Sat, 15 Jan 2000

Candidate for Army commander

It is interesting to observe the reassignments happening within the Indonesian Military (TNI), in particular the Army. For the past year the Army has been suspected of committing big mistakes during the New Order regime. General Tyasno Sudarto has served less than one year as Army chief of staff but he is rumored to be reassigned to a higher post. It is not yet clear who the candidates will be for the position of Army chief of staff. I think, however, that if a high officer with a good track record is required there would be no problems.

Lt. Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, now the mines and energy minister, is a figure that is eligible for the job. His conscience tells him to remain in the Military, but he is loyal to the President so he accepted the post of minister, a position he might not have wanted. The concept of the new paradigm of the military is the result of the great work contributed by the military so that the Armed Forces changed themselves by separating the National Police from the Armed Forces.

There was also the military's commitment of neutrality toward the political parties in the 1999 general election. As head of sociopolitical affairs of TNI, later the military's territorial chief of staff, he was involved with internal reform in the military.

It is the pride of an Army soldier to be the chief of staff. This also applies to the Air Force and Navy. But the honor has not yet been given to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. It is only fitting if the job of Army chief of staff is assigned to him in consideration of his past achievements. This job is certainly not lower than that of a minister in consideration of its wider impact, i.e. the improvement of the condition of the Army to go back to its true identity. The job must be filled by the right person. It would be regrettable if Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, an asset to the Army, went on early retirement as a result of a civilian job. As far as I can remember, he was a graduate of the Military Academy in 1973, and was the best until now without having excessive ambition.