Adding TNI commands waste of budget, won't bolster national defense: Coalition

CNN Indonesia – March 2, 2024
Prabowo Subianto handing over motorbikes to Babinsa in Indramayu – December 23, 2022 (Media Prabowo Subianto)

Jakarta – The Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform is asking the Indonesian military Headquarters (Mabes TNI) to cancel a plan to add regional military commands (Kodam) in all Indonesian provinces.

The Coalition believes that this will not contribute to strengthening national defense and will only cause disputes in the management of domestic security and have a negative impact on democracy.

"The Mabes TNI must stop the plan to add Kodams to all Indonesian provinces ... The additional Kodams are also a form of wasting the national defense budget amid a limited budget for the fulfillment of and modernisation of our current Alutsista (primary defense equipment)", said the group in a written statement on Friday March 1.

The Coalition believes that the addition of Kodams also shows a strong orientation towards a development posture, as well as the degree to which the TNI's forces are more aimed at and oriented towards being inward looking, not outward looking.

According to the coalition, this has implications for the tendency of the military to become involved in political life. As a consequence, it is difficult to create a TNI that is a strong, professional and modern national defense tool.

The coalition also said that the 1998 TNI reform agenda mandates the political authorities, namely the government and the House of Representatives (DPR), to restructure the TNI's territorial command structure, namely the existence of Kodam down to Koramil (sub-district military commands) at the lowest level.

"The government and DPR should immediately restructure the territorial commands (Kodam to Koramil) and replace them with a military force posture model and title that is more contextual to the dynamics of threats and the geographical conditions of Indonesia as an archipelago country", said the Coalition.

The plan to add additional Kodams was raised again by TNI commander General Agus Subiyanto at a TNI-Indonesian police leadership meeting on Wednesday February 28. Currently, there are a total of 15 Kodams throughout Indonesia and the plan is to add 22 more.

"The TNI AD (Army) plans to build and deploy 37 Kodams where there will be 37 Kodams rolled out, 15 Kodams will be strengthened with Korems [sub-regional military commands], while 22 Kodams will be without Korems under them, this includes the construction of the IKN [new capital city Nusantara in East Kalimantan] Kodam and two new battalions", said Subiyanto on Wednesday February 28.

Meanwhile, Army Chief of Staff (KSAD) General Maruli Simanjuntak has said that they will accommodate criticism regarding the plan to add more Kodams. However Simanjuntak said that the additional Kodams are also in response to requests from the public.

"If I visit a region, they ask for this. Yeah, there are many places, where they even say, 'Pak [Sir], we'll prepare the land. Pak, please make a Kodam here, a battalion, a Koramil [sub-district military command] and so on'. Because indeed our presence is needed by them", Simanjuntak said following a TNI AD leadership meeting on Thursday February 29.

Simanjuntak explained that the formation of military commands at the smallest level has consequences for organisational management at higher levels.

"We have been asked for Ramil [Koramil] posts, which means there must be a coordinator after several dozen, a Kodim. After there are several Kodim [district military commands] we must have a Korem, after there are several Korems, most of them must have a Pangdam [regional military commander]" said Simanjuntak.

"Because maybe people don't realise what it's like to be a military commander covering three provinces in Kalimantan. Just moving from province to province, you have to go through Jakarta, that's basically the problem", he added. (yoa/chri)


The TNI's territorial command structure mandates the deployment of military command posts and detachments at all levels of the civil administration: provincial, district, sub-district and village. This structure provides the organisational framework for the TNI to act as a political security force at all levels of society. The five respective commands are: Kodam – Komando Daerah Militer, Regional Military Command; Korem – Komando Resort Militer, Military Command at a level below the residency; Kodim – Komando Distrik Militer, District Military Command; Koramil – Komando Rayon Militer, Sub-District Military Command (Kecamatan) level and; Babinsa – Bintara Pembina Desa, Non-commissioned military officer posted in villages and wards and affiliated with the civilian administration. Since becoming Defense Minister in 2019, Prabowo Subianto, who is set to become Indonesia's next president in October, has on several occasions pushed the idea of establishing Kodam in every province.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Koalisi Sipil Minta TNI Hentikan Rencana Tambah Kodam di Tiap Provinsi".]