(Copyright 1999 Special
Operations.Com. Do not reprint without permission.)
Current Strength: Approximately 6,500
Distinctive Uniform: Red Beret
Full name: Komando Pasukan Khusus
(Special Forces Commando)
HQ: Cijantung, near Jakarta
Special Warfare School: Batu Jajar,
Kopassus recruits are selected not
only for their physical and mental toughness, but
also for their ideological soundness (due to the fact
that they are heavily tasked with combatting subvesrive
movements throguhout Indonesia. Those who pass the
initial screening process are then permitted to take
part in Selection. Selection lasts nine months, with
heavy emphasis on physical endurance. The Selection
ends with a 380KM march through mountainous routes
with very basic rations. After passing this, candidates
undertake a week-long Escape and Evasion phase where
capture means failure. Those who succeed, however,
reach the rendezvous at a remote beach where the graduation
ceremony later takes place.
Kopassus was formed at the instruction
of the Commander of Territorium 111, West Java (No.
55/Instr/PDS) dated April 16, 1952. He ordered the
formation Kesatuan Komando Territorium 111. The first
commanding officer was Mochammad Idjon Djanbi (ex-Dutch
commando RB Visser who had married a local girl and
converted to Islam).
Initially, 500 men were taken for
training at Ski, Bandung. The training commenced on
May 24, 1952. Later, on June 1, 1952, the base and
headquarters shifted to Batu Jajar, West Java.
The first group was known as "Kompeni".
This unit took part in its first mission on December
6, 1952 in anti-subversive operations in West Java
against DI/TII (a separatist movement).
KESATUAN KOMANDO TERRITORIUM 111 -> KORPS KOMANDO
AD [KKAD] 1953
KKAD -> RESIMEN PASUKAN KOMANDO AD [RPKAD] 1954
RPKAD -> RESIMEN PARA KOMANDO AD [RPKAD] 1959
RPKAD -> PUSAT PASUKAN KHUSUS AS [PUSPASSUS AD]
PUSPASSUS -> KORPS PASUKAN SANDHI YUDHA [KOPASANDHA]
KOPASANDHA -> KOPASSUS 23/5/85
Indonesia is full of separatist movements
in almost all the islands. Most of them, however,
are poorly armed (some even use bows and arrows).
Kopassus took part in extensive operations against
these movements and performed loyally, if brutally.
This is the primary reason why Suharto held the unit
in such high regard personally.
KOPASSUS has operated against a long
list of subversive groups, including DI/TII, PRRI,
PERMESTA, RMS, GESTAPU/PKI, PGRS, PARAKU, Free Papua
Kopassus takes part not only in SF
missions, but also many other anti-subvestion and
internal security operations. They also receive better
weapons and living quarters, food, salary, and clothing
than other Indonesian SF units. They are looked on
by these units both with envy and fear.
1954 - Took part in operations against
DI/TII uprising in Kracak Mountain, West Java.
1957 - Against PRRI at Belawan
1958-62 - Crushing of PERMESTA in
1959 - West Irian operations
1964 - Took part in "Confrontation"
with Malaysia (a mini war)
1965 - Against GESTAPU/PKI
1967 - Against PRRI in Pekan Baru,
Bangkinang, and Lubuk Jambi
1967 - Against PGRS PARAKU
1969 - Operation WIBAWA
1972 - Operations in West Kalimantan
1973 - Operation KALBAR
1975 - Operation SEROJA (West Irian)
1981 - Hostage rescue operation at
Don Muang Airport
1992 - Operations in East Timor and
1996 - Hostage rescue in Irian jungles
(Free Papua Movement)
1999 - The U.N. force in devastated
East Timor, sweeping the territory for armed militiamen,
detained suspected members of Kopassus. Around 10
men had been seized, some carrying Kopassus identity
cards. The officers were speaking as the United States
offered further support for the U.N. operation here.
It was not immediately clear why the 10 had been detained.
But the armed forces have been accused of backing
the pro-Jakarta militias who went on the rampage after
last month's ballot favoring East Timor's independence
from Indonesia. Thousands were killed, tens of thousands
fled to the hills. Most Indonesian troops had already
left the territory.
Ongoing - Joint training with US,
UK, and Malaysian SF units
More notes (unedited, from an Indonesian
INSIDE KOPASSUS ( Kopassus = Komando
Pasukan Khusus / Special Forces Commando )
Motto of Kopassus : Berani-Benar-Berhasil (Daring-Righteous-Successful)
Kopassus was formed by Colonel E. Kawilarang, at
that time the commander of Tentara Teritorium Siliwangi
(Territorial Army of Siliwangi), around 1950 or 1960.
He called up a former Royal Dutch Indies Army soldier
who chose to become Indonesian citizen with the name
of Major Ijon Jambi ( a Dutchman whose real name is
RB Vieser ). Major Ijon Jambi / Vieser was asked to
form a small group of soldiers with special skills.
(Note : Actually, Kopassus is not the original name
of this group. The name was changed several times.
Originally this group was called RPKAD (Resimen Para
Komando Angkatan Darat = Commando Regiment of Army).
Then it was changed to Kopassanda (Komando Pasukan
Sandi Yudha = Sandi Yudha Troop Commando ). Finally,
it was changed to Kopassus. I am afraid I have no
idea about the reason of this name-change. I also
dont remember the exact year of this name-change)
Kopassus or rather RPKAD was officially recognised
by General AH Nasution (The Commander-in-Chief of
Indonesian Armed Forces at that time). Six months
later, RKPAD was taken over from Siliwangi Territorial
Army by the Indonesian Army. The beret colour was
red since it took the concept of Dutch Armys
Roode Baret (Red beret).
Today, Kopassus consists of 5 goups. Each group is
led an officer with the rank of colonel. These are
well-trained and professional soldier, mentally and
physically, from ordinary Private up to the Colonel.
It is very difficult to find ex-soldiers retired from
Kopassus. Those who are not physically adequate are
transferred to other units.
Kopassus is quite recently expanded by. Lt.Gen. Prabowo
(Son-in-law of former Indonesian President Soeharto).
This happened in 1996. The reason for this expansion
: it was considered that in the future there wont
be large scale war. There will be small scale war
with high intensity (such as terrorism). So, like
any other Special Forces in the world, Kopassus is
prepared for small scale war with high intensity.
Group 3 of Kopassus is located in Batujajar, West
Java. This is the center of training. Training area
is located around Bandung until Cilacap. Group 1 up
to Group 3 is qualified as Para Commando ( each member
must follow basic parachuting training ).
Group 4 is called Sandhy Yudha and located in Cijantung,
Jakarta. This group consists of selected members from
Group 1,2 and 3. They are trained again to be qualified
as Combat Intelligence, whose main duties are attacking
the enemy behind the front lines (infiltration).
They are grouped into 5 men Units. In peaceful times
they are ordered to do Territorial Intelligence such
as studying demographic characteristic of an area,
fund holder that can be exploited, thugs, etc.
(Since June 1997, Kopassus sent its small teams to
all major cities in Indonesia with secret assignment.
Even other member of the Armed Forces (ABRI) did not
know exactly what those orders are. In some location,
the local army (soldiers located in those areas) was
offended since they felt that they were considered
unable to manage their areas. Those small teams were
pulled back to Jakarta in January 1998).
Another good quality of these groups is their behaviour
and appearance which are not military-like. They have
long hair (not crew-cut), doesnt salute their
superior officer when met outside their base. Very
different from ordinary police or army intelligence
officers in Indonesia.
These groups doesnt go to their base everyday
and rarely wear uniform. They only do that once in
a while when they return to their base ( for reporting
their jobs or receiving new assignment ).
Basically, they are very active in their local community,
such as Skydiving Club, Jeep Club, etc.
These groups are very professional in disguising
themselves and have attended Urban Warfare training
from US Armys Green Beret.
In East timor, Aceh and Irian ( 3 hot spots in Indonesia
often used their training sites ) they went in until
the small villages and formed base of resistance of
local people against GPK (militant anti Indonesia
Group 5 (also known as Detachment 81, which are known
because of their success in freeing the hostages of
a hijacked Indonesian airplane in Don Muang airport,
Thailand 1981) consists of selected members from Group
4. These are the very best members of Kopassus.
They have their barracks in Cijantung and isolated.
Their classifications are Anti Terrorists and always
follows Presidential trips. Peoples knowledge,
even from the Armed Forces, is very minimal since
this group is very isolated. A source mentioned that
they follow the patterns of GSG 9 of Germany. It should
noted that Prabowo is the only Indonesian officer
which completed anti terrorist training at GSG 9.
But now, they have mixed their training methods since
many of their members are trained by US Armys
Green Beret. Their equipment is very sophisticated
and similar to other elite units in the world.
The first training of a Kopassus member is to get
Commando qualification, which must be followed for
6 months. The training course include Jungle Warfare,
Candidates must also follow Basic Para Combat which
consists of night jump, armed combat jump and jungle
jump ( carrying weapons, bergen, main parachute and
back-up parachute ).
In all those trainings, they used live ammunition.
It is no surprise that in almost every training at
least one candidate died due to various causes (tiredness,
Kopassus uses a very high standard. Those who are
mentally or physically capable will not last in this
Unit. The smallest mistake is not tolerated. Each
member of Kopassus must posses special skills such
combat free fall, diver, sniper, mountaineering, electronic
warfare, psychological warfare, master at least two
native languages (non-officers) and also foreign languages
Candidates are thoroughly selected, by Army Medical
Team, Army Psychological Dept, etc. Selection process
is held continually until the training is finished.
A candidate that amde a mistake in the last day will
be dismissed immediately. Loyalty to orders is very
important in this unit.
Kopassus is selected soldiers and they dont
tolerate even the smallest mistake in their operation
( safety first ). That is why their equipment is very
different from other soldiers in the Armed Forces.
Their equipment is very sophisticated for example
they no longer use Prism Compass to read maps but
they use GPS.
The anti terrorist uses H&K MP5; which is the
standard weapon for Green Berets, Delta Force, Navy
Seals, GSG9, etc. They also uses Beretta 9 mm (.45),
also other type such as caliber .22. If their equipment
are due to be replaced (according to the manual book),
it will be replaced. This is a very different situation
compared to other Indonesian Armed Forces units which
tend to be conventional and doing patch work to their
They have the latest parachuting equipment to conduct
HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) and HAHO (High Altitude
High Opening) which uses Oxygen mask.
They also have LCR (Landing Craft Rubber) for night
infiltration. Underwater team is trained similar to
UDT (Underwater Demolition Team of US Navy).
Kopassus will not hesitate to ask for assistance
from other party which are considered to be experts
such diving club, sky diving club, etc.
They have their own units for communication, medical,
equipment, supplies and transportation. They even
plan to buy their own chopper from Russia. In short,
they are very independent.
Komando Pasukan Khusus-angkatan Darat
(KOPASSUS-AD) - Special Counterterrorist Team of the
Army Special Forces Command
Group Five (formally known as the
KOPASSUS-AD Komando Pasukan Khusus-angkatan Darat
or Special Counterterrorist Team of the Army Special
Forces Command) is generally considered the best trained
and best equipped unit found in the Indonesian Special
Forces. In addition to hostage rescue, the unit provides
VIP to national and foreign dignitaries. The unit
is approximately 200 strong and organized into 20-30
man teams, following the German GSG-9 and British
SAS patterns. These teams are further subdivided into
assault and sniper groups. All personnel are received
special forces, parachute, and other training, with
many being SCUBA and HALO qualified. Group Five's
(then known as Detachment 81) most significant operation
took place in May 1996 when they assisted in the rescue
of hostages being held by the Free Papua Movement
(Organisasi Papua Merdeka or OPM). The unit is currently
made up of 800 personnel and is based in South Jakarta.
The most significant Group Five operation
occurred on January 8,1996, when a group of researchers
associated with the The Wordwide Fund for Nature,
UNESCO, and the Indonesian Biological Science Club,
along with some Irian Jayan villagers, were captured
by Irian Jayan rebels (who are known by the acronym
OPM or Organisasi Papua Merdeka, or Free Papua Movement).
The researchers had been participating in an expedition
called Lorentz 95, which involved studying the rare
flora and fauna in the region. The hostages totaled
24 people (26 according to some Indonesian sources),
and included at least 17 Indonesians, 4 Britons, 2
Dutch, and 1 German.
Irian Jaya (West Papua)is a very
lightly populated area, and most of the island is
very densely forested, with minimal roads or other
means of access. Steep mountain ranges and deep valleys
make it extremely easy to successfully hide in the
jungle, and this is exactly what the rebels and their
hostages did. According to Indonesian news reports,
the rebels routinely moved the hostages around among
several (around 17, according to the hostages later)
base camps, in order to avoid Indonesian army patrols.
The rebels kept in touch with the outside through
several third party intermediaries, including Christian
missionaries, and later the International Red Cross
(which became involved in early February). Most of
the hostages (including the German national) were
released in the intervening period, and by early May
1996, only 11 hostages were left with the rebels (including
the 4 Britons, the 2 Dutch, and 5 Indonesians). The
Indonesian army itself was remarkably restrained in
its dealings with the hostage-takers, and allowed
the intermediaries to function effectively during
the duration of the crises. Many had feared that the
army, which has been notoriously impatient when it
comes to dealing with terrorists, would rush into
the fray and initiate a bloodbath. The overall commander
of the task force formed to rescue the hostages, Brig-Gen
Prabowo Subianto (who also commanded KOPASSUS), prevailed
on the other Military Commanders to remain patient.
The ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross)
soon announced that the terrorists had agreed to release
all remaining hostages on May 8,1996. Shortly thereafter,
however, the gunmen reversed their descison and refused
to free their captives.
This final refusal prompted the government to act.
On the same day, a one hundred-man KOPASSUS (Detachment
81) force started tracking and pursuing the rebels
and their hostages through the dense jungle. The soldiers
were aided by a pilotless drone with heat sensing
equipment that was borrowed from Singapore. In addition,
the KOPASSUS used sniffer dogs to facilitate the search.
Irian Jayan trackers were also used to pinpoint the
hostages' location. On May 15,1996, they managed to
locate the rebels, and helicopter-borne troops began
abseiling around the trapped terrorists (who numbered
around 20 at the time) and their hostages. Eight of
the hostages were immediately released by the incoming
soldiers, but three others were separated from the
main group and attacked. A European woman fled and
hid in the trees, but the two others (both Indonesian)
bled to death. The running gunbattle that followed
resulted in the deaths of eight rebels and the capture
of two others. No casualties occurred among the KOPASSUS,
and none of the other hostages were seriously hurt
to Indonesian Special Operations Forces