110. Memorandum Prepared for the 303 Committee1


  • Progress Report on [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Covert Action in Indonesia

1. Summary

Since the summer of 1964, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has worked with the Department of State in formulating concepts and developing an operational program of political action in Indonesia aimed at bolstering the more moderate elements in the Indonesian political spectrum to counter the growing power of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). This program has been coordinated in the Department of State with the Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs and with the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia.

The aim of this political action program is to reduce the influence on Indonesian foreign and domestic policies of the PKI and the Government of Red China and to encourage and support existing non-Communist elements within Indonesia. The program envisages continuation of certain activities which have been undertaken previously on a developmental basis plus other new activities which appear now to offer [Page 235]promise of success if implemented on a coordinated and sustained basis. The main thrust of this program is designed to exploit factionalism within the PKI itself, to emphasize traditional Indonesian distrust of Mainland China and to portray the PKI as an instrument of Red Chinese imperialism. Specific types of activity envisaged include covert liaison with and support to existing anti-Communist groups, particularly among the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified],2 black letter operations, media operations, including possibly black radio, and political action within existing Indonesian organizations and institutions. The estimated annual cost of this program is [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. These funds are available [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

2. Problem

To counter the growing strength and influence of the Communist Party of Indonesia and Communist China over Indonesian foreign and domestic policies.

3. Factors Bearing on the Problem

One of the main factors bearing on the problem is the close affinity between the current objectives of Sukarno and Red China and the support provided to Sukarno by the PKI in contrast to the lack of coordination and common ground for action among the various anti-Communist elements within Indonesia.

a. Origin of the Requirement

The requirement for a program of this type arose out of a series of discussions of the problem between Ambassador Jones and the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and between Ambassador Jones and officials of the Department of State and the CIA in Washington.

b. Pertinent U.S. Policy Considerations

The program is consistent with U.S. policy which seeks a stable, non-Communist Indonesia.

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c. Operational Objectives

Portray the PKI as an increasingly ambitious, dangerous opponent of Sukarno and legitimate nationalism and instrument of Chinese neo-imperialism.

Provide covert assistance to individuals and organizations capable of and prepared to take obstructive action against the PKI.

Encourage the growth of an ideological common denominator, within the framework of Sukarno’s enunciated concepts, which will serve to unite non-Communist elements and create cleavage between the PKI and the balance of the Indonesian society.

Develop black and grey propaganda themes and mechanisms for use within Indonesia and via appropriate media assets outside of Indonesia in support of the objectives of this program.

Identify and cultivate potential leaders within Indonesia for the purpose of ensuring an orderly non-Communist succession upon Sukarno’s death or removal from office.

Identify, assess and monitor the activities of anti-regime elements for the purpose of influencing them to support a non-Communist successor regime.

d. Risks Involved

Risks involved in this program include the possibility that were Sukarno to learn of its existence and to suspect that one of the objectives of the program is to weaken his control of Indonesian affairs, further deterioration of relations between Indonesia and the United States could result. An additional risk is the possibility that too blatant anti-PKI activity is likely to invite repressive measures on Sukarno’s part, assisted by PKI attacks upon key anti-Communist leaders, with concomitant further disarray within the non-Communist groups. Nevertheless, it is believed that a program of this type should be attempted.

e. Funding

The estimated annual cost of this program is [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Funds are available [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] to support this program.

f. Support Required from Other Agencies

No support will be required from other agencies other than that normally deriving from Country Team cooperation in the field.

g. Timing of the Operation

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has been developing active relationships with leading nationalist personalities [1 line of source text not declassified]. Through secure mechanisms some funds have been [Page 237]given to key personalities to bolster their ability and their resolve to continue their anti-Communist activities which essentially are in the U.S. direction. The proposed operational program will be carried out as soon as approved.

4. Coordination

This operational program has been approved by Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs and by the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia. Continuing coordination of specific projects will be effected in Djakarta with the Principal Officer.

5. Recommendation

It is recommended that the 303 Committee approve this program.3

  1. Source: National Security Council, Special Group/303 Committee Files, Subject Files, Indonesia. Secret; Eyes Only. In a brief attached note, March 4, [text not declassified], the NSC staff member on loan from the CIA, summarized this proposal as “[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] to chip away at the PKI and continue covert liaison and support to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] personalities.” [text not declassified] also stated that the proposal included the “up hill work” of exploiting factionalism and emphasizing traditional Indonesia mistrust of the Chinese mainland. He noted that “everyone concurs” and that Helms argued against any break with Sukarno because “whatever equities exist will be decimated without representation there.” (Ibid., 303 Committee Minutes, 3/5/65)
  2. On December 14, 1961, the Special Group (predecessor of the 303 Committee) agreed to spend [text not declassified] during FY 1962 “to support civic action and anti-Communist activities to be executed through [Indonesian] [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] instrumentalities” and [text not declassified] during FY 1962 and 1963 “to assist [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in covert training of selected personnel and civilians, who will be placed in key positions in the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] civic action program.” (CIA Paper for the Special Group, December 11, 1961, and December 14, 1961, Minutes of the Special Group; ibid., Subject Files, Indonesia and Special Group Minutes, 12/14/61)
  3. The 303 Committee approved this paper on March 4. [text not declassified] of the CIA took the opportunity to urge “a larger political design or master plan to arrest the Indonesian march into the Chinese camp” based on the Maphilindo concept. He argued a major effort was required to prevent the United States from being excluded from Indonesia, suggesting that the loss of a nation of 105 million to the “Communist camp” would make a victory in Vietnam of little meaning. McGeorge Bundy stated that as a major political problem, Indonesia was receiving attention, but it “could not be settled in the 303 forum.” (Ibid., 303 Committee Minutes, 3/5/65)