I’m not talking about the hit Indonesian martial arts film about a crack police team raiding an abandoned building and fighting gangsters. I’m talking about the commencement last Thursday of the trial for 12 Kopassus soldiers who are accused of raiding Yogyakarta’s Sleman prison in March and killing four detainees.
The Kopassus soldiers are alleged to have carried out the shootings in revenge for the fatal stabbing of a Kopassus sergeant in a Yogya nightclub after a dispute with the detainees, who turned out to be gang members. When the case hit the media, there were varying levels of public denial from military leadership about Kopassus involvement. Some, like former intelligence chief (and former Kopassus member) Hendro Priyono who attended the trial on Thursday, had defended the special forces soldiers by pointing to the initial stabbing as a ‘human rights violation’. The trial and mixed messages of senior leadership (both currently serving and retired) make it a current case of the continuing challenges of TNI reform. Also of note is the extent to which they shape public perception of the extra-judicial killings.
This was seen on Thursday with strong public support for the soldiers, including from paramilitary groups photographed outside the military courthouse who showed up in force.
Correction to the previous tweet: they are pro-Kopassus militia, the "Alliance Rejecting the Intervention of Human Rights Propaganda"
Supporters who were interviewed by Tempo praised the actions of Kopassus soldiers in cleaning up the city’s streets of preman, or ‘gangsters’. To give you an idea of the pro-soldier sentiment, the red banner in the middle reads ‘The people of Yogyakarta are ready to replace the 12 Kopassus warriors in prison’ (errors in translation mine). The idea of Hendro Priyono and others that Kopassus were carrying out a positive act appears to be echoed in these public displays. The black banner in the foreground implores the judge to consider the track record of Kopassus not only in providing rescue services during the 2006 earthquake and 2010 eruption of Mt Merapi but also helping to rid the city of the ‘crime of Decky and others’ (the detainees).
But we shouldn’t be confused about who’s really on trial here. If there’s an ounce of credibility to the statements by Indonesia’s new Army Chief of changing military culture and improving professionalism, Kopassus simply cannot be celebrated as victors against preman-ism or victims of ‘human rights propaganda’. Human rights organisations, most notably Komnas HAM (Indonesia’s National Commission for Human Rights), have also called for military leaders in command of the soldiers and police in charge of prisoners’ welfare to be held accountable.
None of this is to suggest that Indonesia’s reform of its military has failed. There was a signal sent by the reassignment of Diponegoro Military District Command chief Major Geneneral Hardiono Saroso for stating all his soldiers, including the accused who were in his operational area, were at barracks the night of the killings (a statement he later retracted). But there’s still more to be done. Simply, the case highlights the importance of the TNI leadership at all levels in unequivocally committing to cultural change and publicly supporting the rule of law.
How do Indonesia’s police do crowd control? ‘Gangnam Style’, of course. With May Day bringing thousands of demonstrators to Indonesia’s streets protesting for better workers’ rights, Indonesian policewomen in Surabaya danced to the hit song by Psy to keep crowds happy. Well played, POLRI PR, well played.
USS NICHOLAS (FFG-47) Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) team members train Kenyan naval personnel onproper apprehension techniques while in port Mombasa, Kenya during Africa Partnership Station – East 2010.
West Africa today is plagued by a variety of serious maritime security (MARSEC) concerns. Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, trafficking of persons, arms, and drugs, oil bunkering, illegal migration, and piracy have contributed to a maritime environment characterized by crime and corruption. The costs of these illegal activities are significant; the cost of illegal fishing alone is over $1 billion US Dollars annually, and an estimated 600,000 people are trafficked illegally each year. Pirate attacks targeting oil product vessels in West Africa are occurring with increasing regularity, and are becoming increasingly violent. Like much of the rest of Africa, the nations of West Africa have traditionally held a land-centric view of security. National navies, as well as other maritime entities such as coast guards and fisheries patrols, have never been in the vanguard of training or financial investment. Despite this, recent years have seen a renewed focus on maritime security in West Africa, driven by concerns of piracy, threats to oil production, and international programs of assistance. Many nations and organizations have strategic interests in building strong MARSEC partnerships with West African nations, most in the hopes of protecting or establishing maritime enterprise relationships. The United States Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Doctrine for 2012, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, discusses the importance of partnerships around the world, including those in Africa. This document sets forth a goal to “become the security partner of choice” in nations of interest, and advocates an “innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approach”, with an emphasis on exercises, rotational presence, and advisory capabilities.
In writing this article I consulted senior DEA Special Agents who have worked extensively with the Jungla commandos in Colombia. Their identities have been withheld by request.
This post originally appeared at Small Wars Journal, here.
The Jungla Commandos, or Compañía Jungla Antinarcóticos (Counter-narcotics Jungle Company; JUNGLA), as they are properly known, are Colombia’s premier national counter-narcotics (CN) interdiction unit. Falling under the Dirección de Antinarcóticos (Directorate of Counter-narcotics; DIRAN) of the Policía Nacional de Colombia (National Police of Colombia; PNC), the Junglas were formed from 120 men in 1989, with the support of both the US and UK. The first course, in 1989, was conducted with training from the British Special Air Service (SAS), although the US Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (7th SFG(A)) provided some behind-the-scenes support and translators. The SAS continued to take the lead until 1991, when US Special Forces took over primary responsibility. In 1998, training responsibility was handed off to the JUNGLA cadre, with ongoing US support.
In recent years, training has been supported primarily by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and US Army Special Forces. DEA agents embed with the Junglas during High-Value Target (HVT) capture and interdiction missions, as well as providing specialised tactical and firearms training, and the US Army provides specialised land warfare training. Funding comes primarily from the US State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the Narcotic Affairs Section (NAS) at the US Embassy in Bogotá. The US Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and other US government entities have also been involved in training and providing support for the Junglas. According to sources I spoke with, the Junglas have very little crossover with the Colombian military; however they have conducted some joint operations with the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (Colombian Air Force; FAC). It is also believed that British MI6 agents (and possibly SAS and SBS personnel) continue to support interdiction efforts in Colombia.
From the top of the Bali 2002 Bomb Memorial, two snipers (above) kept watch while Prime Minister Julia Gillard and other officials paid their respects yesterday morning.
Dressed in black, complete with facemasks, the snipers were most likely from Detachment C (anti-terror) of Gegana, a branch of Indonesia’s special operations police force (BRIMOB) and ostensibly tasked with police special operations duties.
In writing this post I consulted a senior representative from KRISS USA, as well as a serving member of the AFP who is familiar with current TRT practices. Their identities have been withheld at their request. I also requested an official comment from the AFP, but only received the following from a spokesperson: “For operational reasons, it would not be appropriate for the AFP to provide this type of information about its accoutrements and their use”.
By now, most people interested in small arms have at least heard of the KRISS Vector; in fact, the KRISS Vector SMG caused quite a stir when it was showcased in early 2007. It is a selective fire submachine gun featuring single, two-round burst and fully automatic modes, and chambered (currently) for .45 ACP. It has a cyclic rate of 850-1100 rounds per minute, and fires from a closed bolt using a mechanically-delayed blowback system. Built around the KRISS Super V System (KSVS), the Vector utilises in-line design and asymmetrical recoil (the ‘vectored bolt’ technology) to greatly reduce felt recoil and muzzle climb. KRISS themselves claim that the KSVS can reduce felt recoil by up to 60%, and barrel elevation by 95%; the claimed muzzle rise is about 1.8 degrees.
I attended SHOT Show 2011 in January, and had the opportunity to examine and fire the Vector SMG for myself. Whilst there are manyothers who have spoken on the relative merits of the weapon, I was very impressed. The Vector SMG was comfortable, well balanced, and controllable during fully-automatic fire. What really impressed me, however, was the accuracy of the weapon when firing two-round bursts. The KRISS website shows the rather impressive outcome of one such burst here. In certain scenarios, the practical applications of being able to put two .45 ACP rounds on target with lightning speed and precision are very significant indeed.