EDITORIAL: Next TNI chief
The Jakarta Post
The House of Representatives is scheduled to hold on Wednesday a fit-and-proper test for Air Force chief of staff Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto who has been nominated by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as the next Indonesian Military (TNI) chief to replace incumbent Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo.
By nominating Hadi, Jokowi has restored the rotation pattern among the three services — which he broke by nominating the Army chief of staff, Gatot, in 2015 to replace then TNI chief Gen. Moeldoko, another Army general.
The convention after the fall of the New Order regime has been that the TNI chief is to be rotated in an Army-Navy-Army-Air Force pattern. Then Navy chief of staff Adm. Widodo Adi Sutjipto became the first TNI chief outside the Army to receive the commander’s baton on Oct. 26, 1999.
Article 13 of Law No. 34/2004 on the TNI states simply that the TNI chief can be rotated among flag officers who hold or have held the position of chief of staff within the three services. The president, however, has the prerogative to nominate whoever they wish as long as the candidate fulfills the requirement of holding or having held the service chief post. Jokowi used this prerogative by nominating Gatot to succeed Moeldoko.
Nominating Hadi seems the best option as the other service chiefs, Army chief of staff Gen. Mulyono and Navy chief of staff Adm. Ade Supandi will soon enter retirement, in January 2019 and May 2018, respectively.
The president can still extend the retirement date of an incumbent TNI chief, as was the case of former TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto. However, this option should be taken only under extraordinary circumstances, because it would hold back the regeneration process of the TNI.
Another important requirement is that the candidate should be able to work closely with the president, who holds supreme power over the Army, Navy and Air Force, and the defense minister in managing national defense and related duties.
If the House approves Jokowi’s nomination, Hadi will soon face a Herculean task with the simultaneous regional head elections to be held in June 2018 in 171 regions — 17 provinces, 39 mayoralties and 115 regencies. The huge number of local elections may require TNI’s deployment to maintain security and public order, as the police will certainly be overstretched.
And next year all political parties will begin gearing up ahead of the 2019 general elections. Hadi also faces various challenges to improve TNI’s performance and professionalism, regarding issues such as welfare, weapons modernization and upholding the rule of law among servicemen. He must also assist the defense minister by providing considerations on state defense policy, arms acquisition and also drafting and implementing a strategic plan on the use of national resources for state defense.
Hadi is also well equipped for TNI’s task in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. With the current threat from Mount Agung in Bali, floods and landslides, the use of military assets will be greatly beneficial in assisting other state institutions such as the National Search and Rescue Agency and the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
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