Indonesian Special Operations



Kopaska (TNI-AL) is the premier frogman and underwater demolition unit of the Indonesian Navy. This unit motto is Tan Hana Wighna Tan Sirna, which means there is no obstacle that can not be defeat. It was officially established on March 31 1962 by President Sukarno to help his campaign in Irian Jaya. This special operations force already existed far before March 31 1962 at 1954, the father of Kopaska is Captain (Navy) ISKAK from Navy Frogman School at Naval Base Surabaya. Their main duty is underwater demolition, which consists of raiding enemy’s ships and bases, destroying main underwater installations, reconnaissance, prisoner snatches, preparing beaches for larger naval amphibious operations, and counter-terrorism. In peace time the unit deploys 7-man teams to serve as security personnel for VIPs. Primary among these duties are the escort and personal security of the Indonesian President and Vice President.


KOPASKA was heavily influenced by the early U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) and modern Navy SEAL Teams. This foundation of Kopaska established, when early KOPASKA members (Captain-Navy Urip Santoso, Lieutenant-Navy Joko Suyatno, Sergeant EMP Joseph) were sent to the United States for training with the UDTs. That tradition continues until now as each year a few men from the unit travel to Coronado, California and Norfolk, Virginia to participate in SEAL training back to Indonesia this batch duties were to recruit new personnel for Kopaska. Early recruitment process was difficult since only few Navy members can pass Kopaska qualifications process. This condition become harder, when President Sukarno announced Trikora Campaign at West Irian. Since Kopaska needed to conduct beach reconnaissance, beach clearing, prisoner snatches, and human torpedo. The last two missions were the most daring mission that conduct by Kopaska, for example prisoner snatches their target was Admiral Reeser, and for human torpedo their target was Aircraft Carrier (Karel Doorman), which very well armed at that time. Due to lack of personnel Kopaska have to borrowed personal from Army Special Force ( RPKAD) or Koppassus today.


Recruitment process in Kopaska is almost similar to US Navy SEALs. The criteria consists of:

  1. All personnel who wish to join the Kopaska unit should be an existing member of the navy corps, as the involvement in other corps is not allowed (this includes the marine corps)
  2. All personnel must be younger than 30 years old
  3. Recruitment process is held once a year at all naval base, so that all navy personnel from all over Indonesia can join Kopaska. After fulfilling these criteria, the candidate will be brought to Kopaska Training Centre to conduct the selection process. From previous experience, out of 300-1500 candidates, only 15 to 20 actually succeeded in completing the initial selection process. subsequent to this, those who passed will receive advanced training in Kopaska training centre according to finally, after passing this training, a candidate then graduated to be a member of Kopaska unit and only 5-6 people will get to this stage.


Training process length is seven weeks. These training divided into 4 continual training phases. First Phase is physical endurance or physical training, The second phase is Basic under water training, fourth phase is commando training, the fourth phase is parachute training.

First Phase

First phase training is physical training or endurance training. Therefore to cope with this phase each candidate every day will receive physical training program, such running, marching, push-up, sit up, pull-up, swimming, etc. All of these training program are unscheduled, therefore it can happen any time the instructor want his candidates to do. The last week of this training each candidate should be able to show their strength already, such as cross strait swimming, rowing to Laki Island at night with less food and without enough sleep, etc. These training usually exploit most of the candidate physical and psychology strength. In order to survive each candidate should exploit 150% of their strength. The the rest training phases are almost similar receive by Indonesia special communities, such as: combat swimming, infiltrate through submarine torpedo tube, Long range combat patrol, Close quarter battle (CQB or CQC), Infiltrate by using CRRC or RIB, Intelligence course, Parachute training, consist of combat free-fall, static lime, HAHO, and HALO, Pathfinder, Survival, etc.

Weaponry and Equipment

Since most of Kopaska duties are at salt and moist environment, therefore most of Kopaska weaponries and equipment must reflect to these condition Type of equipment and weaponries use by Kopaska quite common in Indonesia and world special force societies, such as: H&K MP5 variants Submachine gun for Counter piracy operation, Pindad SS1 variants assault rifle, M16 A2 assault rifle (M16A2 is limited) , , H&K G3 SG! sniper rifle, Sig 550 Sniper rifle, Steyr-Mannlicher SSG 69, Galatz Sniper Rifle .Russian Made AK47, Norinco Type 84, CZ-58 , Daewoo K-7 ,for machine-gun Kopaska uses standard FN Minimi 5,56×45, Daewoo K-3, and FN GPMG 7,76×51 ,Pistol consists of Pindad made P1/P2, FN Hi-power, Sig&Sauer P226, Pietro Barretta P92.For equipments Kopaska uses almost same equipment with the commercial scuba diver use one, the different is very narrow between military and commercial. For aqualung equipment Kopaska uses close circuit and open circuit, for under water mobility Kopaska use scooter, or sometime they use sub-skimmer craft, on the water they usually use Avon Sea Raider Rigid Inflatable Boat or Hull (But Sea Raider by deflating the hull also can be use as sub-skimmer craft).

Notable Missions

Trikora Campaign

In that campaign they were ordered to be human torpedoes similar to Japanese ‘kamikaze’ troops. In doing so they have to modified boat, which equip with 2 of torpedoes warhead, pair of Johnson 100pk outboard engines, one Mig17 Fresco ejection seat. So the human torpedo means is not the human rode the torpedo, but the boat that equip with torpedo warhead. This project in Kopaska is known as Project Y super vise by ones of Kopaska founder Mayor ( Navy) Urip Santoso Today, unit strength is approximately 300 men, divided into two groups. One is attached to the western fleet, based on Jakarta, and the other one is attached to the eastern fleet, based on Surabaya, East Java. They are also responsible for limited search and rescue duties and have deployed as part of United Nations peace force.

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