Indonesia’s military, police team up to secure Asian Games

Indonesia’s military, police team up to secure Asian Games

Tom Abke

Indonesia’s defense forces and police are tightening security to protect 16,000 athletes from 45 countries and hundreds of thousands of spectators as the archipelago nation prepares to host the 18th Asian Games from August 18, 2018, to September 2, 2018.

Teams from the National Defense Forces (TNI) and National Police (Polri) are being deployed to counter terror threats following the May 2018 bomb attacks in Surabaya, the country’s second-largest city, reported Anatara news agency. Security will be reinforced at venues and commands in areas hosting events, including South Sumatra, Jakarta, West Java and Banten.

“We are not afraid,” Polri Grand Commissioner Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono told FORUM. “We keep monitoring, but there is no threat or security issue that worries us, since we are now working together with BIN [Indonesia’s National Intelligence agency] along with TNI to secure the country ahead of the Asian Games.”

A police command center in Jakarta began operating 24 hours a day at the end of July 2018. “The command center has cameras in every Asian Games venue from many angles,” Yuwono said. “We will monitor the movements of people and police. The command center will communicate directly with the police on the ground.”

Polri also launched a crime prevention campaign, he added, which reminds people not to wear anything that might attract criminals and to avoid going out alone. The public also is encouraged to pay attention to anything suspicious.

“But don’t be too scared,” he emphasized.  “The police and TNI will be there. We also have increased patrols, police in uniform, as well as undercover police in the main areas of the games,” he added.

Polri is deploying 1,637 “special personnel,” according to Antara, stationed at arenas, athletes’ residences and along roads used for the games. Security teams also are stationed at tourist areas, shopping plazas and other places that attract crowds. (Pictured: Indonesian anti-terror personnel and their dogs take part in a security drill near venues of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.)

International cooperation is also playing a role in security, said Fitri Bintang Timur, researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta. “Japan is providing biometric cameras for the games,” he said.  “Foreign embassies are coordinating with Polri in the interest of their nations’ athletes.”

Meanwhile, Polri has stepped up raids on suspected terrorists and their supporters, said Jakarta-based security analyst Stanis Riyanta. “Security issues that we need to pay attention to are sabotage and terrorism,” Riyanta said. “This remains the high alert issue that might disturb the Asian Games.”

While government action has diminished the activity of terrorist groups, he said, the games provide an enticing target because of their international profile.

“They [terrorist groups] don’t really pay attention anymore whether the terror is in the form of a small or big action,” he said, “as long as they get international attention. Since the Asian Games are widely covered, this is something we need to keep an eye on.”

Tom Abke is a FORUM contributor reporting from Singapore.