Moving beyond ambitions? Indonesia's military modernisation

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Over the next 10 to 15 years, Indonesia wants to become a major regional military power. The armed forces' (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, TNI) ambitions include a 274-ship 'green-water navy', 10 fighter squadrons and 12 diesel-electric submarines. While similar ambitions failed in the past, this time the match between ambitions and resources could be closer given Indonesia's positive political and economic trajectory. Indeed, TNI's coastal defence and littoral warfare capabilities will incrementally improve. Access to modern technologies such as anti-ship missiles, better maritime domain awareness, an increase in coastal combatants, and improved capacity to deploy troops within the archipelago means that it will be better placed to engage any hostile force operating in its maritime approaches. Yet, TNI modernisation continues to suffer from traditional shortfalls in Indonesian defence policy such as incoherent strategic planning and defence procurement, an outmoded defence doctrine, insufficient funding, and an inability to maintain military equipment. Into the foreseeable future, the ADF will retain its high-end 'capability edge' over Indonesia and TNI's power projection capabilities will remain limited. Australia has a major intered in shaping Indonesia's emergence as a military power. A friendly, militarily more powerful Indonesia would be a major geostrategic asset for us. To do so, new ways to support TNI capability development are needed. The days where Indonesia was an eager recipient of Australian defence aid are numbered. Moreover, a greater convergence of interests could be moderated by a divergence in strategic approaches to defence policy. One new instrument could be to utilise the Defence Materiel Organisation to improve TNI's defence procurement and sustainment process. In addition, Defence should offer to assist TNI in doctrine and capability planning. As well, single service cooperation between the ADF and TNI could be intensified. Finally, joint maritime surveillance offers room for greater cooperation. In sum, Indonesia's military will continue to face a considerable gap between ambitions and reality. Yet, Australia needs to anticipate the emergence of a more capable Indonesian military willing and able to play a greater role in regional security.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBarton, ACT
PublisherAustralian Strategic Policy Institute
Number of pages35
ISBN (Print)9781921302930
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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