Jakarta – The Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform says that the plan to establish regional military commands (Kodam) in every province is a step backwards for TNI (Indonesian military) reform.
Statements on adding more regional military commands were earlier made by both Army Chief of Staff (KSAD) General Dudung Abdurachman and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto (Menhan).
"We view the statements by the two officials as having no basis, are very dangerous, and represent a step backwards for the development of TNI reform and human rights in Indonesia", said the Coalition in a statement on Monday February 13.
The Coalition also believes that the discourse on adding new military commands is a betrayal of reformasi – the political reform process that began in 1998 – especially the abolition of ABRI's (the armed forces, now called the TNI) doctrine of dwi-fungsi or dual socio-political function, one aspect of which was the restructuring of the military's territorial command (Koter) structure.
The Coalition reminded Prabowo, Abdurachman and TNI commander (Panglima TNI) Martial Yudo Margono that they should go back and study Koter's history.
According to the Coalition, Koter during the New Order era of former president Suharto functioned to distribute ABRI's political role in the regions, including the control and repression of people who opposed the Suharto regime.
"Moreover the Koter hierarchy resembled the structure of the civilian administration in the regions who's hierarchy reached down to the sub-district and had a Babinsa [non-commissioned military officer stationed] at the lowest level", said the Coalition.
According to the Coalition therefore, when the ABRI's dwi-fungsi doctrine, that was the basis for the military's involvement in politics was abolished following reformasi, the Koter structure should also have been restructured, abolished or even adjusted in line with existing local government administrative structures.
"This is in accordance with the elucidation of Article 11 Paragraph (2) of the TNI Law which states that in implementing the organisation of TNI forces, organisational forms that could provide an opportunity for practical political interests must be avoided. This organisational form does not always have to follow the structure of the government administration", said the Coalition.
Based on this, the Coalition is asking President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to evaluate the performance of the Defense Minister, the TNI commander and the KSAD, which they believe has not been in line with the mandate of reformasi.
"The president should immediately conduct an evaluation of TNI reform, especially the restructuring of the territorial commands", said the Coalition.
Earlier, General Abdurachman announced a plan by the Army to establish regional military command headquarters in every province in Indonesia.
"In accordance with the orders from the Menhan and the Panglima TNI that have already been agreed to, later every province will have a Kodam", said Abdurachman following an Army leadership meeting on the 2023 budget at the Army's headquarters in Jakarta on Friday February 10.
Defense Minister Prabowo later said that the plan to add regional military commands was in accordance with the overall people's defense and security system (sishankamrata), a defense system adopted by Indonesia.
"This is an outline of our plan because our defense system is a joint and total people's defense (pertahanan rakyat semesta)", said Prabowo. (yog/DAL)
The TNI's territorial command structure mandates the deployment of military command posts and detachments at all levels of the civil administration: provincial, district, sub-district and village. This structure provides the organisational framework for the TNI to act as a political security force at all levels of society. Babinsa or Bintara are non-commissioned military officers posted in villages and wards and affiliated with the civilian administration that provide a community level presence for the TNI's territorial commands.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "LSM Sentil Prabowo & Dudung Mau Tambah Kodam: Reformasi TNI Mundur".]