Indonesian President Nominates Army Chief to Head Military

Arie Firdaus
Jakarta
2021-11-03
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Indonesian President Nominates Army Chief to Head Military This screen grab from a video produced by the Indonesian Army Headquarters (MABESAD) shows Gen. Andika Perkasa, the army chief of staff, in his office in Jakarta, Oct. 29, 2021.
[Indonesian Army Headquarters]

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has nominated the army chief of staff who ended so-called virginity testing for female cadets as the new head of the country’s armed forces, the speaker of parliament said Wednesday.

Gen. Andika Perkasa is expected to replace Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto as the commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), if the House of Representatives confirms his nomination, as is expected. Hadi is due to retire from the military on Nov. 30.

“Today the state secretary delivered [to the House] the president’s letter nominating General Andika Perkasa as the candidate for the TNI chief,” House Speaker Puan Maharani told reporters.

Puan said no date had been set for a confirmation hearing.

State Secretary Pratikno, who goes by a single name, said the government hoped the appointment would be confirmed soon.

“We hope to get approval as soon as possible so that the government can immediately install the new TNI commander,” said Pratikno.

Born in Bandung on Dec. 21, 1964, Andika graduated from the Indonesian Military Academy in 1987. He attended post-graduate studies at the National War College in Washington and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University.

Andika is expected to serve as military chief for 13 months before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 58.

‘Career rose meteorically’

Human Rights Watch researcher in Indonesia, Andreas Harsono, welcomed Andika’s nomination.

Andika’s move to stop subjecting female recruits to so-called virginity tests was widely welcomed by activists as well. Women make up about 15 percent of the approximately 800,000 members of the military in Southeast’s Asia largest country.

Andika was also praised for supporting military member and volleyball athlete Aprilio Manganang, who competed as a woman but transitioned to be a man in March.   

Andreas said the army chief had shown courage by abolishing the virginity tests, but was likely to face a tougher task introducing further reforms in his new role.

“It’s not easy because the TNI is much bigger,” Andreas told BenarNews.

Khairul Fahmi, a researcher at the Institute for Security and Strategic Studies (ISESS), said Andika would have to deal with the task of upgrading the military’s aging arsenals and improving personnel capabilities. 

“And it’s no less important to stop conflicts between soldiers and police, which are still happening,” Fahmi told BenarNews.

Police in Indonesia dislike the military’s heavy involvement in state civil affairs, according to the Australian Institute of International Affairs. This rivalry has led to numerous clashes between personnel from both sides, which endangers citizens’ lives, local news reports have said.

Andika’s father-in-law is Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, a retired general and former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief, who is among Jokowi’s backers.

As a member of the army’s special forces (Kopassus), Andika in 2002 led an operation to arrest al-Qaeda-linked militant Omar Al-Farouq, reportedly at the request of his father-in-law who headed BIN at the time.

Two days after Jokowi took office in 2014, Andika was appointed the chief of the presidential security corps, where he served for two years before being promoted to major general.

Made Supriatma, a researcher at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, wrote in a 2019 paper that Andika has had the most impressive career path in the Indonesian Army in recent times.

“His military career rose meteorically when Jokowi came to power,” Made said.

“In Indonesia, it is widely held that an officer’s personal relations with powerful politicians will determine promotion to a strategic post.”

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