211. Memorandum Prepared for the 303 Committee1


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

1. Summary

The purpose of the original operational proposal approved by the 303 Committee on 17 November 19652 was to assure during a period of national turmoil emergency communications capabilities for selected Indonesian Army officers. This system was to provide adequate communications between these anti-Communist officers and subordinate headquarters in areas most susceptible to dissidence and rebellion.

On 26 February 1966, representatives of an intelligence organization responsible to General Nasution and attached to the former Armed Forces Staff (SAB), requested that High Frequency (HF) communications equipment be provided for a special link between that intelligence organization, General Nasution and General Suharto. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] were diverted for this purpose from the stocks assembled [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in Djakarta to establish the emergency communications system.

[Page 441]

With the concurrence of Ambassador Green, General Suharto was advised on 12 May of the availability of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] for use in communication with his principal commands. He was asked to designate communications officers to supervise receipt of this equipment. General Suharto expressed enthusiasm and arranged for Indonesian army technical personnel to be available for briefings on the equipment by [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] communications specialists. Discussions were held on 2 and 3 June between these [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] personnel and Assistant to the Chief of Staff SUAD IV (Logistics) General Hartono, Director of Army Communications, General Suhardjono, and his Deputy Colonel Soerhadji. Suhardjono asked why only [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] were being provided, since actual establishment of a full net of reliable communications with all 17 Military Areas (KODAM) and other key headquarters would require a total of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

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

The factor of risk in delivery has been considerably lessened by the substantial diminution in both numbers and authority of leftist and pro-Sukarno elements in the Indonesian Government. Nevertheless, delivery will be accomplished through [1 line of source text not declassified], and appropriate security measures will be observed when making deliveries to the ultimate recipients. The Indonesians still cannot ostensibly or actually purchase this equipment in the U.S. without seeking exception to the U.S. export license controls, and inferring a more intimate relationship with U.S. Government officials than is desirable at this juncture. Exposure of this activity might provide President Sukarno and residual leftists in the Indonesian political scene with embarrassing ammunition to use against General Suharto and his associates.

2. Problem

The requirement is to provide on an urgent basis, the present Indonesian Army leadership with sufficient additional [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] to enable secure voice and CW communications with all major subordinate commands. This equipment will provide a system of communications between anti-Communist military leaders for use under conditions of unrest and rebellion, at a time when normal communications channels may be manned or usurped by politically unreliable personnel.

3. Factors Bearing on the Problem

The equipment described for previous 303 Committee consideration was not provided to the Indonesians as originally recommended. [Page 442]The [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] proposed has been so recently developed that the protection of the relationship between the United States Government and the Indonesian Army could not be assured.3 The scope of the emergency communications system was restricted to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] alone.

Origin of the Requirement: The request for supplementary equipment was made [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] by General Suhardjono, Director of Indonesian Army Communications, and was endorsed by the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia.
Pertinent U.S. Policy Considerations: On 17 November 1965, the 303 Committee approved the provision of emergency communications equipment to key anti-Communist Indonesian Army officers.
Operational Objectives: Despite the apparent ascendancy of General Suharto and his political and military associates, substantial fragmentation is evident within political pressure and military organizations. An undeterminable proportion of this fragmentation is taking place at the behest of President Sukarno and his adherents. Should an open break take place between the Suharto and Sukarno elements, an emergency communications system with all major military headquarters will be of the utmost importance in assisting the Indonesian Army to prevent a return to the pro-Peking policies of President Sukarno. This communications system will provide for effective troop deployment, and will assist in assuring the security of moderate Indonesian military and civilian political elements.

Equipment: The specific equipment required to satisfy General Suhardjono’s request is:

[10 paragraphs (10 lines of source text) not declassified]

Of the needed equipment, none is in stock. Some can be readily procured, but [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] will probably require some form of U.S. official procurement priority.

Risks Involved: Revelation of the United States role in this program could provide President Sukarno and his political affiliates with an exploitable excuse for crisis. Caution will be exercised in all aspects of implementing this program to assure a minimum of risk of revelation. [3 lines of source text not declassified] Covert delivery to the intended recipients has been arranged.
Training: The [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] communications specialist to whom the request for additional equipment was broached, will provide such additional training in the use of the equipment and the establishment of the network as may prove necessary.
Funding: The overall cost of the additional increment of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] is estimated at [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Funds are available [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

4. Coordination

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

5. Recommendation

That the 303 Committee approve this proposal.4

  1. Source: National Security Council, Special Group/303 Committee Files, Subject Files, Indonesia. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. See Document 175.
  3. A request of January 14 was denied by the 303 Committee. McGeorge Bundy “stood by his guns” and suggested that “he had never been able to make his point successfully to CIA that denial was not the equivalent of political denial.” Bundy felt sure, despite the assurances of Green and others, that Japanese communications equipment was far better than the latest equipment available on the U.S. market. (National Security Council, Special Group/303 Committee Files, Minutes, 1/20/66) The denied proposal made to the 303 Committee, January 14, is ibid., Subject Files, Indonesia.
  4. On June 24 the 303 Committee approved this proposal. There was a general agreement, according to the minutes, that the current circumstances were different than in January 1966, given the decimation of the PKI. (Ibid., Minutes, 6/24/66)