98. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations 1

1786. Ref: NY 2546.2 Following summary available intelligence Indonesian military buildup against Malaysia compiled in INR transmitted for your info and background use.


Indonesian Military Buildup Against Malaysia

Over past four months Indonesia has committed considerable numbers regular military forces to the anti-Malaysia campaign. Large scale reinforcement currently underway in Indonesian Borneo, and, since mid-December, raids against mainland Malaysia have in- creased.

Assault on Mainland Malaysia. The Indonesian military has apparently formulated a plan for an amphibious assault on mainland Malaysia. The plan has reportedly been designed as a response should there be a British/Malaysian attack on Indonesian bases used in the infiltration effort. Reinforcements have been sent to Central Sumatra which may be destined for use in such operation, but no indications it actively preparing for such assault.
Indonesian capability undertake major effort against main- land Malaysia severely limited by lack sufficient continuing air cover, overall shortage transport, and extremely difficult logistic and supply problems. Difficulties encountered during early December joint serv- ices maneuvers, which included amphibious landing, probably made military and naval leaders aware Indonesian deficiencies in such operation.
Activities Against Mainland Malaysia. Since mid-December Indonesian bases opposite Singapore and mainland Malaysia have concentrated [Page 209]on infiltrating teams, varying from six to forty men, at various points along the western coast concentrating on Johore State. Several hundred persons, including Indonesian civilian volunteers, defectors from Malaysia, and large number of volunteers from regular Indonesian military and police units, located at these bases and available for infiltration. Since December 15, over a hundred persons have been infiltrated. All have been apprehended or killed by Malaysian security forces within days after they landed. We estimate raids of same magnitude will probably continue through January.
Indonesian Buildup in Kalimantan. At end December Indonesia reportedly intended increase its forces in Western Indonesian Kalimantan by three brigades. Component units from first brigade have already arrived. After reinforcements completed, probably mid-February, Indonesian forces estimated to number at least 12,500—an increase of at least 10,000 since November. Reinforcements apparently also planned in Eastern Indonesian Borneo although probably not on same magnitude as buildup western Kalimantan.
These forces will probably be used to infiltrate large teams in attempt gain control small pockets in Malaysian Borneo, possibly as basis for de facto recognition of a rebel government. Size of buildup suggests considerably larger infiltration attempt than a year ago when infiltration of up to 800 troops and volunteers created serious security problem in Sabah and Sarawak. While possibility of conventional attack against limited target cannot be entirely dismissed, problem of sustained air cover, supply difficulties, and certainly British retaliation would probably convince Indonesian military leaders not to follow such course. However, they may believe that infiltration of large units, possibly up to company size, would not prompt British counterstrike against Indonesian territory, and yet would be large enough to ensure capture and retention of territory.
Borneo operations probably still in planning stage, and probably will not occur until all reinforcements have been completed, possibly mid-February or early March.
British Malaysian Countermeasures. Over 60,000 army, navy and air force personnel are assigned to the British Far Eastern Command; overwhelming bulk committed to Malaysian theater of operations. This includes a reinforcement—now underway—of approximately 1,300 troops announced as part of a countermove against the Indonesian buildup in Indonesian Kalimantan. Malaysian armed forces number approximately 35,000 which, with units from Australia and New Zealand, brings Commonwealth strength to over 95,000.

Parallel with the buildup of troop strength, the Malaysian Government has imposed series security regulations which are designed to detect Indonesian infiltrations. In addition to regular air, naval and [Page 210]land patrols these include curfews in coastal areas, prohibition on the movement of all boats at night in vulnerable areas, and organization of populace into vigilante groups to guard coast and strategic points and report movements of strangers.

These efforts have been uniformly successful in Singapore and mainland Malaysia. A number infiltration attempts have been stopped on beaches, and in some cases infiltrators have been picked up while still in boats.

In Borneo, with long land border, sparsely populated frontier, and jungle terrain, Indonesia’s capability infiltrate raiders has always been greater than against mainland Malaysia. In the past Malaysian/British force have not been directed against initial infiltrations but have concentrated on elimination of raiders after they entered Malaysian territory.

USUN . USUN may draw upon paragraphs 1, 4, 5 and 7 in oral briefing Rolz-Bennett.3 UK Embassy Washington has concurred in passing this info to Secretariat, but Mission requested advise Rolz-Bennett info being made available in strictest confidence. Dept reluctant pass information re Malaysian/Commonwealth countermeasures when information readily available UN Secretariat from Malaysian and UK missions.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA. Secret; No Foreign Dissem. Drafted by Howard M. Federspiel of the Office of Research and Analysis for Far East, Southeast Asia Division, INR; cleared by Allen S. Whiting, Director of that Office, Cuthell, Louise McNutt (UN adviser in FE), William G. Jones, Deputy Director, Office of UN Political Affairs, IO; in substance by Clyde W. Snider of the Coordination Staff, INR; cleared in substance with Thomas M. Judd, Officer-in-Charge, United Kingdom Affairs, and Richard W. Petree, Officer-in-Charge of Japanese Affairs. Pouched to Djakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, London, Canberra, and Tokyo.
  2. In telegram 2546 from USUN, January 8, the Mission requested information on the recent Indonesian military buildup along the Indonesian-Malaysian border and British Commonwealth measures to counter it. (Ibid.)
  3. Jose Rolz-Bennett, Under Secretary for Special Political Affairs, UN Secretariat.