality of Prabowo Subianto, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Indonesia, is inseparable from the strengthening of Indonesian defence. Why is this so? There can be various explanations for this.
For starters, Prabowo has a high-ranking military background. Since graduating from the Magelang military academy in 1974, his youth has been honored to serve in the military as a second lieutenant. Over the past 24 years, his military career has consistently taken him to key positions such as Commander of the Army’s Strategic Reserve Command.
He visited conflict-prone countries like East Timor and achieved a number of goals. One of his most notable accomplishments was rescuing a passenger from the Garuda DC-9 Woyla in Bangkok in 1981. This operation recovered 10-12 international searchers who had been kidnapped by Free Papua Movement (OPM) insurgents in part of the Lotrentz 95 expedition.
His military expertise underpins his ability to manage and create defensive equipment. Prabowo realizes that the navy and the air force are essential to the defense of Indonesia, and he works to strengthen these two areas.
Second, Prabowo Subianto is the general chairman of the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), which has great political bargaining power. Gerindra, who now sits third in the 2019 general election, wields significant political power in shaping state policy. Prabowo has the political ability to direct 78 members of his legislative council to adopt national policies based on his views on national interests. Defense and security in Indonesia is no exception.
The media frequently refer to Prabowo Subianto’s political group as the Kertanegara axis, a political axis with nationalist-patriotic leanings. The Kertanegara axis frequently crossed the Cikeas axis of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the sixth president of the Republic of Indonesia, and the Bull axis of Megawati, the fifth president of the Republic of Indonesia, during its development.
Prabowo was previously known to the public as a presidential candidate, especially in rivalry with Joko Widodo, the current President of the Republic of Indonesia.
In reality, he is the “King Maker” figure who has won many well-known political contestants today including Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or Ahok, the former Governor of DKI Jakarta, Anies Baswedan, the current Governor of DKI Jakarta , and Ridwan Kamil, who was previously mayor of Bandung. Because with the support of Prabowo Subianto, everyone was able to achieve political success.
Third, Prabowo has strong skills in soft diplomacy. He conducted defense diplomacy in a non-partisan, open and beneficial manner, keeping in mind the current global political context.
Prabowo seems to view all countries as friends who need not be separated from each other, especially if they share common goals or political ties.
Furthermore, defense diplomacy involves not only the procurement of defense equipment, but also discussions of international security, future collaboration, and efforts to capitalize on increased national capabilities.
Prabowo had gone to South Korea. In defense diplomacy, he agreed to buy 16 South Korean T-50 trainer jets while simultaneously discussing global security. Indonesia has even worked with South Korea on the development of the KF-15 Boromae fighter jet.
Simultaneously, Prabowo continues to visit Japan, a country with a history of confrontation with Korea. During his visit, he referred to the agreement on the long-term viability of cooperation in the transfer of military technology for the production of defense equipment.
Despite the two nations having a strained relationship due to their shared history, Prabowo was able to use the two countries from opposite angles.
Regarding the strained relationship between the United States and China, Prabowo respects both countries. He viewed the United States as a close ally and welcomed the superpower’s assistance to ASEAN. However, Prabowo maintains defense cooperation with China as well as cordial ties with it.
Despite the tensions between the two countries, Prabowo has maintained his neutrality towards both. Consequently, Indonesia seems to be the international mediator of the countries in contention. Prabowo effectively executed the notion of a free and active foreign policy.
The Indonesian defense is changing and improving at a rapid pace. This cannot be isolated from the work of Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who has accelerated the defense of Indonesia, which was previously more focused on foreign threats. Thus, advancing the defense of Indonesia requires not only financial support, but also a powerful personality.