Fri, 03 Mar 2000

TNI to study territorial function

JAKARTA (JP): Army Chief off Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto asserted on Thursday the necessity to review the Indonesian Military's (TNI) territorial function, including the much criticized military commands, because of past misuse.

Speaking to military commanders and retired Army generals here, Tyasno said as a consequence, TNI would revamp its structure and reduce the number of military commands to a minimum.

"The number of military commands is likely to be reduced and their structure also will be evaluated and adjusted in accordance with the present situation," he said.

The archipelagic country has 16 regional military commands, all under the Army.

Tyasno did not reveal when the reorganization would take effect, saying it was up to the government and the House of Representatives to enact a legal basis for the plan.

If the proposal goes as expected, certain provinces like Jakarta and Central Java will see the military presence reduced in some military districts, military subdistricts and among troops stationed in villages, according to Tyasno.

"But, in the troubled provinces of Aceh, Riau, Papua and other remote areas, a maximum presence of troops is needed for security reasons," he said.

He said the presence of military commands and subordinate structures in the provinces had been subject to criticism because in the past they also carried out political missions.

"The military has been criticized and opposed for taking a security approach instead of a social welfare approach in handling problems and for siding with the government rather than giving protection to the people.

"You will see our good will pay dividends for all misdeeds we committed in the past. We are returning to our original mission of winning the people's hearts."

Among the attendees of the meeting were former vice president Gen. (ret) Try Sutrisno, former TNI chief/minister of defense Gen. (ret) Edi Sudrajat, former Army's Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) chief Lt. Gen. Tarub, and TNI's delegate to the House of Representatives.

Tyasno conceded that past mistakes had sparked calls for TNI to reform its territorial mission.

He said TNI's territorial job would remain to create a safe feeling among people as well as to maintain national unity.

The new approach to the territorial mission can be conducted consistently with the phasing-out of the military's political function.

"TNI will be able to focus on its sole duty of handling disturbances because it will no longer be involved in practical politics," he said.

He insisted that the present implementation of the territorial function was ineffective and far from optimum because of the deployment of unprofessional soldiers in the field and the lack of coordination between the government and the military.

"Besides, there is no legal umbrella for the implementation of military doctrine," he said.

Tyasno also said the Army was making internal and external reform to improve professionalism among its soldiers and improve relations between the military and the people.

As part of its internal improvement, the Army will emphasize discipline among its members and upgrade their skills, he said.

"All soldiers must be well prepared for deployment whenever and wherever their commandant orders," he said, adding that soldiers found guilty of violating the military code of ethics or the civil law would be punished.

He promised the Army would continue promoting a human approach and be more sympathetic to the people in carrying out its territorial mission. (rms/emf)