Kostrad and Kopassus
Ryamizard Ryacudu is the commander of Kostrad, the Army Strategic Command, the backbone of Kotama (Komando Utama, Main Command Forces) and the main command force of the army. Kostrad has 40,000 well trained troops and takes the lead in fighting armed GAM units in Aceh. As a leading exponent of the mandiri wing, Ryacudu is driven by the fear of Indonesia falling apart.
The other force in Kotama is Kopassus, the special forces with around 7,000 men. In the turbulent period from 1998 to 2000 Kopassus was widely condemned for its role in kidnappings and other serious human rights violations including torture and disappearances but in 2001 Kopassus made a comeback. For a while there was bitter rivalry between Kostrad and Kopassus officers but it seems that Kostrad has once again taken the lead in Kotama.
In Aceh, during the DOM period from 1989 till 1998, Kopassus led the counter insurgency operations against GAM. A condition of low intensity conflict was maintained, resulting in grave human rights violations in the countryside. After a brief pause, military operations were resumed on an even larger scale in 2001, with Kostrad as the main combat force. Now, Kostrad and Kopassus work hand in hand in Aceh.
Some new elements have emerged in dealing with the problems in conflict areas. The practice now is to use a combination of elite forces, including marines, air force commandos and Kopassus troops, against separatists or armed groups in Poso or Maluku. Together with Kostrad units, these 'joint battalions' (yongab), Brimob troops (the special command unit of the police force), are also taking part. By the end of 2001 about 50 battalions from the TNI and the police were deployed across the nation in trouble spots. While several battalions are deployed in eastern Indonesia (West Papua, Maluku and Sulawesi), most of the joint battalions are deployed in Aceh, where the TNI faces the most serious challenge.
Another new element in the war against separatist forces is the specially trained combat intelligence units called tontaikam (peleton pengintai keamanan, security surveillance platoon). These units are trained and groomed at the Kopassus training centre in Batudjadjar and are responsible for reconnaissance and intelligence work in trouble spots ahead of military operations. The activities of tontaikam are directly felt by the population in Aceh where around a dozen people die every day. While there has been consolidation within Kotama, other TNI structures are beginning to re-emerge.
Kotama's military operations against GAM have been quite successful. The armed wing of GAM has been pushed back to the mountains while OPM activities in West Papua are hardly noticeable. But as conflicts in other parts of the world show, military might does not solve anything and only creates more violence. The idea that GAM can be obliterated is an illusion and has only increased its popularity among the Acehnese. The death toll in 2001 reached 1,700, largely due to intensified war operations by Kotama troops.
The territorial structure
For some time there was confusion about the decisions of an important TNI seminar regarding the future of the territorial structure. One decision was to hand over the military territorial structure to local governments. Some far-reaching ideas were floated about abolishing military structures below sub-district level. [Gatra, 1 September 2001]. In discussions outside the TNI, academics and military watchers agreed that the military territorial structure should be gradually dismantled.
The territorial structure functions as a shadow government, often more powerful than the regional administration. The territorial structure or koter (komando teritorial) was initially the foundation of the Indonesian army. In the early days of the young republic, military units were primarily organised in regional battalions and officers were identified by their territorial affinity. After a big overhaul in 1984, kotama forces, Kostrad and Kopassus became the backbone of the army. Financial constraints transformed the territorial commands into cesspools of criminal activities. Regional commands increasingly involved themselves in mafia practices instead of concentrating on security matters.
The separation of the police from the TNI strengthened the view among civilians that koter had become redundant. The police are now responsible for law and order. The downgrading of the position of Kaster (Kepala Staf Teritorial, chief of staff of territorial affairs) into an assistant position at the general staff was another indication that territorial affairs would be sidelined.
But in the end, the results were very different, with a big victory for the military. Instead of downsizing koter, the army top is determined to maintain or enlarge the territorial structure. Lt. General Ryamizard Ryacudu bluntly told a journalist: 'Like it or not, the glue of the nation nowadays is the TNI. If people want to dismantle the state, go ahead and abolish the territorial units. If the Trikora military command in Irian Jaya were dissolved, Irian Jaya would be independent' [Tempo, 7 April 2002].
The new military territorial command in Aceh, Kodam (military area command) Iskandar Muda set up in February 2002 is the latest example of the army's determination to expand rather than downsize koter. In May 1999, Kodam Pattimura was re-established in Maluku while two other kodams, Tanjung Pura in West Kalimantan and Lambung Mangkurat in Central and South Kalimantan are in the pipeline. With the creation of new provinces, a string of new districts and subdistricts are emerging. The TNI Information Centre recently said this might lead to the creation of new district and subdistrict military commands.
Since the establishment of kodams in Maluku and Aceh, military operations have continued in both regions, primarily by kotama forces under the command of the headquarters in Jakarta. The operations in Aceh are run by a special command called Kolakops, similar to the military operation in East Timor while operations in Maluku are in the hands of Yongab, the joint battalions.
The real reason for the expansion of the territorial commands lies elsewhere. Firstly, finances. Territorial commands can siphon off money from the provincial budget. In particular the autonomy law can, in practice, provide more money for the regions. Regional 'projects' like offering protection for local companies or vital projects can be co-ordinated by the command through a special unit called PAM Provit (Pasukan Pengamanan Projek Vital, Troops Securing Vital Projects).
So-called self-financing by the military can for a great part function through the local commands. Lack of funding by the state is used to justify efforts to find other sources of money. Local businesses have become more viable thanks to the autonomy law. The territorial commands can play a crucial role in these business activities. A more sinister role for commands is the recruitment and deployment of militia groups in conflict areas. Despite the disastrous experience in East Timor, the military top continue to consider militia groups as part of their security doctrine. Increasing the number of territorial commands is another example of how the military have gained leverage over civilian politics.