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08JAKARTA8 2008-01-02 10:19:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Jakarta
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1. (C) SUMMARY: President Yudhoyono appointed new chiefs of
the Indonesian Army and Air Force on December 28. The
appointments spell continued moderate reform and seem
positive for defense cooperation with the USG. The new Air
Force Chief confirmed plans to restore Indonesia's F-16 fleet
as part of the force's modernization. Separately, in a
recent meeting, Aceh Governor Irwandi gave the Ambassador a
positive assessment of a senior military leader accused of
human rights violations. Bio notes on the new Army and Air
Force chiefs are included in Para 7. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) THE NEW CHIEFS: In two recent changes, effective
December 28, LTG Agustadi Sasongko Purnomo became the new
Army Chief and Marshal Madya Subandrio became the new Air
Force Chief. Both men are moderate reformers, and neither
has been accused of human rights violations. They both are
considered friendly to the USG and in favor of closer defense
cooperation. Bio sketches are provided below. Purnomo
replaced General Djoko Santoso, who was appointed the new TNI
Chief (Panglima) on December 5 (ref a). Earlier, Yudhoyono
installed Admiral Djoko Sumardjono as the new Navy Chief on
November 12 (ref b). Subandrio replaced outgoing Air Marshal
Herman Prayitno.

3. (SBU) At his swearing-in, new Army Chief Purnomo said
professional development of personnel would be one of his top
priorities, as part of the effort to reform, overhaul and
reequip the Indonesian Army. He also pledged that the Army
would remain neutral in the 2009 elections, in line with the
TNI's exit from politics in 2004. Incoming Air Force Chief
Subandrio said on December 29 that one of his priorities was
to boost Air Force weaponry capability to 60 percent from the
current level below 50 percent. This would involve restoring
the existing fleet of ten F-16s, only four of which currently
fly, and the purchase of six new Sukhoi fighters from Russia
to add to the current four. (Note: The Indonesian
government and military have discussed with us plans for
upgrading Indonesia's existing F-16 fleet as well as the
possible purchase of new F-16s.)

4. (C) POSITIVE FOR U.S.: Purnomo, whose record on human
rights appears clean, was a better choice than General
Syafrie Syamsuddin. The controversial Syafrie, the
English-speaking Deputy Defense Minister with prior U.S.
training, has been accused of complicity in human rights
violations committed in Jakarta in 1998. Although Purnomo
seems also to support engagement with the United States, his
lack of English and U.S. training may hamper his ability to
promote this. That said, his appointment is positive and he
is someone with whom we can work. The appointment of Purnomo
as Army Chief responds to the USG's concerns that Syafrie's
promotion would have dampened U.S.-Indonesia mil-mil

with the Ambassador on December 1 (ref c), i.e., before these
appointments, Aceh Governor Yusuf Irwandi expressed concern
about the anticipated change of commands within the TNI
leadership and the implications for Aceh. Irwandi asserted
that most senior officers were inclined to whitewash news
from the field and sweep inconvenient details under the
carpet. Fortunately, President Yudhoyono knew how to ask
tough questions to get at the truth. General Bambang
Darmono, now in charge of the TNI's Training and Doctrine
Command and previously Assistant Chief of Staff for
Operations, was a notable exception, according to Irwandi,
because Darmono routinely questioned information from the
field. Irwandi went to far as to say that Darmono's
fair-minded assessments from the field made possible
Jakarta's acceptance of the Ahtissaari-led MOU ending the
Aceh conflict in 2005.

JAKARTA 00000008 002 OF 002

6. (C) Darmono's past assignments in Aceh, including as
commander of operations from 2002 to 2005, have laid him open
to charges of human-rights violations by troops under his
command during the military's campaign against the separatist
Aceh Liberation Movement (GAM). Irwandi's assessment, while
not disputing that human rights violations occurred, paints
Darmono's role in a very favorable light. The fact that the
comment comes from Irwandi, a former GAM leader, outweighs
the more negative views of some observers.


-- Agustadi Sasongko Purnomo is a graduate of the Indonesian
Military Academy (1974), the Army War college (1989) and the
Military Socio-Political Course (Sussospol) (1995). Major
past billets have included tours in Aceh (1991-1994), East
Timor (1975, 1983) and Irian Jaya, Papua 2001). Purnomo was
Regional TNI Commander for the Jakarta Region in 2004-2006
and, until his recent appointment, Secretary to Coordinating
Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adi
Sucipto. He was born in Surabaya, East Java, on August 6,


-- Madya Subandrio is a graduate of the Air Force Academy
(1975) and the Air Force Flight School (1977) who has had
several operational commands, including Head of the Air Force
Special Forces, Staff Assistant for Logistics at the Air
Force Headquarters and, most recently, Deputy Air Force
Chief. He served as Director of Education, Deputy Commander
and then Commander of the Air Force Academy. He was born in
Bandung, West Java, on March 22, 1953 and has three children.