11 Jul The Incredible Garuda Contingent: Peacekeeper of the United Nations Since 1957
Garuda Contingent is a group of selected armies among the Indonesian military that carry out peacekeeping missions passed down by the United Nations itself, a group of peacekeeper from Indonesia, to work under United Nations, for the sake of world peace. Their name came from the fictional animal called “Garuda”, which is a fictional eagle-like bird that became the national emblem of Indonesia. In this article, we will introduce you to this peacekeeping force, the Garuda Contingent, who they are, what is their mission, and how they support UN’s effort for the world’s peacekeeping.
What is the Garuda Contingent?
The Garuda Contingent (Kontingen Garuda/KONGA) is a group of peacekeepers drawn from the Indonesian National Army (Tentara National Indonesia/TNI) that serve the United Nations (UN) and carry out important duties that are strongly related to politic and socio-culture, but mostly military diplomacy. The deployment of the Garuda Contingent in UN peace missions is considered a special task which will represent Indonesia in international forums, just like an ambassadors, in support of world peace.
Considering such responsibility, only a small portion of the National Army is choosen to be the Garuda Contingent. They need to carry out their assigned mission with responsibility and pride, as the National Army’s Commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said, “You have to maintain the good image of the person, unit, nation and state, and show that TNI are professional soldiers”. According to Tjahjanto himself, the result of the contingent deployment is quite a satisfactory, conflicted countries and the UN recognize the ability of the group.
To differentiate between the Garuda Contingent and a regular army personnel, simple alteration is done to their uniform. Soldiers of the contingent wear their basic uniform, but with the addition of blue beret, blue helmet, and the emblem of UN and country flag embedded in their right arm (in rare occasion, they wore blue scarf). As you might guess, the blue colour is intended to make people recognize the peacekeeping units sent by the UN, as their logo is known to be dominated by the colour.
What is Their Mission?
As a peacekeeping soldier who works under UN, Garuda Contingent has a task to assist UN to resolve conflict between two conflicted parties through through humanitarian approach and military diplomacy. Hadi Tjahjanto testified that the contingent is known for its approach to the local community, in order to support the achievement from basic tasks to world peace. The National Army Commander also emphasized that this assignment was a means to gain experience and broaden horizons for Indonesian Armies.
The key for a smooth operation is that the soldiers should respect and uphold the local culture, so that the community supports the implementation of their duties, according to Tjahjanto. For an example, in the second half of 2018, Indonesian President Joko Widodo set off the Indonesian peacekeeping Garuda Contingent on a mission to Congo and Lebanon. Indonesia dispatch a total of 850 soldiers to Congo by plane, and a total of 120 naval personnel to Lebanon by a warship.
The dispatchment of these soldiers is a way for Indonesia to contribute to the maintenance of world peace and order, just like what Indonesian constitution suggest, and beside that, it would make the good reputation for Indonesia and make state famous. The dispatchment of Garuda Contingent has been going on since 1957, where they were sent to Sinai Peninsula in Egypt for their first mission. The peacekeeping group was established more than a decade after Indonesia had proclaimed its independence.
Since 1957, Indonesia has dispatched more than 38 thousand soldiers to join the UN-led peacekeeping missions, and it is one of the 10-largest countries who send peacekeeping troops. Continuing on the Indonesian constitution, Garuda Contingent was meant to realize the goal of national interest stated in the opening of the 1945 Constitution paragraph 4. There was 4 of them, and the last one states “Contribute to the efforts to realize world peace based on independence, lifelong peace, and social justice”.
To ensure peace in our local territory, perhaps gender equality should be considered as well, to know more, you can read: Beware of Gender Inequality! 3 Types of Inequalities and the Struggles