Speech by Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Defence.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here today.
This is my first visit to Indonesia, and coming into Jakarta I couldn’t help but be struck by the vibrancy of the city and volume of traffic.
It is an instant reminder of the remarkable transformation Indonesia has undergone to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
And it is because of Indonesia’s growing economic and political importance that I wanted to visit Minister Purnomo today and also to have this chance to engage with the next generation of Indonesian defence leaders, both military and civilian.
As the world’s third largest democracy, the world’s most populous Muslim majority country and a member of the increasingly important G20 group, Indonesia occupies a strategically important position both in economic and in geo-political terms.
The positive influence Indonesia exerts in the region is an example of how stability and reform can drive prosperity domestically and support advancement across south east Asia as a whole.
Today, I want to underline the value to both parties of the growing partnership between out two countries, and emphasise that everyone in the UK government, from the Prime Minister down, is committed to its success.
Britain is looking east in a way that it has not done for over a hundred years.
And we welcome the emergence of a rich and strong Asia growing in importance in world affairs.
While our military engagement in Asia is modest, the importance of the region for our national security is significant, centred not just on trade and commerce, some of our most significant trading partners are in Asia, but also on the fight against international terrorism.
Consequently it is vital that we identify reliable partners with whom we share values and interests and that we support those who contribute to peace, stability and freedom. At the strategic level, it is in the UK’s interest to assist with the preservation of peace and stability in this region.
This is why we are keen to strengthen the relationship between our countries.
Prime Minister Cameron’s visit here last year and President Yudhoyono recent visit to Britain have done much to reinvigorate the historic ties between our two countries.
But it is the common values and interests we share today that are the greatest driver of further co-operation. We both believe in a successful global economy fuelled by free trade…
…free trade that is underpinned by security.
And it is the armed forces of both our countries, together with international allies, which provide this security, thus contributing to our prosperity.
So defence engagement between our countries is important, and it is a high priority for the UK.
The Memorandum of Understanding I signed in London recently with Minister Purnomo builds on the agreement between President Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Cameron, made last April, to co-operate more closely on defence and security.
There is significant mutual benefit in working together more closely.
We face many of the same types of threat to our security and to our interests.
And we can learn from each other in countering these threats.
Indonesia has successfully disrupted terrorist cells and plots at home in recent years. But for both our countries the threat persists, sometimes from those living on our own soil, sometimes from overseas, and very often by those who have links to international terrorist networks.
Increasingly terrorist networks are sharing their tactics, knowledge and their training. We must do the same. The success of our co-operation on counter terrorism over the years, in particular co-operation between the Metropolitan Police and your Centre for Law Enforcement Co-operation, is an example of this response in action and has undoubtedly mitigated the threat to both countries from terrorist networks.
So we must continue to share our experiences and knowledge in dealing with the terrorist threat.
We can also learn from each other in the area of maritime security. Britain and Indonesia are both surrounded by water and rely on the integrity of international sea lanes.
We have both been involved in multinational counter-piracy operations: you around the Malacca Strait; us off the horn of Africa.
The international community has studied your success in reducing piracy in your region, and we are adapting and applying many of your lessons to our own efforts now off the horn of Africa.
And, finally, we can share knowledge on defence reform.
Because both countries are going through a process of reforming our armed forces and the ministries that support them.
Although the aims of our reforms are slightly different, In Indonesian reform is subject to the benefits of economic growth, in UK it is part of a move to a contingent posture, I suspect that lessons we have both learnt in addressing the challenges of reform can be useful to us both and so I am keen to maintain a dialogue on this issue as well.
No country has a monopoly on good ideas and we are keen to look at what others are doing as they restructure their armed forces.
In none of these areas, counter-terrorism, counter-piracy or reform, can we afford to discard good ideas.
Terrorism and piracy damage our economies and unreformed inefficiency wastes our resources.
So it is important that we find practical ways to collaborate.
One area where I am glad that we are already collaborating so effectively is training.
The Master’s course in defence and security management, that many of you are currently enrolled on, has been a real success, producing excellent graduates, some of whom are now working in this ministry as either civilians or members of your armed forces.
Cranfield University in the UK and the Defence University here have worked closely to develop this course.
It is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together.
The establishment of dedicated English language training at your Peacekeeping Training Centre also shows the positive effects of co-operation.
And for the first time ever there are now members of the TNI [the Indonesian Military] studying at every officer training establishment in the UK. There are Indonesian officers at Sandhurst, Dartmouth and Cranwell, on the Advanced command and staff course in Shrivenham and at the Royal College for Defence Studies in London.
This impressive representation on some of the most demanding courses in the world can only help to increase the mutual understanding between our armed forces; something that I very much support.
Indonesia also has outstanding training facilities.
Your Peace Support Operations Training Centre is recognised as a centre of excellence, which is why it is supported by the UN, why international students attend it and why it is being earmarked as the regional training hub for any future ASEAN peace keeping force that may be developed in the future.
The UK is interested in learning more about your peacekeeping training, because Indonesia has a long history of significant contributions to peace support operations.
You are rightly proud of that history.
Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, wherever there has been conflict, Indonesia has contributed to peacekeeping support operations.
Britain too understands its global responsibilities, our armed forces are deployed all over the world helping to maintain stability.
I believe we can both benefit from each other’s experiences as we continue to meet our responsibilities.
We welcome President Yudhoyono’s pledge to more than double the number of Indonesian troops deployed on UN peacekeeping missions by 2014.
And we are keen to help support your efforts in anyway we can.
Again, this is not altruism on our part. While we are delighted to help, we do so because we regard Indonesia’s engagement on peacekeeping as a positive influence at a global level. It is good for peace and security in general, it is good for the health of international institutions, and therefore it is good for Britain.
To be specific, we want to build on the specialist English language training that we provide at your training centre which I hear is proving to be a great success.
And while of course we hope and plan that our engagement with, and support for, your armed forces will be long term. In the short term, I am delighted that today I have been able to offer Minister Purnomo UK assistance in three specific areas.
The first is in mine awareness. We have, at some cost in human suffering, gained a great deal of experience in responding to the threat from improvised explosive devices over the past decade. The first step effective response is adopting the basic tactics, techniques and procedures that minimise vulnerability and we are keen to share this experience with our allies. I am therefore pleased to have been able to offer to send a small team from our army Headquarters to your Peace Support Operations Training Centre, so that the staff there can benefit from UK experiences during the current course being undertaken and pass on UK knowledge not only to the TNI but to United Nations military observers who will attend courses at Sentul.
Secondly, the UK has a long and similarly costly history of practical conflict resolution at home, in Northern Ireland, the Balkans and elsewhere.
As a nation on the front line of conflict resolution, with your substantial commitment to peacekeeping, and with challenges of conflict resolution at home and in your region, we hope that sharing some of this experience with you would be helpful. I have therefore offered to send an expert to the Master’s course in April this year to discuss these issues with Indonesian colleagues.
And finally, after further discussions between my officials and the staff at your Peace Support Operations Training Centre, I intend to send a small team to Jakarta to examine how we can provide assistance in developing and validating your training later this year. We share, and want to support, your vision of the Peace Support Operations Training Centre as an international centre of excellence.
Our hope is that by developing this relationship, we can learn from your long and admirable experience as international peacekeepers and you can benefit from some of the operational experience we have gained on recent military operations.
These are small, but carefully focused steps, which I believe will be mutually beneficial. I hope that they will be the first steps in developing a long term relationship in defence training co-operation.
Beyond co-operation between our respective armed forces we are keen that our defence industry, which is the world’s number 2 defence exporter after the US, should help to equip your armed forces and further develop your capabilities.
Last April, Prime Minister Cameron and President Yudhoyono set a target of doubling bilateral trade over the next three years.
We are keen that defence procurement plays its role in meeting this target.
Our experience with many partner nations has been that share defence equipment often catalyses stronger military-to-military relationships.
The contract signed by Indonesia in 2011 for British Starstreak missiles and a follow on contract, will see the TNI and the British Army training alongside each other.
This training is one of the best ways to build interoperability between our armed forces.
If we want to increase collaboration between our nations we must find tangible ways to improve this interoperability.
Part of the solution will come from sharing our approaches to problems like counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and defence reform.
Part of the solution will come from working together on training.
And part of the solution will come from making sure the equipment our armed forces use is compatible.
But I believe it is always worth the effort to increase interoperability between nations with similar values. Because in today’s uncertain and complex world no one can be certain how events will unfold.
We can’t predict where the next crisis will develop.
We can’t predict what the threats will be.
And we can’t predict who we will need to work with to solve these crises and overcome these threats.
So, for Britain, developing a strong defence relationship with Indonesia is a matter of pragmatism and mutual respect.
Indonesia is a capable and trustworthy partner with shared values, in a very important region.
You have shown your willingness and ability to reduce global instability by deploying your armed forces on peacekeeping operations, through your membership of ASEAN, and your wider, regional engagement.
And I am delighted to note that you are committed to increasing your contributions to these operations.
Britain needs friends like Indonesia.
But we do not take your friendship for granted.
In exchange for it, we will be a consistent partner over the coming years, listening to your advice, lending you our support.
I believe that Britain has a lot to offer as a defence partner.
We have some of the best trained, best equipped and most operationally experienced armed forces in the world.
We exercise, we deploy and we fight, and we do it, if I may say so, extremely well.
We have one of the most technologically advanced defence industries in the world.
And we have first class training facilities.
Britain and Indonesia have a lot to gain from strengthening our mutual defence relationship.
But this relationship is only as strong as the individuals who maintain it.
So I look to those of you in this room, particularly the students who will form the next generation of leaders.
It is up to you and your British counterparts to ensure that this vision of cooperation becomes a reality. And that we become stronger together.