Jakarta – Deputy Defense Minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono has said the planned national defense education program, which will allow civilians to enlist in the military reserve component program, is different from a military education.
This followed previous concerns from human rights activists that the military reserve component program might result in civilian militarization and rights violations.
"It's not a military education, but [part of] national defense. [Saying it is a military education] will give the impression of militarization," Sakti said in a radio interview on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
Last year, the Defense Ministry stipulated the enlistment of the military reserve component in Law No. 23/2019 on the management of national resources for state defense, aiming to recruit a total of 25,000 people aged 18 to 35.
Sakti said the Defense Ministry was currently in discussions with the Education and Culture Ministry on the implementation for college students. However, he said the defense program would also target other civilians eligible for the program.
He emphasized that the defense program was voluntary. "It is by choice. If a student wants to learn discipline, he/she can join. For those who are not interested, it is okay. So, it is not something mandatory," he said.
The education ministry's acting higher education director general, Nizam, said on Monday that students completing the program would be awarded not only a graduation diploma but also a rank as a commissioned officer in the reserve force.
According to the 2019 law, enlisted personnel are required to undergo basic military training for three months, but Sakti previously proposed that the training should last for a whole semester. The program could be included in the students' semester credit system (SKS), Sakti said. (syk)