Suharto’s Story as a Commander of the First Kostrad and a Mission to West Papua

goodmorningpapua.com – Beginning of the Army Strategic Reserves Command [Komando Cadangan Strategis Angkatan Darat], abbreviated as “Kostrad” in 1961, was inseparable from West Papua.

And the Suharto name has an important history with this unit in the Indonesian Army. Before becoming the first commander in Kostrad or Pangkostrad, Major General Suharto was appointed to be the Chairman of the First Army Corps or Army General Reserve (Korra/Caduad).

Quoting the official website kostrad.mil.id, the unit that became the pioneer of this Kostrad was established on March 6, 1961 by AH. Nasution through the skepticism of Kasad No. KPTS.1067/12/1960 date. December 27, 1960.

On December 11, 1961, the National Defense Council was officially formed and established the Supreme Operations Command (KOTI) which was led directly by President Sukarno.

According to the book History of the TNI-AD, 1945-1973: The Role of the TNI-AD in Defending the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (1979), at the Ministry of Agriculture session in Yogyakarta on 19 December 1961, Bung Karno sparked the idea of ‚Äč‚ÄčTrikora.

It was through this Trikora that the military operation to liberate the land of West Papua aka West Irian from under the Dutch began. Quoted from a book entitled Testimony About Bung Karno (1999), the main goal of the Trikora was to thwart the puppet state of Papua and integrate West Irian with Indonesia.

Furthermore, Bung Karno formed the Mandala Command on January 2, 1962 by appointing Major General Suharto as commander in chief.

In conducting the Mandala Command’s mission, Suharto has a deadline of seven months, starting from January, to organize his forces so that he must fly the Red-White flag in West Irian. Based on the records of the 1949-1969 West Irian Liberation Struggle Archives, Suharto drew up three plans. Among them, namely forming a joint force, building bases, and monitoring the strength of the Dutch.

Not only that, Suharto, who was known as a calm and smiling commander, also held military operations for the liberation of West Irian. This operation is divided into three phases.

First, the Infiltration Phase which he carried out until the end of 1962. In this phase there was an open attack called Operation Jayawijaya. Suharto mobilized 10 companies around certain targets to form a de facto free area.

Second, doing an open attack against the Dutch military forces which began in early 1963 (the Exploitation Phase). The main mission is to occupy all the important defensive posts of the opposing side. On this attack, the Dutch began to tremble and finally surrendered unconditionally. The handover of West Irian was carried out on March 1, 1963, marked by the raising of the Red-White flag in West Irian.

Third, after the Mandala Command Troops succeeded in defeating the Dutch military, Suharto did the Consolidation Phase in early 1964 under the heading of Wisnu Murti’s operation. The main goal of this phase is to uphold the absolute power of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia in West Irian from the intervention of the Dutch.

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