Indonesia received its long-promised Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMV) from Australia on 9 August. Then-Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton, announced the donation in September 2021 as part of a broader initiative to boost Southeast Asian countries' ability to contribute to UN Peacekeeping Operations.
In total Australia has supplied 15 vehicles configured for peacekeeping operations to Indonesia. They join an unspecified number of examples that are operated by the Indonesian Army (TNI-AD) special forces group Kopassus.
The donation was initially held up by bureaucratic processes in Indonesia which, despite receiving a formal offer in 2021, did not ratify the agreement until April this year. Since then, however, things have moved fast with training and delivery complete.
In June, a small contingent of soldiers from the TNI-AD deployed to Darwin where they undertook training on the vehicle with 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. The training course, modelled on similar ones conducted for Fiji among others, took TNI-AD personnel through all aspects of operating, maintaining and using the vehicles.
Unlike some training courses, where English language proficiency is a requirement, Indonesian personnel on the course were selected based on their technical skills. This, with the help of Bahasa Indonesia interpreters, allowed the course to tackle more in-depth subjects around maintenance and sustainment according to Australian Army Major Matt Breckenridge.
“The purpose [of the course] was to give these soldiers the skills they need to safely operate and maintain the vehicles and associated communications equipment in austere environments,” MAJ Breckenridge, who is seconded to the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) peacekeeping centre, said.
According to the United Nations Department of Peace Operations, Indonesia is the seventh-largest contributor of personnel to UN missions around the world. In total more than 2,500 Indonesian military and police personnel are deployed to eight missions around the world. These include dangerous deployments to active conflict zones in Central Africa and the Middle East.
“The Bushmaster is particularly well suited to missions where there is an increased risk of ambush, mines or improvised explosive devices, which are common to the mission areas where TNI conduct peacekeeping operations,” MAJ Breckenridge said.