The Indonesian Navy has recently started construction of a new military base in Setotok island, about four km South East from Riau island province’s capital of Batam, in a bid to strengthen the country’s island and maritime border security.

Admiral Marsetio, Commander of the Indonesian Navy said the base is set up following direct instructions of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Admiral Marsetio emphasised that Indonesia strategically is the largest island country in the world so it needs maritime bases to protect its sovereignty and ensure maritime security.

He added that the construction of the base is part of the country’s plans to establish the third fleet in the central region, whose base is being deployed in Sorong, West Papua. The Central fleet will help support the Eastern and Western fleets.

According to the plan, the Setotok island base will be completed in February 2014. Marines Battalion No.10 with 600 soldiers will be stationed there.

The Indonesian armed forces are conducting a joint military exercise, themed “Combined Joint Task Force-Counter Terrorists”, with the Malaysian armed forces.

The exercise, from June 7-12 in Medan city, the southern Indonesian province of Sumatra , focuses on dealing with terrorism and post-terrorism response, Indonesian National Army (TNI) Chief Admiral Agus Suhartono said.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) Chief General Tan Sri Dato Sri Zulkifeli highly valued the cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism.

Indonesia deployed two KRI Makassar-590 and KRI Imam Bonjok-383 warships, C-130 Hercules and Fokker 28 transport planes, and Bell-412 and MI-17 helicopters, while Malaysia sent 293 personnel from the task force to the exercise.-VNA