Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

INDONESIA's ARMED FORCES: Difficult Challenges, New Future

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

INDONESIA's ARMED FORCES: Difficult Challenges, New Future

Article excerpt

John B. Haseman

Indonesia's armed forces will celebrate their 54th anniversary in 1999, but in vastly different circumstances than anyone might have imagined only a year ago. One year after the forced resignation of President Soeharto in May 1998, Indonesia is in political, economic, and social turmoil. Its armed forces establishment is essential for national survival, but its effectiveness as a security force is in question. Under attack for decades of abuses during the era of Soeharto's rule, its reputation has sunk to a low ebb in the esteem of the population.

Thus, in addition to its major missions to defend the nation and maintain domestic stability, Indonesia's armed forces (ABRI or Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia) must now face a plethora of new challenges to its unity and role in society.

ABRI remains the single most cohesive element in Indonesia today, but now --- in addition to the normal challenges facing any armed force --- it must meet the challenge of regaining the respect of its people. …

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