Military chief Gen. Djoko Santoso said on Thursday that he had deployed more than 1000 soldiers to assist and evacuate victims of the Padang earthquake.
Most of the soldiers deployed, he said, were from the Bukit Barisan Military Command in North Sumatra Province and the Army’s Strategic Command (Kostrad), such as the 131 Batallion and the 132 Batallion.
“We have also prepare four Hercules aircraft to bring any humanitarian aid. Today two Hercules departed from Jakarta to bring personnel from the Kostrad unit and medical team,” Djoko said.
Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said he was appreciative of the military’s quick response.
“TNI [defense forces] always come first when we need help. I think if they did not have such a quick response, many more victims would have died from being trapped underneath buildings,” Juwono said.
When asked whether the military would receive additional funding for the disaster relief program in Padang, Juwono said that the government has never given such funding since 2004. In any disaster relief programs after the Aceh tsunami, Juwono said that the military always used its operational and routine budget.
“Since 2004, the military budget always considers the possibility of any disaster relief program,” Juwono said.
Source: The JakartaGlobe (01/10/2009)