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JAMS, vol. 13, no. 1

Counterinsurgency, Emergency, and Civil-Military Relations in Indonesia

Norman Joshua



Abstract: The Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) has responded to a variety of national emergencies in Indonesia since 1945. This article argues that in Indonesia, the military role in emergencies is shaped by the long tradition of counterinsurgency. This article examines how historical experiences, military doctrine, and legal frameworks shaped civil-military relations in Indonesia, particularly regarding the military’s role in emergency management.

Keywords: Indonesia, army, TNI, emergency, military operations other than war, MOOTW, emergency management, disaster response



In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic reached Indonesia. As with many other countries, the Indonesian state’s initial response was to implement a status of emergency. On 28 January 2020, Lieutenant General Doni Monardo, chief of the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana, BNPB), announced that Indonesia is in a “Particular State of Emergency for a Pandemic Disaster” (Status Keadaan Tertentu Darurat Bencana Wabah) as an initial response to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world.1 Initially, this state of exception was implemented from 28 January until 28 February, and the situation was later extended into May.

The framework of “state of particularity” (keadaan tertentu) within the BNPB nomenclature means that there is an elevated vigilance against any disaster potential, paving the way for ad hoc coordination between ministries and organizations, such as the Interior Ministry, Finance Ministry, Health Ministry, the armed forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, TNI), the National Police, and other state institutions.2 In this state of exception, however, the highest command for disaster response is still held by the regional governors and regents.3

As the pandemic gradually expanded, on 13 March 2020, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) declared that the COVID-19 pandemic as a “Public Health Emergency” (Kedaruratan Kesehatan Masyarakat) and a “National Disaster” (Bencana Nasional), based on Law No. 6/2018 on Health Quarantines and Law No. 24/2007 on Disaster Management, respectively.4 Jokowi also established a new Task Force for the Acceleration of the Management of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) (Gugus Tugas Percepatan Penanganan Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).5 This intervention paves the way for state intervention on managing the pandemic, which is now considered a national disaster. Jakarta also decided that the pandemic should be combated by implementing large-scale social limitations (Pembatasan Sosial Berskala Besar, PSBB), which is based on the Health Quarantine Law.6

The implementation of PSBB was heavily criticized at the outset. For instance, urban planning observer Yayat Supriatna stated that the limitations are not effective as the policy relies on proper socialization and oversight.7 Meanwhile, public policy expert Agus Pambagyo highlights the problems plaguing the nation’s disaster management, such as tardy responses to emergencies, ineffectual implementation of laws, the prevalence of contradictory rules, and frequent changes in policy leadership.8 Another concern is the domination of the armed forces and police in the state’s response to emergencies. The BNPB, for instance, which was initially the chief agency leading the response against COVID-19, has been led by three- and two-star army and navy officers since its inception in 2008.9 Civil rights groups in Indonesia are also concerned that excessive domination by the armed forces and police in disaster mitigation, especially during the current pandemic, contributes directly to the inefficacy of disaster-mitigation policies.10

Meanwhile, some elements, even within the civilian executive itself, viewed the current state of emergency as a militarized one. In 2020, President Widodo once considered the declaration of a state of general “civil emergency.”11 Later on 16 July 2021, Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy said that “in this government, even though it is not declared, the country is in a situation of military emergency. . . . Currently, we are in a state of military emergency.”12 Both statements were immediately criticized by many jurists, as the current law for the state of emergency in Indonesia—the Governmental Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perpu) 23/1959—is hopelessly outdated: many of the institutions referred in the law no longer exist, as it was designed for Indonesia in the 1960s.13

At the outset, these incidents indicate two things. First is the militarized nature of emergency and disaster mitigation in Indonesia. Indonesian emergency management and disaster relief is a market that is dominated by the military as its primary stakeholder. Second is the ambiguous character of the legal and operational frameworks on emergency management, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief (HA/DR) in contemporary Indonesia. The legal ambiguity of Indonesian emergency laws explains why many of the disaster responses in the country are often ad hoc in nature. These two things are closely related and often paved the way for military domination in the field of disaster mitigation and emergency management.

This article traces the historical origins and development of military participation in military operations other than war (MOOTW) in Indonesia. The article argues that the TNI’s current role in emergency response is substantially shaped by its long tradition in counterinsurgency operations, methods, and techniques. From the development of Dutch colonial counterinsurgency techniques to the practice of revolutionary and postrevolutionary Indonesian military doctrine, Indonesia has a long tradition of close cooperation between civilian and military spheres. While this fact has certainly laid the foundation for military politics and praetorian rule, it also provided the military with a broad range of institutional capacity in MOOTW operations such as civic mission and HA/DR.

In Indonesia, this institutional capacity is inherently reflected in the TNI’s territorial doctrine with its military area commands and strategic mobile strike forces. Military area commands entail that the TNI continuously participates in MOOTW, such as in territorial management operations. Meanwhile, strategic strike forces such as the TNI Quick Disaster Response Teams are often deployed in response to disasters. After the fall of the New Order authoritarian regime in 1998, the TNI often turned to peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations as its primary avenue of maintaining its relevance while also offering its expansive institutional capacity for MOOTW tasks. This capacity, however, may impede security sector reforms and developments within the emergency management sector. This problem is particularly evident today, as Indonesia faced the COVID-19 crisis.


The Logic of Counterinsurgency: Emergency and Civil-Military Relations in Indonesia before 1998

Indonesian military politics have invited many scholarly discussions. The classic view is that the armed forces came into power as the military saw themselves as an agent of progress and development, while the Indonesian Army as an institution had already been “politicized” since its inception during the revolution.14 Others view the army’s political role as a rational response against civilian meddling in military affairs and their incompetence in ruling.15 These “institutional” approaches were complemented by “culturalist” approaches, which viewed the army as a product of a military ideology shaped by Western professionalism and Javanese culture.16 This fact is also reflected in the army’s self-image produced in its own historiography, which promoted it as “a self-sacrificing people’s army[,] guardians of the spirit of independence, and the protectors of the Pancasila.”17

In addition to its own experiences during the Japanese and revolutionary periods, the Indonesian Armed Forces inherited many of the qualities and values from its colonial predecessor. One of the most important elements here is the logic of counterinsurgency, a mainstay of the colonial armed forces. Indeed, colonial warfare has been lauded as a testing ground for modern counterinsurgency doctrine.18 Counterinsurgency here is defined as “the complete range of measures that governments take to defeat insurgencies,” which include “political, administrative, military, economic, psychological, or informational and are almost always used in combination.”19 Counterinsurgency, whether at the level of doctrine, strategy, operations, or tactics, engendered the close relationship between civilian and military domains of life.

In colonial Indonesia, counterinsurgency techniques were first developed by the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger, KNIL), a force primarily designed for fighting internal enemies. At least from the second half of the nineteenth until the first half of the twentieth century, the KNIL has fought no less than 32 colonial wars in a state of “armed peace.”20 Major counterinsurgency wars include the Padri War in Sumatra (1803–38), the Java War (1825–30), Dutch military interventions in Bali (1849), the Kongsi wars in West Kalimantan (1850–54), and the Aceh War (1873–1904) among others. It was during these colonial campaigns that counterinsurgency techniques—and subsequently military politics—began to take root in Indonesia.

The first crucible for Dutch colonial counterinsurgency techniques was the long Java War, which was essentially an agrarian counterinsurgency war between the KNIL and the forces under Prince Diponegoro. After a two-year stalemate, Dutch commander general Hendrik M. de Kock (1779–1845) implemented a five-point counterinsurgency strategy that emphasized the importance of political, rather than military, efforts. These efforts included securing alliances with local Javanese princes, maintaining areas already loyal to the Dutch, restoring civilian administration, security, and economy in newly pacified areas, isolating the enemy in pockets of mountainous “killing areas,” and capturing Diponegoro and his lieutenants.21 In executing the strategy, de Kock deployed a territorial and mobile strategy dubbed the Benteng Stelsel (“Benteng System”) in 1827. The strategy relied on quickly building up temporary battlefield fortifications and deploying mobile flying columns in crushing insurgent forces.22 These fortifications also became centers for winning the hearts and minds of the local population.23 The strategy was considered successful, as Diponegoro was captured in 1830, signifying the end of the war.

There were important lessons in counterinsurgency from the Java War. First was the use of territorial forces and fortifications (bentengs), while the second was the use of mobile forces (flying columns). Thirdly was the importance of the military role in civilian administration. While perhaps this was not the first time that a military force experimented with territorial and mobile forces or civilian administration, the lessons of the Java War were well-documented into the corpus of Dutch colonial military science. This similar approach was redeployed all across the archipelago, especially in dealing with problematic areas such as in West Kalimantan during the Kongsi wars.24

The second crucible for Dutch counterinsurgency methods was during the Aceh War. In this protracted colonial bloodletting, the war lasted for 40 years, and heavy casualties included the death of 75,000 Acehnese, 12,500 colonial soldiers, and 25,000 laborers in service of the KNIL. After this, Dutch colonial policy experienced a turning point.25 Meanwhile counterinsurgency, by its nature, necessitates the deep understanding of military operations and war making, but also of governance and policing. Indeed, after Aceh, “the lessons and techniques of the Dutch counterinsurgency were incorporated directly into the colonial regime, which allowed for targeted violent suppression to be a regular element of civilian rule.”26

The Dutch indeed learned their lessons from the Java War. In Aceh, the colonial military first institutionalized the mechanisms of civil-military rule. In March 1884, the governor of Aceh, P. F. Laging Tobias, assigned two KNIL officers, a major and a captain, to be officier-civiel gezaghebber (officer-civil authority holder, later civil-militaire gezaghebber or civil-military authority holder) responsible for governing particular areas. In addition to its military tasks, the civil-military administrator was required to establish relations with local chiefs or village heads and arrest, detain, and adjudicate persons in their assigned territory.27

Meanwhile, the Dutch also reinvented the mobile element in their counterinsurgency methods. In 1898, KNIL major J. B. van Heutsz (1851–1924) was assigned military governor of Aceh. Together with the Leiden-trained Indologist Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857–1936), van Heutsz formulated the counterinsurgency strategy based on decapitating the local Acehnese religious leaders (uleebalang).28 To do this, a new form of mobile force was invented. The new unit, the Korps Maréchaussée te Voet, was a light infantry unit capable of long-range raids against the enemy. They consisted of small units of 20–250 men, mostly Javanese, Ambonese, or Manadonese soldiers led by European officers and were armed with both the light Mannlicher M1895 bolt-action rifle and the klewang (sword).29 Many of these Maréchaussée officers subsequently became civilian administrators to oversee regional pacification efforts. Two major examples are Major Gotfried Coenraad Ernst van Daalen (1863–1930) in residency of Pidië, Captain Paul Walter Franz Kaniess (1871–1936) as civil-military administrator in the residency of Gayo Lues, and Captain M. J. J. B. H. Campioni in underdistrict (onderafdeling) Tapa Toean and Meulaboh in 1901 and 1903, respectively.30 These officers did not only oversee defense policy in the region, but they also communicated with local leaders, constructed infrastructure such as roads and schools, gathered taxes, and played the role of judicial authorities in their respective territories.

In 1937, KNIL infantry captain H. A. Reemer wrote an article titled “Dual Function of the Civil and Military Administrator” (Dubbelfunctie van Civiel- en Militair-Bestuurder) in the Indische Militaire Tijdschrift, the Indies’ premier journal for military science. The article elaborates on the various problems of civil administration that will be faced by newly minted KNIL officers. These include managing political relations with local adat leaders, demography, law, education, religion, health, finance and taxation, corvée labor, legal disputes, economy, and local administration.31 While certainly not the only person to write about civil-military officership, Reemer was perhaps the first to coin the term “Dual Function” (dubbelfunctie) in the Dutch-Indonesian corpus of military science, almost 30 years before the Indonesian Army formalized the concept as its foundational doctrine.32



Similar to its colonial predecessor, the TNI had a long experience in participating—or coordinating—with civilian authorities during the Indonesian National Revolution (1945–49). Established at the height of the revolutionary war, the TNI officer corps initially consisted of two groups, the Dutch-educated former KNIL officers and the Japanese-educated former Defenders of the Homeland (Pembela Tanah Air, PETA). It is important to acknowledge that these groups carried two distinct cultures of war into the TNI as an institution. However, it is clear that during the revolution, strategic positions in the TNI high command were held by the former KNIL group.33 The KNIL-trained Abdul Haris Nasution (1918–2000), for instance, was the main strategist behind many of the TNI’s operations during the war. Further, the borders between these two epistemological groups were often less clear-cut than it seems, as many of the KNIL-trained officers such as Nasution, Tahi Bonar Simatupang (1920–90), Gatot Soebroto (1907–62), and Soeharto (1921–2008) also participated in Japanese training during the occupation.34 It is clear that during the revolution, the TNI organized territorial forces such as the Village Security Units (Organisasi Keamanan Desa, OKD) and mobile forces such as the Mobile Command (Komando Angkatan Perang Mobil) in 1948.35

After the revolution, the lessons of previous wars were institutionalized in studies within the Central Education Bureau of the Ministry of Defense (Biro Pendidikan Pusat Kementerian Pertahanan, BPP Kemhan). In the bureau’s publication, the Yudhagama, Indonesian scholar Ki Hadjar Dewantara wrote that, according to Javanese ideology, the military is an inseparable part of society, and the existence of an army with an ideology (tentara jang berideologie) is an inevitability.36 Within Yudhagama, the concept of a civil-military administrator was beginning to be transformed into a new shape. In 1951, Sajidiman Surjohadiprodjo (1926–2021) conceptualized the importance of this liaison role, and he argued for the assignment of military liaison officers (Perwira Penghubung Masyarakat) tasked with maintaining correspondence with local administrators and other important societal figures.37 Decades later, the military liaison officers subsequently became the territorial officer/noncommissioned officer (Perwira/Bintara Territorial) that are still attached to TNI infantry battalions today.38

In 1953, Nasution published Fundamentals of Guerrilla Warfare (Pokok-Pokok Gerilya), which was widely lauded as a handbook in the practice of small wars. Nasution’s conception of a Total People’s War (Perang Rakyat Semesta) in the 1950s remain relevant in Indonesia today, as it is still part of the official TNI doctrine.39 Nasution’s concept of Total People’s War, which was allegedly based on Indonesia’s experiences during the revolution, were focused on two elements: namely, the use of locally recruited militia as territorial forces and professional army units as mobile strike forces.40 Here we can see the repetition of colonial warfare techniques deployed during the Java and Aceh Wars in the early postcolonial era.


TNI and the “Dutch Period”

During the early postrevolutionary years, the socioeconomic situation in Java was fraught with postwar violence. In response to the nature of Indonesia’s security challenges in the early years after the revolution, the TNI focused on policing roles. Initially, the training for these policing roles were shaped during the brief period from 1950–54 when the TNI received the Dutch Military Mission (Nederlands Militaire Missie in Indonesië, NMM) by which “hundreds of Dutch military instructors became an influential factor in Indonesian military history,” where they were embedded in TNI units from the “Command and Staff School down to the battalion training centers.”41 At least 799 TNI officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) took three-month courses on tactics, terrain, pioneering, and ballistics in the infantry school.42 On 17 January 1951, the NMM also played a major initial role in establishing the Army Command and Staff School (Sekolah Staf Komando Angkatan Darat, SSKAD, now SESKOAD), where officers took coursework on political, economic, legal, and sociocultural topics. The SESKOAD was important for the TNI, as “most of the basic ideas of national strategy and policy were formulated there in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before the advent of other schools.”43 At its inception, the SSKAD were manned by Dutch teachers, mostly drawn from the NMM, while its curriculum was modeled on the Higher War College (Hogere Krijgsschool, HKS) at Breda.44

It was during this Dutch period that the TNI developed its early counterinsurgency methods. The TNI adopted many manuals from the Dutch Military Mission. One such manual was the Regulations for the Exercise of Political and Policing Tasks of the Army (Voorschrift voor de Uitoefening van de Politiek-Politioneele Taak van het Leger, VPTL), which was subsequently translated into the Guide for the Political and Policing Task of the Army (Penuntun Pekerdjaan Politik Polisionil Tentara) in 1951.45 These tactics included light infantry operational methods in conducting raids into enemy territory, navigation in tropical environments, intelligence-gathering methods, the use of locals as guides and interpreters, management of field bivouacs, logistical methods, and the procedure for conducting patrols.46 Originally designed for the KNIL, the manual was heavily based on the historical experiences from the Dutch counterinsurgency and policing campaigns during the Aceh War.47 While this is just one example of the many foreign lessons that the TNI eventually adopted, it is clear that the presence of VPTL within the TNI corpus of military knowledge indicates the incorporation of Dutch military thought into the TNI, particularly regarding counterinsurgency and policing tasks.48

In addition to policing techniques, the TNI also developed its legal apparatus, especially when states of emergency were invoked by the government. After the fall of the second Ali Sastroamidjojo cabinet on 14 March 1957, President Soekarno—in cooperation with Nasution, who was chief of staff of the army—unilaterally declared a state of siege (keadaan darurat perang, staat van beleg) for the whole of Indonesia.49 It has been argued that this nationwide declaration of a state of siege immediately “catapulted military commanders everywhere in the country into positions of formidable [legal] authority, such as they had known only during the revolution.”50 This situation of exception also remained under the later laws on the state of emergency: the Law No. 74/1957 and Government Regulation in lieu of Law No. 23/1959.51

The declaration of a state of emergency—and the invoking of executive emergency powers—has been long considered as an important and decisive moment for the army’s entry into Indonesian politics. Indeed, the army had an interest in legal matters since 20 August 1952, when they established the first Military Law School (Sekolah Hukum Militer, later Akademi Hukum Militer, AHM).52 Led by Basarudin Nasution, a protégé of the famed jurist Djokosoetono, the AHM became a study center for army-related legal research, such as on military discipline, criminal law, and martial law.53 During Guided Democracy (and the New Order), many of the army juridical officers played a major role in the nationalization of Dutch enterprises while also promoting the organicist-integralist ideology, thus paving the way for military participation in everyday life in Indonesia.54


Operationalizing Counterinsurgency: On the TNI Civic Mission

As a direct consequence of the developments in its counterinsurgency and juridical capabilities, the stage was set for the TNI to conduct its own policing and civic mission programs. Throughout the 1950s, the TNI gradually developed its doctrines and capabilities in civic mission. In the October 1951 edition of Yudhagama, Colonel Goesti Pangeran Harjo Djatikusumo (1917–92) wrote that “soldiers are not only on the front line for affairs of defense, but they are also on the front lines for the development of the country,” echoing a similar call made by then-armed forces chief of staff, Major General T. B. Simatupang.55

Civic mission operations quickly became an important part of the TNI’s repertoire. The army’s first foray into civic action programs was in 1952, when the West Javanese Siliwangi Division first experimented with “construction battalions” that were split into three phases of operations. First, the TNI participates in national developmental programs in the regions, such as the dispatch of infantry and combat engineer units to the national road projects in West and Southeast Kalimantan. Second, the TNI will transmigrate units of the National Reserve Corps (Corps Tjadangan Nasional, CTN). Third, there was to be a general demobilization of the army, with reductions of 15,000–25,000 personnel per year for three to five years.56

According to a statistical report in 1956, the CTN and its civilian counterpart, the National Reconstruction Bureau (Biro Rekonstruksi Nasional, BRN), managed to relocate a total of 26,585 men and their families to Lampung, South Sumatra, in 1953.57 These initial actions became the basis for the army’s later efforts in civic action operations in the late 1960s, when army divisions, pioneered by the Siliwangi Division, conducted civic action operations in villages affected by the Darul Islam rebellion in Java under the banner of Operasi Bhakti. During their Bhakti operations, the Siliwangi Division repatriated the population while also building and revitalizing houses, mosques, schools, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.58 In addition, these Bhakti operations were part of the main counterinsurgency strategy operated by the Siliwangi Division to eradicate the Darul Islam rebellions in West Java, titled “Petunjuk Pokok Pelaksanaan Pemulihan Keamanan Kodam VI Siliwangi,” or P4K, which was first devised in 1959.59

Throughout the 1960s, the Siliwangi Bhakti operations subsequently became a template for army civic mission projects, which then became an integral part of the Territorial Warfare and Territorial Management Doctrine of the TNI.60 In December 1962, President Soekarno promulgated Presidential Proclamation No. 371 of 1962, which provides the army with political legitimacy in expanding its civic mission projects.61 Meanwhile, in February the following year, the TNI published an influential report on the importance of civic mission operations to the Territorial Management Doctrine, which gradually became the TNI’s main doctrine on national defense.62 This report was followed by a discussion of civic mission, now called “Darma Warga within the SESKOAD, which was subsequently published in its quarterly journal Karya Wira Djati in October.63 In both instances, the rationale for army civic mission operations did not only comprise pacification and normalization of post-conflict areas but also disaster relief and mitigation efforts.64

During the New Order, these Bhakti and Karya operations were expanded, as they became the primary framework for army participation in military operations other than war, which includes civic action programs, research programs, and disaster relief operations.65 In times of natural disasters, for instance during the floods in Lamongan, East Java (1963), the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali (1963), floods in Kediri, East Java (1964), and landslides in Batusangkar, West Sumatra (1979), the armed forces participated in disaster evacuation, rehabilitation, and mitigation efforts.66 During the 1963 eruptions of Mount Agung, for instance, the TNI sent in units for disaster mitigation. The eruptions on March and May 1963 claimed at least 1,500 lives and destroyed 62,000 hectares of productive land, subsequently creating a massive food shortage and dislocation for the local populace.67 The TNI sent in Army Health Corps units under Operation Widjajakusuma.68 During seasonal floods in Central Java, the TNI flew in heavy equipment, food, and materials, while also building bailey bridges and river safety dykes to mitigate future flooding.69 All of these operations were conducted under the label of Bhakti and Karya operations.

Ultimately, however, the TNI’s most ambitious civic mission program was conducted during the New Order. The national civic mission program, the “Armed Forces in the Village” (ABRI Masuk Desa, AMD), was inaugurated in 1980. Mostly operated by the territorial forces of the various Army Regional Commands, the AMD was a quarterly army civic mission program, where various “ABRI units [were sent] into the villages to assist with community development in various fields.”70 In essence, the AMD was quite similar to the Bhakti operations, albeit implemented massively and simultaneously across the country. For an indication of the scale of the project, it should be noted that during Operation Manunggal I (1980), which was the first operation of the ABRI Masuk Desa project, the army deployed 51 companies in 125 villages across Indonesia. In Manunggal V (1981), Jakarta dispatched 61 companies to 187 villages across the archipelago.71 Although the program has been criticized as a tool for surveilling rural populations and promoting the army’s image in the public, the AMD remained a permanent program of the Army Regional Commands at least until 1996.72


Politicizing Counterinsurgency: The Territorial Doctrine

On the 1963 Armed Forces Day, the armed forces chief of staff, General A. H. Nasution declared that the Indonesian Armed Forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, TNI) will follow a “Middle Way” (Jalan Tengah) as its political doctrine. The Middle Way Doctrine, according to Nasution, means that the “armed forces will not try to dominate political processes, yet it will not exist as a ‘dead tool’ in the hands of the civilian government.”73

One year earlier, the Army Command and Staff College (Sekolah Staf dan Komando Angkatan Darat, SESKOAD) published a monograph on the Territorial Warfare Doctrine (Doktrin Perang Wilajah). For the TNI, “Territorial Warfare” implies the “use and development of political, economic, socio-psychological, and military forces which are intertwined during peace and war in maintaining national security.”74 The Territorial Warfare Doctrine differentiates war into five phases, in which the battle was to be driven by three elements, namely mobile strategic reserve units (General Reserve forces), regional territorial units (organic Military Area Command forces), and territorial militia units (People Defense Organizations, Organisasi Pertahanan Rakyat).75

The concepts of “Middle Way” and “Territorial Warfare” then became the ideological basis of Indonesia’s postwar defense doctrine. After the rise of the New Order in 1966, the Middle Way and Territorial Warfare doctrines developed into the Non-Military Function Doctrine (Doktrin Kekaryaan), Management Doctrine (Doktrin Pembinaan), and the Total People’s War Doctrine (Doktrin Perang Rakyat Semesta), which were the foundational parts of the Indonesian Army’s new general official doctrine published in 1966.76 At the political level, these doctrines imply that the armed forces have a dual function (dwifungsi), as a military and a sociopolitical force.77 At the operational level, the “Non-Military Function,” “Management,” and “Total People’s War” concepts heralded the rise of the military-dominated government of the New Order. The army’s territorial system became the tool on the ground, as the archipelago was split into various Military Area Commands (Komando Daerah Militer, Kodam). After 1965, these Military Area Commands were institutionalized as the core of the army’s doctrine.

After the institutionalization of the Army Territorial Doctrine in 1965, civic mission and HA/DR operations were formalized into the TNI’s day-to-day tasks. In 1975, the Territorial Doctrine, which is predicated on the Army’s conduct of Territorial Operations (Operasi Teritorial), also includes Territorial Management Operations (Operasi Pembinaan Territorial) and Internal Security Operations (Operasi Keamanan Dalam Negeri). While the Internal Security Operations were generally policing operations, the Territorial Management Operations included military operations in infrastructure construction, reforestation, public information campaigns, natural disaster mitigation, intelligence, policing, and other operations that are currently categorized as MOOTW.78 According to one field manual for TNI Military District commanders, “the objective of Territorial Management is to establish maximum and effective national resilience through a welfare and security approach [in order to] achieve the national goal.”79 Thus, throughout much of Soeharto’s New Order, the TNI participated in MOOTW operations, whether it was in the name of national security, development, or disaster management.


From Counterinsurgency to Emergency?: Post-Reformasi State of Emergency and Civil-Military Relations

After the fall of Soeharto’s New Order and the advent of democratization in 1998, Indonesia embarked on major security-sector reforms. One of the important steps of these reforms was the abolition of the Dual Function doctrine through the promulgation of Law 34/2004 on the TNI.80 After 2004, the TNI lost the political privileges that it enjoyed during the New Order. Nevertheless, the TNI maintained its logic of counterinsurgency in contemporary times. This fact is reflected in the maintenance of the territorial system, as army units are still organized in various Army Regional Commands across the country, although the country has moved on from postrevolutionary chaos and military authoritarian rule. Consequently, it was necessary to find a new output for these territorial forces and their expertise in nonmilitary work. Military participation in nonmilitary affairs found new relevance in MOOTW activities, which currently includes peacekeeping, HA/DR, and counterterrorism.81

One of the primary markets for TNI MOOTW is disaster management. This fact was evident during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Aceh, which was a major turning point for Indonesian disaster management. One of the most devastating natural disasters in modern Indonesian history, the tsunami caused 131,029 fatalities, 37,066 missing, and 572,126 people displaced.82 It was during the Aceh HA/DR operations that the TNI found its new role as a significant player in the business of disaster relief. The National Coordinating Body for Disaster and Evacuees Management (Badan Koordinasi Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana dan Penanganan Pengungsi, Bakornas PBP) was immediately authorized to manage half of the 40,000 TNI personnel in the area tasked with security.83 However, the Bakarnas PBP was unable to effectively function, as the body “had neither real assets, nor implementation, policy-making or enforcement powers.”84 Therefore, many disaster-relief operations were independently conducted by the local Army Regional Subcommands and District Subcommands (Korem and Kodim) in Aceh, in which units conducted initial search and rescue operations and management of refugee shelters during the early phase of the disaster response.85 Throughout much of the early post-disaster recovery phase, TNI units, particularly engineering battalions that were equipped with amphibious vehicles, excavators, and bridge-laying equipment were dispatched to reestablish land connections between the provincial capital of Banda Aceh and the other parts of the province.86

After Aceh, Indonesia further incorporated the military into its national disaster-response frameworks. First was through Law No. 24/2007 on Disaster Management and the inauguration of the National Disaster Management Agency (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana, BNPB) in January 2008. The new body is tasked as the nation’s leading agency in disaster management while also coordinating other governmental and civil organizations, including the military and police.87 Subsequently, military participation in domestic MOOTW was legitimized through these functions, which in turn was also continuously developed and trained as an internal capability of the army through its territorial operations.88 Indeed, it is not wrong to say that in Indonesia, the field of disaster management is relatively dominated by the military or its former members.

After the post-Aceh emergency management reforms, the Indonesian defense establishment also developed its own disaster management systems. In 2010, the TNI inaugurated the Disaster Mitigation Quick Response Force (Pasukan Reaksi Cepat Penanggulangan Bencana, PRCPB), a centralized joint quick response force consisting of two battalions of army engineers.89 One year later, the Indonesian Ministry of Defense (MOD) published a regulation that formalizes the tasks for TNI HA/DR missions, which includes rescue and evacuation of victims, the fulfillment of basic needs, protection for vulnerable groups in the population, management of refugees, and the restoration of public facilities and infrastructure.90 This MOD regulation was expanded in 2015, with further provisions governing the possibility of deploying TNI units in domestic and international HA/DR operations in three phases: predisaster or mitigation phase, emergency management phase, and post-disaster or reconstruction/rehabilitation phase.91

The MOD regulation also stipulates that in the case of a national-level emergency, the BNPB may officially request assistance from the TNI, while for local-level emergencies, the governor, regent, or mayor of the affected area may immediately request military assistance from a local TNI unit commander.92 Accordingly, after 2015, the TNI has a relatively robust and secure legal and operational framework for its HA/DR roles.93

In Indonesia, the organic personnel attached to the Disaster Management Quick Response Force and the various Regional Military Commands became the twin spearhead for military HA/DR responses, reflecting the Army’s Territorial Warfare Doctrine in practice.94 This illustrates how emergency management in Indonesia has become militarized as the current pattern echoes the older colonial and Cold War-era logic of counterinsurgency: the deployment of territorial and mobile forces in responding to perceived threats.


Current and Future Challenges for the Military Role in Emergency Management in Indonesia

Military participation in strictly nonmilitary operations such as emergency response against disasters poses its own problems and challenges. To be clear, military participation in HA/DR is not a uniquely Indonesian phenomenon, nor is it an indication of an undemocratic or illiberal political system. Two democratic nation-states, such as Japan and the United States, serve as examples. After the end of the Second World War and its inception in 1954, the role of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) has been primarily focused on MOOTW such as HA/DR and civil engineering operations, which has been beneficial in fostering a close relationship with civilians.95 One major example of HA/DR operations conducted by the Self-Defense Forces was during the great eastern Japan earthquake on 11 March 2011, which saw at least 100,000 JSDF personnel mobilized to provide relief and help with the evacuation of survivors.96

During the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 4,900 JSDF personnel played a major role in containment, testing, and logistics support at important sites such as airports and quarantine centers.97 Indeed, for a country that outlaws war in its constitution, the JSDF enjoys broad support from its civilian counterparts as indicated by the record defense budget by the Fumio Kishida administration in 2021, although this raise in funding may also be attributed to the worsening security environment in East Asia.98

In the United States, the primary agency for emergency management is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has the capability of calling in military assistance in responding to disasters. Furthermore, within the United States armed forces itself, the tradition of the military’s role in MOOTW has a long history, as it was part of the civic mission and counterinsurgency techniques developed during the Cold War.99 Within the domestic context, the armed forces in the United States—whether active duty, reserves, or National Guards—also often play major roles in emergency management, such as during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, in which the military played a leading role in disaster response.100

In Indonesia, however, the military’s role in emergency management has its own challenges. The current operational approach employed by the TNI in emergency management, which echoes the classic logic of counterinsurgency by emphasizing the use of territorial and mobile forces is problematic in several ways. First, problems may arise when a particular type of disaster that necessitates centralized control and specialized knowledge, such as pandemics, emerge. In the face of its extensive emergency-management system, Indonesia’s initial response to COVID-19 was far from satisfactory.101 It is questionable whether the TNI has sufficient institutional capability in responding to a widespread biological emergency such as COVID-19. In contrast with Japan and the United States, which possess robust military health and medicine research capacities, TNI’s capability in medical research is rather limited—it relies on the development of new research in collaboration with private research institutions such as universities.102

Furthermore, in contrast to the militarized relationship between the BNPB and the TNI, the disaster-management system in the United States and Japan are led by civilian institutions and personnel that are specialized in emergency management rather than soldiers that are trained to be first responders.103 Last but not least, the safety of TNI soldiers is also an important concern, as a substantial number of TNI personnel have been infected throughout the pandemic.104

Another challenge for the TNI is related to military politics and Indonesia’s long trauma with army rule. There is always a potential, however remote, for MOOTW operations to become a pretext for legitimizing military participation in nonmilitary affairs, whether for the benefit of civilian politicians or for the army’s own political purposes. One research article suggests that the widespread military role in the COVID-19 crisis has been used by army elites to advance their own institutional agenda.105 Meanwhile, other research has indicated that, even before the pandemic started, the TNI had exhibited a pattern of using MOOTW operations in its efforts to maintain its institutional legacy from the Soeharto years.106 Additional research evaluating TNI’s performance in disaster response indicates that there is a need to simplify bureaucratic and legal barriers, ramp up the quantity of military quick response forces, and decentralize the current command and control structure by delegating command authority to regional heads (i.e., governors or regents vis-à-vis the Army Military Region commanders).107 This approach, however, may be problematic in the context of a pandemic, as it calls for institutional expansion in an already bloated organization: after May 2020, the TNI already deployed 340,000 personnel to 29 provinces, cities, and regencies that have high numbers of infections.108 The TNI’s village noncommissioned officers (Bintara Pembina Desa, Babinsa) are back patrolling the streets again, now enforcing pandemic regulations rather than looking for rebel supporters or political insurgents.109 Hence, in light of the already semi-militarized public policy in Indonesia’s response to COVID-19, there is the possibility that the expansion of the logic of counterinsurgency in disaster management will lead to rising military influence in civilian affairs.110

Within the emergency-response framework, however, the Indonesian government still uses the TNI as a spearhead in the integrated response against the COVID-19 emergency.111 This militarization of pandemic response in Indonesia invited a mixed response, as critics indicate that the effectiveness of military and police participation is questionable, while supporters have lauded the TNI’s role in enforcing discipline.112 Nevertheless, it is possible that continued or expanding military participation in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic may substantially affect the legitimacy of TNI participation in domestic MOOTW projects in the future.



This article has explored the historical origins of the role of the military in emergency management in Indonesia. The article argues that the Indonesian military’s role in emergencies originated in its tradition of counterinsurgency operations. In Indonesia, the roots of military participation in nonmilitary tasks—or in contemporary language, MOOTW—dates back to Dutch colonial counterinsurgency techniques, Indonesian revolutionary experiences, and postrevolutionary military doctrine. Indonesia’s unique history has provided the country’s armed forces with the theoretical background and practical experience in developing its doctrine on MOOTW. Historically, this fact has also laid the foundation for military politics and the authoritarian regime under Soeharto. After the fall of Soeharto’s New Order in 1998, military participation in nonmilitary affairs has been severely curtailed.

After the Aceh tsunami of 2004, however, the TNI received a new opportunity, namely in the field of disaster management. Disaster management in Indonesia is heavily militarized, as the country relies on the TNI as a primary response force, while the nation’s BNPB is also led by military or former military personnel. To a certain extent, this phenomenon is driven by the long tradition of employing military forces in MOOTW. The TNI has the capacity for responding to disasters as part of its territorial system. The emergence of the concept of MOOTW in military parlance also further legitimizes this military role in emergency response. Indeed, as this article has shown, the TNI has redeployed its logic of counterinsurgency: the institution has relied on the dispatch of territorial and mobile forces in responding to various emergencies and disasters.

Meanwhile, the “counterinsurgency approach” to emergency management is also problematic when the TNI has to deal with emergencies that require a high level of centralization and specialized knowledge such as the current COVID-19 crisis. Unlike in counterinsurgency operations, pouring a massive amount of manpower into a troubled territory certainly will not solve a pandemic. As this article has shown, the TNI’s continued role in disaster management in the future may pose a problem for the TNI itself, as it invites scrutiny of the military, especially if the military reactivated and redeployed old institutions and techniques that were used during the New Order, such as the village noncommissioned officers, albeit packaged in the new concept of MOOTW. Consequently, further developments in laws, doctrines, and rules of engagement regarding a military role in MOOTW remains to be a future challenge for Indonesian military thinkers.


  1. Surat Keputusan Kepala Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana No. 9a Tahun 2020 (2020).
  2. The term itself is quite hard to translate. Keadaan means condition and tertentu means particular. The term itself, however, refers to something more like “current circumstances.” Peraturan Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana Republik Indonesia No. 5 Tahun 2018 Tentang Kondisi Dan Tata Cara Pelaksanaan Penyelenggaraan Penanggulangan Bencana Dalam Keadaan Tertentu (Jakarta: Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana, 2018), article 5–8.
  3. The term state of exception is defined by Agamben as the “no-man’s land between public law and political fact, and between the juridical order and life.” Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, trans. Kevin Attell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 1.
  4. “Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia No. 6 Tahun 2018 Tentang Kekarantinaan Kesehatan,” hukumonline, 2018; and “Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia No. 24 Tahun 2007 Tentang Penanggulangan Bencana,”, accessed 29 March 2022.
  5. Keputusan Presiden No. 11 Tahun 2020 Tentang Penetapan Kedaruratan Kesehatan Masyarakat Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),, 2020; Keputusan Presiden No. 12 Tahun 2020 Tentang Penetapan Bencana Nonalam Penyebaran Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Sebagai Bencana Nasional,, 2020; and Keputusan Presiden No. 7 Tahun 2020 Tentang Gugus Tugas Percepatan Penanganan Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),, 2020.
  6. Peraturan Pemerintah RI No. 21 Tahun 2020 Tentang Pembatasan Sosial Berskala Besar Dalam Rangka Percepatan Penanganan Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID19),, 2020.
  7. “PSBB Belum Efektif, Kenapa?,”, 19 April 2020.
  8. “Ragam Masalah Kebijakan Saat Pandemi Covid-19,”, 5 August 2021.
  9. The BNPB Chiefs were MajGen Syamsul Maarif (2008–15), RAdm Willem Rampangilei (2015–19), LtGen Doni Monardo (2019–21), LtGen Ganip Warsito (May–November 2021), and MajGen Suharyanto (November 2021–present).
  10. For instance, see Irwan Syambudi, “LaporCOVID-19: TNI Dan Polri Dominasi Penanganan Pandemi Corona,”, 18 August 2021.
  11. “Saat Jokowi Rencanakan Darurat Sipil Hadapi Pandemi Covid-19,”, 31 March 2020.
  12. Wahyuni Sahara, “Muhadjir Effendy Analogikan Indonesia Hadapi Covid-19 Seperti Darurat Militer,”, 16 July 2021.
  13. For instance, the law explicitly refers to the role of a first minister (Menteri Pertama) as part of the authority holder for a state of emergency. This position has been abolished since the late 1960s. Further, see Friski Riana, “Jokowi Singgung Darurat Sipil, Pengamat: Lari Dari Tanggung Jawab,”, 31 March 2020; and “Pakar Hukum Sebut Muhadjir Keliru Soal Darurat Militer Covid,” CNN Indonesia, 17 July 2021.
  14. Harold A. Crouch, The Army and Politics in Indonesia (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2007), 22; and Salim Said, Genesis of Power: General Sudirman and the Indonesian Military in Politics, 1945–49 (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1991), 2.
  15. Ulf Sundhaussen, Politik militer Indonesia 1945–1967: menuju dwi fungsi ABRI (Jakarta: LP3ES, 1986), ix–x.
  16. Peter Britton, Profesionalisme Dan Ideologi Militer Indonesia: Perspektif Tradisi-Tradisi Jawa Dan Barat. (Jakarta: LP3ES, 1996), 226; Rudolf Mrázek, The United States and the Indonesian Military, 1945–1965, vol. 1, Dissertationes Orientales, no. 39 (Prague: Oriental Institute in Academia, Publishing House of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, 1978); and Rudolf Mrázek, The United States and the Indonesian Military, 1945–1965, vol. 2, Dissertationes Orientales, no. 39 (Prague: Oriental Institute in Academia, Publishing House of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, 1978).
  17. Pancasila: (The Five Silas) is Indonesia’s national ideology. Katharine E. McGregor, History in Uniform: Military Ideology and the Construction of Indonesia’s Past, Southeast Asia Publications Series (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007), 216.
  18. For instance, see Thomas Rid, “The Nineteenth Century Origins of Counterinsurgency Doctrine,” Journal of Strategic Studies 33, no. 5 (October 2010): 727–58,
  19. Insurgencies and Countering Insurgencies, U.S. Army Field Manual 3-24 and Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 3-33.5 (Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Army, 2014), 1–2; and David Kilcullen, Counterinsurgency (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 1.
  20. H. L. Wesseling, “Koloniale Oorlogen En Gewapende Vrede, 1871–1914,” Tijdschrift Voor Geschiedenis, no. 91 (1978): 478–89.
  21. P. B. R. Carey, The Power of Prophecy: Prince Dipanagara and the End of an Old Order in Java, 17851855, Verhandelingen van Het Koninklijk Instituut Voor Taal-, Land-En Volkenkunde 249 (Leiden, Netherlands: KITLV Press, 2007), 646.
  22. Carey, The Power of Prophecy, 647.
  23. The Dutch fort commanders promised “free ploughs, draught animals and seeds if [the population] moved to areas under their control. They also lowered tax rates, diminished corvée demands, and paid higher rates for day labourers in the immediate vicinity of their fortified outposts to encourage the settlement of peasant cultivators and their families.” Carey, The Power of Prophecy, 651–52.
  24. J. A. de Moor, “Warmakers in the Archipelago: Dutch Expeditions in Nineteenth Century Indonesia,” in Imperialism and War: Essays on Colonial Wars in Asia and Africa, ed. J. A. de Moor and H. L. Wesseling (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1989), 60.
  25. Petra M. H. Groen, “Colonial Warfare and Military Ethics in the Netherlands East Indies, 1816–1941,” Journal of Genocide Research 14, no. 3–4 (2012): 284,; and Henk Schulte Nordholt, “A Genealogy of Violence,” in Roots of Violence in Indonesia: Contemporary Violence in Historical Perspective, ed. Freek Colombijn and J. Th. Lindblad (Leiden, Netherlands: KITLV Press, 2002), 36–37. Paul van’t Veer’s De Atjeh-Oorlog was translated as Perang Aceh: Kisah Kegagalan Snouck Hurgronje. Paul van’t Veer, De Atjeh-Oorlog (Amsterdam: Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers,1979); and Paul van’t Veer, Perang Aceh: Kisah Kegagalan Snouck Hurgronje (Jakarta: Grafitipers, 1985).
  26. Andrew Goss, “Mobile Warriors and Cosmopolitan Intellectuals: The Legacy of the Dutch Counterinsurgency in Colonial Aceh,” in Insurgency and Counterinsurgency: Irregular Warfare from 1800 to the Present, Proceedings of the XXXVI International Congress of Military History, Amsterdam, 2010, ed. Thijs Brocades Zaalberg, Jan Hoffenaar, and Alan Lemmers (Amsterdam: Netherlands Institute for Military History, 2010), 625.
  27. H. W. van den Doel, “Military Rule in the Netherlands Indies,” in The Late Colonial State in Indonesia: Political and Economic Foundations of the Netherlands Indies, 1880–1942, ed. R. B. Cribb, Verhandelingen van Het Koninklijk Instituut Voor Taal, Land-En Volkenkunde 163 (Leiden, Netherlands: KITLV Press, 1994), 61.
  28. Snouck Hurgronje’s famous 1892 report, Atjeh-verslag, is published in the Ambtelijke Adviezen van C. Snouck Hurgronje that was translated to Indonesian as Nasihat-Nasihat C. Snouck Hurgronje Semasa Kepegawaiannya Kepada Pemerintah Hindia Belanda. An extended version of the report was published as the two-book monograph De Atjèhers, in 1893. C. Snouck Hurgronje, De Atjèhers, 2 vols. (Batavia, Dutch East Indies: Landsdrukkerij, 1893); E. Gobée and C. Adriaanse, Nasihat-Nasihat C. Snouck Hurgronje Semasa Kepegawaiannya Kepada Pemerintah Hindia Belanda, vol. 1, Seri Khusus Indonesia Netherlands Cooperation in Islamic Studies (INIS) (Jakarta: Indonesia Netherlands Cooperation in Islamic Studies [INIS], 1990), 106; and E. Gobée and C. Adriaanse, eds., Ambtelijke Adviezen van C. Snouck Hurgronje, vol. 1 (Gravenhage, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 1957), Inleiding.
  29. Groen, “Colonial Warfare and Military Ethics in the Netherlands East Indies,” 287.
  30. Doel, “Military Rule in the Netherlands Indies,” 72–73. Born in East Prussia in 1871, Paul Walter Franz Kaniess was a Maréchaussée officer who served in Sulawesi from 1906–8 and Aceh from 1909–12. Nicknamed “Father of the Gayos” in his obituary, Kaniess was famous for his role in the pacification of the Gayo region during his tenure as civil-military administrator. See “In Memoriam Captain Paul Walter Franz Kaniess,” Indische Militair Tijdschrift, no. 67 (1936). Capt Marie Joseph Jan Baptiste Hubert Campioni (1868–1904) was a Maréchaussée officer serving in Aceh from 1895 until his death in 1904. “In Memoriam Captain Marie Joseph Jan Baptiste Hubert Campioni,” Indische Militair Tijdschrift, no. 35 (1904).
  31. A. Reemer, “Dubbelfunctie van Civiel-En Militair-Bestuurder [Dual Function of Civil and Military Administrator],” Indische Militair Tijdschrift, no. 68 (1937).
  32. On other Indische Militair Tijdschrift articles discussing civil-military cooperation in the colonial context of the Indies, inter alia: J. Drewes, “De Nieuwe ‘Regeling van de Verhouding En de Samenwerking Tusschen Burgerlijke En Militaire Gezaghebber’ Vastgesteld Bij Gouv.Besluit van 20 Juni 1927 No.1 (Staatsblad 1927 No. 345), A.O. 1927 No.11,” Indische Militair Tijdschrift, no. 58 (1927); A. M. Sierevelt, “Een Voorbeld Tot Waarschuwing,” Indische Militair Tijdschrift, no. 56 (1925); L. Wijerman, “Leger En Politie,” Indische Militair Tijdschrift, no. 63 (1932): 159–66; and A. M. Sierevelt, “Leger En Politie,” Indische Militair Tijdschrift, no. 63 (1932): 385–94.
  33. Benedict R. O’G. Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and Resistance, 1944–1946 (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2006), 234–35.
  34. On the impact of Japanese occupation on Nasution’s thought and Gatot Subroto’s Dutch and Japanese training, see Barry Turner, A.H. Nasution and Indonesia’s Elites: “People’s Resistance” in the War of Independence and Postwar Politics (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018); and Moh Oemar, Jenderal Gatot Subroto, Pahlawan Nasional (Jakarta: Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, 2006).
  35. Saleh As’ad Djamhari, Ichtisar Sedjarah Perdjuangan ABRI (1945–Sekarang) An Overview of the History of the Struggle of the ABRI [1945–Now] (Jakarta: Pusat Sejarah ABRI, Departemen Pertahanan-Keamanan [Centre for the History of the Armed Forces, Department of Defence and Security], 1971), 37–41.
  36. K. H. Dewantara, “Ketentaraan Dan Kebudajaan,” Yudhagama, no. 8 (May 1951): 316–17.
  37. Sajidiman Soerjohadiprodjo, “Penjelesaian Suatu Perang Gerilja,” Yudhagama, no. 9 (June 1951): 327.
  38. Most famous are the village guidance noncommissioned officers (Bintara Pembina Desa, Babinsa). Sajidiman Soerjohadiprodjo, “Batalion Infanteri Sebagai Inti Pertahanan Indonesia,” Yudhagama, no. 16 (January 1952): 597–98.
  39. On 11 November 2019, Indonesian defense minister Prabowo Subianto mentioned to the parliament that Indonesian defense policy will still use the concept of Pertahanan Rakyat Semesta (Total People’s Defense), a concept that is based on the nation’s historical experiences. It is clear that Prabowo refers to Nasution’s conception in this case. “Konsep Pertahanan Rakyat Semesta Yang Diperjuangkan Prabowo,” CNN Indonesia, accessed 23 February 2021; “Prabowo: Jika Terpaksa, Kita Lakukan Perang Semesta Rakyat,” CNN Indonesia, 11 November 2019; and Kristian Erdianto, “Konsep Pertahanan Rakyat Semesta Lima Tahun Ke Depan Ala Prabowo . . .”, 12 November 2019.
  40. Abdul Haris Nasution, Pokok-Pokok Gerilya Dan Pertahanan Republik Indonesia di Masa yang Lalu dan yang akan Datang [Fundamentals of Guerilla Warfare and the Defense of the Republic of Indonesia in the Past and in the Future] (Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Narasi, 2012), 90.
  41. Mrázek, The United States and the Indonesian Military, 1945–1965, vol. 1, 83.
  42. Verslag van de Werkzaamheden van de Voorlopige Nederlandse Militaire Missie in Indonesie. Afgesloten 15 November 1950 [Reports on the Activities of the Provisional Dutch Military Mission in Indonesia. Concluded on 15 November 1950] (Jakarta: Voorlopige Nederlandse Militaire Missie in Indonesie [Provisional Dutch Military Mission in Indonesia], 1950), 9–10.
  43. Charles Donald McFetridge, “Seskoad: Training the Elite,” Indonesia, no. 36 (October 1983): 88.
  44. At the inauguration of the first SSKAD cohort in November 1951, there were 18 Dutch instructors, 12 of them from the NMM. Compare this to six Indonesian military and civilian instructors. SESKOAD: Sejarah Perkembangan Dan Pengabdiannya (Jakarta: Dinas Sejarah Angkatan Darat [Army Historical Service], 2016), 140.
  45. Staf Umum Angkatan Darat Kementerian Pertahanan Republik Indonesia [Army General Staff Ministry of Defence Republic of Indonesia], Penuntun Pekerdjaan Politik Polisionil Tentara [Regulation for the Exercise of the Political-Police Tasks of the Army], no. 6515 (Jakarta: Masa Baru, 1952).
  46. Voorschrift Voor de Uitoefening van de Politiek-Politioneele Taak van Het Leger [Regulations for the Exercise of the Political-Police Task of the Army] (Batavia, Dutch East Indies: Reproductiebedrijf, 1937).
  47. G. Teitler, “Voorlopers van Het VPTL, 1928–1829: Een Terugblik,” Militaire Spectator 170, no. 5 (2001): 268; and J. A. De Moor, “Colonial Warfare: Theory and Practice. The Dutch Experience in Indonesia,” Journal of the Japan-Netherlands Institute, no. 2 (1990): 104.
  48. This is in contrast to the Japanese influence, which did leave an ideological footprint yet no doctrinal manual of any sort. The Japanese also did not return to train the TNI in the 1950s. Another major influence is the Americans, which only arrived in the 1960s.
  49. The colonial Regulations on the State of War and Siege refers to two legal situations that may be invoked by the state. First is a State of War/Keadaan Perang (Staat van Oorlog) and second is a heavier, harsher State of Siege/Keadaan Darurat Perang (Staat van Beleg). Keputusan Presiden No. 40 Tahun 1957,, 1957.
  50. Daniel S. Lev, The Transition to Guided Democracy: Indonesian Politics, 1957–1959 (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2009), 16.
  51. Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 74 Tahun 1957 Tentang Pencabutan “Regeling Op de Staat van Oorlog En Beleg” Dan Penetapan “Keadaan Bahaya,”, 1957.
  52. Korps Perwira Mahasiswa, Buku Kenang-Kenangan Perwira Mahasiswa Angkatan Ke-V Akademi Hukum Militer Dan Peringatan 17 Tahun Akademi Hukum Militer (Jakarta: Akademi Hukum Militer-Perguruan Tinggi Hukum Militer, 1969), 15.
  53. Corps Perwira-Siswa Akademi Hukum Militer, Peringatan 1 Tahun Sekolah Hukum Militer (Jakarta: Akademi Hukum Militer, 1953), 7, 17.
  54. Crouch, The Army and Politics in Indonesia, 38–39; and David Bourchier, Illiberal Democracy in Indonesia: The Ideology of the Family State (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2016), 240–41.
  55. G. P. H. Djatikusumo, “5 Oktober Hari Angkatan Perang,” Yudhagama, no. 13 (October 1951): 487; and T. B. Simatupang, “Pidato Kepala Staf Angkatan Perang Untuk 5 Oktober 1951,” Yudhagama, no. 13 (October 1951): 477.
  56. A. H. Nasution, “Tentara Menjumbangkan Tenaga Untuk Pembangunan,” Yudhagama, no. 19 (April 1952): 724–26.
  57. According to the statistics, the CTN relocated 12,037 men, while the BRN 14,548 men. These numbers do not include the families of the men transferred. See Biro Pusat Statistik, Statistik 1956 (Jakarta: Biro Pusat Statistik, 1956), 16; and Herbert Feith, The Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2007), 81.
  58. Disjarahdam VI/Siliwangi, Siliwangi Dari Masa Ke Masa, Edisi ke-2 (Bandung, Indonesia: Penerbit Angkasa, 1979), 349–57.
  59. Kodam VI/Siliwangi, Esa Hilang Dua Terbilang. Album Kenangan Kodam VI/Siliwangi, 1946–1977 (Bandung, Indonesia: Angkasa 1977), 34; and Kilcullen, Counterinsurgency, 90.
  60. Guy J. Pauker, The Indonesian Doctrine of Territorial Warfare and Territorial Management (Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 1963), 38.
  61. “Keputusan Presiden No. 371 Tahun 1962” (1962).
  62. S. Sokowati, T.N.I Dan Civic-Mission Suatu Aspek Pembinaan Wilayah , Penerbitan Chusus 251 (Jakarta: Departemen Penerangan Republik Indonesia [Ministry of Information, Republic of Indonesia], 1963).
  63. R. Soedarto, “Darma Warga Angkatan Bersenjata Dan Pembangunan Negara,” Karya Wira Djati (Madjalah Resmi Sekolah Staf Dan Komando Angkatan Darat), no. 10 (1963): 419–28.
  64. Sokowati, T.N.I Dan Civic-Mission Suatu Aspek Pembinaan Wilayah , 27; and Soedarto, “Darma Warga Angkatan Bersenjata Dan Pembangunan Negara,” 420–22.
  65. Markas Besar Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia, 30 Tahun Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia (Jakarta: Pusat Sejarah dan Tradisi ABRI, 1976), 280.
  66. 66. Markas Besar Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia, 30 Tahun Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia, 280–81; and Markas Besar Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia, 40 Tahun Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia (Jakarta: Pusat Sejarah dan Tradisi ABRI, 1985), 376–77.
  67. Geoffrey Robinson, The Dark Side of Paradise: Political Violence in Bali (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995), 239.
  68. Soedarto, “Darma Warga Angkatan Bersenjata Dan Pembangunan Negara,” 421–22.
  69. Visual Momentum of the Indonesian Armed Forces’ “Operasi-Bhakti” (Civic Mission) (Jakarta: Kementerian Pertahanan dan Keamanan, 1972), 29–33.
  70. Jun Honna, Military Politics and Democratization in Indonesia (London: Routledge, 2003), 60; and Tinjauan ABRI Masuk Desa (Tahap I) [Overview of the ABRI Masuk Desa (Phase I)] (Jakarta: Staf Teritorial Mabes TNI-AD, 1980), iii–v.
  71. Dinas Penerangan Angkatan Darat, Sewindu TNI-ABRI Masuk Desa, 1980–1988 (Jakarta: Dinas Penerangan Angkatan Darat, 1988).
  72. The program is currently revived as the TNI Manunggal Masuk Desa (TMMD). Honna, Military Politics and Democratization in Indonesia, 60; and Donald E. Weatherbee, “Indonesia’s Armed Forces: Rejuvenation and Regeneration,” in Southeast Asian Affairs, ed. Huynh Kim Khanh (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies 1982), 152.
  73. Angel Rabasa and John B. Haseman, The Military and Democracy in Indonesia: Challenges, Politics, and Power (Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 2002), 10.
  74. Territorial warfare is described as “a form of war that is universal (semesta), predicated upon the whole use of national forces in total, with priorities to military forces as its main element of strength, in order to decide the end of the war through counteroffensive, in order to protect the nation’s sovereignty.” Sekolah Staf dan Komando Departemen Angkatan Darat, Doktrin Perang Wilajah, NS 1124-01 (Bandung, Indonesia: Sekolah Staf dan Komando Angkatan Darat [SESKOAD], 1962), 3, 7.
  75. Sekolah Staf dan Komando Departemen Angkatan Darat, Doktrin Perang Wilajah, attachment.
  76. The Indonesian Army’s first official doctrine, the “Three Sacred Vows” (Tri Ubaya Çakti), was published in the First Army Seminar in 1965. After the rise of the New Order in 1966, the doctrine was revised by the army leaders to erase references to Soekarnoist revolutionary concepts. The new doctrine was called the Catur Dharma Eka Karma. Honna, Military Politics and Democratization in Indonesia, 233n5.
  77. David Jenkins, “The Evolution of Indonesian Army Doctrinal Thinking: The Concept of Dwifungsi,” Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science 11, no. 2 (1983): 24–25; and David Jenkins, Suharto and His Generals: Indonesian Military Politics, 1975–1983 (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2010), 258.
  78. Markas Besar Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat, Buku Petunjuk Lapangan Teritorial Komando Distrik Militer (Jakarta: Departemen Pertahanan Keamanan, 1975), 62–65.
  79. Markas Besar Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat, Buku Petunjuk Lapangan Teritorial Komando Distrik Militer, 41.
  80. Article 39 of Law 34/2004 states that soldiers and officers are not allowed to become members of a political party, participate in politics, conduct business, or be elected to legislative offices and other political positions. See M. Mietzner and L. Misol, “Military Businesses in Post-Suharto Indonesia: Decline, Reform and Persistence,” in The Politics of Military Reform: Experiences from Indonesia and Nigeria, ed. J. Rüland, M. G. Manea, and H. Born (Heidelberg, Germany: Springer, 2013), 112; and “Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia No. 34 Tahun 2004 Tentang Tentara Nasional Indonesia,” (2004), articles 2 and 39.
  81. In Indonesia, MOOTW (Operasi Militer Selain Perang, OMSP) was legitimized as one of the TNI’s main tasks under Law 34/2004 on the TNI. Prior to its current formulation, the concept of MOOTW/OMSP was first adopted through Law No. 03/2002 on National Defence and the 2003 Defence White Paper (Defence Ministry). Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia No. 34 Tahun 2004 Tentang Tentara Nasional Indonesia, article 7; and Muhamad Haripin, Civil-Military Relations in Indonesia: The Politics of Military Operations Other Than War, Routledge Security in Asia Series (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2020), 8, 9.
  82. R. C. Morrow and D. M. Llewellyn, “Tsunami Overview,” Military Medicine 171, no. 10 (2006): 61–62,
  83. The TNI was deployed in Aceh for counterinsurgency operations against the Acehnese Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka). Sharon Wiharta, ed., The Effectiveness of Foreign Military Assets in Natural Disaster Response (Stockholm: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2008), 90.
  84. Wiharta, The Effectiveness of Foreign Military Assets in Natural Disaster Response, 89.
  85. Winner Fradana Dieng, “Indonesia Military Roles in Disaster Response” (master’s thesis, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 2020), 43.
  86. Wiharta, The Effectiveness of Foreign Military Assets in Natural Disaster Response, 90–91.
  87. Haripin, Civil-Military Relations in Indonesia, 63.
  88. Haripin, Civil-Military Relations in Indonesia, 63.
  89. Yanfri Satria Sanjaya, I. Gede Sumertha K. Y., and Beni Rudiawan, “Kapabilitas Pasukan Reaksi Cepat Penanggulangan Bencana (PRCPB) Yonzipur 10/2 Kostrad Terhadap Penanganan Bencana Alam Banjir Bandang Di Bima NTB,” Jurnal Strategi Dan Kampanye Militer 4, no. 2 (2018): 68.
  90. MOD Regulation No. 09/2011 (Peraturan Menteri Pertahanan Republik Indonesia No. 9/2011); and Darma Agung, “Bencana Alam, Militer, Dan Pertahanan Negara,” Wira: Media Informasi Kementerian Pertahanan 3, no. 3 (2019): 7.
  91. MOD Regulation No. 06/2015 (Peraturan Menteri Pertahanan Republik Indonesia No. 6/2015).
  92. According to MOD Regulation No. 06/2015 articles 16 and 10, this may be a military district (Komando Distrik Militer), naval base, or air base commander (usually colonel or lieutenant colonel). See also Haripin, Civil-Military Relations in Indonesia, 74–75.
  93. Haripin, Civil-Military Relations in Indonesia, 74–75.
  94. Haripin, Civil-Military Relations in Indonesia, 74.
  95. Tomoyuki Sasaki, Japan’s Postwar Military and Civil Society: Contesting a Better Life, SOAS Studies in Modern and Contemporary Japan (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015), 16.
  96. Yuki Tatsumi, Great Eastern Japan Earthquake: “Lessons Learned” for Japanese Defense Policy (Washington, DC: Stimson, November 2012), 3.
  97. “Japan Self-Defense Force Engagement in Response to COVID-19,” Ministry of Defense, Japan, 18 May 2020, 4–11.
  98. Kosuke Takahashi, “Japan Approves Record Extra Defense Budget,” Diplomat, 26 November 2021.
  99. See Andrew J. Birtle, U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1860–1941 (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army, 2004); and John W. De Pauw and George A. Luz, Winning the Peace: The Strategic Implications of Military Civic Action (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 1990).
  100. See James A. Wombwell, Army Support during the Hurricane Katrina Disaster, Long War Series Occasional Paper 29 (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2009).
  101. Tim Lindsey and Tim Mann, “Indonesia Was in Denial over Coronavirus. Now It May Be Facing a Looming Disaster,” Conversation, 7 April 2020.
  102. Soroy Lardo, “Transformation of Infectious Diseases and the Indonesian National Military Health Research Collaboration in Supporting National Health Security,” Infectious Disease Reports 12, no. 1 (2020):
  103. In contrast, FEMA in the United States and the Directorate General for Disaster Management of the Cabinet Office in Japan are both civilian organizations led by civilians.
  104. In April 2020, there were 1,187 cases of COVID-19 in the TNI, while in July 2020, there was a massive outbreak at the Army’s Officer Candidate School (Secapa AD), infecting 1,280 personnel in a single cluster. Diandra Megaputri Mengko and Aulia Fitri, “Peran Militer Dalam Penanganan Pandemi COVID-19 Dan Dinamika Pengawasannya Di Indonesia,” Jurnal Penelitian Politik 17, no. 2 (2020): 228–29.
  105. Jun Honna, “Military Politics in Pandemic Indonesia,” Asia-Pacific Journal Japan Focus 18, no. 15 (August 2020): 5.
  106. Haripin, Civil-Military Relations in Indonesia, 108.
  107. Dieng, “Indonesia Military Roles in Disaster Response,” 67–68.
  108. Honna, “Military Politics in Pandemic Indonesia,” 6.
  109. Honna, “Military Politics in Pandemic Indonesia,” 6.
  110. Evan A. Laksmana and Rage Taufika, “How ‘Militarized’ Is Indonesia’s COVID-19 Management? Preliminary Assessment and Findings,” CSIS Commentaries, 20 May 2020, 2.
  111. “Dukung PPKM Darurat Dan Mikro, TNI Kerahkan 63.207 Personel,” CNN Indonesia, 13 July 2021.
  112. Ardito Ramadhan, “Pemerintah Diminta Kurangi Peran Militer Dalam Penanganan Pandemi Covid-19,”, 18 August 2021; and “Jokowi: Keberhasilan Penanganan COVID-19 Tak Lepas Dari Peran TNI,”, 5 October 2021.

About the Author

Norman Joshua is a PhD candidate in modern southeast Asian history, Northwestern University, IL. His research interests include civil-military relations, revolutions, and economic history. He wrote the Pemuda Sosialis Indonesia, 1945–1950 (2015) and is now writing his dissertation on the dynamics of military-societal relations in state-formation in postrevolutionary Indonesia.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Marine Corps University, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy, or the U.S. government.

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