After 9/11 and Bali Bombing in October 2002, we saw a growing concerns in Indonesia Police (Polri) and Indonesia Armed Forces (TNI) to form counter terrorism unit (CTU).
After 2002 Bali bombing, with help from US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Polri formed a small unit of Special Detachment 88 (Densus 88 ) whose members mostly recruited from Brimob (Mobile Brigade) unit, a special police unit to crack down heavy armed criminal. It became operational in 2003.
Within Army (TNI AD), there had been a small team in the elite forces Kopassus (Army Special Force Command) which called Detachment 81 (Den 81) Gultor who specialized to handle anti terror operation. Along with Kopassus reorganization, Den 81 then become Satuan (unit) 81 Gultor (Sat 81).
Marine well known for special unit called Detachment Jala Mengkara (Denjaka), means ‘Sea Devil’. Also within Navy there was a special forces called Komando Pasukan Katak (Kopaska) or underwater special unit (frogmen).
Denjaka recruit mostly from Marine Recon Unit (Intai Amfibi) and few from Kopaska, whilst Kopaska recruits are from Navy sailor. But both unit have ability to conduct CT operation in marine environment. It is obvious that Denjaka better trained and equipped than Kopaska since its deployment can only done under Chief of TNI command.
And Airforce, they already have Detachment 90 Bravo under Air Forces Special Force (Paskhas AU) to do CT job.
All TNI’s CTU had been assembled long before 9/11 or Bali Bombing, but since the terror issue emerge their role and appearance known to public more frequent. But public may not aware that we have not only four CTUs.
After 9/11 and Bali Bombing, alot of money pour into anti terror program enough to drive Indonesia armed forces and Polri to such CTU euphoria.
Polri not only develop Densus-88 since it already has Gegana Detachment as special response unit specialized in explosives disposal. Now Gegana is in Regimental level under Brimob and the official name is Satuan Gegana. Despite the main focus is in explosive disposal, it also has ability in counter terror, hostage release operation and also deal with heavy armed criminal. In many occasion, Gegana personnel seen use the same equipment as Densus 88. After receiving anti terror task and budget, maybe Polri also develop Gegana for CTU role along with the formation of Densus 88.
In Army, things get worse. Beside Kopassus, Army has several newly established special forces that also provide counter terror special weapon and equipment for a little unit in their own.
Army assemble two special forces to deal with increasing gun fight with Free Aceh Movement (GAM) during military campaign in Aceh during 2003-2004. Peleton Intai Tempur or Tontaipur (Combat Recon Unit) and Raider battalions formed under Kostrad (Army Strategic Reserve Command) by General Ryamizard Ryacudu, Army Chief of Staff.
War is over and Aceh in peace. But still, Tontaipur and 10 battalions of Raider formed for conventional warfare still in service. Both now assemble a special unit for counter terror duty though not as fully equipped as the already existing CTU in TNI and Polri. Most of their weapon not equipped with common close quarter combat apparatus such telescope, quick aim electronic dot sight, infra red dot, or maybe just a mere forehand grip.
Tontaipur and Raiders always involved in anti terror exercise held outside capital Jakarta as they already stationed in several military region command (Kodam). But with the already exist CTU units in TNI, the deployment of Tontaipur and Raider to handle terrorist attack situation directly still unlikely. In a critical situation which needs precise action, one must chose the best CTU to be in charge. It means the best trained and equipped CTU under TNI.
And we cannot left Paspampres (Presidential Security Forces) behind. They also has special equipment for counter terror operation to protect president and vice president whenever under terror attack. The Paspampres members come from TNI elite forces. Off course their deployment only related to VVIP security.
So, which one is the best?
By reputation and experience, it is Sat 81 Gultor of Kopassus. Kopassus is the oldest special forces and has been fielded in many military operations from Dwikora, Trikora, and East Timor. Sat Gultor alone was highly admired with their success in two famous hostage release operation, Operation Woyla in Don Muang Airport Thailand in 1981 and Mapenduma Papua in 1996.
Regarding multi environment mission, we cannot put Denjaka aside. Their member has exceptional ability in sea operation. Almost all Denjaka members can swim across the 16 mile Sunda Strait. Sunda Strait swim race usually held as annual event to commemorate Marine anniversary.
But regarding equipment, other CTU must envy to Densus 88 which development and assembly directly assisted by US government along with the War on Terror policy. Densus 88 members were trained by FBI and maybe CIA in Polri training facility in Sukabumi, West Java.
After 9/11, US government seek ally to combat and hunt down every terrorist linked to Al Qaeda. Indonesia and Philippine are too important to be missed by Bush administration.
Philippine was a traditional ally of US since they face rebellion launched by Moslem guerrilla seek for independence in southern Minadanao region.
Indonesia is a largest Moslem country also face threat from a small but dangerous group called Jama’ah Islamiyah (JI), regarding to US intelligence JI was a branch of Al Qaeda operate in south east Asia. JI allegedly responsible for several bomb attack in Bali and Jakarta which took hundreds live of innocent civilian.
But War on Terror policy applied differently between Indonesia and Philippine. In Philippine, US helped the Armed Forces to suppress the Moslem rebellion. In Indonesia, US chose to cooperate with Polri since Indonesia Armed Forces, especially Kopassus, still lingered with many human right violation cases during and at the end of Soeharto regime.
So, Densus 88 enjoy the luxury others CTU hardly to get. Densus 88 have full access to US made equipment the Indonesian military units had been restricted to.
In 2006, Major General Syaiful Rizal, commander of Kopassus, complained to Juwono Sudarsono, the Minister of Defense, about the lack of equipment. For close quarter battle, Sat 81 Gultor only equipped with H&K MP-5 sub machine gun but only effective in limited distance or closed environment such building.
”We need a special weapon useful for engaging close combat. it would be smaller from standard rifle but bigger than what we have now,” said Syaiful.
Syaiful still recognize that Pindad (Army Industries) had provide carbine version (shorter barrel version) of SS-1 standard rifle named SS-1 V5.
”But we need a rifle that can be fitted with many equipment such telescope and infra red,” Syaiful replied.
He didn’t mention the specific names of the weapon. But it is obvious he refer to Colt M-4, a carbine version of M-16, already acquired by Densus 88. It is the gun many western special forces depend on, but Kopassus hardly to get legally from US due to military embargoes despite being lifted recently and human right issue.
Human right issue alway and still haunted Kopassus. When Kopassus joint the exercise held by US Pacific Command in Hawaii 2006, some human right activist filed protest to US Congress.
Densus 88 Polri regarded as civilian forces and Polri human right violation records during Soeharto regime was regarded as collateral damage from TNI’s policies since Polri once was under TNI (during Soeharto, the TNI name was ABRI).
Equipment acquired by Densus 88 is US standard, maybe can be compared to FBI hostage rescue team and US police SWAT. It still unknown how much fund donated by US government to Polri for anti terror mission until now. But it is estimated that not less than $ 100 million been given to Polri. Densus 88 assembly alone needed $ 16 million in 2003.
Nowadays, equipment was not an issue since there are lot of option for close combat weapon. I saw Marine acquired some H&K G-36 and H&K 416 though in limited numbers, while Kopassus has several Sig-550 in their inventory. Pindad also deliver SS-2 V5 considered better than its predecessor SS-1. The embedded picatinny rail made SS-2 V5 easy to be fitted with many combat gadget.
It is good to have many CTUs to ensure security in all condition and environment. Indonesian people shall not fear any possible Mumbay like terror attack in the future because our CTUs are well trained and some very well equipped.
The question is, is it all CTUs needed? What about the chain of command for deploying the CTUs. How do we define in which situation and place which CTU be needed?
When a terrorist raid a building in Jakarta, who will be in charge of hostage crisis situation? Polri’s Densus 88 or Kopassus‘s Sat-81 Gultor? What if the terrorist attack a village in the middle of jungle located in the middle of remote island. Will it be Sat-81 Gultor”s or Denjaka‘s job? How about terror attack happen in a highway outside city and near the jungle. Should Gegana or Densus 88 allowed to joint?
I just still still wonder on what occasion CTU from Tontaipur and Raider will likely be deployed or involved. It is obvious they are not the first tier CTU in Indonesia despite Raider 10 battalions with each own CTU was better spread across Indonesia than any other CTU mostly located in Jakarta. TNI chief of staff and Polri should talk together.
Issue on Islamic Terror Jihadist
Almost all CTU exercise always related to recent terror issue such Al Qaeda and JI. On March 2006, Navy conducted anti terror exercise for Denjaka in Malacca Strait. The scenario is, a group of 15 terrorists hijacked passenger ship KM Kelud departed from Belawan, Medan, steamed along Malacca Strait bound for Tanjung Balai Karimun, Riau Islands, near Singapore. Denjaka will strike from air and sea, release the hostage and capture or take down the terrorist. And you know, the terrorist group wear Arabic kaffiyeh scarf and gamis (Arabic style shirt).
On December 2008 president gave order to TNI for conducting a joint anti terror exercise with all TNI and Polri forces and held in several cities at same time like Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Surabaya and in Malacca Strait. It was the largest joint exercise. More than 6.500 troops and police unit participate in this exercise. The scenario always the same, hostage crisis.
Whether it is just a coincidence as the joint exercise was held just three week after Mumbay massacre committed by Islamic hardline group seek for Kashmir Independence from India. And Indonesian government says the exercise was an answer for such Mumbay terror treat. Only this time, I didn’t see the bad guys wear outfit symbolize certain group.
Indonesia has some experience regarding hostage crisis scenario. We remember Woyla Operation in 1981 when some Islamic radical group led by Imran who claimed the action from Komando Jihad (Jihad Command), took hostage of Garuda Airlines passenger plane Woyla. We may easily called Imran and Komando Jihad as terroris movement
Held hostage scenario repeated again when some Free Papua Organization (OPM) guerrillas kidnapped foreign scientists in Papua jungle in 1996. Hostage release mission conducted by Kopassus, led by Prabowo Subianto, regarded as one of the best special force operation. Until now, Indonesian government never declared or asked United Nation to described OPM as terrorist group which can hampered their political and fund raising activities in foreign country.
But there was another group from Indonesia hold all time hostage record. It may surprised you. They were Republik Maluku Selatan (South Molucca Republic– RMS) fanatics who live in Holland. You can make a list of RMS terror action in Holland despite no one called them terrorist.
On Desember 1975, six Moluccan youths raided Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam while other seven RMS activist take hostage of passenger train near Wijster. On May 1977, RMS take hostage of 50 train passenger near De Punt while other group take hostage of school in Bovensmilde. In the morning of 13th March 1978 three RMS activist seized the province hall in Assen. The motive of all this terror conduct are the same, south Molucca independence from Indonesia occupation. It doesn’t make any sense as to why RMS terrorize Holland, not Indonesia. Why bite the hand that gives you food?
Until now, RMS still considering a dangerous separatist movement in Maluku Province. Many believe they are behind the Molucca civilian conflict in 2000 that cost thousand lives. Cakalele dance incident performed by RMS activist before President SBY during visit to Ambon in 2007 was one of many hard evidence.
Despite their power in Maluku is very small, it is so obvious that RMS separatist that never acknowledge Indonesia’s sovereignity still want to make revolt. But still, no one called them a terrorist group. And TNI never held anti terror exercise using RMS as the actor.
Until recently, JI and Al Qaeda operator in Indonesia never took hostage and prefer stealthy attack by using bomb targeting civilian. They never claim their actions, let alone to make such open gun attack like Mumbay massacre.
In this case, JI and Al Qaeda are very different from any terrorist or free movement group in Islamic world during 1970-1980. The old time Islamist group always claimed their terror action to show the world what they capable of. But now we have so called jihadist terrorist who acted cowardly like a damned ghost.
Some people believe there are ghosts but never see them. It is easier to deal with ghost than any real one, especially in anti terror exercise scenario.