February 15, 2008:
The commander of the Indonesian armed forces
has admitted what many people have known for a long time; most of their heavy
military equipment is not fit for use. So he has ordered a halt to any use of
old or poorly maintained vehicles, ships or aircraft. Currently, at least half
of Indonesian tanks, warplanes and
warships are fit to operate. Lack of spare parts, and lack of maintenance
personnel able to keep these systems going, has led to most of them being
incapable of operating, or dangerous to use (if you insisted on it). For the
last five years, few of over a hundred
warships (most of them patrol boats) were completely combat ready. Many of
those that could put to sea, did so with many items of equipment inoperable.
Few warplanes were completely fit for combat, and most were dangerous to take
into the air.
The military is now getting money to
buy new equipment, and is promising to take better care of the new stuff. In
the past, corrupt officers would often steal money allocated for spare parts
and maintenance. All the army really needed was well equipped and trained
infantry, to take care of any citizens who complained. But now that democracy
has taken hold in Indonesia, the generals need to cut back on the corruption
and at least try and look good.