December 17, 2014
The country must stay prepared to defend itself against a growing terrorist threat, the commander of Indonesia's armed forces (TNI) warned at the start of joint military exercises earlier this month.
"Their methods, means, skills, and ability for recruiting regular people have changed, and it is very concerning. Therefore, we will continue to improve our military ability to counter possible threats anywhere and anytime," TNI commander General Moeldoko said on December 1st as he opened a joint exercise among the various military branches at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Banten Province.
"We are facing a real threat from the growing Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). We need to be preparing personally in our community and our military," he added.
Moeldoko was overseeing the kick-off of Tri Matra IX 2014, a five-day exercise involving a combined 627 army, navy and air force personnel.
"ISIS is our global enemy , and we will fight it together. Indonesians need to be united for this," he said. "We will tackle ISIS wisely and accordingly."
The goal was to improve each branch's ability to fight groups like ISIS, according to Navy Chief of Staff Marsetio.
"We need to counter-balance ISIS's ability. But we have good intentions of protecting people and saving lives," he told Khabar Southeast Asia. "ISIS on the other hand, is using its skill to kill innocent people ."
However, because the military alone cannot eradicate this scourge, communities across the archipelago will need to contribute toward the effort, Marsetio said.
"The local communities are our eyes and ears to track them and to anticipate possible threats," the admiral added.
Banten residents hear military's message
Locals welcomed the exercise taking place in their district.
"We hope our military ability is improving and will be able to protect our country at all levels," Fathoni Samadi told Khabar.
The 37 year-old Banten resident and taxi driver said he had witnessed the bombing at the Marriott Hotel in 2009 from a distance.
"If all elements in our society work together in anticipating any possible threat, those kinds of incidents should not happen," Fathoni said.
Muhammad Agus Pratomo, a cleric in Banten, said he and other religious leaders in the area were already working with the authorities to detect and root out local ISIS supporters.
"We are proactive in informing authorities about any activities related to ISIS. We are carefully monitoring our mosques just in case ISIS followers spread misleading messages to our community," Agus said.
"Our communities here in Banten are supporting all efforts."