Budiman Gets Nod as Army Chief of Staff

Indonesian Army Special Forces from the Raider Unit drop from a helicopter during an anti-terrorism exercise in Banda Aceh, on June 24, 2013. The Raiders Unit was formed as a special army unit for fighting terrorism in urban areas. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak)

Indonesian Army Special Forces from the Raider Unit drop from a helicopter during an anti-terrorism exercise in Banda Aceh, on June 24, 2013. The Raiders Unit was formed as a special army unit for fighting terrorism in urban areas.  (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak) Indonesian Army Special Forces from the Raider Unit drop from a helicopter during an anti-terrorism exercise in Banda Aceh, on June 24, 2013. The Raiders Unit was formed as a special army unit for fighting terrorism in urban areas. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak)

A senior Defense Ministry bureaucrat has been appointed as the chief of staff at the army, replacing Gen. Moeldoko, who was this week formally installed as the head of the military.

Lt. Gen. Budiman was previously the ministry’s secretary general. “Budiman has been appointed as the new army chief of staff, that is based on the military chief’s recommendation,” State Secretary Sudi Silalahi said on Thursday.

He confirmed that Budiman will be sworn into office this morning, along with Moeldoko, whose appointment as the Indonesian National Defense Force (TNI) chief earned unanimous approval from the House of Representatives this week.

Moeldoko will replace former military chief Admiral Agus Suhartono, who retires this month.

Agus approved of Budiman’s appointment, saying he was capable of taking on the new role.

“First of all, he is the best graduate [of his class], he also has enough experience as well as the capability and quality,” Agus said in Jakarta on Thursday.

Agus advised his successor Moeldoko to “be consistent with what we have planned to empower the military.”

During his fit-and-proper test prior to being approved by the House, Moeldoko promised he would improve the welfare of soldiers, especially that of commanders, by boosting pay for soldiers promoted to the role of commander.

“The increase in remuneration will be raised from 37 percent to 57 percent,” he said, adding that he would consider providing housing and medical facilities for soldiers.

Moeldoko said his development plan for the military will include improving soldier professionalism and welfare; stability; openness; and modernizing the military’s primary weapon systems.

“A professional soldier is a well-trained, well-educated and well-equipped soldier,” he said.

He said procuring primary weapon systems as part of efforts to modernize the force would lessen the country’s dependence on foreign systems, which risk being subject to an embargo.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono echoed Moeldoko’s concerns on Thursday and called for the use of local primary defense systems in order to boost national development and research. The president said it would eventually lead to better products, but added that exceptions would be made for specific tools that the country cannot produce.

“If it can be locally produced, then we must use our own products. Using foreign products is allowed if it can’t be locally produced, but there has to be a good scheme,” Yudhoyono said as he opened a technology fair at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah in East Jakarta to mark National Technology Day on Thursday.

The exhibition displayed products by local researchers and developers, including the Komodo multifunction vehicle, the 12.7-caliber sniper weapon, cloud seeding materials CoSAT 1000, Daya Prime Pentolite Boosters as well as communications devices and bullet-resistant steel plates.

Yudhoyono said the use of foreign primary defense systems could hamper the growth of local defense industries and discourage local experts from conducting further research.

“If we look at our future and our vision, as well as where we are going, I would like to remind all of us to ... have one goal and spirit. Let us build Indonesia to become an emerging economy in 2030 and in 2045 a developed country,” he said.

Yudhoyono said the government is focused on modernizing and improving the military.

“We are currently conducting a modernization and empowerment program for our forces, in hope of nurturing stronger and more modern soldiers in the future,” he said.

Despite the apparent hostility toward imported materials, the military on Thursday inaugurated the TNI Center for International Partnership (TNI Puskerin), which aims to foster foreign connections.

The body will establish a framework through which the military can gain information on potential partnerships and the monitor and evaluate them.

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