World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Military history of Indonesia

Article Id: WHEBN0044538182
Reproduction Date:

Title: Military history of Indonesia  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: History of Indonesia, Outline of Indonesia, Military history of Indonesia, Military history of Syria, Military history of the United Arab Emirates
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Military history of Indonesia

Part of a series on the
Indonesia portal

Military history of Indonesia is the military history of the archipelagic realm that today formed modern nation of Republic of Indonesia. Started as tribal warfare among indigenous population, the martial activity developed further to classical kingdom conquest, foreign colonial occupations, battles for independence through guerilla warfare during Indonesian National Revolution, disputes and conquest against neighboring countries, to Indonesian Republic struggle to maintain its unity and integrity against separatist movements in some of its provinces.

Prehistoric tribal warfare

Nias warrior armed with spear and shield

The archaeological findings dated from prehistoric era has discovered numbers of stone and metal tools, such as axes, arrows and spearheads. These are mostly used for hunting, and might also be used in tribal warfare. Some of this bronze tools such as elaborate axe might had ceremonial purpose instead. Indonesian tribes also familiar with natively-developed edged weapons, such as parang, klewang, mandau, badik, pedang, kujang, golok and kris.

The martial activity in Indonesia started as tribal warfare among Indonesian tribes. Mostly motivated by various factors; such as to gain lands, to take over natural resources, acquiring slaves from neighboring village, tribal ways to settle disputes, to coming of age rituals of certain tribal custom, such as headhunting. Indonesian tribes such as Dayak, Nias and Batak are known to practice the headhunting rituals. The tribal warfare among villages still happen today among Papuan tribes of Indonesian West Papua and Papua provinces. Certain warlike tribes are often employed by other developed kingdoms and polities as mercenaries, such as Nias warrior employed in Aceh Sultanate service, to Ambonese warrior employed in Dutch East India Company service.

It is important to understand, that due to its geographical conditions, some distant islands or remote interiors are virtually isolated from the rest of the archipelago. Plus some tribes has been fiercely protecting their land and retain their tribal way of life for centuries, by chasing away intruders. As the result, the developments and experiences are not evenly distributes among various parts of Indonesia. Some parts such as Java, Bali and coastal South Sumatra has developed and experienced sophisticated kingdom as their national institution and social system, while other parts such as interior Borneo and Sumatra, also distant islands like Nias, Maluku and Papua, still retain their tribal way of life, well until early 20th century.

Indonesian natives has developed martial arts, for self-defence against wild animals or enemies. It is today collectively known as pencak silat.

Ancient kingdoms

The bas-relief of Prambanan temple depicting the scene of battle, the weapon used are bow and arrow, sword, stab dagger similar to kris, and gada (mace)

The freestanding military unit started to formed when Indonesians entering the kingdom phase circa 4th century CE, after adopting Hindu-Buddhist style of institution and system. The formation of ancient Hindu-Buddhist kingdom saw the establishment of Hindu-caste Ksatriya class, the social category which includes warriors, soldiers, generals, warlords, and kings. Studies of bas-relief depiction in Javanese temples dated from Mataram Kingdom, especially Borobudur and Prambanan, revealed some battle scenes and soldiers wielding various types of weapons used in warfare during this period. These weapons mostly sharp-edged weapons such as spears, swords, sabre, klewang, golok, stab dagger predecessor of kris, archery (bow and arrow), to blunt weapons such as gada mace, and shields made of weaved rattan, hard wood or metal.

Major Indonesian empires such as Srivijaya and Majapahit are known as the regional military powerhouse, as they launched naval raids and conquests against neighboring kingdoms. The bas-relief also depicting wooden double outtriggered (cadik) ships, which testified that during this period, some thallasocratic kingdoms has developed armada or naval military units.


The earliest written historical records of martial activities, was the 7th century Srivijayan congquest, launched by Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa. The Kedukan Bukit inscription mentioned about Dapunta Hyang's siddhayatra expedition that brought 20,000 troops, 312 people in boats, with 1,312 foot soldiers. This is the earliest record of military activity in Indonesian history. Followed by Kota Kapur inscription, which mentions about Srivijayan naval military expedition against Bhumi Java, a period coincides with the fall of Tarumanagara and Kalingga kingdom in Java.


After defeating Dharmasraya kingdom (Srivijaya's successor) in Sumatra, the Kingdom of Singhasari in Java become the most powerful kingdom in the region. King Kertanegara launched the Pamalayu expedition against Sumatran states and conquered them. On the other hand, the Mongol Yuan dynasty of China demanded Java to sent tribute to Kublai Khan's court. Kertanegara responded by insulting and torturing Khan's envoy. As the result Khan will sent 1,000 ships to punish the Javanese king.

Meanwhile, Jayakatwang, the ruler of Gelang-gelang (Kediri) kingdom revolted and manage to destroy Singhasari and killed Kertanegara. Raden Wijaya, the son in law of Kertanegara, later used Mongol invading forces to ousted Jayakatwang, turned back against Mongol forces, and drive them to the sea. By 1293 Raden Wijaya established Majapahit kingdom that grew to become one of the most powerful state in Indonesian history.

Medieval states

For centuries, there are numerous kingdoms rise and fall in Indonesian archipelago. By the 15th century, Islamic states began to spread their influence, as numbers of Sultanates flourished in Indonesia.

Mataram Sultanate

The military campaigns Sultan Agung Hanyokrokusumo (1613–1645)

In the 17th century, Mataram Sultanate had replaced Demak and previous hegemon Majapahit, as the most powerful kingdom in Java. The reign of able and ambitious Sultan Agung of Mataram marked the apogee of Javanese Mataram martial power. The Sultan launched series of military expeditions against other polities in Java, such as Pajang, Surabaya, Priangan, and went further by attacking the Dutch East India Company (VOC) fortress in the Siege of Batavia (1628–29).

Aceh Sultanate

European colonial state

Started during the age of exploration in the 16th century, the European kingdoms and empires began to established themselves in Southeast Asia. From Portuguese, Spanish, British to the Dutch, each of them involved in some fierce contests, during the age of European colonialism, to rule Indonesian archipelago. Because of the European's advance military technology, such as gunpowder technology in canons and muskets, many kingdoms and polities in Indonesian archipelago were conquered and subjugated by European power.

Dutch East India Company

The Dutch East India Company (VOC) in particular, was extremely successful on conquering Indonesian polities, as they were establishing their headquarter in Batavia (now Jakarta). By 1800 the Dutch nationalized VOC assets and creating the colonial state of Dutch East Indies.

Dutch East Indies

The colonial state of Dutch East Indies expanded further as they launched a series of conquest against native kingdoms and sultanates started in early 19th century to early 20th century. By 1920 the Dutch colonial state has integrated most of Indonesian archipelago within its territory. The Dutch East Indies has become the most precious colony for Dutch crown.

World War II

The Dutch colonial state was brought into an abrupt end when the Japanese Empire launched some fast and systematic attacks in 1942. The Japanese occupation in Indonesia was part of larger war of the Pacific theatre during World War II.

Republic of Indonesia

Indonesian Sukhoi Su-30 fighter

War of independence

Just two days after Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japanese Empire to the Allied force, the Indonesian Republic was proclaimed by Sukarno and Hatta in Jakarta on August 17th, 1945. However, the Dutch with the help of British forces tried to reestablish the colonial state of Dutch East Indies. Indonesian nationalist republicans fought hard to protect their independence. The fierce Battle of Surabaya on October to November 1945 saw the birth of Badan Keamanan Rakyat (BKR) and changed to Tentara Keamanan Rakyat (TKR) in October 5th 1945. This is the predecessor of Indonesian armed force, Tentara Nasional Indonesia.[1]

Securing the Republic

Regional ambition

Battling separatism

War against terror

International engagements

See also

Soldiers of the Indonesian Army

External links

  • History of TNI In Indonesian


  1. ^ "Sejarah TNI" (in Indonesian). Tentara Nasional Indonesia. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.