Jakarta (Berita Satu) – The Indonesian Military, or TNI, will have four new bases in the country's eastern region to improve its combat readiness and better coordinate its three forces in maritime border areas, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Saturday.
"After the inauguration of the latest military base in Natuna, four more will follow in Biak, Merauke, Morotai and Saumlaki," the president said during a ceremony commemorating the TNI's 74th anniversary at the Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force base in East Jakarta.
Biak Island and the coastal town of Merauke are located in Papua, while Saumlaki is on Maluku's Jamdena Island near the maritime borders with Australia and Timor Leste.
The military base on Morotai Island, part of the province of North Maluku, will allow the TNI a closer watch of maritime borders near southern Philippines.
The TNI has said previously that small islands in Indonesia's vast archipelago may function as "carriers" from where fighter jets and soldiers could be deployed quickly to conflict areas.
President Jokowi said efforts are being made to ensure the Army, the Navy and the Air Force can work closely in tackling major defense threats including terrorism.
He highlighted the establishment of the Joint Operation Command in July which involved personnel from all three forces in counter-terror programs.
Last month, a large-scale joint combat exercise called Operation Dharma Yudha was held involving 12,500 soldiers from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
"Our military is shifting into a more integrated system, from being divided into three separate forces previously," the president said.
At the ceremony, the president also promised to provide more money for soldiers' welfare, increasing the budget from Rp 121 trillion ($8.6 billion) this year to Rp 131 trillion next year, and relax home mortgage regulations for soldiers.
"The government is working to extend the mortgage period for soldiers to 30 years," he said.