Kopassus, abbreviation for Komando Pasukan Khusus (Army Special Force Command) is an Indonesian Army special forces group that conducts special operations missions for the Indonesian government, such as direct action, unconventional warfare, sabotage, counter-terrorism, and intelligence gathering. Kopassus was founded on April 16, 1952. The Special Forces quickly made their mark by spearheading some of the government's military campaigns: putting down regional rebellions in the late 1950s, the Western New Guinea campaign in 1960, the confrontation against Malaysia from 1962-1966, the massacres of alleged communists in 1965, the East Timor military campaign in 1975, and the subsequent campaigns against separatism, terrorism, or anyone considered a threat to the Suharto regime.
General Moerdani, although he never held the leadership baton, was one of the most prominent Kopassus alumni, having served in the command from its early years.
Kopassus is considered one of the best special forces units in the Pacific and South East Asia. On the other hand, the name of the unit is linked to numerous severe violations of human rights, especially in East Timor, Aceh and Papua, as well as on some occasions in the capital Jakarta itself. Not only in the publications of radical groups but also in many articles and news items published in mainstream media, epithets such as "the notorious Kopassus" precede the unit's name.
The impetus for building this special force was provided from an experience of frustration when fighting against the troops of the RMS (Republik Maluku Selatan or Republic of the South Moluccas) forces, which were supported by two companies of KST (Korps Speciale Troepen). The Indonesians on the spot were amazed with KST's ability and skills, especially its men's sniping. They were then inspired to build a similar force for Indonesia. However, at that time, neither of the Indonesian commanders had any experience or skill in special operations. However, Lieutenant Colonel Slamet Riyadi would not see his dream realized due to his death in a battle against the troops of the RMS.
Not long after, with the use of military intelligence, Colonel Kawilarang located and met with Major Rokus Bernardus Visser - a former member of the Dutch Special Forces who had remained in independent Indonesia, settled in West Java, married an Indonesian woman, and was known locally as Mohamad Idjon Djanbi. He was the first recruit for the Indonesian special forces, as well as its first commander. Due to him, the unit adopted a Red Beret similar to that of the Dutch Special Forces, which is still in use by the present Kopassus.
At that time, Indonesia's special force name was the Third Territorial Command or Komando Teritorium Tiga (KTT). It later went through no less than five name changes, going from KTT to KKAD, RPKAD, Kopasandha, and finally, Kopassus. Headquartered in Bandung, the first generation of Indonesian Forces was only around a hundred soldiers or one company.
In response to military organization reviews, the Kopassus was expanded from three groups to five and upgraded from 3,000 to roughly 6,000 personnel. The rationale for this expansion was based partly on the likelihood of a small-scale, high-intensity, short-term conflict and partly on the need for a four-part rotational cycle (a quarter of the force on duty, a quarter in training, a quarter in consolidation [rest, schooling, leave, etc.], and a quarter in reserve).
In 1997, the Kopassus was reportedly able to operate in a three-part rotation cycle (training, duty, consolidation). It is unknown whether Kopassus will be able to obtain the numbers needed to operate a four-part cycle.
The Kopassus is composed of five groups, plus the Presidential Guard (Paspampres) and headquarters. Each group is headed by a Colonel and all groups are para-commando qualified. Of note is the unusual nature of Group IV, possibly also called "Sandhy Yudha," which consists of select members from Groups I, II, and III. The duties of these specially trained personnel include attacking behind enemy lines (Infiltration tactics). Group IV also, reportedly, works with the Joint Intelligence Unit on interrogations, and carries out clandestine operations around the country.
|Grup 1/Parakomando (Para Commando)||Serang, West Java||3 battalions|
|Grup 2/Parakomando (Para Commando)||Kartasura, Central Java||3 battalions|
|Pusat Pendidikan Pasukan Khusus (Training)||Batujajar, West Java||Center of Training|
|Grup 3/Sandhi Yudha (Combat Intelligence)||Cijantung, East Jakarta||Combat Intelligence|
|SAT 81/Penanggulangan Teror (Counter-terrorism)||Cijantung, East Jakarta||Counterterrorist|
Even though there are many groups in Kopassus, all groups can operate on land, sea, and air.
Members of the Kopassus are selected from other units for their mental and physical toughness and ideological soundness. Those who pass an initial screening take part in a 9-month selection, with heavy emphasis on physical endurance. At the end of this phase, a 380-km march is conducted through mountainous terrain with minimal rations. Then a week-long evasion and escape phase is conducted; if caught, one is removed from the program. As manpower is increased to meet a three- and four-part rotational cycle, additional training would be expected. Also, as units have been used fairly extensively throughout the years, many of the Kopassus members have actual mission experience.
This training is the qualification for new members to join Kopassus. After joining Kopassus there is still more advanced training, divided into two categories:
During the 1990s Kopassus conducted training with various other special forces, such as the British SAS (Special Air Service Regiment), the Malaysian Grup Gerak Khas in jungle warfare, urban terrain and counter terrorism skills, the American Delta Force in counter terrorism skills, and the American Green Berets in jungle warfare and training the local communities to conduct intelligence-gathering and to provide support. Kopassus and the Malaysian Grup Gerak Khas (GGK) enjoy a close relationship and both train extensively together.
During the 1980s, Kopassus troops improved their skills in intelligence gathering by cross training with world famous intelligence services, such as the Israeli Mossad, even though Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. With the help of third parties, it became possible to conduct this training in Indonesia. The nickname for the trainer was "Arizona". After Arizona finished the training of Kopassus, the British were invited, with their MI6. The training specialized in the effective and efficient use of intelligence gathering devices.
This unit is most famous for its counter-terrorism skills. Their first international mission was to release hostages held by Jihad Command at the Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand in 1981. The training is the same as above, but improved skills are required in SAT 81. In SAT 81, all members are required to acquire various figting skills, including:
Since the Asian Economic Crisis, Kopassus' performance has been affected greatly especially in terms of their weaponry which has become obsolete as compared to other Special Forces in the world. Although there was expressed a strong willingness to renew or upgrade their weapons, it is far from sure when this would be implemented. Nevertheless, army commanders have expressed themselves "in no doubt about the dedication of every Kopassus member".
|Major Moch. Idjon Djanbi (Rokus Bernadus Visser)||1952-195?||led from Kesatuan Komando Tentara Territorium III/Siliwangi (Kesko TT) till RPKAD|
|Major RE Djailani||195?-19??||-|
|Major Kaharuddin Nasution||19??-19??||-|
|Major Mung Parahadimulyo||1958-1964||-|
|Colonel Sarwo Edhie Wibowo||1964-1967||RPKAD to Puspassus TNI-AD|
|Brigadier General Widjoyo Suyono||1967-19??||-|
|Brigadier General Witarmin||?-?||1971 Puspassus TNI-AD to Kopassandha|
|Brigadier General Yogie SM||May 1975-April 1983||-|
|Brigadier General Wismoyo Arismunandar||April 1983-May 1985||-|
|Brigadier General Sintong Panjaitan||May 1985-August 1987||Kopassandha to Kopassus|
|Brigadier General Kuntara||August 1988-July 1992||-|
|Brigadier General Tarub||July 1992-July 1993||-|
|Brigadier General Agum Gumelar||July 1994-September 1995||-|
|Brigadier General Subagyo HS||September 1995-December 1995||-|
|Major General Prabowo Subianto||December 1995-March 1998||August 1996 Brigadier General to Major General|
|Major General Muchdi PR||March 1998-May 1998||-|
|Major General Syahrir MS||1998-2000||-|
|Major General Amirul Isnaini||1 June 2000-2002||-|
|Major General Sriyanto||2002-15 February 2005||-|
|Major General Syaiful Rizal||15 February 2005-2006||-|
|Major General Rasyid Qurnuen Aquary||August 2006-September 2007||-|
|Major General Soenarko||4 September 2007-1 July 2008||-|
|Brigadier General Pramono Edhie Wibowo||1 July 2008-now|
Kopassus has been accused of a great number of human rights violations. Its name appears frequently in the reports of Amnesty International and other international human rights organizations, as well as in the reports by Indonesian human rights groups. Kopassus members are frequently accused of assault. For example, Koes Sofyan of the Association of Human Rights Victims Abuse (SPKP HAM) was in 2003 detained by members of Kopassus in Aceh. He was detained for nearly three months and tortured, before being released without charge. Such charges were already made in the years of the Suharto dictatorship, though making them then in Indonesia itself was difficult and quite risky.
After the fall of Suharto in May 1998, Kopassus, still as powerful as ever, became a major concern of the pro-democracy movement. At the same time, world attention focused on the special forces unit due to the charges that it has been behind the mass killings and burnings in East Timor in 1999, shortly after the referendum, whereby the population of East Timor choose for independence from Indonesia.
In 2001 Amnesty International took up the specific case of Gaspar Wespar, a Papuann who several times visited the Kopassus base in Betaf, the main town in Pantai Timur Sub-district, to inquire about his nephew who was taken at night from his home by five armed people. The uncle was reportedly kicked and beaten by Kopassus personnel, threatened with being prosecuted for libel, and finally "disappeared" himself. .
In November 2001 Kopassus killed Theys Eluay, the chairman of the Presidum Dewan Papua. Two years later four Kopassus members were convicted for this murder.
At the same time, older affairs in the heartland of Indonesia itself were taken up by the reformers, such as the naming of fourteen people, among them a former commander of Kopassus, as suspects in the killing of a large number of people in Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, in 1984, when security forces opened fire on demonstrators.
Australian Journalist Martin Daly of "The Age commented
"the insistence by the [Australian] Defence Minister, Senator Ray, that Australia's Special Air Service regiment will continue to train here and in Indonesia with the notorious Kopassus regiment. The regiment is alleged to be responsible for murder and torture in Dili and Aceh, where 2,000 people are believed to have been killed by Indonesian troops between 1989 and 1993(...). Kopassus camps became known in Aceh as torture centres(...). Bodies began to be found on roadsides, in bus shelters and beside streams", says Amnesty International".
Kopassus has also been associated with illegal economic activities, like involvement in the trade of kayu gaharu and illegal gold mining in West Papua and other areas, and the trade in drugs.
Howard's way with terror: Kopassus and Australia: the government's eagerness to renew ties with Indonesia's special forces exposes the fraudulent nature of its 'war on terrorism'.(John Winston Howard)
Apr 01, 2004; Established at the beginning of the Suharto years in 1965, Kopassus is the elite special force of TNI, the Indonesian...