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How successful were last year’s “Balikatan” /bah-LEEK-I-tan} exercise in increasing the counterterrorism capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines? To what extent are their capabilities limited by lack of equipment, poor training, or even corruption among some Philippine officers?
The annual Balikatan exercise is a Joint Chief of Staff-level series of exercises designed to allow both US Forces and Republic of the Philippines’ (RP) Forces to validate interoperability while executing Combined Joint Task Force operations. In the past the exercise was focused on external defense. It is now focusing on Most Likely Operations—Transnational Crimes, specifically counterterrorism. Through Balikatan ’02 and ’03, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and US have enhanced our interoperability in combating terrorism. Balikatan 02—1 on Basilan Island developed critical skills in the AFP and led to a significant improvement in the security environment. During a future phase of Balikatan, the US will exercise with AFP units that have been trained through the Security Assistance training modules aimed at improving the combating terrorism capabilities of the AFP. This exercise will validate US-RP interoperability and assess the training provided by US forces to determine effective follow-on activities.
AF P capabilities are definitely limited by their lack of equipment, as well as training, maintenance and logistics shortfalls. Through a revitalized and refocused Theater Security Cooperation Program (TSCP) utilizing Security Assistance (SA), we are addressing the shortcomings. All efforts are focused through TSCP to ultimately provide a sustainable capability to combat terrorism in the Philippines. To address equipment issues, we provide assistance to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to fix and sustain the equipment and systems they currently have under the SA program, discouraging the idea of acquiring new systems which they cannot sustain.
Under the Security Assistance Program, training programs were developed to train-the-trainer, that is, to give the Philippines a sustainable capability to train themselves. We will provide assistance primarily through mobile training teams aimed at increasing their capabilities. Additionally, we will maximize the use of Joint Combined Exercise for Training (JAckETs), exercises, and other venues aimed at increasing interoperability in combating terrorism.
We continue to address corruption. We have been working with the GRP through mil-to-mil contacts, meetings, and classes to encourage the proper conduct of military business and accountability. Our presence with them improves their performance. To further mitigate potential corruption, direct funding of projects is avoided and assistance is provided through spare parts, Excess Defense Articles (as applicable and where needed), and SA funded training.
In her recent dealings with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Philippine President Arroyo has pursued both peace talks and military offensives. What is the policy of Government of the Philippines toward the MILF. and how do you assess the prospects for resolving that longstanding conflict?
Mr. Leach, the Department of State might better answer this question, however, as we know it, the policy of the Government of the Philippines (GRP) is to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). While they are seriously attempting to bring the conflict in Mindanao to a peaceful, long-term conclusion, the process is fraught with posturing by both sides. We are encouraged because there is again a cease-fire and the GRP and the MILF are headed back to the peace negotiation table. We are also encouraged by President Arroyo’s visit to Mindanao on 17 June 2003 because it signaled that the GRP is attempting to allay some suspicions among Muslim Community Leaders that her Administration is not committed to developing Mindanao. This is significant because many Muslims, including the MILF have viewed the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a failed experiment. Although we are hopeful that peace will be reached this time, we are cognizant of the repeated failed attempts in the past. United States Government encouragement and assistance both in the peace negotiations and with additional Economic and Security Assistance will significantly help move peace negotiations closer to a successful conclusion.
Admiral Fargo, in your written testimony you state that “Commitment of funds for full IMET to Indonesia, pending congressional consultations, is a welcome development.” Particularly in light of the fact that IMET (International Military Exchange & Training) for Indonesia is still somewhat controversial within Congress, what level of detiiig and regularity do you anticipate that those Congressional consultations will me u e.
Indonesia’s national security organizations are still developing. Both the US and Indonesia must continue to press for reform and accountability. IMET is an important part of the process to support reform in the TNI. IMET provides a means to pursue long term U.S. strategic interests in the region by continuing to train and influence both military and civilian leaders. Training these future leaders / reformers remains critical to holistic overnment reform.
Department of Defense and epartment of State consultations with congressional committees are on-going with regard to execution of the $400,000 allocated for the Indonesia IMET program. Our hope at Pacific Command is that consultations will be completed soon so the program can be executed as planned while still adhering to the spirit and intent of Congress. I certainly understand the Congressional interest in Indonesia’s IMET program, and I am glad to provide whatever information is required.
Consultations should have as an overall goal the validation that planned training for Indonesia furthers our foreign policy goals. As we get closer to course execution there is an identification and vetting process potential attendees will go through. One goal of vetting is to ensure the candidates do not have anythin in their background, such as potential human-rights violations or illegal activity. This vetting occurs at the embassy and involves several different agencies, using several national level databases as well as information in local files, as per congressional direction. Any negative events would preclude a candidate from attending a course and also ensures we are identifying candidates who either now or in the future will be in a position to have a positive influence within the TNI. A positive training experience is one that demonstrates practically the benefits of democracy and civil rule, which are primary tenants of IMET. Contact with U.S. military sets the right example for a military that respects human rights and the rule of law. Our engagement with the TNI is a responsible path toward needed reform of the TNI.
Currently, we are nine months into the fiscal year, and still have not been able to execute lanned and vetted training. These delays have, for some within the TNI, furthrfi va idated the skepticism they have not only of IMET, but U.S. intentions as we .
Are there areas that you think are ripe for U.S.-Indonesia military coo eration that might pose fewer concerns from a human rights perspective, such as— or example— improving Indonesia’s anti-piracy and maritime interdiction capabilities? Would it make sense to start with less controversial forms of military engagement, particularly in light of the reported abuses being committed by the TNI in Aceh and Papua?
The areas of anti-piracy and maritime interdiction have the potential for important U.S.-Indonesia cooperation, as well as regional Counter-terrorism (CT) cooperation. These “ripe” areas are not only less controversial in a human rights context, but would also be welcomed by the region as part of a program to improve maritime security.
We are very optimistic about our developin regional maritime security rogram (RMSP). RMSP is a comprehensive strategy or executing policy when ful y developed such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, Illicit Activities Initiative and a PACOM initiative called Southeast Asia Maritime Security (SEAMS). SEAMS objective is to deny terrorists and traffickers use of the maritime domain. Aimed at enabling territorial maritime integrity, SEAMS will synchronize efforts like the planned USCG training assessment in Indonesia with other USG and partner nation maritime security efforts:
Cooperation on maritime interdiction and anti-piracy as well as other transnational crime, important in themselves, are also consistent with the longer term professionalization of TNI. Anti-piracy and maritime security are legitimate external defense missions for any professional force. Cooperation in these areas could serve as one catalyst for TNI transition from its internal security role to a purely external defense posture. In our strategic calculations, this is the exact direction we want to encourage TNI to follow.
Given the importance of these two areas, we will be pursuing both policy support to work with Indonesia in this area, as well as to obtain Foreign Military Financing/ Foreign Military Sales (FMF/FMS) to help equip and train their maritime elements. We know that the Indonesian Navy needs equipment and training in appropriate areas.
Maritime security cooperation is an area we are looking at seriously for U.S./Indonfefsia cooperation. It is needed and it can set the stage for expanded TNI reform e orts.
How would you rate Indonesia’s cooperation with the U.S. campaign against terrorism? Have Indonesia’s counter-terrorism efforts been hampered by a lack of operational capability, a lack of political will, or other factors?
PACOM’s mil-mil with Indonesia is based on a two-pronged strategy. First build GOI-TNI CT institutional capacity and will to support the war on terrorism, and simultaneously foster a long-term TNI transition to a professional armed force capable of supporting US and regional strategic interests. The Bali tragedy brought Indonesia to a point of recognition that they too have a terrorist problem and cooperation in the ensuing investigation has been very good. Since that time we incrementally increased our combined intelligence and law enforcement cooperation efforts with positive results. To date Indonesia has arrested over thirty Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members responsible for the Bali bombing to include Abu Bakar Bashir, an Indonesian cleric accused of plotting to overthrow the government.
Beyond this, Indonesia has steadily improved its cooperation with its neighbors who also have a heightened perception of the direct threat that terrorism poses. As a result, we have seen diplomatic agreements aimed at improving regional cooperation between Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. As these agreements gain traction, Indonesia may find that a regional perspective will be a key facet to its future national security architecture.
At the United States to Indonesia military level, cooperation designed to improve Indonesia’s counter terrorism capacity is limited. Current US policy acknowledges law enforcement as Indonesia’s primary counter terrorism organ. United States Government assistance to improve training, intelligence, equipment and the organization of Indonesian law enforcement is bearing fruit, however, in crises situations, we assess that the Government of Indonesia will still rely on the military to resolve any siege-hostage terrorist incident. We further assess that there is a moderate possibility, that this type of solution would lead to significant loss of life to both hostage and rescue force.
We fully support the reform efforts taken by the Indonesian military, not only to meet our demands, but also to set precedents for accountability. The Indonesian’s Military problems are institutional in nature and are symptomatic of a broader crisis of government that hinders full domestic, regional, and international cooperation in the War on Terror. Indonesia should continue with economic and legal reform while attracting foreign investment. Military reform, however, remains the precursor to other institutional reforms. Indonesia’s success is critical to future peace and stability in Southeast Asia. It is in our interest to support Indonesia’s democratic reform.
We continue to look at areas that combine Counter Terrorism with an external/ regional focus. Promoting Maritime Security Program initiatives provide a potential outlet for the Government of Indonesia to set the conditions that reduce piracy, illicit traffic, and terrorist movement, while encouraging a possible path to military reform. As part of the USG'S unified effort, PACOM complements other government agency activities and diplomatic efforts to support both civilian and military development through interagency seminars, humanitarian projects, subject matter expert exchanges, disaster preparedness, and peace keeping training venues.
What are Indonesia’s objectives in the current Aceh campaign? How are Indonesian troops (and GAM fighters) comporting themselves? To what extent, if any, will reported TNI abuses in Aceh affect the prospects for increased U.S. military cooperation with Indonesia?
We are of course very concerned about the breakdown of the peace process in Aceh and have discussed our concerns with TNI officials. Our goal is to facilitate institutional reform of the TNI in a measured and orderly fashion over the long-term and assure abuses do not occur. Despite widespread agreement that only a political solution can solve this 26 year separatist struggle, Indonesia has opted again to use its military to reduce Free Aceh Movement (GAM) influence in the larger communities of Aceh, stabilize the security situation, and restore basic services.
Past efforts have been a tragedy. This time TNI has declared the results will be different. Its objective is to separate the GAM rebels from the local Acehnese population, and to eliminate them as a force for Aceh separatism. Separating combatants from civilians is an enormously difficult task and one that can easily lead to brutal acts. TNI has stated it has added a humanitarian assistance component to its operation, and that its soldiers have undergone human rights training. Translating this training to the field will be difficult; and, at the moment limited reporting indicates inconsistent results.
As we evaluate this TNI performance, keep in mind that eliminating GAM is a legitimate security objective; they pose a threat to Indonesia’s territorial integrity. Further, there should be no confusion over GAM brutality and willingness to coerce Acehnese in the pursuit of its goal. Their strategy is to bring TNI into human rights violations, further impugning TNI reputation, and adding support to their separatist movement. Expecting good comportment on their part is not realistic.
We should also understand that numerous interests intersect in Aceh. Besides the primary fight over unity, TNI and GAM are also in a battle for political control for Aceh and its resources. Aceh has long been recognized as fertile territory for business, including illegal logging, as well as drugs and smuggling revenues. Pursuit of these business objectives, legal or not, are not in the interests of Indonesia national unity. It only further alienates the Achenese, working against the “winning the hearts and minds” objective—a principal requirement for ending separatist support.
TNI has publicly committed to a humanitarian approach, and it’s true that its soldiers have undergone significant human rights training. But limited and restricted reporting raises suspicions as to whether this new approach is being felt in the Acehnese communities. Traditional ethnic animosity and resource shortages may be overwhelming good intentions. We should recognize TNI’s efforts to educate its soldiers in human rights and we should appreciate TNI’s efforts to integrate a humanitarian assistance component into this operation. We could well see a better result than past TNI operations, but one still not up to acceptable international standards.
We support the territorial integrity of Indonesia but are convinced that a peaceful resolution is the proper approach requiring a political solution. Indonesia is a key part of the regional stability and TNI reform is central to this overall goal; military reform is a precursor to larger Indonesia democratic and economic reform. While not endorsing bad behavior a consistent level of cooperation between PACOM and TNI to elevate TNI to an external defense posture and professional reform is a regional priority. We must stay involved, while realizing that TNI reform is likely to be a two-step forward, one-step backward process.
The Administration recently has proposed a “Proliferation Security Initiative” intended to cut off international trade in illicit weaponry and material, primarily by North Korea. What is your understanding of the role PACOM would play in implementing the current concept?
Pacific Command (PACOM) is actively engaged with Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) and Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) representatives in the formulation of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) for the PACOM area of responsibility (AOR). [DELETED—CLASSIFIED]. Certainly, US military forces will play a role in these efforts, to include the PSI, but we also recognize the necessity to coordinate our efforts with other US government agencies and partner nations.
PACOM Joint Interagency Coordination Group for Combating terrorism and Counter Proliferation (JIACG CBT-CP) participation in the PSI meetin in Brisbane and on-going planning of a Pacific maritime interdiction exercise with ustralia and Japan are our most notable contributions to date. These exercises and continued dialogue with articipating nations will demonstrate our commitment to the initiative and provi e the template for conduct of operations. The only limitations on military forces to conduct interdiction operations today are not military capability based, rather they involve having the requisite authorities.
QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD SUBMITTED TO THE HONORABLE PETER RODMAN, AsSISTANT SECRETARY, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, BY THE HONORABLE JAMES A. LEACH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IOWA, AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASIA AND THE PACIFIC, AND MR. RODMAN’S RESPONSES
In the past, U.S. officials have pointed to the figure of approximately 100,000 armed forces personnel as a tangible signal of America’s commitment to Asian Security. Given new technological innovations and the ability to strike from long distance, does it make sense to remain fixated on numbers of troops deployed to the theater? What do you expect the regional force level to be once we have completed our process of restructuring?
Although it is natural to focus on a specific number of forward-based troops in a given area, such a measure is no longer decisive in assessing the level of effective military power that the U.S. can bring to bear. The Department of Defense seeks to focus on overall ca abilities instead of numbers of troops, units, or platforms as it restructures its glo al force posture. Our goal in military operations is to mass effects, not forces. A key lesson from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq is that the concepts of “effects based operations” and “overmatching power” have supplanted the “mountain of iron” and “overwhelming force” that were needed to defeat enemies decisively in the past.
This does not mean that changes to U.S. force posture in Asia are forthcoming. The Defense Department is in the middle of this restructuring process and specific decisions have not been made. Therefore it is imprudent at this point to project how current force levels might change. Whatever changes are proposed, our allies and friends in the Asia-Pacific region can be sure that our commitment and our capability to support their defense, security, and freedom are undiminished.
To what extent are the changes that have been under discussion connected with a desire to quell public opposition to U.S. bases? In that context, how would you characterize the crime rates and comm unity relations aspects of U.S. bases in South Korea and Japan with our experience in Germany? What are the main causes of any differences?
Each country in which we have had a long-term U.S. military presence is unique, making it difficult to generalize and compare experiences. In Korea, support for the alliance remains strong and in general terms relations between local populations and our forces are good. Our effort to realign U.S forces in Korea is primarily driven by the evolving mission of these forces and the desire to leverage new technology and capabilities. However, an additional benefit from the realignment will be reducing tension between our forces and the local population. Urbanization in areas adjacent to U.S forces has inevitably led to some friction. Realigning our forces to less urbanized areas—areas that are also better from a warfighting perspective will, we hope, have a beneficial effect on community relations. While incidents involving U.S. service members inevitably are dramatized in the local media, the crime rates associated with our service members are low and similar to Korean crime rates.
Similarly, opinion surveys in Japan consistently show that support for the alliance and for the U.S. presence remains strong at a nationwide level. For the most part, our relations with local communities are also quite good, and that includes Okinawa prefecture. Although individual crimes sometimes attract attention, overall crime rates associated with our Japan-based personnel are in line with the low rate of crime in Japan.
So the changes we are looking at in Japan are not driven by problems in local relationships either. Rather, they are driven by the shared interest that we and the Government of Japan have in ensuring that both U.S. forces and Japan’s Self Defense Forces are postured most effectively to deal with changes in-the overall security environment. At the same time, where we see opportunities to make improvements in our basing in Japan that can address particular local concerns, and where the Government of Japan can help us work with local communities to realize such changes, we want to do so.
To what extent, if any, does the proposed U.S. force restructuring in Asia reflect the view that the danger in the potential emergence of China as a peer competitor