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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Indonesian analysts discuss issues facing new commander-in-chief


Excerpt from report by Radio Australia on 14 February

[Presenter Linda LoPresti] Indonesia's new military commander has begun his first week in the job with a warning from the president to keep the armed forces out of politics and a brief to push ahead with an agenda of modernization and internal reform. Tom Fayle reports on the task ahead for the former graduate of the Joint Services Staff College in Canberra.

[Correspondent] Air Marshal Djoko Suyanto is in his mid-fifties, hails from East Java, has some training in both Australia and the United States and is, by all accounts, an avid music lover. He is also the first air force chief to be elevated to the post of overall commander of the Indonesian military in many years and is a military academy classmate of now President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, graduating in the same year.

Agus Widjojo knows the world of the Indonesian military and politics well. He is both a retired lieutenant-general and a former deputy speaker of People's Consultative Assembly. He argues that while Air Marshal Djoko's appointment is symbolic of the president's commitment to military reform, it's also a question of rotating the post through the three services and giving the junior service a chance to show its mettle.

[Agus Widjojo] It is to be seen as strengthening the joint doctrine within the TNI, which stipulates that any military operations would be carried out jointly amongst the three services, and also positioning that the three services [are] at equal level, and to transform the definition of national defence from the traditional way of the past where we focused or oriented the defence inwardly because we believed that any threats to the republic would come from within. Now it is to be transferred into the traditional definition of national defence and which is to be directed and focused outwardly, meaning external defence. Which means also distancing the role of the military from social politics or anything to do with the internal or domestic condition of the country.

[Correspondent] Despite this, there is speculation among military analysts that Air Marshal Djoko is really something of a seat warmer for another friend and classmate of the president, but this time an army man - Gen Djoko Santoso. Jakarta-based military analyst Sukardi Rinakit dismisses this, but says the air marshal can expect a rough ride from the army as the services continue to jostle for influence and resources. [passage omitted]

Dr Sukardi Rinakit says the key challenge for Air Marshal Djoko will be balancing the military budget.

[Sukardi] The first challenge of the new commander-in-chief, first it's relating to how the military can finance and can fulfil its operation costs. Because the military doesn't have enough money for operation costs [there is] no choice, the new commander-in-chief must maintain its military business [as heard] as far as possible.

[Correspondent] He also argues that among the many human rights issues facing the new military commander, there is at least one area where improvement can be expected - Papua [Irian Jaya].

[Sukardi] I think the air force will little bit control the army activities there. [passage omitted]

[Correspondent] Some have also argued that given his links with the United States and Australia, Air Marshal Djoko Suyanto will also be a more acceptable face internationally at a time when the TNI is rebuilding its post-East Timor links with the military of both those countries. But that's not a view shared by Lt-Gen Agus Widjojo.

[Agus Widjojo] I think there are too many speculations being thrown on the air which is irrelevant to the appointment of Air Marshal Djoko as commanding general of the TNI. I think it's as simple as that now is the chance to proceed with the military reform and give an opportunity to the air force to be represented by their best officer to be assigned as commanding general of the TNI.

[Correspondent] So you won't be surprised if he serves out his full term at the top?

[Agus Widjojo] No, I will not be surprised.

Radio Australia, Melbourne, in English 1005 gmt 14 Feb 06
BBC Monitoring

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