Gatot Subroto (10 October 1907, Banyumas – 11 June 1962, Jakarta) was an Indonesian general who began his military career with the Royal Dutch East Indies Army and rose to be deputy Army chief-of-staff.
Gatot Subroto was born in Purwokerto, Central Java. He began his education at a Eurpeesche Lagere School, an elementary school for the children of Europeans, but was expelled for fighting with Dutch children. He then moved to a Hollands Inlandse School for Indonesians. He did not continue his education after graduating from this elementary school, but instead found a job. However, he did not like this, and decided on a military career.
Pre-independence military career
In 1923, Gatot enrolled in military school in Magelang. After graduating, he joined the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL) and rose to the rank of sergeant. In 1942, the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies, and Gatot joined the PETA (Defenders of the Fatherland), an army set up by the Japanese in case of invasion by the allies. He received training in Bogor, and was appointed commander of a company in Banyumas, then a battalion commander.
Gatot was one of the group of ex-KNIL NCOs, which included future president Suharto and future army chief-of-staff Ahmad Yani who joined the BKR (People's Security Agency), the forerunner of the Indonesian Army as soon as it was set up after the Indonesian Declaration of Independence on 17 August 1945. On 5 October 1946, he was appointed commander of the II/Gunung Jati Division in Central Java. On 31 May 1948 he became commander of the Military Police and later that year Military Governor of the Surakarta-Semarang-Pati-Madiun region. He was involved in the suppression of the 1948 Madiun Revolt. In July 1949, he went to Yogyakarta shortly after Army commander Sudirman's return to the city, which at the time was the capital. There he was sick, and had to be treated at the Panti Rapih Hospital.
On 3 August 1949, President Sukarno announced a ceasefire with the Dutch, and Nasution, commander of the Java Military Territory, decided a reorganization of divisions was needed to face the threat of a possible third Dutch "police action". Central Java's III and IV divisions were merged, and Gatot Subroto appointed commander, although he was still in hospital at the time. He was officially inaugurated on 20 November as commander of the renamed III/Diponegoro Division, which became the IV/Diponegoro Military Territory in December. In this capacity, he issued a warning to one of his brigade commanders, Suharto over the establishment of a transport enterprise using Army vehicles, which the future president had set up to provide jobs for veterans.
In March 1952, Gatot moved to Makassar to take over command of the VII/Wirabuana Military Territory, which covered all of Indonesia east of Java and Kalimantan. However, on 16 November he was arrested and displaced by his chief-of-staff, Lt Col J.M. Warouw. This was one of a series of small-scale coups against officers blamed for their involvement in the 17 October 1952 incident where troops demonstrated in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta calling for the dissolution of the legislature. Although Gatot supported the demonstration, he was not present in Jakarta at the time. He was subsequently either placed on non-active status as a result of the incident or resigned from the military.
On 20 May 1953, he attended a meeting led by Nasution (also inactive) in Tugu, West Java at which it was decided to establish a political party to "fight for the return to the spirit of the 1945 Constitution. The party was called the League of Upholders of Indonesian Independence (IPKI). The party won four seats in the 1955 election, and Gatot Subroto became a member of the Indonesian legislature representing Central Java.
Return to the military
Soon after the elections, the cabinet and the Army began the process of appointing an Army chief-of-staff to replace the acting head Colonel Lubis, who had not officially been installed. Gatot Subroto emerged as a "compromise candidate", but turned down the job as he was worried about being manipulated by other officers. He told the cabinet that if they wanted a high quality officer, they should recall Nasution to the post. Nasution was officially re-appointed on 7 November 1955. The following year, Gatot Subroto was appointed deputy chief-of-staff, a position he held until his death.
In 1959, together with Nasution, he called a special meeting of the major political parties at the time to persuade them to support the proposal to return to the 1945 Constitution, which had been abrogated in favor of the Provisional Constitution of 1950 nine years before. All parties eventually agreed, and on 5 October 1959, the 1945 Constitution was reimposed by presidential decree.
Later that year, Nasution and Gatot Subroto decided against taking further action against Suharto after his dismissal from the command of the Diponegoro Division following revelations of involvement in smuggling.
Gatot Subroto died suddenly in Jakarta on 11 June 1962 and was buried in the village of Mulyoharjo near Yogyakarta. A week later, he was declared a National Hero via Presidential Decision No.222/1962.
- Bachtiar, Harsja W. (1988), Siapa Dia?: Perwira Tinggi Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat (Who is S/He?: Senior Officers of the Indonesian Army), Penerbit Djambatan, Jakarta, ISBN 979-428-100-X
- Feith, Herbert (2007) The Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia Equinox Publishing (Asia) Pte Ltd, ISBN 979-3780-45-2
- McDonald, Hamish (1980) Suharto's Indonesia Fontana/Collins, Victoria, Australia ISBN 0-00 -35721-0
- Mutiara Sumber Widya (publisher)(1999) Album Pahlawan Bangsa (Album of National Heroes), Jakarta
- Stanley Adi Prasetyo & Toriq Hadad (Editors) 1998 Jenderal Tanpa Pasukan, Politisi Tanpa Parta: Perjalanan Hidup A.H. Nasution General without Troops, Politician without a Party: The Life of A.H. Nasution, Pusat Data dan Analisa Tempo, Jakarta, ISBN 979-9065-02-X
- Sudarmanto, Y.B. (1996) Jejak-Jejak Pahlawan dari Sultan Agung hingga Syekh Yusuf (The Footsteps of Heroes from Sultan Agung to Syekh Yusuf), Penerbit Grasindo, Jakarta ISBN 979-553-111-5
- Sundhaussen, Ulf (1982) The Road to Power: Indonesian Military Politics 1945–1967, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-582521-7
- Mutiara Sumber Widya (publisher)(1999)
- Sudarmanto (1996)
- Bachtiar (1988)
- Sundhaussen (1982)
- Prasetyo & Hadad (Eds)(1998)
- McDonald (1998)
- Feith (2007)