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Indonesian agency bolsters national defense, promotes resilience

Gusty Da Costa

Indonesia’s National Resilience Institute, known as Lemhannas, is receiving praise for bolstering “national defense vigilance” through its efforts to advise leaders and educate the public on topics of vital interest.

Established in 1965, Lemhannas reports directly to Indonesia’s president. It helped guide the government through the COVID-19 pandemic and advises President Joko Widodo on the separatist insurgency in Papua province.

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto thanked Lemhannas Gov. Andi Widjajanto for the institute’s studies covering national, regional and global developments on a range of topics during their April 2023 meeting. “This is very valuable for increasing the awareness of national defense,” Prabowo said, according to the Defense Ministry. (Pictured: Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, center, meets with Andi Widjajanto, right, governor of the National Resilience Institute, in April 2023.)

Prabowo serves on the Lemhannas Steering Board, along with the nation’s coordinating minister for politics, law and security, the home affairs minister, the commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces and the chief of the National Police.

“Lemhannas routinely interacts with the steering board to report on the result of strategic studies as ordered by the president,” Widjajanto told FORUM. Widodo directed the institute in February 2022 to focus on issues including democratic consolidation, digital transformation, the green economy and the planned new national capital, Nusantara.

In late 2022, the agency began producing geopolitical risk studies for 2023. “By the end of every month, Lemhannas explains the latest risks for ministries and relevant institutions, so there is a common understanding of the possible escalation of the threats,” Widjajanto said.

Lemhannas also conducts seminars and courses for government officials at the national, provincial and local levels, retired Lt. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, who served as the Indonesian Army’s deputy chief of staff, told FORUM. “After graduation, they will have strong character and think holistically, integrally and comprehensively through regular and nonregular education.”

Lemhannas and the Defense Ministry collaborate to develop a coordinated national defense strategy, Capt. Marcellus Hakeng Jayawibawa of the Lemhannas Strategic Center Alumni Association told FORUM. In this context, the institute provides advice on strategic factors to be considered when formulating national defense policy.

Lemhannas’ role was critical during the pandemic, Jayawibawa said. “It advised national leaders on policies that should be taken to solve the crisis. And in the end, Indonesia proved to be among the best countries in the world in handling the pandemic.”

Lemhannas also is working with Widodo to develop solutions to the long-standing insurgency in Indonesia’s West Papua region, Syahnakri said. Since the conflict began in the 1960s, an estimated 450,000 Soldiers, insurgents and civilians have been killed, the BBC reported.

Jayawibawa said the institute also organizes regular programs to inform citizens about the country’s constitution and the principles of Pancasila, Indonesia’s foundational philosophical theory that promotes religious tolerance, civilization and justice, democracy, and national unity.

Lemhannas has recently stressed resilience in the information sector by promoting cybersecurity and preventing and blocking the dissemination of hoaxes and other false information, he said. Additionally, the institute supports government initiatives to promote economic independence by mobilizing key domestic sectors, including the digital economy.

Gusty Da Costa is a FORUM contributor reporting from Indonesia.



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