Indonesia has suspended all military cooperation with Australia, reportedly over offensive materials displayed at an Australian military base where its troops were training.
The offensive “laminated material” shown at a base was insulting towards Indonesia’s five founding principles – Pancasila – Indonesian newspaper Kompas has reported. The Kompas report says a cable dated 29 December, sent by Indonesian military commander general Gatot Nurmantyo, instructed that all military cooperation, including training with the Australian Defence Force, be suspended.
Indonesian military spokesman major general Wuryanto has confirmed the split, but would not specifically confirm the reason, saying cooperation between the Australian and Indonesian militaries has been suspended for “technical reasons”, effective immediately.
“All forms of cooperation have been suspended,” he said.
But Wuryanto suggested the suspension would not be long-term, saying cooperation could resume once the “technical matters” were resolved.
“There are technical matters that need to be discussed,” Wuryanto said, including the offensive training material seen at an Australian military base. It was “highly likely” cooperation would resume once those issues were resolved, he said.
Kompas reported that an instructor from Indonesia’s special forces group Kopassus felt insulted by material on display at a training base. The nature of the offensive material on display is not known, but it is understood to have been demeaning towards the Indonesian military.
Kopassus has trained for several years with Australia’s Special Air Service troops at the SAS base at Campbell Barracks, Perth. No time limit has been put on the suspension, and it is unclear whether future planned joint training exercises between the two countries will be affected.
Indonesia and Australia’s military relationship has improved in recent years, after an at-times troubled history.
The Lombok Treaty commits both countries to cooperation in the fields of defence, combating transnational crime, counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing. Australia has sold military hardware to Indonesia and defence and foreign ministers meet regularly.
However, relations were shaken in 2013 when it was revealed the Australian Signals Directorate attempted to monitor the phone calls of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and senior officials.