Closer Defense Ties Between Indian and Indonesia a Win-Win Scenario
and Indonesia have been conducting trade for over two millennia.
However, in modern times it took the countries until as recently as 2005
to truly rediscover each other and sign a strategic partnership deal on
the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.
strategic partnership, with both countries having an eye on China, was
raised to a new level on Tuesday when India and Indonesia held their
first-ever defense dialogue and decided to significantly enhance their
defense cooperation. The India-Indonesia defense dialogue mechanism at
the highest level was agreed upon during the visit of Indonesian
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to India in January 2011.
expansion of India-Indonesia defense ties is a win-win scenario for
both. Indonesia stands to benefit from India’s expertise in the
production of radar systems, other electronic equipment and artillery
weaponry. Indonesia has allocated $1 billion for purchasing military
weaponry and India would like to seize this opportunity. If India is to
become a credible military power, it has to start exporting hardware.
Indonesia can help India in this regard.
first ministerial level biennial defense dialogue between the visiting
Indian Defense Minister AK Antony and his Indonesian counterpart
Purnomo Yusgiantoro, which lasted nearly two hours, delivered rather
admirably on the expectation quotient. So much so that Antony declared
his meeting with Yusgiantoro as a “turning point’ and an “excellent
not only exchanged views on a whole range of issues relating to
regional and global security, bilateral exercises involving services,
training, co-production of defense equipment and ammunitions and visits
at high levels but also discussed in detail how to synergize their
maritime operations in South China Sea.
his meeting with Yusgiantoro in Jakarta, Antony was asked a question
from reporters on the South China Sea. Antony said that peace and
security in the region is of vital interest to the international
community. “Our view is that all countries should exercise restraint and
resolve the issue through dialogues according to principles of
international law. India supports the freedom of navigation and access
to resources in accordance with principles of international law. These
principles should be respected by all,” the Indian defense ministry’s
chief spokesman Sitanshu Kar quoted Antony as saying.
his engagements with his Indonesian interlocutors and the media, Antony
also spoke at length about the power rivalries in the Indian Ocean
Region. Antony said that although these are being conducted in local
theaters, the impact is felt in the wider regional arena and globally.
India has a stake in the maintenance of peace and stability in its
immediate and extended neighborhood. This includes the entire Indian
Ocean Region to India’s east and west.
is a lesser known fact that Indonesia is India’s closest littoral
neighbor. From the southernmost tip of the India’s Andaman and Nicobar
Islands in the Bay of Bengal, Indonesia’s Sumatra province is just 80
nautical miles away as the crow flies. India has recently established a
tri-services command in the Islands’ capital Port Blair to guard the
approaches to the Malacca Strait, the 960-km narrow sea lane, wedged in
between Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, which happens to be one of
the world’s busiest waterways with about 50,000 ships plying the route
annually, carrying half of the world’s oil and one-third of the world’s
is vital for both India and Indonesia to keep the Malacca Strait free
from any trouble, whether from terrorists or pirates or from political
gave an overview of India’s perspective on global and regional
security. He said the threat of terrorism perpetuated by state and
non-state actors affects all of us equally. Antony said some times, the
acts of individual terrorists and terrorist organizations are also
actively or otherwise encouraged by allowing such organizations safe
refuge and other forms of support.
India and Indonesia have a vital stake in the evolution of balanced
security and cooperation mechanisms through which they can build
consensus and pursue dialogue. Both need to improve their partnership
with all countries in the Indian Ocean Region on bilateral basis as well
as through multilateral fora like the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for
Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). In this context,
remark made in Jakarta on Tuesday assumes significance: “It is seen that
there are countries from where terrorists are free to launch their
operations against other countries. This cannot be tolerated. The world
is paying a heavy price for such mindless policies. No country should
allow its territory to be used for any form of terrorism, directed
against any other country or its people,” Antony said.
two defense ministers also exchanged views on the emerging scenario in
Afghanistan and West Asia and noted with satisfaction that defense
cooperation constitutes one of the principal focus areas of their
diversified relationship. Encouraged by the success of the first Joint
Exercise on Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare in India earlier this
year, Antony proposed that the two countries should continue the joint
exercises between the two armies on a mutually agreed frequency.
the two navies are regularly conducting coordinated maritime patrols
(CORPAT). He said we can examine the possibility of enhancing the
engagement through conduct of joint naval exercises. He also offered to
Indonesia establishment of a formal maritime domain information sharing
arrangement between the two navies.
the Air Force side, Antony said a high-level Indian Air Force team
would send a team to finalize details of training and spares support
package, once the Indonesian Air Force firms up its requirements.
Antony was assisted by a high-level delegation including Indian Defense
Secretary Shashikant Sharma, India’s ambassador to Indonesia, Shri
Gurjit Singh, Chief of Integrated Staff Vice Adm. S.P.S. Cheema, the
head of the Andaman & Nicobar Command, Lt. Gen. N.C. Marwah and the
director general of the Ordnance Factory Board, SK Beri. Antony also
invited Yusgiantoro to visit India for the next round of talks next
is in the larger interest of both countries to forge closer defense
ties. And China must be keeping a close watch on the growing
Rajeev Sharma is a New Delhi-based journalist-author and strategic analyst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.