173. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State 1

951. Ref: A. Djakarta’s 1353 to SecState, 120 to Bangkok;2 B. Deptel 762 to Bangkok, 585 to Djakarta.3

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] 10 November met with General Sukendro at latter’s request. This meeting immediately preceded Sukendro’s departure for meeting with Malaysian Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dato Ghazali and Sukendro’s subsequent departure for Cairo.
Implementation details for the covert provision of the medicines per Deptel 7504 and our Embtel 920 to Washington and 63 to Djakarta5 were reviewed with Sukendro at this time to insure the latter’s full understanding and approval of the arrangements being made with Sukendro’s designee—Col. (Dr.) Achmad Soemantri. As earlier noted Soemantri has been ordered by Sukendro to remain in Bangkok to act as his liaison officer to work out the details for the covert implementation of medical agreement. Sukendro continues, of course, to be quite pleased with the expeditious and favorable responses to the Indonesian Army’s request for covert medical assistance. He stated he has reported to Generals Nasution and Suharto that arrangements were being made for the early delivery of the requested medicines. He has additionally reported in his capacity as head of the purchasing mission to President Sukarno on the arrangements for the purchase of rice and medicines. Naturally the latter report is on the basis of this being a straight commercial transaction negotiated by his mission.
Sukendro again referred to the army’s urgent need for communications equipment. He specifically requested that arrangements be made for the covert procurement and provision to the Indonesian army of a limited amount of commercially available communications equipment. He noted that the army while hoping and working for the best must nevertheless be prepared for the worst. Despite that which has been accomplished in the past five-six weeks in crushing the PCD, he believes the army has a long way to go.
Sukendro identified essentially three basic communications requirements. He cited two as being particularly urgent and requested US Government covert assistance in bridging what the army considers a serious communications gap. He stated the senior army leaders in the Djakarta area have no voice radio communications facilities. The army leaders need portable voice equipment to provide communications from one to the other and to perhaps two of the military units in the Djakarta area. They have in mind perhaps a dozen sets which would be assigned to Nasution, Suharto, Umar, Sukendro and other senior military leaders plus the Para Commando Unit and possibly one of the guard battalions in the metropolitan area.
The second requirement specifically identified by Sukendro as a significant gap in Indonesian army communications has to do with the establishment of an army voice circuit based in Djakarta and connecting the army commands at Medan, Palembang, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, Makassar and Bandjermasin. Security conditions permitting, they will probably want to position another set at Jogdjakarta and possibly one other principal command location. Sukendro noted the army has no long range voice communication net. The intent here is to establish a controlled quick-reaction emergency backup to the existing army CW system and commercial telephone and telegraph. Sukendro stated the deficiencies in voice communications equipment available to the army has been further aggravated by destruction of communications equipment in the course of the 30 September incident and subsequent actions.
He stated the army’s experiences since 30 September have made them acutely aware of the inadequacies of the communications facilities presently available to them. The senior army leaders feel particularly exposed by their lack of voice communications for their personal protection, particularly in the Djakarta area. Hence the request in para 4 above. They believe in a fast moving, fluid situation such as they are now confronted with, their ability to talk immediately to the commander on the spot could be of tremendous assistance. In emergencies they recognized that time often does not permit the use of CW and the telephone system is both vulnerable and unreliable.
The third communications area of concern to the Indonesian Army leadership is in the area of more effective communications on the tactical unit level in the Central Java area. This problem is the subject of a staff study by Col. Soebianto in Djakarta. Soebianto however was not able to get to Bangkok prior to Sukendro’s departure. Sukendro did not pursue this problem area other than to make passing reference. He specifically identified their request for equipment as having to do with the requirements set forth above. He neither stated nor implied that there would be a subsequent request for support in addition to that noted in the preceding paragraphs.
The army does not have funds available to purchase this equipment. If the decision is made to accede to their request it will necessarily have to be on the basis of covert procurement and delivery [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] from which point Sukendro assures the army’s capability to receive and arrange onward movement to Indonesia. Sukendro stated this will not present a problem for the army. Presupposing that the equipment is sterile and commercially available the army does not believe this would present a problem of security or potential embarrassment given the requirements as identified above.

We suggest consideration might be given to the covert procurement of commercially available stock items as set forth in our immediately following telegram.6 The estimated cost of these units which are believed to be fully adequate to the requirement and would additionally provide a CW as well as voice communications capability, would be approximately $40,000. Gen. Sukendro’s liaison officer is locally available to follow through on this request as appropriate.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. See footnote 6, Document 171.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 171.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 171.
  5. Document 171.
  6. Telegram 952 from Bangkok, November 11. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 INDON)
  7. In telegram 1427 from Djakarta, November 12, the Embassy strongly recommended providing this communications equipment on the grounds that it was “critical in current, delicately balanced struggle between Army and Sukarno and cohorts.” The Embassy added that the importance of the equipment to the Army far outweighed its “relatively minor costs.” (Ibid., POL INDON–US) In telegram 373 to Canberra, November 12, sent also to Djakarta, London, Wellington, and New Zealand, the Department reported that Berger had informed the Australian, New Zealand, and British Embassies that the United States had agreed to send $100,000 of medical supplies and was seriously considering giving the Indonesian Army Command $50,000 worth of commercial communications equipment. (Ibid., DEF US–INDON)