What Are the Uncertainty Issues in Security and Strategic Intelligence in Indonesia?

In this essay I want to discuss the intelligence situation in Indonesia. Here the meaning of intelligence is understood comprehensively, not only in espionage activities. One of the critical problems in intelligence matters in this country is intelligence agencies or institutions’ coordination and main tasks. Sometimes these activities are mutually uncontrolled and even used for specific purposes.

During the discussion, I said that there is a significant issue regarding the role of security intelligence in Indonesia, prioritized over strategic intelligence. Strategic intelligence seeks to understand problems over a long time. It is said that “ Strategic intelligence is information that is needed to formulate policy and military plans at the international and national policy levels.” Strategic intelligence is conducted among the military. 

Meanwhile, security intelligence is almost the same as strategic intelligence. In Indonesia,  security intelligence is usually used in police circles. The goal is “eliminating or reducing uncertainty for government decision-makers.” The highest intelligence institution will coordinate the two forms of intelligence in the intelligence product submitted to the president. Then, the president will use it as his priority policy material to maintain the country’s integrity, security, and defense.

The dilemma arises when the intelligence product adjusts the head of state, and his cronies’ will or maintains the continuity of the national interest in a sustainable manner. In Indonesia, the issue of onions, Indomie, cooking oil, and other things related to the needs of people’s lives often occur every year. Other issues that often appear in the news are border issues with neighboring countries, mass demonstrations, persona non grata against someone who interferes with the government and leaking state secrets.

The President must know all these things. Every day, the President would be offered a “brief report” that became his attention, to be responded to. Sometimes analysis and intelligence products are presented to the President. This intelligence product wants the President to undertake the problem-solver seriously. If there is a severe problem in the field, it will be “resolved” so that the President does not see it as a serious problem.

Understanding the uncertainty in a country is not easy. Who creates uncertainty. This government? Foreign country? Non-State Actors? All can be producers of uncertainty within a country. The more complicated the uncertainty, the more the work of intelligence analysts, both security and strategic intelligence.

However, if the state creates uncertainty, then the state will resolve the problem. However, if uncertainty is created by a foreign country or a non-state actor, then the country’s condition can worsen. Intelligence must work hard to respond to uncertainty while looking for issues that can cover up the country’s big problems.

In Indonesia, for 356 days, 52 weeks, and one year, the issue of uncertainty can be classified into problems of the need for necessities, political chaos, foreign intelligence operations, rebellion, global balance, and state leadership. Therefore, the way the government responds is like a boxer defending in a boxing ring. He was only taught to defend, not to attack, by his coach. The boxer-style intelligence pattern seems to be the government’s model for dealing with uncertainty in this country.

Because of this defensive model, the people are usually the victims. It is better to drain the people’s emotional energy rather than take massive resistance to the enemy who creates uncertainty.

Defining uncertainty is a buzzword in security intelligence and strategic intelligence. A country that is always fussing over trivial matters shows that intelligence institutions are not working optimally to think of strategic steps for the future of a country. There is no intelligence blueprint, making this country like only run “business as usual.”

If the intelligence services serve the regime in power, this institution will be used to protect the regime, not the country. For 32 years, the New Order modeled this kind of intelligence work at home. Intelligence works are still like the New Order era in the last ten years. They are more potent to the people but softer to those who threaten the country’s stability from outsiders and non-state actors.

Therefore, the past ten years’ situation is similar to the situation during the New Order. Arrests everywhere. Those who speak critically are considered enemies of the state. Their careers are ruined, if not impoverished. The police desk is the end of freedom of expression. Apart from those not from the state, all of them are considered a threat to the state. This pattern causes the people to be afraid and always suspicious of every state step, even though they are in a democratic country.

Because of that, the process of defining the state’s uncertainty and instability tends to secure the rulers, so the intelligence work only satisfies the regime. So, one of the crucial tasks when trying to come to power in this country is to engineer intelligence institutions, both security and strategic, to serve the leaders and their allies, not the state and nation. Because of that, cooking oil has become a national issue, so it is evident that the current government has not finished defining uncertainty in implementing “business as usual” in this republic.

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