175. Memorandum Prepared for the 303 Committee1

SUBJECT

  • Supply of Communications Equipment to Key Anti-Communist Indonesian Army Leaders

1. Summary

The purpose of this operational proposal is to assure that certain key anti-Communist Indonesian Army leaders will have adequate communications equipment for use in their fight against the Communist insurgents. Such equipment is in insufficient supply in Indonesia. This lack has, in consequence, imperiled the personal security of important anti-Communist Army leaders and has jeopardized their effectiveness in combating the Communists’ efforts to eliminate non-Communist influence favorable to us in their Government.

This request for equipment by several leading Indonesian officials has the support of the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia and is concurred in by the State Department’s Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs.

There are some risks in the delivery of this equipment, but [1 line of source text not declassified] with proper precautions in making deliveries to the ultimate recipients will minimize such risks. The Indonesians cannot now ostensibly nor actually purchase this equipment in the U.S. without exception being made to U.S. export license controls, thereby implying U.S. Government collusion. Any exposure of this activity would embarrass not only the U.S. Government, but certain [Page 369]high Army officials in the Indonesian Government. Much care will be taken in this regard.

The cost of the requested equipment is approximately [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. The supplies themselves come to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] will be required to package and ship.

On 5 November 1965 the 303 Committee approved a similar request to send medical supplies to Indonesia.2 This operation is proceeding on an urgent basis. It is hoped that the 303 Committee will approve the above program, which it is expected will proceed with the same urgency.

2. Problem

The immediate need is to provide on an urgent basis the present Indonesian Army leadership with secure voice and CW communications. Such equipment will provide a continuity of communications among the various Army units and their anti-Communist leaders and between certain of these leaders and U.S. elements. Given the uncertain loyalties within various Army commands and within Army communications proponents, existing communications equipment cannot be relied on to satisfy this need.

3. Factors Bearing on the Problem

On 13 October 1965, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] were furnished from [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] stocks for use of the guards protecting Nasution and other key Army officers. The continuing insufficiency of this equipment in the hands of leading anti-Communist Army leaders has imperiled their own personal security and could make it difficult for them in a crisis to communicate securely with each other and/or with the U.S. A [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] communications expert surveyed the needs in late October in conjunction with the Djakarta country team. The Indonesian Army does not have funds to purchase the equipment but asks that it be given to them covertly and as rapidly as possible.

a. Origin of the Requirement

The various requirements for communications equipment came [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] from the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, from the Minister of Defense Nasution’s aide, and from General Sukendro.

[Page 370]

b. Pertinent U.S. Policy Considerations

On 5 November 1965 the 303 Committee approved an operational proposal for Indonesia responding to a request for medical supplies.

c. Operational Objectives

A covert contact [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] must be maintained with certain Indonesian Army leaders who also require additional means of communicating securely among their own components in their struggle with the Communists. In the confused situation of conflicting loyalties in the Indonesian scene today, the security and personal safety of the leading anti-Communist leaders and safety of their families from intimidation and kidnapping, is of vital importance to their continuance of the struggle to prevent any return to the status quo before the 30 September coup. The possible assassination of Nasution, Suharto, Umar or a number of other generals would constitute serious setbacks for the U.S. Furthermore, in order to coordinate planning with trusted subordinates, they must have private communication facilities, frequently out of direct channels, in order to be really secure. There is equipment available within the Indonesian Army units for routine communications but recent events have shown clearly that not everyone, even in high ranks of the Indonesian Armed Forces, can be relied on to be loyal to, or even sympathetic with, the desires of Nasution and Suharto to crush the PKI, especially if in virtual defiance of Sukarno.

d. Equipment

[6 paragraphs (13 lines of source text) not declassified]

e. Risks Involved

Any publicity on this operational program would be highly embarrassing both to the U.S. Government and to the Indonesian Army leadership. Extreme care will be taken in all aspects of this operation, especially that pertaining to shipment of the requested equipment. [4 lines of source text not declassified] A covert delivery procedure has been devised to the ultimate Indonesian recipient.

f. Training

A qualified and senior Army communications officer, designated by Sukendro, would be provided [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] with special covert training at a safe site in use of the equipment. He would be required to bring with him the following necessary data: details of the several proposed net patterns, including locations of components and general concept of operations for the net; the frequencies between 45 and 52 megacycles which could be used in Indonesia (to afford maximum security from local monitoring) so that, based upon these specifications, our communicator would be able to [Page 371]tune the equipment to the desired frequencies and provide advice concerning a secure signal plan and communications procedures.

g. Funding

The overall cost is estimated at [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. The equipment itself will be approximately [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] for shipping and packaging.

4. Coordination

This operational proposal has been recommended by the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia and has been concurred in by the State Department’s Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs.

5. Recommendation

That the 303 Committee approve this program.3

  1. Source: National Security Council, Special Group/303 Committee Files, Subject Files, Indonesia. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. See footnote 1, Document 170.
  3. At the November 19 meeting of the 303 Committee, the members believed that assistance was “highly desirable,” but McGeorge Bundy thought that “the provision of this support on as non-attributable basis as possible was far more essential than simple speed of delivery.” He requested that a search be made to see if Japanese or U.S. surplus equipment were available, rather than the latest U.S. equipment. Colby agreed to try, but if other sources were not available, the matter would be referred to the Committee again. (National Security Council, Special Group/303 Committee Files, Minutes, 11/19/65) At the December 17 meeting, Colby reported that CIA had located and purchased equipment similar to that already provided and thus solved the problem of attribution. (Ibid., 12/17/65)