May 21, 2021, 12.08 AM

Anton also deplored the toll that service on the submarines have taken on Iwa’s health, not least strong allegations of lead poisoning.

The announcements of the crew’s passing were also deemed insufficient by their loved ones, with at least one widow demanding to see concrete proof of her husband’s death.

The underlying tensions contrasted with the Indonesian defense establishment’s determination to soldier on in the face of the tragedy.

Also read: Indonesian Navy Declares the Submarine KRI Nanggala-402 Sunk

Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto might define national defense as a “very complicated job that needs high technology and has elements of danger.”

The Navy might reiterate him by pleading to the media not to “politicize the tragedy…as [the Navy] is in mourning and focusing on salvaging [KRI Nanggala-402],” on May 4, nearly two weeks after KRI Nanggala-402 went to the bottom.

The backlash culminated in Colonel Iwa’s about face where he rebutted his older brother Anton’s account of his plight, including his medical condition and economic hardships, among them a report stating that he was forced to sell his home to pay for his medication.

But regardless of where one stands in the polemic over KRI Nanggala-402’s sinking, there is little doubt that the Indonesian Armed Forces attempts at damage control, particularly from the Navy, have come too little too late.

The Jane’s Defence Weekly website estimated that Indonesia set the country’s defense budget for 2021 at Rp. 136.99 trillion [$9.2 billion], up from Rp. 117.9 trillion the year before.

Rp. 42.6 trillion will go towards military modernization, while Rp. 11.4 trillion are allocated to military personnel expenses and their welfare. Like their counterparts around the world, Indonesian servicemen are all too aware about the deadly risks that come with their oath to defend the country.

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