Subject: DPA: Indonesia weapons procurement to be shifted away from U.S.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur February 11, 2000, Sunday, BC Cycle

Indonesia weapons procurement to be shifted away from U.S. Jakarta

The Indonesian armed forces, facing a military embargo from the United States, has decided to shift its purchasing of weapons and equipment to other countries, including China, reports said Friday.

The armed forces chief, Admiral Widodo Adisucipto, told a parliamentary hearing on Thursday that the TNI - the acronym for the Indonesian military - found it "difficult to buy spare parts" for its major defence system because of the embargo imposed by the United States in connection with Indonesia's record on human rights, the Jakarta Post said.

Last September, U.S. President Bill Clinton suspended military sales to Indonesia following the widespread violence, slayings, destruction and deportations in East Timor that ensued after the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia in a United Nations-sponsored referendum.

Hundreds of people are believed to have been killed when pro-Jakarta militias, backed by the Indonesian military, laid waste to the impoverished territory.

"We keep looking for breakthroughs and alternative arms producers, including China, to meet the minimum standards for defence equipment," the Post quoted Widodo as saying.

Widodo also said the military has made plans to improve its arsenal and manpower reserves in the face of increased social unrest across the country and its demands on the nation's security apparatus.

He said both personnal recruitment and weaponry procurement would cost the government the equivalent of 24 million dollars in the next fiscal year.

"If the House fails to approve the proposal, it is certain that TNI will lack preparedness capability," Widodo was quoted as reminding the lawmakers.

He said the military plans to recruit some 11,500 soldiers, while at the same time releasing from its rosters people set for retirement or those who have completed their terms of service.

TNI has some 250,000 personnel in three forces - the army, navy and air force.

Also included in this year's military budget plan are the purchase of two warships of the Parchim class, while the armed forces has also made a request for modification of its seven U.S.-made F-16 combat planes, Widdodo said.

He emphasised that the proposed military build-up would be aimed at supporting the government's efforts to quell ongoing unrest, restore peace and create conditions conducive to dialogue and reconciliation.

The once-powerful military has lost much of its popular support. It is blamed for the failure to stop the bloodshed that has ripped across the Indonesian archipelago since former president Suharto was forced to quit in 1998 and has sometimes been accused of instigating conflicts.

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