Military undergoes major leadership reshuffle
JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Military (TNI) on Monday formally announced the much anticipated promotion of Maj. Gen Kiki Syahnakri to the position of Army Deputy Chief of Staff as part of a major military reshuffle involving 94 senior military officers.
Vice Adm. Fred Salem Lonan, who currently holds the post of Assistant for Operational Affairs to the Navy chief, was among those promoted and will hold the post of deputy Navy chief.
Kiki's current post of Udayana Military Commander will be filled by his classmate from the Military Academy, Maj. Gen Willem Da Costa, who is currently the Kostrad chief of staff.
Another major change was the appointment of Maj. Gen. Tonny A. Rompis in place of Maj. Gen Albert Inkiriwang as Trikora Military Commander. Tonny is currently Deputy of Bandung's Military Education and Training Command, while Alber will be placed as an official at the Defense Ministry.
TNI spokesman Vice Marshall Graito Usodo in making the announcement also said that Presidential Security Guard chief Maj. Gen I Putu Sastra, who only held the post for six-months, will be replaced by the chief of the intelligence unit of the TNI's Intelligence Strategic Agency (Bais) Brig. Gen Amir Tohar.
Putu will now be assigned to the Army Headquarters.
The most notable pattern in the reshuffle involving the four senior Army posts is that three are being filled by 1971 graduates of the Academy. Amir, as a 1974 graduate, is the most junior.
The most prestigious promotion of deputy Army chief, to be filled by Kiki, has been left vacant for a month following the promotion of Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, another 1971 Academy graduate.
Kiki began to make national headlines when he was appointed as military commander in East Timor when Jakarta imposed a state of emergency to quell the post-ballot violence in September last year.
Previously Kiki, 53, was Assistant for Operational Affairs to the Army Chief of Staff.
There were varying opinions from observers as to the significance of the reshuffle, particularly Kiki's appointment.
Military observer MT. Arifin believes that they signaled a comeback for Gen. (ret) Wiranto, claiming that the most strategic promotions were those perceived to be loyal to the former military chief.
"This (reshuffle) shows that Wiranto's influence is getting stronger again in the TNI, particularly in the Army," he told The Jakarta Post.
But Arifin denied suggestions that the reshuffle was an effort by Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri to circumvent President Abdurrahman Wahid's control of the TNI.
Sources have also claimed that Kiki was initially recommended by Megawati, while Abdurrahman initially recommended other high ranking officers such as Chief of the Army Strategic Command (Kostrad) Lt. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu and Assistant for Personnel Affairs to the Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen Suprapto.
Kiki's appointment was reportedly also supported by Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Gen. (hor.) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and TNI Chief Adm. Widodo AS.
Arifin also said the reshuffle was a sign that the younger generation in the military's top brass was beginning to take over the strategic posts from their seniors.
"It is a shift of leadership from those officers who graduated from the Military Academy in 1970 to those who graduated in 1971."
Commenting on Putu's replacement as chief of the Presidential Security Guard, Arifin believes there was no political motive.
"Pak Putu is being parked due to his earlier promotion which was considered too hasty and because he doesn't have enough territorial experience," he said of Putu who is a 1974 graduate of the Academy.
But Kusnanto Anggoro, senior researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, stressed that it would be too much to assume a comeback for Wiranto.
"I don't think we can consider Kiki as Wiranto's man. I think Endriartono is closer to Wiranto because he is more senior," he told the Post.
Kusnanto noted that Kiki was one of a few reformist officers in the Army who could aid the reform agenda from within the TNI.
"Kiki is the one who proposed the abolition of the military's territorial structure in 1997, earlier than Maj. Gen. Agus Wirahadikusumah's proposal," he said. "But he did that in a different way than Agus."
Kusnanto also discounted Megawati's alleged role in the reshuffle, saying that it was natural given her new responsibility of running the day-to-day affairs of the government, that the vice president would know more about the reshuffle which involves shifting 24 personnel in the TNI Headquarters, 13 in the Army, 38 in the Navy and 19 in the Air Force.
"The President doesn't need to involve himself in the promotion of officers and posts below chief of staff," he said. (02/44)