Hence, the soldiers deployed in these two eastern provinces are mandated to be responsive in seeking solutions to problems and challenges faced by Papuan communities in their daily lives.
The soldiers are required to play the role of problem solvers for the local communities amid their central task to defend the country's territorial integrity and guard the safety of all Indonesians.
Sharing land and sea borders with Papua New Guinea (PNG), Papua and West Papua's geopolitical and geostrategic positions are indubitably important for Indonesia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Over the past few years, soldiers stationed in these two eastern provinces have been facing security threats posed by armed Papuan criminal groups operating in several districts.
Amid these security-related challenges, the soldiers continue to demonstrate their care for local communities through community services.
Several personnel of the Indonesia-PNG Border Security Task Force, for instance, assist locals through community services, such as voluntary teaching, serving mobile library, and street cleanup programs.
This month, they have worked with the residents of Yetti Village, Arso Timur Sub-district, Keerom District, Papua, to take apart building materials from an old chapel for reuse in building a new church.
Priest Yanes, representing members of the Mahanaim Chapel congregation, expressed gratitude to the army personnel for their community service that would expedite the construction of the new Mahanaim Church.
"We dismantle the old chapel to reuse its usable building materials for our new church building. We are optimistic that its construction process would be accelerated to facilitate devout members of the congregation in their worship," he affirmed.
Another community service was also offered by several personnel from the 756/WMS Infantry Battalion's security task force.
The personnel offered a mobile health service to people residing in Beanekogom Village, Tembagapura Sub-district, Mimika District.
The task force's commander, Major Marolop Edison Bala Hutapea, stated that the health service is routinely conducted as part of the task force's community services to ensure that locals are in good health.
"The TNI (the Indonesian Military) is mindful of the difficulties faced by the residents," he remarked, adding that he had constantly reminded the soldiers stationed at all security posts to maintain an emotional connect with the locals.
Sincerity in conducting community services and tending to the needs of local communities would make the TNI security posts useful to them, according to Hutapea.
In February, the Indonesia-PNG Border Security Task Force's 312/Kala Hitam Infantry Battalion personnel, along with villagers, repaired a rotting wooden bridge in Towe Hitam Village, Towe Sub-district, Keerom District.
Situated near the land border of Indonesia and PNG, the villagers' daily activities depend exceedingly on the bridge. Decay in the wood of the bridge was on account of aging, according to Ariyanto.
"We always hear the villagers complaining about the bridge's condition while crossing it. Hence, we discussed with several villagers on how we could together repair it," the task force's commander, Lt Col. Dedy Ariyanto stated.
Repairing the wooden bridge is part of the security border task force's community services to ensure safety during the mobility of local residents and goods in the village, he emphasized.
Meanwhile, early this year, several soldiers from the 11/MA Combat Engineering Detachment (Denzipur) had also offered assistance to construct the Asy-Syifa Islamic Boarding School in Sidomulyo Village, Semangga Sub-district, Merauke District.
The army personnel's community service mirrored the Indonesian Military's (TNI's) care for enhancing the quality of education for children in Papua, according to Asy-Syifa Islamic Boarding School Principal K.POH Ach Sholeh.
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Sholeh expressed gratitude to the combat engineering detachment's personnel that had partaken in the efforts to build the Islamic boarding school that was developed from a Quran recitation learning center.
The TNI is expected to continue to uphold its unity with the local tribal, community, and religious leaders, he stated.
In demonstrating their care for the development of human resources in Papua and West Papua, several soldiers, especially those stationed near the Indonesia-PNG border areas, are also assigned to serve as voluntary teachers at schools.
To this end, several members of the Indonesia-PNG Border Security Task Force in Merauke District, Papua Province, have adeptly shouldered this responsibility.
They have extended voluntary assistance to teachers at 12 elementary schools in the sub-districts of Sota, Neukenjerai, Eligobel, and Ulilin in Merauke District since July 2019.
They teach reading, writing, and mathematics to students, Commander of the task force at the Army Strategic Reserves Command's (Kostrad's) MR 411/PDW Infantry Battalion Major Rizky Aditya noted.
In recognition of their valued contribution to community development in Papua and West Papua, all soldiers actively involved in offering community services are worthy of receiving awards from the government.
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EDITED BY INE