On Tuesday, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo held a limited cabinet meeting at the State Palace in Jakarta to discuss the ongoing modernization of the country’s military (TNI) and the national police.
One of the subjects discussed was the status of Indonesia’s new joint regional military commands – locally abbreviated Kogabwilhan – which are supposed to be in place by 2024. As I’ve written before for The Diplomat, the essence of the Kogabwilhan concept is to structure the military into multi-service regional commands consisting of a combination of army, air force and navy units and led by generals who would be able to respond quickly and flexibly to flash points with greater autonomy relative to the central leadership in Jakarta. The idea is not entirely new. Plans to begin implementing it had begun as early as 2008 under former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Jokowi had agreed to continue with ongoing efforts last November.
According to The Jakarta Post, TNI commander General Moeldoko, who is overseeing the progress of this, said Jokowi reiterated his support for Kogabwilhan at the meeting but said “it should be done gradually.”Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
As I’ve argued before, getting these commands finalized was always going to be a slow process given challenges such as the army’s traditional dominance in Indonesia as well as lingering questions like how leadership would work and what sorts of threats the commands should each be responsible for. Moeldoko, who is rumored to be retiring soon, said this probably means Indonesia will establish a first regional unit first, and then later continue with building the second and then the third.
There is also talk about bringing back the role of deputy TNI commander, which was previously scrapped under former Indonesian president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid. The logic of the move, according to Moeldoko, is that this would ensure that the deputy can act even when the TNI commander is absent.
Not everyone is a fan of the proposal, however. Some say reinstating that position would just complicate the existing military structure – with one strong commander controlling all three military forces. It is also unclear what the exact division of labor would be between the commander and his deputy. Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhi Purdijatno, for his part, said that the plan needed further study.
Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto revealed that the meeting had discussed a plan to prepare a presidential regulation on TNI reorganization. According to Andi, the regulation would be produced in 2015, but its implementation would be conducted gradually up until 2019.