The Ghost Team in action

  • Tiga Sandera TerakhirTitle: Tiga Sandera Terakhir (novel)
  • ISBN: 978-602-0989-47-1
  • Author: Brahmanto Anindito
  • Thick: 309 + xiv halaman
  • Pubisher: Noura Books 2015

Do you remember the abduction of Lorentz researchers in Mapnduma Village, Papua, about two decades ago? The tragedy involved a militant group called OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka or Free West Papua Organisation). If you still don’t remember it or don’t know what OPM is, this novel would help you refreshing the memory. Although it’s a pure fiction and the background is shifted to the present time, i.e. Jokowi-JK era, Tiga Sandera Terakhir was inspired by that Mapnduma incident.

Since the first chapter, readers are led to tense atmosphere when the OPM militias—under the command of Akilas and Mikael—besiege an inn in the village. They persecute and take hostage of five guests inside. Three of them are foreigners. That makes this an international case. Jakarta, which has gotten fire in the pants, sprang into action. Soon, The Indonesian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief sends an elite troops to Wamena, Papua, with one single mission: to release the hostages at any cost.

But it’s not that easy. Papuan jungle alone is a difficult battlefield, even for the trained soldiers. Not to mention low signal of comms and provided operation maps that are just similar to tourism map.

Like those messes are not worst enough, at The Military Area Command Headquarters in Jayapura, two senior officers of Army—in the same side—are in dispute. It’s between Major General Deddy Lestaluhu as Military Area Command XVII/Cenderawasih and Colonel Larung Nusa as Unit Commander of Sat-81/Gultor Kopassus.

Gen. Deddy wants a military operations because the situation is precarious and has big potential to embarrass Indonesia worldwidely. On the other side, Col. Nusa insists to take negotiation with OPM leaders. He hopes they don’t need to spill any blood at either sides.

Col. Nusa then is proven wrong. He just clapped one hand with the idea of negotiation. OPM is reluctant to release the hostages, unless Jakarta accepts the sovereignty of West Papua. To show that they are serious, OPM even dared to kill a hostage, who is a citizen of Indonesia.

Of course, Col. Nusa is pissed off by that reckless act. He conduts the military operation with the troops of Kopassus, Kodam, Penerbad (the Army Aviation), with Brimob K9 unit. They succeeds. It does not take long to release the four remaining hostages.

But a new problem comes up. During the rescue operation, a member of Kopassus was down and another disappeared in the thick Papuan rain forest. This is not good for Col. Nusa’s shining reputation in Army. The disappearance of Sergeant Anam, the death of a Kopassus’ soldier, a hostage, also a Papuan civilian who hit by stray bullets, makes Nusa face bitter suspension from his commander.

As a dedicated officer, such sanction is a fall from grace. He could not believe it, especially after what he had done to free the hostages. Nusa is so disappointed. But later he knows, the suspension is not like what it looked. It just relates to a new mission for him. A mission to command a “ghost team”.

Tiga Sandera Terakhir’s plot runs smoothly. With the three-act structure, the dramatical stairs get sharper and steeper, up to the climax. Its description is economical, the chapters are dinamically short, packed with a set of language that flows and is easily digested, even for the readers who do not understand or do no have interest of military things.

Finally, through this novel, we can learn at least three things. First, about the soldiership, including the ghost unit who never “existed”. Second, about Papuan natural beauty, rich mining, biodiversity, and culture. Third, a sad fact that there are still Papuans who never ceased to try to liberate West Papua from NKRI (The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia). So, it’s not only about action and entertainment, Tiga Sandera Terakhir would make the readers think and redefine the humanity.

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