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The Military Service of Prabowo Subianto

Source: “Prabowo: Rekam Foto Sang Patriot,” pages 16-29

Prabowo Subianto dedicated 28 years of his life to the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI). Throughout his career, he achieved numerous distinctions that made him one of the most legendary soldiers in the TNI. His troops were responsible for capturing the President of Fretilin, scaling the summit of Everest, and liberating hostages in the jungles of Papua. Prabowo was renowned as the TNI’s best marksman and was a founding member of the anti-terror unit, Detachment 81.

Prabowo was commissioned from the National Military Academy (AMN) in Magelang by President Suharto in 1974.

In his first deployment to the battlefield, Prabowo’s unit successfully neutralized the President of Fretilin, Nicolau Lobato, during a search and raid operation in December 1978. At that time, he led 28 elite soldiers as a captain.

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While serving in Battalion 328, Prabowo transformed the unit into a formidable and legendary force.

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Known as a multi-talented soldier, Prabowo was relied upon to win shooting accuracy competitions, marathon races, and military skills contests. Throughout his military career, he won dozens of shooting competitions.

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Prabowo held a firm belief that a military leader should lead from the front. His active presence on the front lines marked his leadership style, consistent both before and after his promotion to general.

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In 1981, Benny Moerdani sent Prabowo and Luhut Pandjaitan to Germany to attend an anti-terror course with the GSG9. Upon their return, they established an anti-terror squad that later became known as Detachment 81.

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Prabowo led the successful rescue operation of the Lorentz 95 expedition researchers held by the Free Papua Movement during the Mapenduma hostage rescue operation in 1996. At that time, Prabowo served as the commander. He proved to military consultants from America’s Delta Force and the British SAS that the mission they deemed “impossible” could be accomplished successfully by KOPASSUS.

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Prabowo’s team also had the honor of planting the Indonesian flag on the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, in the Himalayas on April 26, 1997. At that time, Prabowo initiated and led a team comprising members from KOPASSUS, Wanadri, FPTI, and Mapala UI to scale Everest. Indonesia became the first tropical nation and the first in Southeast Asia to achieve this feat.

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As the commander of KOPASSUS, Prabowo brought international acclaim to the unit with his achievements, establishing it as one of the world’s premier elite forces known for its superior welfare standards and military capabilities on par with other global elite military units.

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