As part of efforts to develop a recruitment model for a planned Army reserve unit, three hundred civil servants from the Ministry of Defense have recently finished a month-long training program.
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the training was part of a pilot project, as the plan to put together a reserve unit composed of civilians was still being discussed at the House of Representatives. Nonetheless, Purnomo said, the training also served to improve work discipline and nationalism among participants.
“This is the first step we are taking, parallel with discussions on the bill. This is an example of how the training will go,” Purnomo said on Tuesday after officially closing the state defense training program at the army training center in East Jakarta.
“This is like a pilot project that we would like to showcase to the public. Later on, when the Reserve Component Bill is formalized, this recruitment process can be used. But it will not be obligatory for all citizens,” he said.
No mandatory conscription
Other ministries are set to follow the Ministry of Defense in conducting similar training programs. Civil servants will be quizzed on the basics of military operations and their knowledge of state management. Institutions taking part include the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, the Maritime Academy and other higher education institutions.
“If [necessary] they will be taught to have respect. They will also be molded in terms of their knowledge of nationalism as well as the basics of the military. For two weeks they will be trained in the mountains and another two weeks in East Jakarta,” Defense Ministry official Sumardi said.
The Reserve Component Bill has long raised controversy among the public and lawmakers, with some calling on the House to focus on other, more pressing issues to be solved and others fearing the bill would lead to mandatory military conscription.
Purnomo, however, shrugged off such comments, saying the government will be handing out invitations to the public to participate in the program, and that the public will have the right to decline or accept the invite.
Indonesia currently has an all-volunteer military force.
“For the reserve component, we will invite anyone who registers. When he or she signs the contract, then they will be obliged to participate,” Purnomo said. “Before registering, people will not be required to be a part of the state defense reserve component.”
Budi Rachmat, the Defense Ministry’s director for the reserve component program, had earlier emphasized that the bill did not require military conscription.
“There are several differences. According to the draft bill, the reserve component program is voluntary. They will only be trained on the military basics of for just two months,” he said in July, adding that after the training, participants will be allowed to return to their homes.
“When the country needs them, they will be called in to join. This is different from a military conscription, which means that after undergoing a military training, people will work as members of the military for a few years,” Rachmat said.
Meanwhile, Indria Samego, a political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), earlier this month called on the House to seriously discuss the draft bill and not merely turn it into a project to exhaust the budget.
“I am calling on the House of Representatives to seriously discuss the Reserve Component Draft Bill and look at the bigger picture,” he said.
According Indria, the parliament should form a special committee that also includes members of other commissions than House Commission I to avoid conflicts with other laws.
“The Reserve Component Draft Bill needs to be comprehensive, but it should first be thoroughly discussed by including other commissions. The House should make sure that every law it passes is a map to which the people of Indonesia can hold on to in the future,” he said.
Indria also emphasized that it was important for the public to be involved in finalizing the bill.
“The principle is that every draft bill should be comprehensively finalized. Looking at the current Reserve Component Draft Bill, it is clear that this is something the Ministry of Defense wants,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the reserve component issue is a public issue which should earn the public’s approval.”
He also added that the Defense Ministry seemed to be in a rush to have the bill approved but was insufficiently focused on the outcome.
“Every commission at the House of Representatives has 50 members. It would be great if at least 10 people in the commission understood the bill,” Indria said.
“But even then, it is likely that out of 10, only five of them would be diligent. What would happen if the final decision of the plenary is based on just five people?” he added.
Defense Ministry head of communication Sisriadi said the Reserve Component Bill was important as it would improve the country’s defense system.
“It is not a matter of urgency but of necessity,” he told Metrotvnews.com.