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Book Reviews

Intelligence: A Soldier’s Diary (2014) by Slamet Singgih

This book review was written when I read Slamet Singgih’s work entitled: Intelijen: Catatan Harian Seorang Serdadu [Intelligence: A Soldier’s Diary]. This book opens the actual military situation of the Republic of Indonesia, from the Old Order to the Reformation Order. This book “passed censorship” to know about the life of a soldier from the beginning until the top position. 

When reading army memoirs, I always divide their lives in the theory of 30+30+30+10=100 %. The life of a soldier is divided into 30 per cent for a military career to the top, 30 per cent for preparation for retirement, 30 per cent for the family, and 10 per cent for spiritual and social functions. 

Of course, this theory is obtained when reading army memoirs such as the life stories of Sintong Panjaitan, LB Moerdani, Yoga Sugomo, Soemitro, and Ali Moertopo. It works on assignments after assignments carried out by soldiers in open and closed operations.

After reading some of the works above, as a socio-anthropological researcher, I was moved to write a complete study of the military world in Indonesia. The biographical work of the soldiers is an exciting life story to be explored in depth. Data about their personal lives, either written by the authors or presented by themselves when they retire, are an exciting resource for researchers in the social sciences and humanities to study.

 As far as is known, there has been no work on the world of the Indonesian army, which has been adapted from memoirs or stories about the life journey of the soldiers. Therefore, dissecting the world of the Indonesian military is an absolute must.

The untold story network of Indonesian soldiers sometimes reveals big stories that seem to stand alone but result from the military’s efforts to build friendship networks. For example, one of Aceh’s bankers, Adnan Ganto, is a close friend of L.B. Moerdani, who seems to have influenced various strategic decisions of the Indonesian nation. When Moerdani discovered Adnan Ganto’s figure, he asked his subordinates to check his family background in North Aceh, specifically Buloh Blang Ara. After being “clean,” Moerdani made Adnan Ganto one of the sons of Aceh, who could be close to power in this republic. 

When reading biographies of civilian figures, it seems that one will get explanation after explanation of how the Indonesian military built the network to assist the Indonesian government.

Another example is Ali Moertopo’s involvement in establishing CSIS (Centre for Strategic and International Studies) as one of the think tanks that significantly influenced the course of the New Order government. For example, this relationship can be read in Jusuf Wanandi’s memoir Menyibak Tabir Orde Baru [Removing the Veil of the New Order]. 

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It is seen how the military alliance with intellectuals controlled the Suharto regime through the CSIS. From this institution, Ali Moertopo received various inputs on the direction of the Indonesian nation. Harry Tjan Silalahi said, “Pak Ali, together with several of his friends and with the blessing of his commander, Pak Harto, founded and nurtured CSIS.” This story can be heard in Soemitro’s words below:

There are proposals to abolish the CSIS (Centre for Strategic and International Studies) founded in ’71. In the community, there is an impression as if the CSIS determines the government’s political policies. It is as if all government concepts result from CSIS’s thoughts and studies.

In addition, there was suspicion toward the Christian group at that time.

I did not immediately answer the voices. I went first to Pak Harto, and I asked Pak Harto the question, is it true that all the ideas of CSIS are the source of government policy?

Pak Harto answered firmly: “That is not true. The good I enter, I accept. I have many sources. I have a cabinet. So, it does not mean that I carry out all the results of the CSIS study.” Pak Harto said that sarcastically to me.

So I called general Ali Murtopo. I ask that such images be removed, and they usually come because of the arrogance of the members. I also want to remove the impression that CSIS is the “Kingmaker.”

The quote above is a strong statement by Soemitro, showing how to intrigue inside and outside the palace among fellow military officials. Not only that, but Soemitro also clarified his rivalry with Ali Moertopo.

 The question of rivalry is also found between Prabowo and Slamet Singgih in his memoirs. The discussion of rivalry in the Indonesian military world in Sintong Panjaitan’s biography. Some of the significant events in this republic were undeniably triggered by rivalry and how they got closer to the state palace.

Through the theory of 30+30+30+10, the career life of a soldier can be understood as to why some of them continue to take part after serving and after serving. Conversations with soldiers, Military Intermediate Officers, and Military High officers gave me various stories about applying the theory. 

The issue of the generation when reading the soldiers’ works shows the senior and junior hierarchy in the military world in Indonesia, which was also found when I sat with the security forces from the Police. Senior and junior issues sometimes play a significant role in carrying out tasks or activities in the field. 

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They keep the soul of the corps of one generation to protect and raise one another. Likewise, in family matters, it is not surprising that many children of soldiers joined the army. From almost all of my conversations with the military and Police, they have an average of 1 or 2 children.

In some cases, some have more than two children. Predictably, they will have their peak career in the 2020s. It could be said that it was now the era of the second or third generation of soldiers.

The study building on the soldier’s family is indeed interesting to observe. Many of their children have reached the level of Intermediate Officers. 

If their children are girls, they are often married off to the best soldiers so that their future is directed and guaranteed. SBY’s son, who joined the army, AHY, when he resigned from the rank of Major, is now continuing his career in politics. 

Meanwhile, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan’s son (Paulus Panjaitan) ranks Major. Not to mention the A.M. Hendropriyono, where is his son-in-law, who has already attained the rank of four stars on his shoulders. This is not to mention when Akmil alumni married the generals’ children. 

They were currently almost, on average, the rank of Major and above. The same thing can also be seen in the Indonesian Police family, where many children are enrolled in the Police Academy.

The other problem is income outside the capacity of the army. Even more than that, they also think about what work to do after retirement. Here, being “employed” is very important, especially for those who influence government circles.

 Not surprisingly, when they are retired, there are commissioners, ambassadors, ministers, government advisers, or in BUMN. Likewise, read Slamet Singgih’s book. You can see how “envelopes,” “pocket money,” and “deposits” have become certain phenomena for the welfare of soldiers. 

In several big cities, during a sitting session with a Pamen, businessmen, especially from certain ethnicities, are always “closer” to military officials in the area to smooth their business.

Within the Police, there is not much difference. When crossing the border between North Sumatra and Aceh, in the early morning hours until dawn, there was an impromptu raid in front of one of the Police Office. They stopped the vehicle from Aceh, then looked for as many faults as the driver had from the Traffic Law.

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 In contrast to the unscrupulous person on the side of the road at a busy intersection in a neighbouring province, the slightest mistake will usually end up being “solved” on the spot. 

The same thing often happens in one city in Aceh. The main target is “girls” or “teenagers” who are sure to have no Driving License and do not pay motorbike tax when driving on the road.

The above phenomenon is included in one of the 30 per cents that the soldiers must fulfil. So here, what happens is that they know each other or understand each other. General (Ret.) Soemitro wrote in his memoirs as follows: 

In another incident, I met some veterans who were looking for work. I immediately reached out, trying to help them. I’ve been thinking for a long time about those who have retired. I’ll show you this, show me that, this phone, that phone.

Were they ordered to be impoverished? Were they told to be beggars? After the war, they did all sorts of things. What’s wrong if they retire as a business? When you are still active and then do business, that’s wrong! That’s a crime! But if you’re retired, there’s no problem. Instead, each of us is forced to help ourselves. From retirement alone, they will not be able to live. Pity them.

Number one belly. The stomach also determines honor.

This expression shows nothing wrong when a retired employee “works” after retirement. Here, the concept of balance between “logic” and “logistics” in living daily life can be understood.

As for 10 per cent of the efforts of the soldiers to carry out spiritual stabilization so that they have strength in serving, in building their influence in the social, career, charisma, and “fortress” fields for the duration of their assignment. The existence of a spiritual teacher for military officials is a must. 

Some books on military memoirs rarely touch this aspect. However, this fact cannot be ignored entirely. Visiting “smart people” is commonplace. Asking how the fate of career and family. Even in strategic decisions, “spiritual figures” influence is significant. 

Slamet Singgih told how Father Soediyat influenced his military career. Father Soediyat is alleged to be Pak Harto’s spiritual teacher. Not only that, but Pak Harto is also familiar with the occult world, as can be seen in the role of Sudjono Humardani. It was stated that Sudjono Humardani often helped Pak Harto in irrational matters.

Kamaruzzaman Bustamam Ahmad

Kamaruzzaman Bustamam-Ahmad (KBA) has followed his curiosity throughout life, which has carried him into the fields of Sociology of Anthropology of Religion in Southeast Asia, Islamic Studies, Sufism, Cosmology, and Security, Geostrategy, Terrorism, and Geopolitics. KBA is the author of over 30 books and 50 academic and professional journal articles and book chapters. His academic training is in social anthropology at La Trobe University, Islamic Political Science at the University of Malaya, and Islamic Legal Studies at UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta. He received many fellowships: Asian Public Intellectual (The Nippon Foundation), IVLP (American Government), Young Muslim Intellectual (Japan Foundation), and Islamic Studies from Within (Rockefeller Foundation). He is based in Banda Aceh and can be reached at ceninnets@yahoo.com.au

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