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AIIA Podcast: Back From the Barracks: Why Indonesia's Military Still Reigns Supreme

20 Mar 2020
Indonesian army soldiers. Source:

What explains the enduring role and influence of the armed forces in contemporary Indonesia?  What is the impact of current civil-military relations on Jokowi’s second term agenda, particularly on maritime security? With an imbalance of power and unresolved issues from the past, how can Indonesia make the most of its military’s capacity and influence in the face of pressing traditional and non traditional security issues?

This presentation by Natalie Sambhi takes a socio-cultural look at why Indonesia wants, and might need, a politically active military. For twenty years, democracy in Indonesia saw the formal exit of the military from politics, the end of its independent business interests, and its nominal return to barracks. Despite those developments, and the need for further reform and professionalisation, it appears that under President Joko Widodo, the Indonesian military is again becoming influential in politics, society, and economics. Jokowi has surrounded himself with former army generals as key cabinet ministers, power brokers, and close advisors.