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definition - KOPASKA

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Komando Pasukan Katak
Active March 31, 1962 - Present
Country Indonesia
Branch Indonesian Navy Western and Eastern Fleet - Armada
Type Naval Special Forces
Role Sea, Air and Land Special Operations/Maritime Counter-Terrorist force
Size Classified
Part of Indonesian National Armed Forces Tentara Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian)
Garrison/HQ Indonesian Naval Base, Western Fleet Pondok Dayung Tj. Priok Jakarta, Eastern Fleet Ujung Surabaya
Nickname Kopaska
Motto Tan Hana Wighna Tan Sirna (There is no obstacle that cannot be defeated)
Colors Maroon
March Kopaska March
Mascot Green Flying Frog
Anniversaries 31st March
Engagements Western New Guinea (Papua) - 1950s
Trikora Campaign, Malaysia/Singapore/Borneo - 1962/64 Dwikora Campaign

Kopaska or Komando Pasukan Katak is the premier frogman and underwater demolition unit of the Indonesian Navy. The Unit's motto is "Tan Hana Wighna Tan Sirna" ("There is no obstacle that cannot be defeated"). KOPASKA was officially established on March 31, 1962 by President Sukarno to help his campaign in Western New Guinea. However, this special operations force was actually founded in 1954 by Captain (Navy) Iskak from the Navy Frogman School at Naval Base Surabaya. The Unit's main duties are underwater demolition (raiding enemy ships and bases), destroying main underwater installations, reconnaissance, prisoner snatches, preparing beaches for larger naval amphibious operations, and counter-terrorism. In peacetime the unit deploys a seven person team 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 influenced by the early U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) and modern Navy SEAL Teams.

Early KOPASKA members (Captain-Navy Urip Santoso, Lieutenant-Navy Joko Suyatno, and Sergeant EMP Joseph) trained with the UDTs in the United States. The Indonesian Navy also sent personnel to Russia to learn from Russian Navy Combat Divers. The tradition of overseas training has continued with a few men from the unit travelling each year to Coronado, California and Norfolk, Virginia to participate in SEAL training. Returning to Indonesia, these men then recruit new personnel for KOPASKA.

Recruitment was difficult in the early years of KOPASKA as only few Navy members could pass the qualifications process. Recruitment became even more difficult when President Sukarno announced the Trikora Campaign in Western New Guinea (the Netherlands New Guinea), as KOPASKA were required to conduct beach reconnaissance, beach clearing, prisoner snatches, and human torpedo missions. The latter two missions were the most daring planned by KOPASKA – the first planned to snatch Rear Admiral Reeser, Commander in Chief of the Dutch Armed Forces in the Territory, and the human torpedo was aimed at the Aircraft Carrier Karel Doorman. Due to lack of personnel KOPASKA had to borrow 21 troops from Army Special Force (RPKAD - now Kopassus), including Colonel Sarwo Edhie Wibowo, and three from the Army (Kodam Jaya). The plans were canceled when a cease-fire was implemented between Indonesia and the Netherlands.

Of the troops assigned to the Trikora campaign, the three Army troops (Maksum, Alex Sunaryo, and Budi Suroyo) attended seaman school in the Naval Training Command (Kodikal) and became regular members of KOPASKA. 18 of 21 RPKAD wanted to stay with the Navy, but the Commander of RPKAD (Major General Mung Pahardimulyo) did not approve the transfer. Instead, he accommodated the ex-KOPASKA members by creating a new special unit in RPKAD called RPKAD Frogman (now Paska Gultor, in battalion SAT 81-2 Gultor Kopassus Cijantung). Kopassus continues to send its best members for three months of training in Frogman Navy School (Sepaskal) at the Special Training Centre (Pusdiksus), Naval Training Command (Kodikal Moro Krembangan) in Surabaya, East Java.


The recruitment process to KOPASKA is similar to that of the US Navy SEALs. The criteria are:

  • Be an existing member of the Navy corps (other corps, including Marines, do not qualify)
  • Be younger than 30 years old

The recruitment process takes place annually at all Indonesian naval bases, so location is not a concern. Candidates who fulfil the initial criteria are brought to KOPASKA Training Centre to participate in the selection process. Of 300-1500 candidates, only 15 to 20 actually complete the initial selection process. Those who pass the initial selection receive advanced training at KOPASKA training centre. Those who pass training then graduate to become a member of KOPASKA Unit. Only 5-6 people per year graduate to become a full member.


The training process lasts nine months, divided into four continual training phases: physical endurance/physical training, basic underwater training, commando training, and parachute training.

Each phase of training consists of a similar process. For example, the first phase of training is physical or endurance training. Each candidate receives a daily physical training program, e.g.: running, marching, push-ups, sit ups, pull-ups, swimming, etc. The training programs are unscheduled, so the instructor can order physical training at random. The last week of this training each candidate must be able to demonstrate strength through trials such as cross-strait swimming or rowing to Laki Island at night with little food or sleep. This training usually exploits the candidate's physical and psychological strength.

The remaining training phases include combat swimming, infiltration through submarine torpedo tube, long range combat patrol, close quarter battle, infiltration using CRRC or RIB, intelligence course, parachute training (including combat free-fall, static line, HAHO, and HALO), pathfinder, and survival techniques.

  Weaponry and equipment

Since most of KOPASKA duties are in salty and moist environments, most of KOPASKA's weapons and equipment reflect these conditions.

The type of equipment and weapons used by Kopaska are common in Indonesia and world special force societies, including:

KOPASKA use commercial scuba diver equipment. All personnel are also equipped with lightweight PRO-TEC helmets and Level III MICH helmets. They use close circuit and open circuit aqualung equipment, a scooter or sub-skimmer craft for underwater mobility, and an Avon Sea Raider Rigid Inflatable Boat or Hull (By deflating the hull, a Sea Raider can also can be used as a sub-skimmer craft).

  Notable missions

  Trikora campaign

The human torpedo campaign, described above, would use KOPASKA troops like Japanese kamikaze. The strike craft was a boat installed with one MiG-17 "Fresco" ejection seat, powered by a pair of Johnson 100pk and armed with two torpedo warheads. Known as Project Y within KOPASKA circles, this project was supervised by Major (Navy) Urip Santoso, one of the founders of KOPASKA.

Currently, the unit has approximately 300 men, divided into two groups. One group is attached to the western fleet, based in Jakarta, and the other group is attached to the eastern fleet, based in Surabaya, East Java. When called for, they conduct limited support search and rescue missions. They have also been deployed overseas as part of United Nations peacekeeping missions.




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