61 Years of Kostrad: Formed for The Liberation of West Papua

West Papua
Source : Youtube

Found 61 years ago on 6 March 1961, The Army Strategic Reserves Command, known in Indonesia as Kostrad  (Komando Cadangan Strategis Angkatan Darat), is a combined-arms formation of the Indonesian Army. As a Corps level command, Kostard was initially formed for the liberation of West Papua. 

West Papua
Source : Kostrad TNI

Early Days – Special Army to Freed West Papua

The idea for the formation of Kostard was initiated by Indonesia’s Army Chief of Staff, General AH Nasution, in the late 1960s. He considered the Military Regional Commands that had previously been formed, such as the Korem, Brigades, and Battalions, had not been able to handle many disturbances after Indonesia obtained its independence.

One of the problems considered urgent at the time was the dispute over the Western New Guinea region. The Dutch were trying to take it over because of its potential and turn it into a “puppet state”. Even they had already begun to build the Papuan National Committee parliament, flag propaganda, and build military strength. 

Initially designated as the Army General Reserve Corps (Cadangan Umum Angkatan Darat or Cauad), it was changed to Kostard in 1963. General Suharto was first appointed to lead Kostard’s first military operation in 1961.

Trikora – Burning Spirits to Take Back What Belongs to Indonesia 

On 19 December 1961, Soekarno launched the People’s Tri Command or known as Trikora, in Alun-Alun Utara (North Square), Yogyakarta. The first president of Indonesia, Soekarno, instigated Trikora to fuel the enthusiasm of the Indonesian people to reclaim West Papua and prevent the Dutch from making Papua their puppets.

Trikora is the acronym for “Tri Komando Rakyat”, which means the three commandos of human beings. The three commandos of the operation are: abort the establishment of Papua states, raise the Indonesian flag there, and get geared up for mobilization to maintain the independence and the unity of the state.

To start the Trikora Operation, Indonesia looked for external weapon assistance. They attempted to ask the United States for help but failed. In 1960, Indonesia subsequently had an alternate weapon settlement with the Uni Soviet government that counted up to 2.5 billion US dollars. And the Indonesian National Army claimed that Indonesia has the most powerful Air Force among the southern nations. 

Jayawijaya: Biggest Operation that Never Happens

To carry out the Trikora Operation, Major General Soeharto, who previously led Korra I Caduad, was given the mandate to carry out this Trikora operation. It was given through Mandala Command, formed by no other than Soekarno himself, to raise the red and white flag in West Papua before the anniversary of Indonesia’s independence on 17 August 1962.

Jayawijaya operation is the largest amphibious warfare in the history of Indonesian military operations. No less than 100 warships and 16,000 soldiers were prepared for the operation. The background of this plan of operation was that the Netherlands did not want to hand over West Irian to Indonesia, so the conflict referred to this plan of operation. However, this operation was not carried out due to the New York agreement being reached.

Kostard- New Name, New Beginning

The Netherlands finally recognized Indonesia’s resolve, as the Dutch government signed the New York Agreement. 

The name Caduad was officially changed to Kostard in 1963 after Major General Suharto made further studies to establish a strategic reserve force.

As the first commander of Trikora’s operational command, Major-General Suharto planned an invasion and began making land, air, and sea intrusion to take back what belonged to Indonesia. Through the Mandala command operation, Suharto led the troops to fight in most army operations to defend the nation.

One of the famous Kostard operations includes the 30 September Movement of the Indonesian Communist Party, where Suharto led the nationwide violent anti-communist purge. He gained much power to mount the “de-Sukarnozation” campaign to reduce Sukarno’s influence, replaced him, and became Indonesia’s longest president. 

Not only that, but Kostrad troops also had a lot of operations outside Indonesia’s borders, such as the operation in Egypt (1973-1978), Vietnam(1973-1975), as well as joined the United Nations military operation in the Iran–Iraq War (1989 -1990)

For now, Kostard, as the Corps level command, has up to 35.000 troops and has the role of supervising military operations readiness. Kostard also falls under the army chief of staff for training and is commanded by Pangkostard (Panglima Kostard), which is usually held by a lieutenant general. Right now, Kostard has three divisions in three headquarters, Cilodong, Singosari, and Bontomarannu. 

As the symbol of Kostrad itself was inspired by the magic weapon of Lord Krishna in the story of the Mahabharata, namely “Cakra” in the story of the Baratayuda war, Kostrad shows the strength to reclaim back West Papua. Meanwhile, their power of unity represented in the inner circle is equipped with a lotus flower with five leaves that depict the sanctity, truth, and majesty of Pancasila.