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TNI to expand regional military commands, civil coalition: Risky of sociopolitical intervention

Tempo - March 1, 2024

Sultan Abdurrahman, Jakarta – The Headquarters of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) planned to add 22 more regional military commands, known as Kodam, across Indonesia. Thus far, Indonesia has 15 regional military commands in the country's territory.

The statement was relayed by TNI Commander in Chief General Agus Subiyanto during a TNI-Polri meeting in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, on Wednesday. If the plan comes through, the total of regional military commands in Indonesia would amount to 37.

This plan was considered a risk of increasing opportunity for soldiers to intervene in sociopolitical issues within the Indonesian civilian communities.

"The addition of 22 regional military commands implies the desire to perpetuate military influence, especially by the Army, in political and security matters akin to the New Order regime," the Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform in its statement on Friday, March 1, 2024.

The coalition consisted of many law and human rights organizations, including Imparsial, Centra Initiative, Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), KontraS, Public Virtue, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, and tens of other agencies.

According to the coalition members, adding regional military commands in Indonesia showcased TNI's inclination to supervise the Indonesian civilians instead of facing foreign threats. "This implied military inclination to be involved in political matters," the Civil Coalition said.

The armed forces' structural command allows for "territorial commander to be involved directly with local government", including influencing regional policies, the coalition said.

The Coalition mentioned that historically, the army's territorial command had become a control instrument against civilians, for example, by deploying soldiers to face agrarian conflicts in some regions.

Additional regional military command, the Coalition went on, defied the 1998 reform agenda against TNI to erase its sociopolitical roles. According to the explanation of Article 11 (2) of TNI Law No. 34 of 2004, the military must avoid establishing organizations that would pave the way for practical political interests.

"Hence, the territorial command must be restructured instead of increased or adjusted to the number of Indonesia's provinces," the Civil Coalition stressed.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1839813/tni-to-expand-regional-military-commands-civil-coalition-risky-of-sociopolitical-interventio