Indonesia and Australia are increasingly important strategic anchors in the Indo-Pacific region, as recognised by the recently announced Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Yet historically, bilateral defence ties between the two countries have been volatile. This Analysis makes the case for a maritime recalibration of Australia’s defence engagement activities with Indonesia to stabilise defence relations. The process of recalibrating defence relations, however, cannot proceed in a historical vacuum. The evolution of Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program (DCP) with Indonesia since the 1960s is examined in order to understand how the relationship could be recalibrated.
Three broad changes to DCP activities are recommended: reform existing DCP education and training programs to focus on joint maritime challenges; formulate long-term plans for the ‘conventional’ modernisation of the TNI, including tri-service integration, maritime security operations, and defence industrial collaboration; and increase maritime-related exercises, both bilaterally and multilaterally, and consider joint TNI–ADF exercises built around challenges in the maritime domain.