Armed Forces





Department of Defense

Nationa Defense Council




Air Force







Densus 88


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National defence policy of the Republic of Indonesia is executed by the Department of Defense.


Department of Defense


The seal of the department shows the national colors charged with a picture of the national territory colored green. In chief is the national achievement and in base the yellow emblem of the Armed Forces: an anchor charged with a pair of wings, crested with a five-pointed star.

The emblem is surrounde by a twisted cord and a blue bordure with the legend DEPARTEMEN PERTAHANAN / REPUBLIK INDONESIA separated by two balls in yellow lettering.



An important advisory body in matters of internal and external national defense is the Dewan Ketahanan Nasional (National Defense Council). This council was established 6 June 1946 and was then called Dewan Pertanahan Negara (State Defense Council). Later the council was renamed a few times. Since 1993 it has its present name.

The council is presidet by the President of Indonesia. Its members are  the Vice-President, all ministers of the government, the supreme commander (Panglima), the head of the national police, and the head of the national intelligence service.


The seal of the council shows the achievement of the Republic and the legend SEKRETARIAT JENDERAL / DEWAS KETAHANAN NASIONAL (General Secretariat / National Defence Council) separated by two stars.





Until 1999 the emblem of the Indonesian Armed Forces (Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia, ABRI) consisted of an anchor charged with flying bird and the arms of the Indonesian Police Force, and crested with a five-pointed star. It was surrounded by a garland of rice and cotton and placed on a five-sided red shield.


After 1999, when the armed forces were renamed TNI (Tentera Nasional Indonesia) and the police force was separated from the armed forces, the arms of the police force were omitted and a twisted cord was added around the garland in the emblem of the new organisation..


Ć See illustration in the head of this essay.


The emblem is composed of the emblems of the navy and the air force, the five pointed star for the army. The garland makes the date of the proclamation of the Republic and the five sides of the backshield are for the state philosophy Pancasila.






Combat Group with Leader Commander. South Nias, 1916.

Photo C. Nieuwenhuis.


In the past the combat groups of the different societies of the East Indian archipelago all had their own ways of bearings arms and their specific attirements for war.  These were of a bewildering variety. We know about them through ethnographic collections, pictures in books and photographies. In some cases we know about their banners but in other cases the function of the banner was performed by the crest of the commander in full attirement.

In particular the shields of the combat groups most of the time had their own specific form by which their adversaries could determine to which society they belonged. Many of such shields were collected in the 19th and 20th century. A 20th century collection sums up at least ten different models in the archipelago, and another twenty-eight of New Guinea.[1]  We may be sure that there were many more.


19th century Indonesian Shields











Atauro Island





Pagai Islands



S. Nias


When firearms were introduced in war and armed conflicts all these shields became obsolete. For the parts of East India which came into contact with European merchants at an early stage, this occured in the 17th and 18th century. Other peoples, for example on Sumatera, Borneo and New Guinea, only were colonized in the 19th and 20th century and for that reason kept their arms until they lost their independence and were incorporated into the Netherlands Indies.


Koninklijk Nederlandsch Indisch Leger


Dutch soldiers were not only used by the Company to make war with its Portuguese and Spanish rivals in the archipelago but, in the course of time, they were also deployed against local rulers or as an additional force in armed conflicts between local rulers.


Romeyn de Hooge: Capture of Makassar by Cornelis Speelman and Arung Palakka, 1667 (detail).


In this kind of warfare the equipment of the combattants did not differ very much and, as can be seen on this engraving, only a few firearms were used. Instead one sees spears and swords and even blowing pipes.

Probably for that reason the soldiers of the VOC were also equipped with shields. This can be seen on the Porta de Santiago in Melaka on which a V.O.C.-soldier is depicted. He is dressed in a jacket and short trousers, stockings or puttees and has a rimmed hat on his head. In his left he has a shield with the V.O.C. cypher.

In the 18th century, when shields had become obsolete, the V.O.C. cypher was placed on the plate of the caps of the companies’ soldiers. [2]


Photo H.d.V.

V.O.C. soldier on the Porta de Santiago, Melaka


Photo by courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

V.O.C. Grenadiers cap, 18th century

After the Napoleonic interim the Netherlands was restored in its former territories in East India. To protect its colonial interests military forces were sent to the colonies. As a result of the Java-war (1825-’30) special forces were formed and dispatched in 1826-’27. These troops were considered to be a part of the Dutch Armed Forces.

For that reason the emblem of these troops was the royal achievement as adopted in 1815.

Also, the uniforms and badges did not differ from the ones used in the Dutch army.

The cap badge of certain divisions of the expeditionary force showed a crowned shield charged with a “W”, the royal cypher of King William I, and an orange cocarde above. This can be seen on this detail of a shako preserved by the Legermusem in Delft and today exposed in Museum Bronbeek in Arnhem.




The East Indian Army


By decree of Governor-General Johannes van den Bosch (1830-’33) of 4 December 1830, a new organisation of the army in the East Indies was proclaimed. This decree called “Algemeene Orders voor het Nederlandsch-Oost-Indische leger”, is considered to be the beginning of a separate East-Indian Army.

In 1836 King William I granted the designation “Koninklijk” (Royal) to it but this designation was for a long time not used. Usually it was called the East Indian Army (Oost-Indisch Leger). Only after Minister-president Hendrik Colijn had called attention to the Royal Decree of 1836, the name Koninklijk Nederlandsch Indisch Leger, abridged KNIL came into use.

By Constitution of 1948 the name was changed into Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indonesisch Leger (also KNIL). This KNIL was dissolved by Royal Decree K309 of 20 July 1950 on 26 July 1950 at 0.00 o’clock. [3]

As usual for all government institutions, the emblem of the K.N.I.L. consisted of the royal arms of 1815 and 1907.

In the 150 years of its existence the uniforms of the K.N.I.L. have varied considerably.

A new uniform was adopted after long deliberations in 1894.

By Royal Decree of 17 Februari 1894 Nr 21, a helmet-hat was introduced for all ranks of the East-Indian Army. It was decorated with a white or yellow metal helmet-badge, the so-called sun-plate. This consisted of an eight-pointed sun radiant, charged with an orange disc and a crowned royal arms surrounded by a garland of oak-leaves.


By courtesy Museum Bronbeek, Arnhem

This emblem has been used by the KNIL until its abolition in 1950.


When a new uniform was introduced after WWII a cap badge was introduced at the same time. It consisted of the Dutch Lion surrounded by a garland of laurel.


Post WWII KNIL cap badge


Also arms were introduced for many divisions of the KNIL. These can be compared with the shields of the former tribal combat groups in their variety. A difference is that not the form and fashion of the shield counts, but the symbol the shield is carrying. Also, the arms are considerably smaller and they are not carried in (the left) hand but on the left sleeve of the uniform.


The arms of 1945-1950 divisions of the Dutch Royal Army and the Royal East-Indian Army in the East-Indies are published in: Militaire heraldiek in de tropen. In: Armamentaria, 16 (1981) pp. 182-195; 17 (1982) pp. 108-123.

On Internet they can be found on Het Vergeten Leger.

The tradition of the adoption of arms for the army divisions, establihed by the Dutch was continued by the Indonesian Army. Some of these arms can be found in the essays about the provincial heraldry of Indonesia in this web-site.


Tentara Nasional Indonesia



Oerip Soemohardjo

In the weeks after the proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia  in 1945, the army of the new republic was organised. Oerip Soemahardje tried to unite several raiding combat groups like the Hizbulla and the Sabilillah, the BPRI and the Laska Rakjat into an army soon named the Tentara Republik Indonesia. Sixteen divisions were planned on paper of which there should be ten on Java and six on Sumatera. Motivation was not lacking but armory the more. These were confiscated from the Japanese commanders which rendered them sometimes without any problem, sometimes after fierce fighting.

The emblem of the Tentara Republik Indonesia was derived from the emblem of the Japanese Army and was also a five-pointed star but surrounded by a garland. This was the prototype for the presidential star-and-garland. Later an achievement for the army was adopted. It is:


Arms: Per bend Gules and Argent.

Supporter: Sang Raja Walik, Or.

Motto: KARTIKA EKA PAKSI (A Winged Star)


Army Ensign



On the reverse is the achievement of the Republic of Indonesia




Gouvernements Marine



Emblem of the Koninlijke Marine, 1892


In the era of the existence of the V.O.C. the protection of Dutch merchand ships against the flowering piracy, but also against European and local rival merchands in the East Indian archipelago, was mainly the task of the Dutch Admiralties of which there were five. Such an expedition, to reconquer Malacca for example, was conducted in 1784 by Jacob Pieter van Braam of the Amsterdam Admiralty.

After the V.O.C. was dissolved the tasks of the former Dutch Admiralties were carried on by the Batavian and the British navies.

When, after the French interim, Dutch rule was restored in its former East Indian possessions, the surveillance of the Eats Indian seas became the task of the Koninklijke Marine (Royal Dutch Navy).


The Government’s Navy (Gouvernements Marine) existed from 1861-1949. It was an offspring of the Dutch Royal Navy which was operating in the Indies, for civil tasks at sea. It was for charting, the upkeep of lighthouses, the transport of civil servants within the archipelago etcetera. 



The emblem of the Governments Navy (Gouvernements Marine) is inspired by the “W” of king William I of the Netherlands (1814-‘40) who introduced his royal cypher for use by all divisions of his armed forces. It could be introduced for the navy in the Indies after the Anglo-Dutch treaties of the twenties of the 19th century by which it was made possible again for Dutch vessels to control the East-Indian seas. 


By Decree of the Governor General nr 13 of 28 August 1862 the “W”-emblem for the Gouvernements Marine is mentioned for the first time. The decree (about the navy coat) reads:

“Een open jas van donkerblauw laken met liggende ronde kraag, waarop in de hoeken het distinctief is geborduurd bestaande uit een van gouddraad geborduurde ‘W’.”

(“An open coat of dark-blue cloth with a flat round collar, on which the distinctive is embroidered in the corners, consisting of a “W” embroidery of gold-thread.”)


The emblem of the Government’s Navy, worn as a cap badge, consisted of a crowned “W”surrounded by a garland of oak-leaves.

It was adopted by decree of the Governor General of the Netherlands Indies of 7 January 1880, nr. 2.

In Nieuw Guinea the emblem remained in use until 1962.


đ see illustration in the head of this section.


A pin with an additional emblem of the Government’s Navy was introduced when the Governemnt’s Navy was militarised. It consisted of a goud onklaar anker met kroon op wit email, rand verguld, [de] letters [KONINKLIJKE MARINE] goud….’ (A golden crowned foul anchor on white enamel, the bordure gilded, the lettering [KONINKLIJKE MARINE] golden) The way it had to be worn was published in the Staatsblad van Nederlandsch-Indië of 1930, nr. 363, artikel 8.


Angkatan Laut



The People’s Security Sea Service Agency  (Badan Keamanan Rakyat-Laut) was formed on 22 August 1945. On 5 October 1945, the BKR Laut was renamed Angkatan Laut Republik Indonesia (ALRI). In the seventies of the 20th century the name of the service was changed into Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL).


The emblem of the Indonesian Navy is a foul anchor, crested with the achievement of the Republic of Indonesia and surrounded by a garland of cotton and rice. Motto: JALESVEVA JAYAMAHE (Victorious on the Sea).


Ensign of the Indonesian Navy



The ensign of the Indonesian Navy is dark blue and charged with the emblem of the service. Below is the motto on a yellow ribbon. The present version of the ensign shows the motto in golden lettering in a demi-circle below the emblem.

On the reverse is the achievement of the republic.


Air Force


Militaire Luchtvaart van het K.N.I.L.


The Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force (Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL) was the air arm of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) from 1939 until 1950. It was an entirely separate organization from the Dutch Air Force.

The unit was founded by royal decree KB 18 juli 1914 as the “Test Flight Service” (Proefvliegafdeling-KNIL, PVA-KNIL). In 1921 it became the “Aviation Service” (Luchtvaartafdeling-KNIL, LA-KNIL), before finally receiving the designation of ML-KNIL on 30 March 1939.



The roundel of the ML-KNIL was an orange triangle with a black outline. This was changed in 1942 by a red, white and blue flag. After WWII a white bordure was added around these flags.


The coat of arms of the KNIL Military Aviation was adopted in 1945 in Singapore. It was:



ML-KNIL Arms 1945-‘50


Arms: tierced per fess Gules, Argent and Azure, a royally crowned triangle Tenne, charged with a flying seagull proper.


 T.N.I. Angkatan Udara


After the Japanese surrendered at the end of WW II, Indonesian Independence was proclaimed on August 17, 1945. Several days later, a People's Security Force (Badan Keamanan Rakyat) was formed to undertake security duties. The Air Division of this force was also formed, using ex-Japanese planes scattered everywhere, especially in the island of Java, including Bugis Air Base in Malang (Established on 18 September 1945).

In 1950, following Dutch recognition of Indonesian independence, the bases and facilities of the ML KNIL were handed over to the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU).


The emblem  of the T.N.I. Angkatan Udara is:

Arms: The map of Indonesia.

Crest: Sang Raja Walik wings expanded, looking to the sinister, in his claws a bundle of arrows.

Garland: Branches of olive.

Motto: SWA BHUANA PAKSA (Guardian Wings of the Fatherland).


First Air Force Ensign



The banner is light blue, with golden fringes and charged with the emblem of the Angkatan Udara. On the reverse is the achievement of the Republlic of Indonesia.

After 1963 the western half of New Guinea Island was added to the map of Indonesia, bot on the emblem and the banner..



Indonesian Air Force roundel, 1946-‘49


Indonesian Air Force roundel, 1949-present




Nederlands Indische Politie


Netherlands Indies Police cap badge

Coll. Politiemuseum, Apeldoorn.


In the beginning of the 20th century the bailiffs were replaced by  commisioners of police and a modern police force with modern technical means was set up.


The emblem of the Netherlands Indies Police Force consisted of the Dutch Achievement of State, 1907.

Its cap-badge was the same, for high-ranking officers it was surrounded by a garland of branches of oak.


For the history of the Netherlands Indies police: Bloembergen, Marieke: De geschiedenis van de Nederlands Indische Politie. Amsterdam 2009.


Kepolisian Negara


The Indonesian police was established in 1946, and gradually formed into what is now known as Kepolisian Negara Republik Indonesia (Polri) or the Indonesian National Police. Its units, armed with confiscated Japanese armory, fought in the Indonesian National Revolution against the invading Dutch forces. In 1966, the police was brought under the control of the Armed Forces Command. In 1999 the Indonesian Police became a separate service under its own command again.




The achievement of the Indonesian National Police is:

Arms: A sun radiant charged with a pile in flames

Crest: Three five-pointes stars

Garland: Ears of rice and branches of cotton

Motto: RASTRA SEWAKOTTAMA (People’s Main Servant)



The ensign of the Indonesian National Police is black and charged with the achievement of the service. On its reverse is the achievement of the Republic.


(Ill.: crwflags Sammy Kanadi)



Arms of the Supreme Command of the Police Service

 until 1999


Arms of the Supreme Command of the Republic of Indonesia Police, 1999 - present


The acronyms mean:

Markas Besar Angkatan Kepolisian

Markas Besar Polisian Republik Indonesia




Akademi Tentara Nasional Indonesia










KOSTRAD (Komando Cadangan Strategis Angkatan Darat: “Army Strategic Reserve Command”) came into being during military action for Indonesia's take over of Western New Guinea in 1960, and was formally constituted on 6 March 1961. Initially designated the Army General Reserve Corps, its name was changed to KOSTRAD in 1963.


The present arms of KOSTRAD shows an eight-spoked flaming wheel. This is the emblem of Acintya, a Buddhist god of war. It is a version of a viśvajra or double thunderbolt, the arms of the (buddhist) heaven, probably mixed with a çakra or wheel of law. Such a wheel was also used as an emblem of the regents of Bangkalan (Madura)


Korps Marinir



Formed on 15 November 1945, the corps is the main force in amphibious combat operations and, defensively, is the quick reaction forces in emergency situation to defend the beach fronts from enemy invasion. The Marine Corps (Kormar) are the Indonesian Navy's ground troops.

The emblems consists of a disc charged with flames and a kris upright in chief. It has a bordure charged withtwo ribbons, the one in chief bearing the motto JALESU BHUMYAMCA JAYAMAHE (On the Sea and the Land we are Glorious); the one in base: KORPS MARINIR 1945.

The disc is supported by a foul anchor per bend.










Kopassus (an acronym 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 April 16, 1952.

The arms of Kopassus consist of a bayonet upright and the word KOPASSUS.

The cap-badge of Kopassus is an anchor per pale charged with a pair of wings and the bayonet from the arms, within an eight-sided frame.


Densus 88



Special Detachment 88 (Detasemen Khusus 88), Delta 88, or Densus 88, is the Indonesian counter-terrorism squad, and part of the Indonesian National Police. Formed on 30 June 2003, after the 2002 Bali bombing, it is funded, equipped, and trained by the United States.

The name of the organization is a result of a senior Indonesian police official mishearing “ATA” in a briefing on the US Department of State’s Anti-Terorrist Assistance program as “88”. He thought it would be a good name as the number 8 is a Chinese lucky number in Asia and other officals lacked the courage to correct him.



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© Hubert de Vries 2011-03-17. Updated 2012-09-30; 2012-10-23



[1] Barbier, J.P. e.a.:  Shields, Africa, Southest Asia and Oceania. Munich 2000. From which the main part of the illustrations.

[2] Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Obj. n° NG-200. (Mitra van een grenadier van de VOC). Plate of grenadiers cap showing the Dutch Lion between a crown in chief and the cypher VOC in base. On both sides flags.

[3] Staatsblad van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden N° K309 Besluit van 20 juli 1950 houdende kennisgeving van de opheffing van het Koninklijk Nederlands Inonesische Leger.