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Indonesia: Foreign Military Relations
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Foreign Military Relations


Consistent with its foreign policy of nonalignment, Indonesia maintained no defense pacts with foreign nations. It did, however, have military aid agreements with the United States and various other nations and participated in combined military exercises with several other countries. Over the years, Indonesia also supplied troop contingents -- some involving either military or police personnel or both -- to United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces sent to the Suez Canal-Sinai Peninsula area (1957 and 1973-79), Congo (the former name for Zaire, 1960-64), the IranIraq border (1988-90), Namibia (1989-90), and the Kuwait-Iraq border (1991). In 1991 new UN support missions were sent to Cambodia and Somalia.

Indonesia is a member of ASEAN, and although the organization is not a defense alliance, military cooperation existed between Indonesia and its ASEAN partners. This cooperation was conducted on a frequent and bilateral basis and included exchanges of military representatives at national defense institutions, periodic security consultations, and a series of separate bilateral combined military exercises. Following the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1979, ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Bali pledged their nations' support for the security of each of the other ASEAN nations, but stopped short of discussing the creation of a military alliance. The Cambodian peace accords of 1991 reduced tensions considerably. Moreover, there was a feeling of admiration for Vietnam's armed forces on the part of senior Indonesian military officers, particularly the powerful General Murdani. Murdani and others found much in common between the Vietnamese and Indonesian armed forces. They alone in Southeast Asia had fought against colonial powers for their independence, and both had based much of their military doctrine on the tenets of guerrilla warfare. It was this perceived relationship between Indonesian and Vietnamese military leaders that gave Indonesia the impetus to assume an influential role in the Cambodian peace settlement process. The Indonesian government continued to stress that defense cooperation among ASEAN nations was a function of each nation's right to protect itself and that bilateral cooperation would not lead to any bilateral or ASEAN-wide defense pact. Indonesia continued to support normalization of Vietnam's relationship with Western nations, particularly the United States.

Indonesia has also held combined military exercises with nonASEAN nations, including Australia, Britain, France, India, New Zealand, and the United States. During the 1980s, defense officials suggested that joint border patrols might be set up with Papua New Guinea, and the two countries signed a status-of- forces agreement in January 1992. Indonesian troops sometimes crossed the border from Irian Jaya Province into Papua New Guinea in pursuit of armed insurgents.

Indonesia has maintained military assistance agreements with several countries. It received funded security assistance from the United States every year since 1950 except 1965 and 1966 when relations were at a low ebb. Grant aid of military equipment, which ended in 1978, averaged US$13 million per year and was used mainly for logistics equipment, communications systems, and combat matériel for internal security. The United States also provided grant aid training under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program between 1950 and 1992, when the United States Congress cut the aid as a reaction to the human rights situation in East Timor. In that forty-two-year period, more than 4,000 Indonesian military personnel received IMET training in the United States. United States Foreign Military Sales credits were made available periodically to Indonesia starting in 1974, and have helped defray the expenses of purchases of United States-made military equipment. As of the early 1990s, Indonesia had also received military aid from Australia, Britain, France, the Netherlands, and West Germany, among others. Indonesia also acquired equipment from the Soviet Union in the early 1960s and, although most of it was inoperative by the 1970s, Jakarta continued to make payments to Moscow after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Data as of November 1992

Last Updated: November 1992

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Indonesia was first published in 1993. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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