The last nine years of reformation inside the institution of Indonesia Armed Forces has shown significant improvement. It was started by the dispersal of Indonesia National Police from its former main institution the Armed Forces of Republic of Indonesia by 1 April 1999. Since the policy was supported widely by public, the People’s Consultative Assembly put it in a Decree No. MPR/VI.2000 and MPR/VII/200 on the dispersal of Indonesia National Police of its former main institution, the structure of Indonesia Armed Forces is under the supervision of Ministry of Defense, and Indonesia National Police is under direct control of the President. Another successful reform in the institution of Indonesia Armed Forces was the change of the Ministry, from Ministry of National Security and Defense into Ministry of Defense, and civilian is appointed to lead the Ministry until now. It is something impossible for us to see during the New Order regime. Another reform took place when Chief of Indonesia Naval Forces became the Joint Chief of Staff, breaking the “tradition” where usually the title was specially held by Chief of Indonesia Army. Admiral Widodo AS was the first Chief of Naval Forces who became Joint Chief of Staff and the “new tradition” is continued when Air Marshall General Djoko Suyanto was appointed as Joint Chief of Staff.
However, there should be a corridor to see the boundary of improvement in military reform in a country, especially when civil society recognized and acknowledge the reform process. The civil supremacy is translated as the recognition from military institution over all policies and political product resulted by the democratic civil government, whether they are directly related or not related to military issues. It also concerns on the power sharing among three state’s institutions, the executive body, legislative body, and judicative body, since it also correlated with control on these institutions in order to make them running in a corridor of check and balances.
The role of civil supremacy in the reform of Indonesia Armed Forces relates to the presence of political regulation over political position of military in democratic country. All policies should certainly transparent and accountable. The transparency and accountability should be in all aspects of threat management, budgeting, logistic, and equipments of all institutions dealing with national security.
For all these years, the ultimate demand for the Indonesia Armed Forces to be reformed is the concept of Dual Function and for the institution to close the territorial command center. Other issues of reform are not yet shown any significant effect and could not be determined as the key factor in the reform process. There was even a historical claim over the role of Indonesia Armed Forces and the people in the independence of the Republic and it became the basic right for the institution to be in national political arena. The tendency of historical claim in the end has given the bad accreditation for the Indonesia Armed Forces, especially when it relates to the civil supremacy and professionalism in military institution.
In the 62nd years of its presence, Indonesia Armed Forces is still shadowed by demands on becoming professional soldiers. The demand of reform inside the Indonesia Armed Forces eight years a go, has not yet given significant time for the institution to reform itself. There are so many homework to be done, and they are all relates to the commitment of Indonesia Armed Forces in becoming professional soldier. The unfinished take over and control over businesses once controlled by Indonesia Armed Forces, the new formulation of territorial command, corruption inside the ASABRI (insurance foundation for retired members of Indonesia Armed Forces), housings for soldiers, personal armored collection, illegal purchasing of weapon system, unfinished debates over political rights for members of Indonesia Armed Forces, up to the reluctant attitude of the Armed Forces to be supervised and controlled by civilian body, in this case is Ministry of Defense.
The most surprising issue is the formulation of Regional Office of Ministry of Defense. Although the idea has no obstruction with the existing current law, it is a questionable issue. The consequence over the presence of Regional Office of Ministry of Defense is for Indonesia Armed Forces to close all of their territorial office starting from Provincial Military Command (KODAM), District Military Command (KODIM), down to Village Military Units (Babinsa) level. This is certainly a policy that will directly rejected by the Indonesia Armed Forces, since they prefer to support the presence of territorial command. This is when the effectiveness of reform inside the Indonesia Armed Forces questioned. The institution has so many works to do for internal reform, to improve their aggressive stances over political issues, and to reduce reluctant attitude under the role of civilian supremacy, or the reform process may have far turned from what has been stipulated in the Constitution, Decree of People’s Consultative Assembly No. VI and VII year 2000, Law No.3/2002 on National Defense, and Law No.34 on Indonesia Armed Forces. The reality has formed sensitive political issue that the Armed Forces is against the reform process. The military coup in Thailand recently has given clear signal that the same option is also available for Indonesia Armed Forces if the civilian government can do no better to handle the state’s affair and keeps on demanding the Armed Forces to reform itself.
A state’s defense program is actually already stipulated and planned in the blueprint of master of national defense strategy. The strategy is designed by two main institutions, President and the Parliament. The basic rule is the building of foundation and principles in democracy in defense context in Indonesia. The sensitive and threatening challenges, whether in geopolitics, dynamic relation of two countries, internal and external conflict, and other threats that may become a threat against state such as transnational crime and terrorism. These threats have forced most states in the world to review their defense strategy, including Indonesia.
If the grand defense strategy of a country is not yet clear, then the reform in state defense will face the same, and probably meet a dead end. The grand defense strategy is the parameter for the operation of Indonesia Armed Forces in all sectors including politic, economy, and others. It is important to underline the significance of civil supremacy as mentioned above and to admit and follow the direction determined by the democratic and free election based civil government. There are two minimum indicators for civil supremacy. First, Ministry of Defense should be led by civilian Minister of Defense. Second, effective control in policy of defense, military operation, and budget from civilians. The civilian control should be clearly observed through parliament oversight on implementation of legislation over state defense budget.
However, the last four Presidents after Soeharto and the New Order Regime have not yet able to reduce the problematic reform process of Indonesia Armed Forces. The sensitive issue of the problem is on the strong civil supremacy. Civil politicians have not yet had enough courage and consistency to determine and design the position of Indonesia Armed Forces in State’s structure. The 1999 and 2004 election have shown the weakness of the civil politicians in Indonesia in determining the position of security sector and turn the Indonesia Armed Forces into professional military unit. This is clear background of why reform inside the institution of Indonesia Armed Forces moves slowly.
Although the Ministry of Defense has published White Paper of National Defense entitled: Mempertahankan Tanah Air Abad 21 (To Defend the Nation in 21st Century) and Strategic Defense Review, these books in fact have not yet been able to be guidance over the reform of Indonesia Armed Forces, aside form context and conceptions inside the papers on strategic elements for a state to determine defense policy including the perception on threats and budgeting. The White Paper is an obligation stipulated in Law No.2 on National Defense. The Law of National Defense stipulates the arrangement of conceptual national defense in form of White Paper, where reform over defense sector should also be carried out continuously, cultural and structurally involved, in regards to Pancasila as the Coat of Arm and the Constitution.
Generally, the White Paper describes the Indonesia strategic position and potential threats that lies around the archipelagic state. Beside that, the book also describes the view of Indonesia on the broad world and other states. The description is important for other countries, especially those located close to Indonesia, not to get overreacting when Indonesia decides to improve the defense system.
Although the White Paper describes the policy of State defense, it is not yet comprehensive. There are some articles that determine the weakness of defense policy in Indonesia. First, the book does not describe the geo-strategy, updated international condition, especially the dynamic relations between superpower country and regional countries as the basic concept of determining threats.
Second, the book does not describe diplomacy as the formula of international relation to prevent the threat. Third, the White Paper does not mention preventive diplomacy in regional security, so it only describes internal concepts.
Fourth, the White Paper has not mentioned yet threats related to geopolitical position of Indonesia. It relates to the tendency of super power country that often deploys military forces to secure the interest of the country, aside from non-traditional threat such as terrorism that may develop into traditional threat in the future.
Fifth, there is no comprehensive strategic analyzes Since the vision is related to the land defense, the policy often eliminate the development of air and naval defenses. There are two basic parameter on the development of Naval forces. First, significant naval expenditure, at least fifty percent of military budget in the region. Second, the budget is well spent and resulted in form of naval fleet that have the strength of 50% of total naval ships in East Asia.
All description above clearly indicates how the reform process inside the Indonesia Armed Forces has lost its meaning, aside from the fact on the filed that indicated the same. It is against professionalism in military. Many deviants activities of the Indonesia Armed Forces have strengthen the fact of poor reform process. There are five indicators on the reversing spirit of reform inside the Indonesia Armed Forces. First, the conservative faction inside the Armed Forces is stronger. They slowly bring the Armed Forces into the area against the professionalism, just like the situation before the reform era. They are the one who want the reactivation of regional territorial command based on threat against terrorism.
Second, efforts made to disperse the Indonesia Armed Forces from Ministry of Defense. It gets stronger when the idea of Regional Office of Ministry of Defense gets stronger. The presence of regional offices will only get the dualism between Ministry of Defense and The Headquarters of Indonesia Armed Forces. Meanwhile, the idea of building territorial defense command center which includes all dimensions in defense is far from being realized. It has become significant part on the rise of conventional faction inside the Indonesia Armed Forces who wish to bring the Armed Forces just like the way it was in the New Order regime.
Third, the Indonesia Armed Forces is building the good image among the people. The most clear image building is the fast responses of military units in disastrous area, especially in Pangandaran and Yogyakarta. Although the Law of Indonesia Armed Forces stipulates war as the Main Desk of Military Operation, the presence of Indonesia Armed Forces in the disastrous area indicates that the Armed Forces has other function that is required by the people rather than relying help from other institutions in the country.
Fourth, the raise of conservative faction in the Parliament, especially in Defense Commission. If today’s members of the commission is compared to those in 1999-2004 period, the conservative faction is getting stronger in this period of time. Djoko Susilo, member of the Defense Commission of the House of Representative, representing National Mandate Party, who has elected as member of the Commission for two consecutive period admits the situation. The effect of the situation is on the weak Parliament oversight on the dynamic reform of Indonesia Armed Forces. Their presence only represents their political parties rather than solving the reform process of the Indonesia Armed Forces.
Fifth, there is a tendency of disappointment among the people on how the administration is running nowadays. They consider the government could not meet their aspiration, and it makes the opportunity for good image of the military is bigger. Especially the success of military coup in Thailand has become a good example for the Armed Forces and people that, the coup is not “wrong” in critical situation.
The reversing spirit of reform of Indonesia Armed Forces will put a threat against the democracy in Indonesia, especially after two elections brought significant political foundation. Aside from that, the reversing spirit will also threat civil liberty and human right as the icon of democracy in Indonesia. There should be tactical and strategic steps taken to restore the reform of Indonesia Armed Forces back to the idea of professional army. These steps are: first, improvement and strengthen civil control over military. Ministry of Defense should no longer only work as coordinative and administrative institution without any strategic policy making. Once it is considered normal, especially after the transformation from Ministry of National Security and Defense into Ministry of Defense. Unfortunately, the militaristic culture is still strong inside the Ministry.
Second, to have in depth research on the necessity of Regional Office of Ministry of Defense. The presence of regional office will certainly increase the budget for the Ministry but also at the same time push the idea of professional military away. it relates to the justification that the independence of Indonesia Armed Forces is related to the territorial command and it is untouchable by the Ministry of Defense. It means the presence of Regional Defense Command should be reduced soon, since it will be part of material test of strategic defense review or review over defense strategic system. Both of them have not yet become a parameter on dealing with various threats and provide enough analyzed for ideal defense posture.
Third, the government should encourage the Armed Forces to finish their homework first. They could issue the President Decree on the take over of business assets controlled by the Armed Forces and also solve all problems that put the reform process in a halt. It means the government’s policy is the positive keyword for reform process of the Armed Process to continue.
Fourth, effective and efficient control from civil society. It is impossible to fully rely on the Defense Commission of House of Representative to do all oversight tasks. The result is not going to be good. There should be continuous and integrated monitoring by the people. At least the enacting of Bill of Military Court is a small victory for civil society to control the military.
If all steps are carried pout immediately, it will slowly reduce the reversing spirit of reform inside the Indonesia Armed Forces. People’s commitment and dreams of having professional armed forces will be come true. The 62st anniversary of Indonesia Armed Forces is going to be a good momentum for rather than becoming ‘accidental hero’ to save the country, just like what Thailand’s military did.
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