RSIS Panel Webinar on “Assessing the Role of TNI in Combating Covid-19 in Indonesia”
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, the TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) has been deployed as a quick reaction force to combat the pandemic. Under Law No. 34/2004 on the TNI, the military can be deployed to support military operations other than war (MOOTW). Tackling the pandemic can be viewed as part of the TNI’s role to support civil authorities when faced with a domestic crisis. However, the growing expansion of TNI involvement in non-combat affairs including COVID-19, could distract the TNI from its primary role in securing national sovereignty and preparations for external defence. Although TNI officers do not dominate the decision-making process in both national and regional COVID-19 taskforces, many analysts and activists have warned about Indonesia’s perceived movement down a slippery slope of militarisation. This webinar aims to assess the impact of COVID-19 on TNI military effectiveness and the nature of civil-military relations in Indonesia. Furthermore, the seminar seeks to understand how a military, and in this case specifically the TNI, can help win the fight against pandemics. More importantly, how does the current environment shape its MOOTW capability development? Could the Indonesian government’s excessive dependence on the TNI hamper the ability of civilian institutions to handle similar challenges in the future?
About the Speakers
Frega Wenas Inkiriwang is lecturer at Indonesian Defence University (IDU). Lt. Col. Frega is also a PhD candidate and a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He is an awardee of the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) scholarship. To complete his Master’s degree in International Relations he was awarded an Australian Defence Cooperation Scholarship in 2007 to study at Macquarie University. Lt. Col. Frega has a second Master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the United States Army Command and General Staff College that he received in 2013 funded through an International Military Education & Training (IMET) scholarship. His doctoral dissertation discusses Indonesia’s defence diplomacy evolution. He has published articles for the peer-reviewed journals, in May 2020 for Pacific Review titled “Garuda Shield’ vs ‘Sharp Knife’: Operationalising Indonesia’s Defence Diplomacy” and in January 2020 for the Australian Journal of International Affairs titled “The dynamic of the US-Indonesia defence relations: the ‘IMET ban’ period”.
Diandra Megaputri Mengko is researcher at Center for Political Studies, Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI). Diandra gained her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Parahyangan Catholic University in 2010. She holds a Master’s degree in Defence Management from Indonesian Defence University (IDU). Diandra has been involved in various LIPI’s research projects related to TNI, intelligence, and counterterrorism. She was also part of LIPI research team that examined progress of intelligence reform in Indonesia. Her research interests include security sector reform and intelligence studies.