180. Special National Intelligence Estimate0

SNIE 65–59


The Problem

To estimate the likelihood of Indonesia taking armed action against West New Guinea.

[Page 348]


Indonesia has the capability to capture one or more of the lesser Dutch settlements in West New Guinea and would have a good chance of launching a small-scale (up to 1,000 men) invasion force without prior detection. Although Indonesia might be able to muster 7,000–8,000 men for an assault on the major Dutch stronghold at Biak, its waterlift capability probably does not exceed 3,500 troops and its airlift capability about 600 paratroopers. Moreover, it could provide little effective fighter cover for such an operation. Indonesian ability to coordinate operations of a scale necessary to seize and hold Biak is very doubtful and preparations for such an operation could probably be detected. (Paras. 7–9)
We believe that Indonesia will probably not undertake large-scale armed action within the next six months, primarily because of internal security problems and concern that such an attack would provoke adverse international reaction. Also, Indonesian leaders may believe that present pressures may force the Dutch to yield. (Paras. 10–14)
The Indonesian objective in a small-scale action to seize one or more of the smaller settlements in West New Guinea would probably be to provoke Dutch countermeasures which would attract international attention and UN consideration. However, unless the Indonesians could point to strong evidence of military provocation by the Dutch, they would face accusations that they had resorted to armed force and the possibility of UN action favorable to Indonesia would be reduced. Although the arguments against large-scale military action do not apply with the same force against small-scale operations, we have no convincing evidence that Indonesia intends to undertake small-scale action and, on balance, the odds seem to be against it for the near future. (Paras. 15–16)
Indonesian military capabilities and the temptation to resort to armed force against West New Guinea will increase over the next two years. However, we believe that Indonesian armed action on any significant scale is and will remain much less likely than Indonesian use or provocation of some incident with the Dutch so as to bring the issue before the UN under favorable circumstances. (Paras. 17–18)

[Here follows the 4-page Discussion section; see Supplement.]

  1. Source: Department of State, INRNIE Files. Secret. According to a note on the cover sheet, the CIA and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Joint Staff participated in the preparation of this estimate. All members of the IAC concurred with the estimate on February 10, except the representatives of the AEC and the FBI, who abstained on the grounds that the subject was outside their jurisdiction.