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Komando Pasukan Khusus
Lambang Kopassus.png
Insignia of Kopassus.
Active 16 April 1952 – present
Country  Indonesia
Branch Logo Indonesian Army.jpg Indonesian Army
Type Special Operation Forces
Part of Lambang TNI.png Indonesian National Armed Forces Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI)
Garrison/HQ Cijantung
Nickname(s) Baret Merah (Red Berets)
Motto(s) Berani, Benar, dan Berhasil (English: Brave, Rightful, and Successful)
Colours Red beret

Regional rebellions 1950s
Western New Guinea 1961–1962
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation 1963–1966
Coup attempt and massacres 1965
East Timor military campaign (Seroja Operation) 1975
The Hijacking of Garuda Flight GA 206 (Woyla Operation) 1981
Operation Mapenduma 1996

1998 Jakarta riots (alleged)
See the List of Kopassus Commanders
Kopassus members

Kopassus (a portmanteau of "Komando Pasukan Khusus" or "Special Forces Command") is an Indonesian Army special forces group that conducts special operations missions for the Indonesian government, such as direct action, unconventional warfare, sabotage, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, and intelligence gathering. Kopassus was founded on 16 April 1952. It gained worldwide attention after several operations such as during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor and hostage release of Garuda Indonesia Flight 206.

The Special Forces quickly made their mark by spearheading some of the government's military campaigns: putting down regional rebellions in the late 1950s, the Western New Guinea campaign in 1961–1962, the confrontation with Malaysia from 1962–1966, the massacres of alleged communists in 1965, the East Timor invasion in 1975, and the subsequent campaigns against separatists throughout Indonesia.

Kopassus is alleged by national and international media and human rights-affiliated NGOs to have committed violations of human rights in East Timor, Aceh and Papua and the capital Jakarta. Notably in the Western press, published articles in mainstream media may include epithets such as "the notorious Kopassus".[1]


On 15 April 1952, Colonel Alexander Evert Kawilarang laid the foundation for Kesatuan Komando Tentara Territorium III/Siliwangi (Kesko TT), the early name of Kopassus.

The impetus for building this special force was provided from an experience of frustration when fighting against the troops of the RMS (Republik Maluku Selatan or Republic of the South Moluccas) forces. The Indonesians were amazed and shocked by RMS's sniper ability and skills – which the Indonesian armed forces at the time did not possess. They were then inspired to build a similar force for Indonesia. However, at that time, there were no Indonesian commanders with necessary experience nor skills in special operations. However, Lieutenant Colonel Slamet Riyadi would not see his dream realised due to his death in a battle against the troops of the separatist RMS.

Not long after, Colonel Kawilarang with the use of military intelligence located and met with Major Rokus Bernardus Visser - a former member of the Dutch Special Forces who had remained a peaceful and law-abiding citizen in newly independent Indonesia, settled in West Java, married an Indonesian woman, and was known locally as Mohamad Idjon Djanbi. He was the first recruit for the Indonesian special forces, as well as its first commander. Due to him, the unit which later became Kopassus,. Instead of the distinctive green beret (worldwide associated with special forces) the special forces of Indonesia wear red berets.

At that time, Indonesia's special force name was Third Territorial Command Commando Unit: Kesatuan Komando Teritorium Tiga (Kesko TT). Kopassus was the final result of five name changes: KTT, KKAD, RPKAD, and Kopassandha.[2] The first generation of this force was only around a hundred soldiers or one company, headquartered in Bandung.

As RPKAD (Resimen Para Komando Angkatan Darat), a name used in the 1960s, the para-military force was involved in the widespread killings[3] during Gen. Suharto's rise to power. An estimated half-a million people were killed in the anti-communist purge with strong communal overtones.

RPKAD was involved in wiping out entire villages such as Kesiman (east of Denpasar) in Bali, many of them in beach areas which are major tourist resorts today[4]

The unit also saw action during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation when in 1965, Indonesia launched a war for control of North Borneo (Sabah/Sarawak) during Malaysian independence, particularly in the Battle of Sungei Koemba.

List of Kopassus Commanders[edit]

Kopassus is currently led by Commandant General or DanJen, who holds the rank of Major General. Below is a list of commanders who have led the special forces.

List of Commandant of the Special Command Force General
Name Year Remark
Major Moch. Idjon Djanbi (Rokus Bernardus Visser) 1952–1956 Led from Kesatuan Komando Tentara Territorium III/Siliwangi (Kesko TT) till RPKAD
Major R. E. Djaelani 1956–1956 -
Major Kaharuddin Nasution 1956–1958 -
Major Mung Parahadimulyo 1958–1964 -
Colonel Sarwo Edhie Wibowo 1964–1967 RPKAD to Puspassus TNI-AD
Brigadier General Widjoyo Suyono 1967–1970 -
Brigadier General Witarmin 1970–May 1975 1971 Puspassus TNI-AD to Kopassandha
Brigadier General Yogie SM May 1975–April 1983 -
Brigadier General Wismoyo Arismunandar April 1983–May 1985 -
Brigadier General Sintong Panjaitan May 1985–August 1987 Kopassandha to Kopassus
Brigadier General Kuntara August 1988–July 1992 -
Brigadier General Tarub July 1992–July 1993 -
Brigadier General Agum Gumelar July 1994–September 1995 -
Brigadier General Subagyo HS September 1995–December 1995 -
Major General Prabowo Subianto December 1995–March 1998 August 1996 Brigadier General to Major General
Major General Muchdi PR March 1998–May 1998 -
Major General Syahrir MS 1998–2000 -
Major General Amirul Isnaini 1 June 2000 – 2002 -
Major General Sriyanto 2002–15 February 2005 -
Major General Syaiful Rizal 15 February 2005– 2006 -
Major General Rasyid Qurnuen Aquary August 2006–September 2007 -
Major General Soenarko 4 September 2007 – 1 July 2008 -
Major General Pramono Edhie Wibowo 1 July 2008 – 3 December 2009 -
Major General Lodewijk Freidrich Paulus 4 December 2009–June 2012 -
Major General Wisnu Bewa Tenaya June 2012 -
Major General Agus Sutomo June 2012 – September 2014
Major General Doni Munardo[5] September 2014 – July 2015
Major General M. Herindra 25 July 2015 – Present

Human rights issues[edit]

Kopassus has been accused by numerous NGOs and Western politicians of human rights violations[citation needed]. Amnesty International and Indonesian human rights groups including the official National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) have cited abuses by members of Kopassus.

In 1975, five Australian journalists, known as the Balibo Five, were killed by members of Kopassus in the town of Balibo during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor.[6] The Indonesian military has always maintained that the men were killed in a cross-fire during the battle for the town.[7]

During the May 1998 riots of Indonesia, renegade Kopassus members were involved in organising and carrying out acts of murder and violence against Chinese Indonesians.[8] This included involvement in mass gang-rapes of Sino-Indonesian women and girls across Jakarta.[9] Kopassus has also been considered responsible for the 1997–98 activists kidnappings in Indonesia[citation needed]. According to the Federation of American Scientists, a number of activists were kidnapped by KOPASSUS troops in the last months of the Suharto regime, and at least 23 government critics disappeared.[10]

In 2001, four Kopassus members were convicted of the strangulation of Theys Eluay, the former chairman of the Papua Presidium Council. They were part of a group which had killed Theys after ambushing him and his driver. The group's leader, Lt-Col Hatono, and another soldier received prison sentences of three and a half years while two others received three years. A further two officers had their charges dismissed.[11] The men were all Kopassus members from Group V (Jakarta) and were not based in Jayapura or West Papua. They faced a court-martial, which found them not guilty on the more serious charges of premeditated murder, because the Kopassus are legally exempt from the jurisdiction of civil law. Indonesian Army Chief, General Ryamizard Ryacudu (2002–05), accepted the men had to prosectuted "because Indonesia is a State based on law" but he affirmed their defence's view that they were heroes who had killed a rebel leader.[12]

Some international partners have severed military ties with Kopassus in response to allegations of human rights abuses. For example, Australia ceased training with Kopassus in 1999 in relation to Kopassus' role in violence in East Timor.[13]

Criminal Conduct[edit]

In September 2015, General Mulyono, the Army chief of staff, stated that "There are still soldiers from the Indonesian Army who taint the name of their force and the Army with their arrogant and selfish attitudes by engaging in misdeeds or even acting against the law”, which according to the Jakarta Globe newspaper was a reference to actions by Kopassus members.[14] Examples include:

  • 23 March 2013: Kopassus soldiers forcibly enter Cebongan Prison near Yogyakarta and kill four prisoners awaiting trial for the stabbing of a Kopassus soldier in a cafe.[15]
  • 1 June 2015: Seven Kopassus members are charged for attacking a group of Indonesian Air Force officers, resulting in the death of one person.[16]
  • July 2015: A Kopassus member is arrested for involvement in the alleged kidnapping of a Malaysian businessman.[17]


Soldiers are selected from the Indonesian Army and then recruited to the Indonesian Special Forces Training Center where they undergo brutal and extreme commando and military training including extreme physical and military exercises and harsh training to then receive their honor in wearing the red beret. Soldiers would be expected to survive harsh jungle survival and tough military interrogation during the commando test.


Kopassus currently participates in bilateral training exercises with international partners. After resuming military ties in 2003, Australia's special operations unit, the Special Air Service Regiment, conducts an annual counter terrorism exercise, with Australia and Indonesia taking turns to host the event.[18]

In July 2011, Kopassus and Chinese special forces held a joint counter terrorism exercise called Exercise Sharp Knife, held in Bandung, Java.[19] In 2012, the same exercise was held in Jinan, Shandong province, in July.[20]

Notable members[edit]


Fighting vehicles[edit]



  • Ken Conboy (2003) KOPASSUS Inside Indonesia's Special Forces, Equinox Publishing, ISBN 979-95898-8-6


  1. ^ Jones, Tony; Griffiths, Emma (12 August 2003) "Al Qaeda claim could be authentic: Howard". (transcript) Lateline, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved 12 July 2013
  2. ^ Komando Pasukan Sandi Yudha; Sandhi Yudha roughly translated as "secret or covert warrior"
  3. ^ Robert Cribb. Southeast Asia: a historical encyclopedia, v. 3, ed. Keat Gin Ooi, article on Gestapu Affair (1965). 
  4. ^ Prashad, Vijay (2009). The Darker Nations : A Biography of the Short-Lived Third World. LeftWord Books.  p. 167
  5. ^ "Lagi-lagi, 59 Perwira TNI Dimutasi". 10 September 2014. 
  6. ^ McDonald, Hamish (16 November 2007). "Balibo Five deliberately killed: coroner". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  7. ^ "The Balibo five: Among so many dead in East Timor, a few now famous foreigners". The Economist. 27 August 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "Ethnic Chinese tell of mass rapes". BBC NEWS. 23 June 1998. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "The May 1998 Riot in Jakarta, Indonesia". http://www.esri.com. Retrieved 16 October 2013.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  10. ^ https://fas.org/irp/world/indonesia/kopassus.htm
  11. ^ Moore, Matthew & Karuni Rompies (22 April 2003). Kopassus guilty of Eluay murder. The Age. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Kingsbury, Damien (2003). Power Politics and the Indonesian military. Routledge. p. 280. ISBN 0-415-29729-X. 
  13. ^ Wardhy, Robertus (25 September 2015). "Army Chief Calls on Kopassus to Dial Back Its Misconduct". Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  14. ^ "Indonesian Army Admits Kopassus Members Gunned Down Sleman Jail Detainees". 4 April 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  15. ^ Susanto, Ari (5 June 2015). "Seven Soldiers Charged Over Fatal Brawl at Yogya Cafe". Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "Two TNI Soldiers Among Seven Arrested for Alleged Abduction of Malaysian Businessman". 27 July 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  17. ^ Desy Nurhayati (28 September 2010) "Kopassus, Australia's SAS conduct joint anti-terrorism drill". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 12 July 2013
  18. ^ Luke, Leighton G. (15 June 2011) "China, Indonesia Launch Joint Special Forces Training Initiative". futuredirections.org.au. Retrieved 12 July 2013
  19. ^ Zhao Wei (2 July 2012) "China, Indonesia hold joint anti-terrorism exercise". english.sina.com, Retrieved 12 July 2013
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z "Kopassus & Kopaska - Specijalne Postrojbe Republike Indonezije" (in Indonesian). Hrvatski Vojnik Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z "Komando Pasukan Khusus (Kopassus)". ShadowSpear Special Operations News. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  22. ^ "Senjata SS2 V5C Kopassus". 24 June 2012. 
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  24. ^ http://garudamiliter.blogspot.com/2012/04/casspir-mk3.html
  25. ^ "Komodo Untuk Pasukan Khusus". 27 April 2013. 

External links[edit]