Indonesia, Intelligence and Security

Indonesia, Intelligence and Security

Once the Netherlands's colonial stronghold in the Asian Pacific region, Indonesia gained its independence in 1949. The nation fell under military-influenced authoritarian rule for four decades, but began the transition to demilitarized, popular government in 1985. Since that time, the archipelago nation has strived to flourish despite persistent problems such as growing poverty, tribal and ethnic tensions, territorial disputes, government corruption, and political turmoil. Despite these issues, the government has taken crucial steps to reform and rebuild the nation's intelligence and security communities.

The Indonesian president and the commander of the armed forces administer the Council for the Enforcement of Security and the Law (DPKN). The council is composed of representatives from the nation's government ministries and five main religious councils. DPKN coordinates intelligence and security force responses to national security threats, utilizing the resources of both military and civilian agencies.

Indonesia has several small civilian intelligence agencies responsible for specific security functions, such as counterintelligence, antiterrorism efforts, government protective services, and media relations. These operational divisions are largely autonomous, but work under the limited direction and coordination of the largest civilian agency, the State Intelligence Coordinating Agency (BAKIN). BAKIN focuses mainly on domestic intelligence information, especially information regarding national defenses.

Another government agency, the Coordinating Agency for National Stability (BAKORSTANAS), combines intelligence and law enforcement activities. The agency is tasked with ferreting out anti-government organizations in Indonesia. However, BAKORSTANAS has few legal limitations on its operations, often detaining and interrogating political dissidents. The agency is under suspicion of human rights violations from several international humanitarian organizations. International criticism prompted the Indonesian government to reform some of the sub-departments of the agency. BAKORSTANAS gained the ability to intervene in social conflicts such as strikes and worker's disputes, but reforms also limited its powers to control action forces without government consent.

Indonesia maintains a three-branch military, including an army, navy, and air force. Each branch of service employs its own strategic intelligence forces within its operations units. BAIS is the nation's main military intelligence agency, and as such oversees and coordinates the efforts of various military intelligence forces. Indonesian military intelligence focuses on foreign intelligence information, especially that garnered from communications surveillance. In recent years, the Indonesian government has made the actions of military intelligence agencies more directly responsible to the DPKN in order to gauge political sentiment within the military and prevent the rise of insurgent groups.

One of the most pressing political and security problems plaguing the Indonesian government was resolved in 2002. In August 1999, the Timor region approved a referendum for independence. After garnering international criticism for their policies and actions regarding Timor, the Indonesian government agreed to the region's appeal for sovereignty. On May 20, 2002, the international community recognized the region, now called East Timor, as an independent state.

Reforms continue to address international concerns of past human rights violations by Indonesia's military and former regime. The nation also embarked on ambitious banking and finance reforms to meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) standards. Despite progress in changing the nation's infrastructure to increase Indonesian participation in the international organizations, political extremist and terrorist groups operating within Indonesia's national borders undermine the nation's status in the international community.



Central Intelligence Agency. CIA World Factbook. < > (April 18, 2003).

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