The Indonesian Defense Force was established from a myriad group of student movements, guerilla militias and irregulars representing diverse ethnic, religious and local identities preceding proclamation of Indonesian independence in August, 1945. These disparate forces were imbued with the fighting ethos that defined latter day Indonesia defense policy : “total people’s warfare, ” and subsequently “total defense and security.” Nationalism was, and continues today, to be the defining basis of the TNI’s (Indonesian Defense Force) world-view.
Today, all services of the TNI are defined as at once a fighting force (tentara kejuangan), a people’s force (tentara rakyat), a national force (tentara nasional) and a professional force (tentara profesional). Professionalism is deliberatedly subsumed under the three preceding spiritual elements. Once enlisted or commissioned, every Indonesian soldier, sailor, airman and marine is honor bound to personally act first and foremost as a citizen of Indonesia, and to professionally be “first in war, first in peace and first in emergency response.”
Army officers who went through their formative years at the National Military Academy in Magelang, uphold this professional commitment to serve as first and foremost as an Indonesian national. Like their colleagues who graduate from the Naval Academy in Surabaya and from Air Force Academy in Yogyakarta they are sworn to defend the tenets of our national ideology, the Pancasila: Belief in God, Humanitarianism, Nationalism, Democracy through Deliberation and Social Justice.
Defending Pancasila is an indispensable basis of our sense of national identity as well as for our constant revitalization of our sense of national purpose. But affirmation of Pancasila has its practical applications as well, not least in two critical areas in contemporary Indonesia.
First, the TNI is committed to support graduated political democratization towards greater competence and capacity building in civic government. More than 10 years ago and well before the reform process began in May 1998, Lieut.Gen. S.B. Yudhoyono led a group of senior Army officers in calling for a “redefining, repositioning and re-vitalizing” of the role of the Indonesian military in support of graduated civilian-based democratization. At present, the role of the Indonesian soldier has shifted from leading and dominating to measured presence backing up the four pillars of democratic governance : the police, the prosecutors office, the courts system and civil society.
Every governor, district and sub-district officer in all of our 33 provinces and 390 second-tier of governmental hureaucracy recognize the need to emulate the code of conduct of the Indonesian soldier. Each and every Indonesian remains proud of one’s ethnic, provincial or religious origin. But once a person is enlisted or commissioned into the profession of arms, the national interest transcends the interests of one’s particular primordial proclivities. Many Javanese, Sundanese, Sumatranese, Kalimantanese, Celebese and Balinese junior officers hailing from a particular place of birth is expected to serve in at least four different areas of command throughout eastern, central and western Indonesia before he gets his first star. Provincial, district and sub-district bureaucracies are expected to adopt similar tour-of-duty rotational schemes which are all-important for nation-wide administrative capacity-building, as well as for effective civilian “ground-level” democratization.
Secondly, the Indonesian military is assigned to help accelerate sustainable economic growth. Not merely growth with equity, but more critically growth through equity. Only robust underpinnings of social and economic justice at all levels of governance can safeguard our political transformation over the medium and long haul. Measured military presence at each level defines the success rate of governmental delivery systems in providing basic needs and essential services to the poor and the destitute.
Indonesia cannot take off into sustained growth without adequate security governance that help deliver basic needs (drinkable water, electricity, public housing, primary health care, basic education) more accessible to the 35 million Indonesians who live on less than 2 dollars a day. Every generation of soldiers and officers is involved in constant processed of “nation-building” and “nation-replenishing”. From Aceh to Papua, soldiers teach grade school arithmetic, help build bridges , rehabilitate irrigation systems, provide primary health care. Each deed reinforce the locals’ sense of participating in a more vibrant Indonesian common national endeavor. Thresholds of tolerance regarding what constitutes equity and fairness can be both tenuous and fickle at the ground level. More often than not it is the local soldier who acts as an effective and credible intermediary. This is the enduring duty of being a people’s defense force, for in a sense the prevalence of social justice is a nation’s best defense.
Equally important, though Indonesia has more Muslims than in any other country in the world, the affirmation of an inclusive nation-wide state identity (dasar negara) is not based on a single religion. Muslims in Indonesia co-exists and are enriched by day-to-day interaction with the practices, rituals and symbols of fellow citizens other faiths and beliefs: Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Neither is “Indonesian-ness” based on a majority ethnic group such as the Javanese; nor is it based on a “cultural stream” like the Malay heritage, though parts of western Indonesia find affinity with Malay culture. And there are more Melanesians in eastern Indonesia than in all of Melanesia proper.
Military presence and democratic governance is also directly linked to narrowing the vertical “rich-poor” gap, as well as the western-eastern horizontal divide of Indonesia. Differentiated rates of access to new knowledge and skills may endanger the nation’s sense unity and cohesion. Security governance provide that degree of political stability to enable us within the next 10 years to quadruple Indonesia’s GDP per capita from currently USD 2000 to USD 8000, and to quadruple the size of our middle class from 15% to roughly 50% of the population. There cannot be successful political democratization without sustainable broad-based economic democratization.
In addressing domestic and international terrorism, interdicting terrorist financial networks and disrupting their organizational capacity, the arrest and prosecution of suspected perpetrators must be conducted on the terms of Indonesian authorities and under the provisions of our legal system. Discreet and timely foreign security assistance rendered “on tap” is much more legitimate and effective than aid provided through virulent “on top” pressure from abroad.
In a globalized world, Indonesia’s younger generation of officer-corps that is more outward-looking, self-confident and competitive can learn much from their colleagues represented in this distinguished gathering from 30 countries throughout the Pacific region. For reasons of history, culture, tradition and geography, each of our land and security services may differ in the way we prepare for war. But in matters of human security, we must above all be guided by our sense of universal humility