Kostrad troops boarding Lockheed Martin C130 aircraft in February 2021, bound for Intan Jaya West Papua.
Kostrad was established during Indonesia's military take over of West Papua in 1960 and was formally constituted on 6 March 1961. General Suharto, was appointed as the first head of Kostrad in 1961. It was this role that enabled Suharto to assert military control on the night of 30 September 1965, which led to Suharto replacing Sukarno as Indonesian president and the deaths of up to a million alleged communists.
Kostrad, 'Military Strategic Command' is the principle combat unit of the Indonesian Army. While Kopassus is the elite special forces of the Indonesian Army, Kostrad is the military's first-line combat force. Kostrad units are regularly deployed to West Papua, with an increased presence in border regions and wherever resistance activity is high.
This series of photos, taken in Lanny Jaya West Papua in 2022, show the continuing 'dual function' of Indonesia's military. In the absence of functioning public health and education systems the military is able to act in both medical and educational capacities, moving into schools, homes, clinics and villages to distribute nationalism along with essential services. Military involvement in vaccination programs and in primary schools has been particularly worrying for many in West Papua.
EOS T2000 Turret
This was a proud collaboration between Australian company EOS and Elbit Systems Australia. The ‘turret with the works’ has since been sold to Indonesia, for use on Czech Pandur tanks. CEO Ben Greene promotes the T2000 as supporting a wide range of ‘lethality solutions’ and having ‘unprecedented firepower’.
Norinco sells this 'APC' or weaponised vehicle to Indonesia, where it is used by Kostrad's 'Taipur' or Combat Reconnaissance units. Taipur platoons are deployed in West Papua as part of specialised 'Task Forces' such as Nemangkawi and also in their own right. It is not yet established whether this Norinco weapon is present in West Papua.
The DM11 tank ammunition is designed for use with the L44 smoothbore gun, which is used on the Leopard 2A4 tanks bought by Indonesia in 2012. Indonesian state-owned weapons factory PT Pindad manufactures Rheinmetall munitions under a license agreement negotiated in 2014.
Rheinmetall's sales pitch for DM11 tank ammunition says they designed these weapons
for engaging non-armoured and lightly armoured targets such as vehicles, antitank positions (whether dug-in or in the open), and field fortifications. Furthermore, thanks to its high precision and maximum effective range of up to five kilometres, it can be used for penetrating barriers and engaging targets taking cover behind walls, etc., as well as for breeching enemy defences and creating avenues of approach for friendly forces in built-up areas
A 'target taking cover' is a human being.
The L44 120mm tank guns are designed to go with Rheinmetall's Leopard tanks. Most countries operating Rheinmetall tanks also buy Rheinmetall tank guns and munitions. Indonesia is no exception to this rule. Indonesian government owned manufacturer PT Pindad has produced munitions for Rheinmetall combat vehicles under license since 2014.
Leopard tanks with L44 guns sold by Rheinmetall
Kostrad driving Rheinmetall's Leopard tanks in 2020
Indonesia received the first eight of an order for 61 Leopard 2A4 from Rheinmetall in 201
The Uzi submachine gun has been exported to over 90 countries. Over its service lifetime, it has been manufactured by Israel Military Industries, FN Herstal, and other manufacturers. From the 1960s through to the 1980s, more Uzi submachine guns were sold to military, law enforcement and security markets than any other submachine gun ever made.
Uzi's presence in Indonesia began with intelligence activities. Indonesia's nascent spy agency BAKIN was supported by Mossad (the Israeli Secret Service) which sent its instructors to Indonesia in 1968. This relationship has continued, not only with Mossad, but with the United States Intelligence Agency (CIA). In 1980, the CIA conducted five sessions of counter-terrorism training and VIP protection in Indonesia. To support Indonesia, the CIA connected the Indonesian Army and BAKIN with a US weapons factory located in Philadelphia. Uzis for Indonesia are sourced here, from factories licensed by IMI to sell Uzis in the United States.
Mossad and CIA instructors continue to support Indonesian intelligence agencies along with 'anti-terror' police unit D88, running training exercises at Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation.
The soldier second from right holds an Uzi
The Galil Galatz is the favoured sniper rifle of Kostrad, the Indonesian Army Strategic Reserves Command, and is made by Israeli Weapon Industries (formerly the state-owned IMI – Israeli Military Industries).The Galatz is also used by the Indonesian Navy's Kopaska (Frog Troop Command) and the Indonesian Army's Kopassus (Special Forces Command).
Kostrad soldier with a Galil Galatz sniper rifle
Kostrad platoon with Galil Galatz rifles
Indonesia has bought a total of 28 of H225M Multirole Helicopters from Airbus at a cost of $30 million per piece. The most recent order was in 2019. This is a ‘long range, tactical, heavy lift’ helicopter that can carry 28 passengers and crew. These helicopters carry troops from major military bases into areas where West Papuan resistance is active, for instance into the highlands or, pictured here, to the island of Biak. The H225M is used by TNI AD and TNI AL special forces.
A helicopter that appears visually similar was photographed being used as part of an evacuation of civilians following conflict between militia groups and the Indonesian military in Kiwirok in September 2021.
The EVO 3 is a 9mm carbine available as a submachine gun variant (A1), or a semi-automatic (S1). It is mechanically similar to the Škorpion vz. 61. It is used by Indonesia’s RESMOB, who purchased the guns following a visit to the CZ factory in 2016 and by TNI's Kostrad anti-terror unit.