Taking Stock of Military Reform in Indonesia

  • Leonard C. Sebastian
  • Iisgindarsah
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


Can we assert that military reform in Indonesia has come to a standstill? Since the downfall of Suharto in 1998, Indonesian military is by no means in a weak position. The military may no longer be the leading actor in national politics, but has pragmatically incorporated a strategy enabling it to play a “behind the scenes” role (Sebastian, 2007). Having abolished the “dual-function” doctrine that legitimated military engagement in socio-political affairs, the armed forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, TNI) leadership has placed more emphasis on transforming its institutional profile and improving its human rights record. Civilian politicians have compromised the process of reform. Far from depoliticizing the military, President Abdurrahman Wahid sought to marshal military support against the Indonesian parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR) moving to impeach him due to his involvement in high profile corruption cases. In early 2001, he proposed to TNI high-command that a state of emergency be declared to enable him to dissolve the DPR. The proposal, however, was rejected by a military leadership aware that any overt political involvement on their part would be counterproductive to their efforts to restore the TNI’s public image. Meanwhile, during Megawati’s presidency, the counterinsurgency operation in Aceh had given new impetus for TNI to take on a greater role in internal security in the guise of “military operations other than war” thereby signalling the end of attempts by post-Suharto military reformers to limit their function purely to external defense.


National Defense Weapon System Military Officer Defense Spending Indonesian Government 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanyang Technological UniversityNanyangSingapore

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