At a cost of around Rp 1.64 trillion (US$145 million), Southeast Asia’s largest training center for counterterrorism and United Nations (UN) peacekeeping officially commenced operations on Monday.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono inaugurated the Indonesia Peace and Security Center (IPSC), in Sentul, West Java, which will provide world-class training for local and international stakeholders.
“This center is proof of Indonesia’s commitment to maintaining global peace, as stipulated in the 1945 Constitution,” Yudhoyono said in his speech at the inauguration ceremony.
The 262-hectare compound was constructed by the Defense Ministry in 2010, consisting of seven offices and training centers operated by, among others, the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT).
BNPT chairman Ansyaad Mbai said the agency’s training center would provide soldiers and police with the skills to handle terrorist-linked hijacks. For that, the agency has provided a mock-up of a passenger aircraft, a train, a ship and a hotel.
Ansyaad said that in the future, the facility would accommodate de-radicalization classes for terrorist convicts. “It’s an integrated center for all stakeholders in the field of counterterrorism,” he said.
In relation to military purposes, the center will provide training for UN peacekeeping troops as well as a base for standby military personnel awaiting emergency deployment.
The compound also consists of comprehensive sports facilities and a language-training center.
Aside from a 600-meter shooting range, the compound is also equipped with simulated villages that resemble those of Congo and Lebanon — countries where Indonesian peacekeeping personnel will be deployed.
The compound also houses a disaster-management training camp and the Indonesian Defense
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said that the compound was Southeast Asia’s largest international training facility, the construction of which was partly funded by the US and Australia. “The US helped to construct the military barracks, while Australia established the language center,” said Purnomo.
The ministry has planted 114,641 trees and constructed three lakes at the complex that can function as water-absorption areas and training grounds for TNI peacekeepers.
“We’ve also built two water-treatment plants for the distillation of drinking water” Purnomo added.
During the speech, Yudhoyono said that Indonesia had an obligation as a UN member to maintain international peace. “We have a challenge to be involved in military operations other than war, that’s why we built the center,” he said.
Yudhoyono said that Indonesia currently ranked 17 in the list of countries sending the largest contingents of troops for UN peacekeeping missions.
The President hoped that in the next year or two, the country hoped to be in the top ten.
“Currently, we have 2,000 peacekeepers and we hope that the number can be doubled in the next one or two years. If the numbers reached 4,000, then we would be in the top-ten list,” he said.
Yudhoyono said that Syria might potentially be Indonesia’s next peacekeeping mission if the Syrian government and the rebels approved a cease-fire between them.
The president himself has experience as a peacekeeping soldier during the conflict between Bosnia Herzegovina and Serbia from 1995 to 1996.
During that mission, Indonesia also sent civilian police officers and military experts to the area. (The Jakarta Post)