Abri reshuffles 298 generals from all four services ‘to improve efficiency’

THE Indonesian armed forces (Abri) has announced a major reshuffle involving 298 generals in the army, navy, air force and police.

Abri spokesman Brig-Gen Slamet Supriadi said that a total of 250 military officers had been appointed to new posts in Abri headquarters and the Defence Ministry, with 29 reassigned as civil servants and 19 retired from active service.

He told The Sunday Times yesterday that the reshuffle was aimed at “improving the efficiency and effectiveness” of the military in the long run.

“Our long-term plan is to create a professional military force,” he said, adding that Abri chief General Feisal Tanjung had signed a decree relating to the reshuffle on July 14 after meeting various military commanders.

A significant aspect of the reshuffle was the creation, for the first time, of various deputy chief-of-staff positions in the navy, air force and police, just like in the army.

The move has come more than a month after the three service chiefs were each promoted to four-star-general rank. Previously, only the army chief-of-staff held such a rank.

Analysts said that these changes, albeit gradual, would over time raise the profile of the air force, navy and police, which for a long time had taken a back seat, compared to the army, the senior service in Indonesia.

The army’s pre-eminence is attributed to its central role in the independence struggle, its primacy in defence policy and strategy and its post-1965 political dominance.

Noted Professor Juwono Sudarsono, vice-governor of the National Defence Institute, a military think-tank: “The main aim is to standardise the structure of the four services.”

Observers said that a large number of officers were affected in the latest reshuffle because of a bunching up of senior military officers in the armed forces structure.

Many of these officers had graduated from the military academy in the 70s.

Said a senior Abri officer: “Unlike five years ago, there are many more generals now. They need to be accommodated somehow as the military prepares for leadership renewal.”

The last five years have been a period of tumultous change in Abri, with various waves of personnel changes, involving more than 100 officers every year.

This year has, by far, been the most significant in terms of numbers affected.

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