Indonesia deploys fresh batch of soldiers to extinguish forest fires

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Military has deployed thousands of soldiers to extinguish forest fires in South Sumatra since last September.

"According to a Letter from the Indonesian Military Chief No TR/1418/2015 about the soldiers rotation in the forest fires extinguish task force, we are replacing 1,059 officers, who have been on duty since last September," the Operation Assistant for Indonesian Military Chief, Major General Fransen Siahaan, said on Thursday.

Fransen said an inauguration ceremony for the same had been held at the Halim Perdanakusuma airbase, Jakarta, where TNI leaders believe that all soldiers took the military oath and will finish the task to the best of their abilities.

There are at least 600 personnel, who have been deployed from 2 SSY Kostrad (Army), ten personnel from the Kostrad Command Headquarter and 330 personnel from 1 SSY Indonesian Marine have been deployed in the field for a month and a half.

Fransen asked the soldiers to wear safety equipment to extinguish the fires and prioritize security conditions.

He added that Military Commander, General Gatot Nurmantyo had coordinated with President Joko Widodo in relation to the rotation of soldiers.

Till date, the area that has had the worst air condition due to pollution by haze emanating from forest fires located in the South Sumatra Province.

Additionally, Fransen said, the TNI Commander has also deployed 2,000 soldiers to extinguish forest fires in the Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan Provinces.

"During the last inspection to South Sumatra, which attended by the President, the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, and the TNI Commander, we found that the haze conditions in the province had worsened and pollution had increased," Fransen said.

The Indonesian Military will also replace several soldiers in the fire extinguishing task force in Riau Province, South Kalimantan, as well as in Central Kalimantan on October 27.

Fransen said General Gatot had asked the soldiers to utilize any potential treatment to extinguish the fires.

General Gatot has also commanded the Military Police to arrest the persons accused of burning forests across all Indonesian regions.(*)