In certain regions, we change (the soft approach) to operation battle standby
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief Admiral Yudo Margono has improved the military operation in Papua to Operation Battle Standby in some areas prone to terror acts launched by the separatist group.

The military operation is aimed at sharpening soldiers' battle instinct when they have to encounter the armed criminal group, Margono told the press at the Yohanis Kapiyau Air Base in Timika, Papua, as quoted in a TNI statement here, Tuesday.

"In certain regions, we change (the soft approach) to operation battle standby. In Natuna (Riau Islands Province) we have operation battle standby at sea. Here, we have operation battle standby on land," he noted.

Under the leadership of his predecessor Gen Andika Perkasa, the TNI offered a new softer approach to resolving the long-standing conflict in the country’s easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Andika has promised to move away from the military approach, vouching to apply a softer, non-military strategy aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the Papuan people.

Earier, in 2019, the TNI launched an operation, called "Operation Battle Standby," to drive Chinese vessels off the Natuna waters. After over a week of maneuvering around the flashpoints, the operation culminated with the departure of Chinese vessels from the area.

"This means that we improve (the operation) from the soft approach to battle standby, considering the attack (by the separatist group) as what happened on April 15," Margono remarked.

However, he stressed that the soft and humanist approach would still be applied in the territorial operation and social communication between soldiers and the local people.

"So far, in our territorial operation, social communication, we still use it (soft approach). However, when we encounter such (an attack), we have to implement operation battle standby," he remarked.

On Saturday (April 15), the armed criminal group ambushed and attacked TNI personnel, who scoured the remote area in Mugi, Nduga District, in search for the abducted Susi Air pilot Phillip Mehrtens.

Mehrtens was kidnapped by the separatist group in February 2023 shortly after landing at the Nduga airstrip.

"On their way, our personnel were ambushed by the separatist group, and there was a shootout. Of the 36 personnel, one was killed in the incident, namely first soldier Miftahul Arifin," he remarked.

Four other soldiers were injured, of which three suffered from gunshot wounds. They had been rushed to the hospital.

"Alhamdulillah, (thank God), they are in good condition. They can see me and say 'good afternoon Commander,' which means that they are conscious," he remarked.

Margono arrived at Timika on Monday to get first-hand information from military leaders regarding the latest situation in Papua.

The TNI chief was accompanied by Army Chief of Staff Gen Dudung Abdurachman, Commander of the Army Strategic Command (Pangkostrad) Lt Gen Maruli Simanjuntak, and General Commander of the Special Forces Command (Kopassus) Maj Gen Iwan Setiawan.

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Translator: Genta Tenri Mawangi, Sri Haryati
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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