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Indonesia plans 'intel' re-organisation

Jane's Intelligence Review
December 1, 2000

By: John B Haseman

A MAJOR restructuring plan for Indonesia's intelligence organisations is under way in Jakarta. The biggest change envisages the creation of an intelligence agency for the Department of Defence (DepHan). Whether this will involve moving the Armed Forces Strategic Intelligence Agency (Badan Inteligen Strategis - BAIS) from armed forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - TNI) headquarters to DepHan, or the formation of a new agency for DepHan, is one of many controversial options being considered by Indonesia's intelligence community.

The restructuring plan includes a more definitive mission statement for civilian and military intelligence organisations and would strengthen the co-ordinating responsibilities of the country's civilian intelligence agency. The proposal is part of President Abdurrahman Wahid's efforts to gain more control over the powerful armed forces, to help remove the military from political affairs and to strengthen the role of the Department of Defence (DoD).

In a restructured intelligence community, the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Agency (Badan Koordinasi Inteligen Nasional - BAKIN) would assume a far stronger role in co-ordinating the intelligence community. It would also gain a far more robust operational capability, taking control of intelligence operations currently in the hands of the TNI/DepHan, the police and attorney general's office.

The BAKIN's name would be changed to the National Intelligence Agency (Badan Inteligen Nasional - BIN). The BAKIN would also take over intelligence collection against individuals suspected of corruption: a highly political mission in which the BAKIN, the BAIS and the attorney general's intelligence office have been involved for years.

The newly renamed BIN and the military's BAIS (and perhaps the new DepHan organisation) would each have specific missions to eliminate overlapping areas of responsibility and avoid the conflicts over jurisdiction that have frequently caused sparks between the country's two largest intelligence organisations. The BAIS would transfer its non-military collection, analysis and operations to the BIN and become a true military intelligence agency. The BAKIN would expand its intelligence co-ordination responsibilities and domestic intelligence capabilities.

While the BAKIN is nominally a civilian agency, it has often been headed by an active duty or retired military officer and is extensively manned by military personnel. This is expected to continue, although no mention has been made of whether a civilian may become the BAKIN's chief. Its current head is retired lieutenant general Arie J Kumaat (pictured), who has made no comment on the proposed changes.

No implementation date has been set for the proposed changes. The restructuring proposals are controversial, as they are fraught with political implications. Already, manoeuvring among individuals and agencies that would be affected by the proposed changes has become rancorous. Leaders of Indonesia's parliament are also vying for influence in the revised intelligence apparatus. In Indonesia's newly free press, rumours continue over possible changes and compromises aimed at preserving power and turf. These rumours underline the resistance to change at TNI headquarters, which would lose a powerful operational agency should the BAIS give up some of its charter to the BAKIN, be moved to the DoD, or suffer the creation of a competitive organisation at DepHan.

The main area of controversy for the intelligence community is the possible effects of reform on military intelligence. The BAIS has been an all-pervasive part of social and political power in Indonesia for years. The influential, and widely feared, agency has exercised power disproportionate to its size, within both the armed forces and civilian society. It reached its height during the 1980s, when former general L B 'Benny' Moerdani was head of the BAIS and, later, commander-in-chief of the TNI.

During those years, the BAIS exercised extensive vertical authority throughout the TNI, routinely bypassing the operational and administrative chains of command. The BAIS vetted for political loyalty all government officials and controlled much of the military and civil government through its surveillance of society.

In the early and mid-1990s an anti-intelligence backlash saw the removal from power of many senior officers who had risen through the BAIS to assume important command and staff positions throughout the military. Criticised for poor analysis and abuse of power, the BAIS was subordinated to the TNI chief of general staff and held a much lower profile. In recent years it seems to have revived, both in size and power. However, no matter what the outcome of the intelligence restructuring plan, the BAIS will inevitably lose power. The organisation is currently commanded by Air Force Vice Marshal Ian Santoso Perdanakusumah: the first chief not to be an army officer.

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. ***

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