168. Memorandum From the Assistant for Indonesia (Nuechterlein) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Friedman)1
- Indonesia Working Group
The second meeting of the Indonesia Working Group took place on 3 November in Mr. Cuthell’s office at State. Present were Mr. Cuthell, Mr. Underhill and Mr. Goodspeed from State; Mr. Friedman and Mr. Nuechterlein from DOD; Mr. [name not declassified], CIA; and Mr. Thompson, White House Staff.
The major subject for discussion was the request of General Sukendro, General Nasution’s apparent emissary, for medical supplies, tactical communications equipment, rice and possibly small arms to assist the Army in dealing with PKI dissidence during the next few months. As Sukendro’s request was [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] [Page 352]stated in somewhat vague terms, State has queried Embassy Djakarta in order to determine whether Sukendro is acting with full support from General Nasution and if so, whether the Embassy believes that the USG should agree to financing all or part of this limited assistance.2 At the time of the meeting, no reply had been received from Djakarta. Neither had there been any reply to the Joint State-Defense request of October 29 asking for an appraisal of the kind of military assistance that might be requested by the Army in case of PKI insurgency.3 There was considerable discussion over whether it was in the interest of the USG to make limited medical, economic and military assistance available to the Indonesian Army without conditions. State is of the view that Sukendro’s request for assistance was an opening wedge designed to find out how willing the United States is to grant aid and on what conditions. State therefore believes that before committing itself to aiding the Indonesian Army, the USG should have a better idea than it presently does of what future Army policies are likely to be. DOD and the White House Staff believe that the USG should not attach conditions initially because they feel it is important to assure the Army of our full support of its efforts to crush the PKI, which is the basis of Sukendro’s request. It was decided [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Sukendro should be advised his request is being considered in Washington. If we determine from Djakarta that Nasution supports Sukendro’s request, we will then decide what items should be made available and the extent to which the USG will pay for them.
There was considerable discussion of the desirability of consulting at a high level with the Japanese Government to enlist its support for a policy of aiding the Indonesian Army. One problem is that the Japanese prefer to work with a government headed by Sukarno and it is not certain at this point whether Sukarno will eventually be persuaded to work with the Army against the PKI. However, the Japanese show signs of disenchantment with Sukarno’s leadership, and it may be possible to get their support for an aid program that would support the Army’s position. State will look into the possibility of a high-level approach to the Japanese Government. The meeting also agreed that it might be desirable at some point to bring the Thai Government into the picture, in view of its good relations with Indonesia and because it could serve as transit point for assistance we might wish to give the Indonesian Army.
[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] now has the report of its communications specialist who was sent to Djakarta to determine the needs for tactical communications equipment. These needs are not [Page 353]large and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] will be able to fill them without difficulty if a decision is reached to proceed. DOD will consider the possibility of augmenting [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] funds if requirements for covert assistance become large.
[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has alerted its contacts to report any increase in commercial shipping headed for Indonesia that might be carrying arms to the PKI. This information will be made available to Embassy Djakarta for possible transmittal to the Indonesian Army. There is no requirement as yet for DOD to augment surveillance over shipping in the vicinity of Indonesia; but this may be desirable if the security situation in Java becomes critical.
Another meeting of the Working Group is scheduled for November 10. However, it may be called sooner if a decision is required immediately on some of the items requested by General Sukendro.