Indonesian army creates new elite unit with counter-terrorist role
On Tuesday, 30 July, the Indonesian army officially created an elite unit focused on fighting violent extremism, almost a year after the armed forces campaigned for an expanded security role, despite opposition from activists who warned this could lead to human rights abuses, Rina Chadijah reports on Eurasia Review.
Indonesian military chief Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto (left) and Brig. Gen. Rochadi clasp hands during the launch ceremony of the Special Operations Command (Koopsus) in East Jakarta, July 30, 2019 (Picture source: Rina Chadijah/BenarNews)
The new Special Operations Command (Koopsus) consists of 500 highly trained personnel drawn from the army, navy and air force, military (TNI) chief Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said during a ceremony launching the unit. Revisions to Indonesia’s anti-terror laws, which were passed in 2018, allowed the military to be formally involved in counter-terrorism operations. Until now, the Indonesian national police’s elite wing, Detachment 88 (Densus 88), had been the country’s lead security unit in pursuing terrorists.
Brig. Gen. Rochadi, who previously served as director of the military’s Strategic Intelligence Agency, was appointed on Tuesday as the new unit’s commander. Earlier this month, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo signed a presidential decree clarifying the military’s expanded role in counter-terrorism. The decree stipulates that Koopsus will coordinate with the national police in carrying out its mission. About 400 Koopsus personnel will carry out preventive measures, including surveillance and intelligence, while the remaining 100 members will be tasked with combating terrorist acts, Hadi said.
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Bambang Soesatyo, said he hoped that the formation of Koopsus would also strengthen the monitoring of cyberspace.