Indonesia: January 17, 2004


Decades of corruption in the military has left the troops with inadequate and ineffective weapons and equipment. Adding poor training and leadership resulted in a very ineffective armed forces. This became painfully obvious when Indonesian and Australian troops operated in close proximity in Timor in the last few years. Indonesia is sensitive about this, and is now complaining that Australia is participating with the United States in developing ballistic missile defenses. This, Indonesia feels, is an attempt by Australia to counter any move by Indonesia to buy ballistic missiles, which would be used in any future confrontation with Australia. But the Indonesians know they are ineffective, militarily, compared to Australia, and that is not likely to change in the next few decades. This irritates Indonesians, and all they can do about it is complain and hurl abuse at Australia.

The fighting in Aceh grinds on. A senior rebel leader was killed on the 15th and several rebels, on average, are killed each day (with more being wounded or arrested.) The rebels proposed a ceasefire last week, which the government rejected. But the rebels have kidnapped nearly 300 people in the last few months, including many local officials and some journalists, and have offered to free some, or all, of these in return for a ceasefire. 




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