Indonesia will hold a land patrol training exercise to expand the existing trilateral patrol mechanism with Malaysia and the Philippines around the Sulu Sea to curb the movement of Islamist militants.
“We will hold the training exercise after Idul Fitri at company level focusing on antiguerilla warfare, urban warfare and how to tackle snipers,” Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said at a bilateral meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Mohamad Sabu, on Saturday.
Ryamizard said the militants in southern Philippines were good marksmen and it was imperative for the three countries to overcome this issue to reduce casualties.
“They have good skills, so we must also improve the skills of our soldiers and equip them with better rifles,” he added.
The meeting, held on the sidelines of the 17th Asia Security Summit: Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, also served as an introductory meeting for Sabu who was appointed defense minister following the shock May 9 victory of the former opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope), which toppled the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) that had ruled Malaysia since its independence in 1957.
In order to curb the spread of militants, Indonesia initiated the trilateral mechanism to conduct maritime and air patrols, which Ryamizard said have been quite effective in reducing security threats.
The patrols are focusing on the porous triangular borders around the southern Philippines, eastern Malaysia and northern Indonesia, especially around Kalimantan and Sulawesi islands.