Cover: A Preliminary Assessment of Indonesia's Maritime Security Threats and Capabilities

A Preliminary Assessment of Indonesia's Maritime Security Threats and Capabilities

Published Apr 18, 2018

by Lyle J. Morris, Giacomo Persi Paoli

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Research Questions

  1. What are Indonesia's maritime security priorities?
  2. What types of maritime threats is Indonesia facing?
  3. How equipped is Indonesia to respond to such threats and implement its maritime policy?

Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, located in a strategic position at the crossroads of the Indian and Pacific oceans. This location both imposes an obligation to protect vital sea lines of communication (SLOC) and presents an opportunity to utilise the abundant marine resources at Indonesia's disposal. In recent years, Indonesia has re-conceptualised its identity as a maritime nation whose livelihood both derives from and depends upon the sea, evidenced by President Joko Widodo's Global Maritime Fulcrum and Sea Policy proposals.

This study identifies the threats and priority areas for Indonesia in the maritime security domain as a first step in an overall assessment of capability requirements and gaps. RAND's preliminary assessment suggests that Indonesian policymakers are attending to the threats that the country faces in the maritime domain, which include: smuggling; illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing; piracy; illegal immigration; and terrorism. As a result, the government of Indonesia has put into place regulatory, administrative, legal, and material changes that will put the country on a path to better managing and governing its vast maritime spaces. However, matching such changes with long-term, sustained action, resources, and metrics for progress remains a key challenge for Indonesian policymakers.

Key Findings

Indonesia has placed renewed emphasis on maritime security governance.

  • Indonesia has put in place regulatory, administrative and legal changes to its maritime policy to enable it to better manage its expansive maritime space. However, the overall effectiveness and impact of these efforts remains to be assessed.

Indonesia faces challenges in achieving its goals of enhancing maritime security governance.

  • Its limited infrastructure base, diverse set of maritime law enforcement (MLE) agencies and underdeveloped interagency mechanisms currently hinder progress in this regard. However, Indonesian policymakers are increasingly cognisant of the issues that constrain governance, and are enhancing existing policies and in some cases creating new ones to meet those challenges.


  • Conduct a comprehensive capability needs assessment to identify capability gaps, capability surpluses or duplication of effort. This could inform more ambitious reform programmes and lead to a more efficient use of available resources.
  • Enhance maritime security by providing specific operational guidance for ministries and MLE agencies regarding the scope, coordination and execution of their missions.
  • Expand the mandate and resources of the Maritime Security Agency (BAKAMLA) to act as central authority for maritime law enforcement affairs.

Research conducted by

This project is a RAND Venture. Funding was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. The research was conducted by the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy within International Programs on behalf of RAND Europe.

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