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Indonesia-Leadership Transition

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Defense planners have always been concerned with the issue of leadership transition within the armed forces. However, the maturity of the armed forces as an institution was demonstrated in the 1983-84 period, when in less than one year, the entire armed forces leadership structure was turned over without turmoil, from the Generation of 1945--veterans of the war of independence--to a new generation of officers educated in the Indonesian military academy system. Too young to have fought during the independence struggle, these officers, commissioned after 1960, brought a new and more modern perspective to the armed forces.

The Generation of 1945, many of whom were the children of small merchants or minor officials, had been motivated to join the armed forces by deeply felt ideals of nationalism and patriotism rather than by any desire to pursue a conventional military career. In other circumstances, they might have sought careers in business, politics, or government and so did not constitute a "barracks military." Most were fairly young at the start of the National Revolution--for example, General Sudirman, the revered army commander from 1945 to 1950, was only thirty-two years old in 1945. This generation of officers had maintained exclusive control of positions of responsibility well into the late 1970s, often to the frustration of younger officers. Their main concern as they entered retirement was to ensure that their deeply held values were transferred to the new generation, who they perceived as being, less politically attuned and thus less aware of the senior officers great sacrifices to secure and maintain national independence.

Younger officers had moved into most armed forces leadership positions by 1983. Almost all were graduates of Akabri, which had produced its first full class in 1960. Many of these officers had entered ABRI because they believed that acquiring an academy education and becoming an ABRI officer brought a reasonable living and was one sure way to enter national ruling circles. Most came from middle-class backgrounds, although farmers as well as the wealthy urban class were well represented too. Sons of ABRI personnel made up a large number, but far less than a majority, of Akabri classes. Members of the academy generation had no experience with the struggle for independence and the political turmoil of the early 1950s that had led their elders to distrust civilian politicians. Few, if any, had extensive experience in performing purely nonmilitary tasks, and most had received more professional military training than had their elders.

The character of middle-level and junior officers and the effects of their Akabri education compared with that given more senior officers at Magelang remained unclear in 1992. It appeared, however, that a generational discontinuity had developed between those officers who began training in or after the late 1970s and their predecessors. This generational shift manifested itself primarily in the desire of younger officers to become true military professionals; they viewed some aspects of the dwifungsi doctrine as detracting from that goal. These younger officers, as a result of greater communication and openness in general society, did not share their seniors' inhibitions about seeking training and equipment from friendly foreign countries and favored increased professional military ties with the armed forces of such countries as Australia and the United States.

The armed forces began preparing in the early 1970s for the turnover of leadership from the Generation of 1945 after a survey conducted at the Army Command and Staff School revealed certain differences in motivation and outlook between younger officers attending the school and their superiors. In 1972 high-ranking officers met with representatives of students attending the school to decide which values of the Generation of 1945 should be fostered in order to prevent a discontinuity of leadership when the older officers retired. Those values, which centered on the dual role of ABRI personnel as defenders of the nation and as a force for promoting national development, were raised to the level of ABRI doctrine, then disseminated throughout the services and made the subject of subsequent ABRI curricula. Beginning in 1978, junior officers were required to attend periodic Pancasila indoctrination programs to ensure inculcation of these values (see Pancasila: The State Ideology , ch. 4). Pancasila classes were found throughout both the military and the civilian governmental structure in the early 1990s, with the content differing according to the level of seniority at which the classes were directed.

Data as of November 1992

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