171. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State1

920. Ref: A. Deptel 750;2 B. Deptel 749;3 C. Deptel 748.4

CAS Bangkok acting on authority contained para 1 Ref A conveyed the substance para 4 and 5 Ref B to General Sukendro on November [Page 359] 5. The meeting was necessarily short in view of Sukendro’s then pending departure for Rangoon. Sukendro was obviously pleased with the favorable response to his request on behalf of the Indonesian Army leadership. There ensued a discussion of the covert arrangements to be made for the Indonesian Army’s obstensible purchase of the medicines and a review of the medical list by Sukendro’s doctor, a Col. (Dr.) Achmad Soemantri. The revised list and proposed covert arrangements will be reported in CAS channels.
Although the guidance contained in the referenced messages was strictly adhered to, Sukendro specifically stated the Indonesian Army leadership does desire to pursue further in subsequent discussion here the possibility of covert limited provision of weapons and communications equipment. General Sukendro specifically asked, and it was felt unwise to question the propriety of his request, that there be further discussion in Bangkok on possible covert provision of additional limited covert assistance to the Indonesian Army.
Sukendro advised that Col. Firmansjah is to arrive in Bangkok early next week. He stated the Colonel is being sent here to discuss the Indonesian Army small arms requirement. (This had earlier been approached by Sukendro as reported para 5, CAS Bangkok 02565 and presumably has reference to para 4, Ref C.) He further stated police Colonel Soebianto is scheduled to arrive by the beginning of the week with the list of communications equipment needed by the army. There was no discussion of the planned arrival of these officers nor any discussion relative to assistance for the provision of communications equipment or weapons. It was felt best not to be drawn into a discussion of what we could or could not consider in terms of support beyond that presently approved. It was additionally believed unwise to attempt to discuss the propriety of further substantive discussions here in view of Sukendro’s repeated statements that the army wishes to handle these matters here on a covert basis and security circumstances in Djakarta are not in their opinion conducive to working out details inherent in the provision of such support.
Sukendro will be returning from Rangoon on either 6 or 8 November in view of information which he had just received from his advance party in Rangoon to the effect that there is no additional rice available for export from Rangoon beyond that already committed for next year.
In view of Sukendro’s apparent intention to pursue further the possibility of U.S. Government covert assistance in obtaining communications [Page 360] equipment and small arms to arm Moslem and nationalist youths in Central Java for use against the PKI, we necessarily need more explicit guidance as to how this matter is to be handled here.6 This is particularly important in view of Sukendro’s early return to Bangkok and the fact that he will perforce be here for a very short period of time within which the basic arrangements will apparently need be made before his departure for Cairo. His present schedule will require his departure on about 10 or 11 November for Cairo. He stated that he plans to leave his senior aide here to work out the implementing details of any mutually agreed assistance.
Although circumstances did not permit a discussion in depth of the army’s political views, intentions and attitudes toward Indonesian-U.S. relations the following impinges on this subject. When substance of guidance contained in para 5, Ref B conveyed to Sukendro he responded by stating that he fully appreciates the U.S. concern and need to have the earliest possible exposition of Indonesian Army policy on these subjects. He made it clear however that any discussion on this matter would in his opinion necessarily be academic at this point; that the army must of necessity first succeed in eliminating the PKI, Subandrio and all others in positions of leadership and authority who are responsible for the present Indonesian policy. He stated that until and unless the army succeeds in this, it is not possible to change or openly advocate a change in Indonesian foreign policy. He stated there is no question as to the army’s desire to normalize relations and this will follow naturally and automatically with the elimination of these elements. Sukendro stated that he and others of his group have discussed their hopes and plans for Indonesia so often in the past and they are embarrassed to discuss this now in view of their obvious inability to take those actions.7
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 INDON. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Repeated to Djakarta and CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. In telegram 750, repeated to Bangkok and sent to Djakarta as 576, November 4, the Department of State informed the Embassy in Indonesia that it had authorized informing Sukendro that the United States was prepared to furnish medical supplies. (Ibid.)
  3. Document 170.
  4. Not found.
  5. Not found.
  6. In telegram 762 to Bangkok, November 6, the Department of State authorized meeting with Sukendro or his representatives at his initiative, listening to what he had to say and reporting to Washington. There was to be no implication of providing anything more than medical supplies already authorized, but the U.S. officials could ask questions to clarify any Indonesia requests for additional aid. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9) According to notes of the November 8 meeting of the Indonesia Working Group, this reply went out before comments of the Embassy in Djakarta were received. (Memorandum by Nuechterlein, November 8; Washington National Records Center; RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 70 A 5127, Indonesia 000.1, sensitive, 1965)
  7. In telegram 1353 from Djakarta, November 7, Green commented on telegram 920 from Bangkok with a reiteration of his views expressed in Document 165. As for communications equipment, he believed that low visibility equipment covertly provided would have maximum immediate utility to Indonesian armed forces. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 INDON)