Fri, 16 Jun 2000

TNI chief, Juwono to restructure powerful TNI

JAKARTA (JP): The restructurization of the Indonesian Military (TNI) is being worked upon by the defense ministry and TNI itself, defense minister Juwono Sudarsono said on Wednesday.

The minister said reorganization was urgently needed because there were many more high-ranking military officers than positions available for them.

Juwono, who used to teach political sciences at the University of Indonesia, compared the overstaffing at the military with the situation at the university, which is facing the problem of having too many professors.

"Currently there are many senior officers at TNI (military) headquarters, but available positions are restricted. Therefore we must reorganize," Juwono said before attending a weekly Cabinet meeting at Bina Graha presidential office.

He said he was working closely with TNI chief Admiral Widodo A.S. to create a system where promotion would be based entirely on merit.

Juwono did not elaborate on the number of senior military officers.

The military has lost many of the privileges it enjoyed during the New Order regime, like employment in civilian positions at state agencies, ministries and local governments.

The military is unlikely to be able to maintain its current unelected 38 seats in the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) and the House of Representatives (DPR), as all seats will be open in general elections in 2004.

The minister also expressed his concern over the rising tendency of civilians to interfere in internal military affairs.

"I am concerned about the reoccurrence of the situation in the 1950s, where civilian politicians wanted to play a role in appointing military officers. At the same time, military officers also wanted to approach the power centers," Juwono said.

Meanwhile, TNI spokesman Air Rear Marshall Graito Usodo said an Army reshuffle would be announced on Friday. Breaking a long- standing custom, there will be no media conference to publicize the rotation.

"Everything is ready, so, God willing, we will make the announcement tomorrow. But we will not make an official announcement because this is just a routine tour of duty, nothing special," Graito told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

He was responding to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto's statement of impending promotions and tours of duty in the force.

Graito added that the final decision had been made by the TNI council for high-ranking promotions and duty rotations (Wanjakti) and all necessary administrative procedures had been completed, including the signing of the decree regarding the reshuffle by the TNI chief.

Graito has said that the reshuffle would only effect one-and two-star generals.

Speculation has been rife over the last few days that regional military commanders in Java would be among those to be replaced. (dja/prb)