Subject: AN: Lawmaker urge TNI to use domestic industry to reduce dependency on U.S. arms

December 02, 2004

Lawmaker urge TNI to use domestic industry to reduce dependency on U.S. arms

JAKARTA (Antara): A member of the House of Representatives urged on Thursday the Indonesian Military (TNI) to empower Indonesia's weapons-related industries, to relieve its dependency on the United States in procuring weaponry.

The U.S. applied an embargo on Indonesia following the Santa Cruz, East Timor incident in 1992, and further tightened the clamp following the riot after the UN-sponsored referendum in 1999 that led to East Timor's independence. Great Britain followed suit.

E.E. Mangindaan of the Democrat Party Faction, himself a retired general, told TNI chief Gen. Endriarto Sutarto to empower Indonesia's weaponry-related industries to overcome the shortage.

"We should sit together and find a way to maximize our arms-related industries so we can be independent in procuring weapons," he said.

Indonesia owns a number of American-made jets such as A-4 Skyhawks, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-5 Tigers as well as C-130 Hercules transporters.

Indonesia's state-owned, arms-related industries include rifle and ammunition maker PT Pindad, shipbuilder PT PAL and aircraftmaker PT DI.

During the meeting, Endriartono said TNI weaponry was among the poorest in ASEAN and comparable only to those of minnows Cambodia or Laos.

He also said that the TNI only had some 347,000 soldiers from the three services, far from sufficient to safeguard Indonesian territory.

"The minimum should be 0.4% percent of the population, or about 800,000 soldiers. Ideally, 1% of the population," he said. (***)

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