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Indonesia Index

Figure 11. Armed Forces Personnel Strength, Selected Years, 1966- 90

Source: Based on information from The Military Balance, London, 1966-91.

The size of the armed services--approximately 468,000, including the police, in 1992--was small in comparison with other nations of comparable population and with other Asian countries. The army was by far the dominant branch of service, with approximately 217,000 personnel; the navy and marine corps totalled about 44,000, the air force about 27,000, and the police about 180,000. Personnel strength in the army was gradually but steadily reduced over the 1966-82 period, and average annual enlistment in the other services was limited to maintenance of existing force levels (see fig. 11; table 29, Appendix). Two successive five-year plans covering the period through 1997 mandated that there be no increase in the size of the three military services and limited recruiting to the number needed to maintain current strength to compensate for retirements, deaths, and other separations. Virtually the entire growth of the armed forces took place in the National Police (see The National Police , this ch.).

Under the constitution, every citizen is entitled and obliged to defend the nation. Conscription is provided for by law, but in light of limited civilian-sector employment opportunities, the armed forces have been able to attract sufficient numbers to maintain mandated strength levels without resorting to a draft. As of 1992, almost all service members were volunteers who had met the criteria set for conscription. Officer specialists, such as physicians, however, were occasionally conscripted for shortterm service. Most enlisted personnel were recruited in their own regions and generally trained and served most of their time in units near their homes. Each service had small women's units (see Women in the Armed Forces , this ch.).

The officer corps was estimated to comprise some 53,000 in 1992. Less than 1 percent of these were of general officer rank. Aggressive retirement of officers at or over the usual retirement age of fifty-five during the early 1980s reduced spaces after the reorganization of 1985; continued slow rates of promotion at the highest levels into the early 1990s, and the large numbers of officers reaching retirement age in the same period, accounted for most of the reductions in total officer numbers since the 1970s. With personnel strength mandated to remain static during the 1990s, a steady balance between new officer accessions and losses (through death, attrition, and retirement) was likely to be maintained in the force structure in the future.

For the first twenty years of independence, entry into the officer corps was very competitive. According to both patriotic and traditional values, a military education and career were regarded as highly desirable. Since the late 1970s, however, the armed forces had experienced difficulty in attracting the best qualified candidates to the Armed Forces Academy of the Republic of Indonesia (Akabri), the national military academy at Magelang, Jawa Tengah Province. Akabri trained most of the military and police officer corps. Throughout the 1980s, as many as 150 spaces a year at the academies went unfilled. Many officers were children of serving or retired armed services personnel. However, the armed services were dissatisfied with the quality of cadets entering the academy system and further blamed the system for not providing officers of sufficiently high caliber. Better jobs in the civilian sector accounted for the fact that the brightest and best-qualified high school graduates preferred to attend civilian degree-granting universities (Akabri did not grant academic degrees as of 1992).

In spite of these problems, in the early 1990s, the armed forces, particularly the officer corps, had achieved a cohesive and highly professional esprit de corps. This was an even more remarkable achievement in light of the deep-seated and persistent factional strife and interservice rivalry that plagued the defense establishment in the first two decades after independence. Maturation through institutionalization, increased civilian and professional military education, and emphasis on integrated national (not regional) loyalty produced an armed force that was a far cry from the fractionalized and ideologically diverse military that existed at the time of the 1965 coup attempt. Uniting the individual services under a strong central command structure and a conscious effort to eliminate "warlordism" and regionalism by routine rotational assignments throughout the officer corps contributed to the new cohesiveness. Purges conducted in the aftermath of the abortive 1965 coup and continuous close examination of personnel's political reliability were also important because they rid the military of those with radical religious or political views. Mandatory retirement for officers at age fifty-five and routine periodic reassignments also ensured that the officer corps was politically reliable.

The officer corps in the early 1990s was composed mainly of ethnic Javanese. In 1992 ethnic Javanese occupied most key command and staff billets. This was especially true of those holding the highest positions in Hankam and in each service: 53 percent of the top eighty-three incumbents of these positions were filled by ethnic Javanese officers and, when combined with Sundanese and Madurese also from Java, the total represented 67 percent in 1992 (see table 30, Appendix).

Importantly, however, there was a strong trend toward assignments based on ability rather than ethnic or religious considerations. Since the late 1970s, non-Javanese rose throughout the general officer leadership ranks in greater numbers, and there was a feeling within the armed forces that ethnic background was not a major factor in promotions. NonJavanese have held the number-two posts in both Hankam and the army as well as several of the army's ten Military Regional Commands (Kodams); the minister of defense and security and several other senior officers were Christians. Most senior officers were Muslim, and of those most were nominal Muslims (abangan--see Glossary). In light of their experiences in putting down armed challenges to the national leadership by Islamic separatist groups, the armed forces had developed an institutional distrust of orthodox Muslims (santri--see Glossary; Islam , ch. 2).

Data as of November 1992

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