Mr. President, come on Marine – Editorial
Editorial Board (The Jakarta Post)
Fri 2 July 2021
If the choice of the next head of the Indonesian army (TNI) comes down to the army chief of staff, General Andika Perkasa or the naval chief of staff, Admiral Yudo Margono, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo should opt for the latter for more than one reason. .
Andika will reach the mandatory retirement age of 58 at the end of 2022, so choosing him means Jokowi will face the same problem of finding a replacement this time around next year. Yudo is set to retire at the end of 2023, so choosing him will allow him to serve at least two years to make his mark – more than Andika could.
Yudo’s appointment would restore a tradition dating back to 1999 of rotating the senior TNI position between the three departments.
The TNI law of 2004 stipulates that the post “may be occupied” by agents of one of the three services, so that a rotation is not obligatory. Then-president Abdurrahman Wahid began the tradition in 1999, appointing a naval officer for a post that had always been in the domain of the military, the largest and most politically powerful of the three services.
Since then, successive presidents have followed this tradition, giving the army a chance after the navy and air force have had their turn. Jokowi broke tradition in 2015 when he appointed an army man to succeed another army officer
President Jokowi has the prerogative to make the final choice with the approval of the House of Representatives, but the rotation between the three services is good and healthy for the development of the TNI. Giving the job to Yudo would restore this unwritten tradition.
There’s a compelling reason why the job should go back to the navy: It bodes well for Jokowi’s vision – defined at the start of his presidency in 2014 – to build Indonesia as a maritime power, which protects its vast maritime territory. and which lives up to Indonesia’s constitutional mandate to play a role in the maintenance of international peace and stability. As an archipelagic nation, Indonesia controls four major international sea routes.
While the rotation should not impact our defense policy, Yudo as head of TNI could help Jokowi redefine our defense policy priorities and spend to bolster our naval forces. The Nanggala-402 submarine tragedy in April is a reminder of how much Indonesia needs to modernize its military equipment, especially to protect our seas.
Jokowi can surprise and choose an officer outside of the two main contenders, opting for a younger officer until the end of his tenure in 2024. He pulled off the stunt by appointing Tito Karnavian in 2016 and Listyo Sigit Prabowo in January as head of the National Police, bypassing many of their elders.
If Jokowi does so by appointing the next TNI chief, he will have more choice among three-star rank generals in all three services and by promoting the rank, for example, as deputy TNI chief upon his appointment as as commander of the TNI. For all intents and purposes, a Navy officer would always be the best candidate to support his vision of Indonesia as a maritime nation.