It is really ironic. Though the state of ours has over 11 years been in the reform era and implemented civil supremacy over the military, political elites in the government or the House of Representatives have no had clear understanding on how to enforce the concept of civil supremacy over the military.
Our state has actually had the Decree No.3/2002 mandating the government to soon arrange a white paper as the national defense blueprint. And this has indeed been conducted by the Department of Defense. Unfortunately, the Decree No. 3/2002 has not yet given wide and strategic authority to president as chief executive in determining any strategic defense policy.
As a result, since the decree was issued in 2002, president which was in the time served by Megawati Sukarnoputri, has not yet been able to explain concretely who should be in charge of dealing with the civil authority in regard with the defense matter, should he be minister of defense or Indonesian army commander?
Because the Decree No.3 2002 did not give wide and clear authority to president as chief executive, the civil supremacy has till to not yet been capable of elaborating civil authority over the military.
In Indonesia, the main crucial problem in terms of the national defense is that in elaborating the civil supremacy in defense and security sectors, president as chief executive only has authority to use the Indonesian Army (TNI) as defense force.
Whereas, in elaborating the civil supremacy over the military, president also has two other authorities, namely developing and building defense force.
Here has been the vulnerable side of the implementation of the civil supremacy till now that the Decree No. 3 2002 has given no president greater authority that in addition to having authority to use TNI in any battle, president should also have authority to both develop and build the TNI power.
That is why, it is surprising that there have so far been no legislative and presidential hopefuls expressing their concern about the vulnerable side of the decree. That without the authority in developing and building TNI as defense force, it is reasonable enough if president has no clear legal references to whom the civil authority should be given.
Not surprisingly, since the defense decree was implemented in 2002 during the Megawati Sukarnoputri's administration, what emerging has been the competition to have more authority between minister of defense and TNI commander. Ironically, Megawati did not attempt to make such standard interpretation to elaborate the Decree No. 2 2002 which is basically in the spirit and the mindset of the civil supremacy itself. Unfortunately such attempts to elaborate the decree was not yet completed.
So during the Megawati's era, TNI commander could make use of any space of the unclarity of authority possessed by president as the guardian of civil supremacy to TNI. That means TNI commander de facto held civil authority in the defense sector.
So it is quite logical. Though the defense white paper has recently been arranged by the Department of Defense, it has substantially still been littered with chapters more beneficial to TNI as such a corporation, instead of elaborating the nation's strategic willingness over the importance of having a guidance and guideline in arranging the national defense posture which is strategically needed for the coming 10 to 15-year period.
As a result the absence of more authority possessed by president in both developing and building TNI as a defense force, the president has no legal reference to give wide authority to minister of defense of the Department of Defense to settle the clarity of the nation's priority and defense strategy.
Legislative candidates and moreover presidential candidates should realize and understand the importance of taking agenda of the defense issue. Imagine, the defense white paper which is recognized as the greater strategy of the national defense has not included geostrategic analysis and the latest international conditions related especially to the relationship dynamics among countries and the recent dynamics of regional strength.
Whereas, to arrange a defense posture capable of meeting various era's challenges, understanding the recent world trends should be the main reference in arranging any type of threat faced. As a result, strategies to face the type of threat can be arranged in addition to setting up a priority scale as supporting element which is also the main need in endorsing the implemented defense strategies.
It is once again logical if looking back to what was going on during the Megawati' administration that the purchase of four jet fighters, Sukhoi, from Russia did not reflect what becomes the type of threat and strategy implemented by TNI. The decision to purchase of the 4 Sukhoi jet fighters was solely a project for providing equipments because it is very beneficial in business and gives big commissions for brokers in the body of TNI or the Department of Defense.
It is understandable that though in the time the minister of defense was a civil politician Matori Abdul Jalil, the network and chain of TNI (army: read) was still powerful enough in the Department of Defense.
In addition to providing defense equipments addressing no defense strategic need because we have not yet had defense strategy or because of the absence a clear elaboration in regard with the great strategy of the national defense, we have also paid no more attention to our defense budget.
What is to say here is that the already-arranged defense budget does not synchronize with other aspect of the defense management, namely Defense Strategic Plan and the TNI Defense Posture for the coming 10 to 15-year period.
All this is due to the fact that as a civil political authority, president has no clear authority in developing and building TNI as the defense force. This fact will in turn make minister of defense powerless as the representation of civil supremacy over the TNI.
For that reason, the 2009 legislative candidates should give priority in legalizing the national security concept through the national security bill which has still been discussed in the House of the period 2004-2009. Unfortunately, members of the Commission I of the House for the period 2004-2009 have likely not taken great interest in for the purposeful idea of importantly forming the National Security Council.
Whereas through the National Security Council, any confusion and overlapping authority between minister of defense and TNI commander is inevitable.
Even any dispute between TNI and the Indonesian national police (Polri) having so far been competed with one another for gaining authority, which one is categorized as defense and which one is categorized as security can be avoided.
Through the National Security Council, president will have legal umbrella to arrange a national security strategic policy leading in turn to possible coordination mechanism between TNI, Polri, and the state intelligence. Thus the national security is not such opposition or option between defense and security.
Rather, the national security is a strategic policy that aims to, among others, integrating the tasks of TNI, Polri and intelligence in addition to integrating the tasks of the department of defense, department of foreign affairs, department of home affairs, and the Attorney General.
That is why, the strategic agenda of the 2009 legislative hopefuls are only two, namely revising the defense decree no 3/2002 and completing the national security bill leading to the National Security Council.
The writer is director of the Global Future Institute (GFI) and expert in international politics