What Next for the Indonesian Navy?: Challenges and Prospects for Attaining the Minimum Essential Force by 2024
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 37, Number 3, December 2015
- pp. 432-462
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A greenwater navy ought to be effective within its country’s immediate waters, especially the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) while also possessing a limited extra-regional force projection ability. Based on this definition, the Indonesian Navy does not adequately perform this dual role. While President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF) vision gives the navy’s long-term greenwater ambitions greater traction, it still faces capacity-building constraints thus prompting it to adopt the Minimum Essential Force (MEF) blueprint as an interim measure. This article examines the Indonesian Navy’s prospects of attaining its MEF targets by 2024 as part of its long-term greenwater naval ambitions commensurate with Indonesia’s “maritime mediumness”. To identify these capacity gaps, this article models the navy’s MEF projections based on three scenarios: Standard, Optimistic and Austere. Results show that under an Austere Scenario, the navy cannot possibly achieve its MEF targets across all categories by 2024. The Optimistic and Standard Scenarios are more realistic. Gaps in certain categories, primarily the PKR-10514 light frigate programme which forms a key facet of the navy’s greenwater aspirations, are identified. But the risks of project overruns and budget challenges may militate against the modest projections derived in this study. Therefore, this article proposes a recalibration of the MEF specifications, by reducing the number of high-capability PKR-10514s optimized for warfighting in exchange for a larger force of low-capability “PKR-minus” optimized for EEZ duties.