Indonesian President Jokowi swears in new Army chief

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo will install a new Army chief on Wednesday, the new chief of the Indonesian Military (TNI) Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo disclosed on Tuesday.

Speaking during a breaking of the fast gathering with soldiers and orphans at the TNI headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, Gatot declined to elaborate on who would replace him as Army chief. The general merely expressed his hope thfat the transfer of duty between him and his successor would take place soon after the official ceremony at the State Palace.

"The swearing-in ceremony [of the new Army chief] will be conducted tomorrow, although the new Army chief has yet to be named. I hope the duty handover will proceed smoothly," said the four-star general, as quoted by Antara.

Earlier reports by several media organisations had cited the name of deputy Army chief Lt. Gen. Muhammad Munir as the leading candidate for the Army's top position. He had been adjutant to former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Antara however reported an interesting scene during Tuesday's breaking of the fast ceremony. The Army's Strategic Reserve Command chief Lt. Gen. Mulyono was seated in the first row together with Navy chief of staff Adm. Ade Supandi and Air Force chief Marshall Agus Supriatna. Knowing the TNI's strict seating etiquette, it seems very likely that Mulyono will be the new Army chief, according to Antara.

"Again, thank you to all you soldiers. Just now I mentioned the name of the Navy and Air Force chiefs. One day when we meet again, we will meet with the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs," said Gatot.

Separately, lawmaker Charles Honoris from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) also hinted that it would be Mulyono and not Munir who would become the Army's number one. "Based on what I heard, Mulyono will be the new Army chief," Charles told The Jakarta Post.

Mulyono, a former Jakarta military chief, declined to comment, saying he was not authorised to make a statement on the matter. However, he stressed that as a soldier, "I am always ready to be assigned anywhere, anytime."

Earlier on Tuesday at a ceremony at the Cilangkap headquarters former TNI chief Gen. Moeldoko handed over command of the TNI to Gatot, after which Gatot said he would continue to strengthen the country's military through the three strategic plans that had been pionereed by his predecessor.

The three strategic plans are strengthening military power, improving the TNI's welfare and maintaining the TNI's primary weapons systems.

"Besides that, we should look up and take into account global, regional and national conditions in strengthening our military," Gatot told reporters after the handover ceremony.

In regard to the frequent brawls and clashes between TNI and police personnel, the general said that both institutions had signed co-operation agreements to improve relations between them.

"We have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Police for a three-month joint training programme," he said, adding that 80 per cent of the TNI personnel who were involved in the brawls were young soldiers.

Therefore, Gatot will also evaluate TNI recruitment and training procedures during his tenure as TNI chief.

Meanwhile, a military expert, Susaningtyas Nefo Handayani Kertopati said Gatot should focus on maintaining and improving TNI's primary weapons systems and improving the training and welfare of TNI personnel.

"Besides that, the TNI should also be prepared to face new threats," Susaningtyas told the Post.

According to her, to stop TNI and police clashes, Gatot should be able to identify the roots of the problems, including welfare gaps.

"Enforcing personnel discipline alone is not enough," she added.