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Indonesian security forces in West Papua (Part 1)

West Papua Report - December 2014

Made Supriatma In his meeting with TNI elites, President Joko Widodo reportedly agreed to a proposal to expand the army's territorial command in West Papua.

The army proposed two more territorial commands (Kodam) in eastern Indonesia. One is in Manado and the other is in Manokwari, the capital city of Papua Barat province. The navy will also expand its command by adding an Armada Command (Komando Armada Tengah) in Makassar TNI also proposed to revive Komando Gabungan Pertahanan (Joint Defense Command) which is similar to Komando Wilayah Pertahanan (defense territorial command) or Kowilhan. The Kowilhan was established in 1969, and then eradicated in 1984 during the reorganization of the Indonesian military. The TNI chief, Gen. Moeldoko, said that he also plans to revive the position of territorial assistant for the navy and air force.

President Joko Widodo is the fourth civilian president of the reformation era. Three of his civilian predecessors have never served full term in the office. All of those civilian presidents had to deal with the military and in fact it became their biggest challenge. President Widodo too has to confront the same problem. The three presidents were approaching the military differently. President Habibie chose to defy the military completely when he decided to grant referendum to East Timor. President Abdurrahman Wahid chose a more confrontational approach. He often intervened in the military's internal affairs. President Megawati Sukarnoputri took a very different approach. She gave a 'blank check' to the military. She appointed the ultra-nationalist officer Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu as the army chief of staff. Under her administration, the military was given permission to launch huge operations in Aceh in order to crush the rebellion. Many of Megawati's military men are now parts of the Jokowi's administration.

With the hardliners dominate his administration, we can expect that Jokowi will apply a more nationalistic approach in confronting the West Papua problem. Meanwhile, President Widodo promised "to solve" West Papua's problems in his campaign. He won the region handily during the election. However, will he make good of his promises? How will he handle the security forces in West Papua? Can he change the security situation in the region and give Papuans the human rights protection that they deserve?

This article shows the networks of Indonesia's security forces in West Papua. It will be hard for President Widodo to keep his promises to the people of West Papua and at the same time accommodate security interests (and the other interests that come with it) of the military and police. As we shall see, Indonesian security forces in West Papua have grown every year. Meanwhile, security problems in the region are not declining.

It is no doubt that the presence of security forces in West Papua has grown in the last decade. The per capita ratio between population and security personnel is one to 99. In other words, there is one security person (police or soldier) for every 99 people. This is much higher than the one to 296 ratio of security personnel to population in Indonesia. The ratio between TNI soldiers and the population in Papua is one to 168. Overall in Indonesia that ration is one soldier to 558 people. [1] The ratio of police to population is one to 247 people in West Papua. Nationally, it is one to 631. [2]

I estimate that the total number of security forces in West Papua as 36,254 personnel. These consist of 21,400 TNI personnel (18,950 army, 1,050 navy, and 1,400 air force) and up to 14,584 personnel of Indonesian police. [3] According to the 2010 population census, Papua Province's population is 2,851,999 and Papua Barat Province's population is 760,855. West Papua is the most militarized region in Indonesia.

The Army

The army is still the most prominent security organization in West Papua, with the most personnel compared to other security forces. The army is organized hierarchically into territorial commands and combat units. Some territorial commands have their own combat units, but in some cases combat units stand independently.

The highest territorial command in West Papua is Kodam XVII/Cendrawasih, whose headquarters is located in Jayapura The Kodam controls West Papua's two provinces. Kodam XVII was created in 1962 when the region was still under Dutch administration. In 1985, as part of reorganization of the army, this Kodam was abolished and merged with Kodam XV/Pattimura in Ambon, Maluku. The new Kodam was named Kodam VIII/Trikora. In 1999, Kodam Trikora was dissolved and both Kodam Pattimura and Trikora were brought to life once again. The name of the Kodam changed into Kodam XVII/Cendrawasih in 2007.

The Kodam is territorially divided into four Korems (Komando Resort Militer/Military Resort Command). Each Korem has some Kodims (Komando Distrik Militer/District Military Command). As in the majority of Indonesian regions, Kodims are structured parallel with the civilian regency administration (kabupaten). Although in West Papua's case, as a result of the high speed of regency proliferation, some Kodims have to operate in two or more regencies. Each Kodim is also divided into several Koramils (Komando Rayon Militer/Military Subdistrict command), which are equal to Kecamatan (Subdistrict) in civilian bureaucracy. The lowest territorial rank under the Indonesian army is Babinsa (Bintara Pembina Desa/Village Guidance Noncommissioned Officer). The role of a Babinsa is important because this person can serve as human intelligence (HUMINT) at the village level and the role's function can easily be modified into a combat role. [4]

In the post-New Order era, Kodam XVII/Cendrawasih has expanded its territorial and combat units. It now has four Korems and 12 Kodims under its jurisdiction. Also, it originally had only three combat battalions. Since 2004, TNI began to create a new infantry battalion on the southern coast of West Papua: Yonif 754/ENK, 755/Yalet, and 756/WMS. In 2007, these infantry battalions were placed under the command of an Infantry Brigade, Brigif 20/Ima Jaya Keramo. [5] The three battalions are complementary to the three previously established infantry battalions in the northern coast of West Papua: Yonif 751/VJS in Jayapura; Yonif 752/VYS in Sorong; and Yonif 753/AVT in Nabire.

Other than infantry battalions, the Kodam is also equipped with four combat engineer detachments (Zeni Tempur or Zipur), [6] one cavalry detachment (DenKav-3), [7] and one training regiment (Rindam). In the future, most likely the Kodam will be developed further. There are plans to increase several reserve task forces (Bantuan Tempur or Banpur), such as combat engineer and cavalry detachment, into battalions.

Three newly formed battalions (Yonif 754, 755, and 756), which are placed under Brigif-20, are the "over-strength" battalions. According to Davies, the "over-strength" battalions are to "cover operational tasks previously performed by two or more battalion entities, i.e., routine 'static' point and route security tasks alongside 'mobile' rapid-reactions functions." [8] TNI also increased the capacity of the three older battalions by adding more personnel and weaponry. An unconfirmed report mentions that Yonif 751/VJS has been upgraded to a Raider-type battalion.

Existing army battalions in Kodam XVII are clearly not capable of launching multiple operations for the whole region. The Kodam receives help from outside forces, either from other Kodams or combat units such as Kostrad or Kopassus. The outside forces are known as BKO (Bawah Kendali Operasi/Under Operational Control). The army issued new policies regarding length of the BKO operation. Now a BKO battalion stays only for 6 months. Previously, a BKO battalion has to stay for 10 to 12 months. [9]

Security operations mostly involve local and BKO battalions. In each operation, a company or a detachment of a local battalion is mixed with BKO battalions and forms a task force (satuan tugas or Satgas). The BKO battalion, however, never arrives in a full force. In many cases, the battalions are leaving behind company headquarters (Kompi Markas) and Reserved Company (Kompi Bantuan/Kiban). Interestingly, in many cases, Kopassus's Tactical Unit (Satuan Taktis/Sattis) is often put as BKO to a BKO battalion. Kopassus also has one detachment of Sandi Yudha (Covert-action) that is regularly assigned in West Papua.

Navy and Air Forces

The navy has also expanded in West Papua since 1998. In 2009, the navy (TNI-AL) built a new 11th Primary Naval Base (Lantamal IX) in Merauke. Previously, the navy had another primary base in Jayapura (Lantamal X). The 11th Primary Naval Base is aimed at securing the western parts of West Papua's seas while the 10th base is securing the seas in the eastern part of the region. The 11th Primary Naval Base controls navy bases in Timika, Aru, and Tual, and one navy post in Saumlaki. The 10th base in Jayapura (Lantamal X) covers the naval bases in Sorong, Manokwari, and Biak, and several navy posts in Liki and Mapia. The navy also has one maintenance and repair facility (Fasharkan or Fasilitas Pemeliharaan dan Perbaikan) in Manokwari.

Each Lantamal has at least 750 personnel and the each navy base (Lanal) has around 150 to 250 personnel. The Manokwari Fasharkan has 219 personnel. From two Lantamal, four Lanal, and one Fasharkan, we estimate the navy has approximately 2,600 personnel in Papua. A report of the DPR recess visit to Papua Barat in 2011 mentions Lantamal XI has 761 personnel, Lanal Biak 155 personnel, and Lanal Sorong 137 personnel.

The navy plans to add another division of marines in Sorong, Papua Barat province. The new division will complement two existing Marine divisions (Pasmar-1 in Jakarta and Pasmar-2 in Surabaya) and one brigade in Lampung (3rd Marine Infantry Brigade/Brigif-3 Marinir). In the navy's strategic plan, Indonesia will be divided into three Armada Command Areas: the West (Koarmabar), with headquarters in Jakarta; the East (Koarmatim), in Surabaya; and the Central Armada Command (Koarmateng), which will be established in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

The air force (TNI-AU) [10] manages four airports (in Jayapura, Biak, Merauke, and Timika). TNI plans to upgrade both the Biak and Jayapura airbases to Type A. The Biak airbase will have a squadron of fighter planes (most likely F5Es). Meanwhile, the Jayapura airbase is left without fighters although the airbase has facilities for landing and takeoff for fighter jets. This airbase also has several helicopters that can be used to support military operations in Papuan regions.

The air force also installed three radar stations in Biak (Radar Unit 242 in Tanjung Warari), in Timika (Radar Unit 243), and in Merauke (Radar Unit 244). It plans to have another station installed in Jayapura In 2010, the air force established one elite Paskhas battalion (Yon 468/Sarotama) in Biak. The special forces battalion is trained as PPRC (Pasukan Pemukul Reaksi Cepat/Strike and Rapid Reaction Force). It has commando skills similar to Kopassus. This battalion provides security to its air bases all over Papua, its weapons system (Alat Utama Sistem Persenjataan or Alutsista), and radar facilities. Jayapura will have an independent company of Paskhas that has commando qualifications (Kompi D BS Parako PPRC Sentani Jayapura).

Coming in Part 2: Police, Intelligence, and Conclusion

[1] Wikipedia provides statistics of TNI personnel in 2009. Total TNI personnel in that year was 438,410 consisting of army (328,517 personnel); Navy (74,963 personnel); Air Force (34,930 personnel). http://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tentara_Nasional_Indonesia (accessed October 21, 2012). Former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Djoko Santoso, however, mentioned that ideally the total number of the army is 0.4% of the total Indonesian population or around 800,000 personnel. He said that the army will steadily increased its personnel and will add around 350,000 more troops by 2024. It will make the total number of personnel around 650,000. "TNI AD Butuh Personel Lebih Banyak Amankan Wilayah NKRI," http://www.antaranews.com/berita/1189405696/tni-ad-butuh-personel-lebih-banyak-amankan-wilayah-nkri (accessed October 5, 2012). It seems that the plan is easier said than done.

[2] In 2011, the Indonesian police comprised 387,470 personnel. The total number of personnel within the police would be slightly higher if civil servants are included. There are 26,039 civil servants (whose main job is doing administrative work) within the police. This make total number of personnel within the police is 413,509. "Jumlah personel Polri akan ditambah besar-besaran," Kontan, July 25, 2012.

[3] For comparison, see Matthew Davies, "TNI and POLRI Forces in West Papua: Restructuring & Reasserting Sovereignty", APSNet Special Reports, August 17, 2006, http://nautilus.org/apsnet/tni-and-polri-forces-in-west-papua-restructuring-reasserting-sovereignty/(accessed August 18, 2012). Davies estimates that the total number of all security apparatus (TNI and Polri) in West Papua is 23,900 personnel. It consists of 12,800 TNI personnel and 11,100 Polri. Former Regional Military NI Maj. Gen. Nurdin Zainal has said that the number of troops in West Papua added will be between 12,000 and 15,000 troops. Tapol, a Human Rights group, claims that this will make the number of troops in West Papua swell to 45,000 to 50,000. See "Military build-up threatens Land of Peace campaign," Tapol Bulletin No. 179, July 2005. The claim seems plausible with the plan to build a new 3rd Kostrad Division in Sorong, West Papua. But the plan was aborted.

[4] This was the case in Aceh during the escalation of violence in 2003. See Matthew N. Davies, Indonesia's War over Aceh. Last Stand on Mecca's Porch, London: Routledge, 2006, p. 61.

[5] The Brigif-20 headquarters is located in Timika, a city close to the location of US mining company Freeport McMoRan. Timika is also the base for Yonif 754/Eme Neme Kangasi. While Yonif 755/Yalet is based in Merauke and Yonif 756/Wi Mane Sile in Wamena.

[6] These combat engineer detachments are based in Jayapura (Denzipur 10); Merauke (Denzipur 11); Nabire (Denzipur 12); and Sorong (Denzipur 13).

[7] DenKav-3 is based in Timika.

[8] See Davies, TNI and POLRI Forces in West Papua, p. 4.

[9] The main reason to shorten the term is to prevent "digression" by the BKO battalions, especially those who are assigned in the border areas. It is widely known that battalions that are assigned in the borders are often involved in illegal logging or smuggling. Units in the border security posts are rotated every three months to prevent digression.

[10] The strength of the Indonesian Air Force in Papua is around 1,500 personnel. It comes from one Paskhas battalion (around 800); four airport bases (150 each), and two radar stations (around 50 each).

[Made Supriatma is an editor with Joyo Indonesia News Service.]

Source: http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/2014/1412wpap.htm.

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