In this interview, Lieutenant General (Ret.) Agus Widjojo of the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) discusses the process of military reform, the difficulties encountered in removing the military from the political process, and the progress still to be made. He discusses the ethos of reform embraced by the TNI as a process of drawing back in places where it had overstepped its constitutional mandate of national defense, and emphasizes the importance of the reform’s initiation within the military itself. He also notes the long and complicated process of developing a model for a functional civilian-military divide and how to designate responsibility within that split—something that he acknowledges still has room for improvement. In an interview simultaneously grounded in the country’s history and forward-looking, Widjojo reflects on his core involvement at the outset of reform, and on his perspective as an outside observer since his retirement in 2003.
Lieutenant General (Ret.) Agus Widjojo graduated from the Indonesian Military Academy in 1970. During his time in the military he served both as the Chief of Staff for Territorial Affairs and also as the Deputy Chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly during a period of deep military involvement in civilian government institutions. A reform-minded officer, he helped jumpstart the process of military withdrawal from politics before his retirement in 2003. Since his retirement, he has served as a commissioner to the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship, and as a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a foreign policy think tank, and is an adviser at the Institute for Peace and Democracy, the implementing agency of the Bali Democracy Forum. He holds numerous advanced degrees, including a Masters of Public Administration from George Washington University, a Masters of Military Art and Science from US Command and General Staff College, and a Masters in national security strategy from the National Defense University.