310. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • General Sumitro, Indonesian Army
  • Brigadier General Latif, Indonesian Army
  • Colonel Soegeng, Indonesian Army
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
  • Dr. Laurence E. Lynn
  • Mr. John H. Holdridge


  • U.S. Military Assistance to Indonesia

Dr. Kissinger said that he had read the memos covering General Sumitro’s conversations with Admiral Moorer,2 and had studied the Indonesian proposal for U.S. military assistance. In addition, he had just had a long talk with the President about the situation.3 He had given the President a full account of the discussions in Los Angeles, and had told the President about the Indonesian defense philosophy if U.S. forces were reduced, i.e. others would need to step in, and Indonesia as the largest country in Southeast Asia would want to play a bigger role as its forces were modernized. The President had agreed. The problem now was one of how to put the Indonesian philosophy into effect. The full Indonesian list was very substantial; for example, B–52s did not appear to be the most immediate necessity. General Sumitro remarked that as he had explained to Admiral Moorer, the plan for modernizing the Indonesian forces was divided into phases.

Dr. Kissinger stated that the problem with the total list was that it was so comprehensive we found it hard to make a reasonable proposition. We would like, first, to build upon the $15 million Indonesian MAP. Although there were some here who said that the emphasis in [Page 671] the MAP should be put on civil construction, we recognized that this did not serve the purpose of modernization, and so would undertake a review. Second, we would look over our surplus equipment in Asia to see how much we could give. Third, we had established good success in our Government in making studies of problems such as this in terms of program analysis of requirements, and with their approval would like to do this for them to see how we could develop a reasonable program within our capabilities. We couldn’t reach agreement on the full list right away, and needed a program; we also wanted to look at what we could get from surpluses. Dr. Kissinger assumed that the Indonesians could get such civil assistance items as road building equipment elsewhere, and that there would be no objection to a reordering of the Indonesian MAP.

General Sumitro said that he had discussed this with President Suharto, who had indicated that if the U.S. was in basic agreement, the MAP program would be dropped and included in the new requirement list. They hoped that MAP could be transferred into their overall requirements. Dr. Kissinger expressed the view that MAP should be continued; in fact, he had asked Dr. Lynn to see what could be obtained from MAP alone if it were concentrated on weapons. There was no need to go into details now, but a good deal might be obtained. (He read from an illustrative list.) We wanted, too, to look at surpluses. He had talked with Secretary Laird on the possibility of increasing the Indonesian MAP, and would attempt to do so, but we needed to get some idea of their needs in terms of realistic possibilities. We would look at their plan through Dr. Lynn,4 and we would look at surpluses.

Dr. Kissinger indicated that until all of these requirements had been completed, it might be better for General Umar not to come. We did not want this matter to become too bureaucratized. If it were kept low, the Indonesians could be sure of the President’s personal attention. General Sumitro agreed, observing that it would be much better if General Umar could wait. In the meantime, a study could be made in Indonesia, which he felt might require about two months. Dr. Kissinger thought that the time required might not be more than two weeks, since Dr. Lynn had done superior work before in this sort of [Page 672] analysis and could organize a study team quickly. This would be a good survey, which would provide us with a basis for joint action.

General Sumitro noted in response to a question from Dr. Kissinger that he was planning on returning to Djakarta on July 9. Upon his return, consideration would be given to what the Indonesia Five-Year Military Plan should be. There was as yet no idea as to magnitudes. Dr. Kissinger suggested that Dr. Lynn might be able to help in this respect. General Sumitro speculated that it might be possible to talk in terms of percentages of their total requirements list, perhaps 10–15 percent for a start. The officer in charge of laying out these requirements was just finishing up a seminar in the U.S. and was on his way to Djakarta.

Dr. Kissinger asked how we might maintain communications, to which General Sumitro replied he favored using the same special channel which now existed. In a month or two, he would have a military man in Washington who could act as a contact. Dr. Kissinger also raised the problem of maintaining security on Dr. Lynn’s presence in Indonesia. On this, General Sumitro proposed that the study be made in Bali, which could be reached by direct flight to Bangkok. Dr. Kissinger observed that he would give further thought to this question, and would be in touch. Would they mind if our Ambassador knew of the study? General Sumitro replied that President Suharto felt Ambassador Galbraith could be relied upon. He was, however, subordinate to the State Department. Dr. Kissinger assured General Sumitro that we would keep this whole thing under tight control, and would look into the bureaucratic aspects.

On the question of obtaining a visa for Dr. Lynn, General Sumitro felt that this was no problem. The Indonesian Military Attaché could set it up, or it could be obtained somewhere else such as the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok (their Ambassador there was a General) or in Tokyo. General Latif observed that in the President’s conversation with President Suharto the President had given assurances that Ambassador Galbraith would be kept fully informed. Dr. Kissinger agreed, but pointed out that the communications channel posed a problem. It would be difficult if we had to go through the regular channel. However, what we told our Ambassador would be our worry. Did Ambassador Galbraith know that General Sumitro was here? General Sumitro noted in reply that Ambassador Galbraith had been kept informed of his, Sumitro’s, visit by the Indonesian Foreign Minister. Dr. Kissinger declared that we would keep Ambassador Galbraith informed on essential matters.

Dr. Kissinger stated that we would start now to work out the composition of the study, and the communications channels. Our requirement would be to get some sense of the magnitude of the quantities, [Page 673] and to know what we could realistically do. He emphasized that the President was in favor of helping. What the Indonesians had presented was a maximum program, but we needed to be realistic. Had the Indonesian plan been given to Admiral Moorer? General Sumitro said that it had not yet been given to Admiral Moorer, since they didn’t regard it as a formal document. However, they would be glad to pass the plan on to Admiral Moorer if Dr. Kissinger thought that this would be desirable. It was agreed that Colonel Soegeng would give it to Mr. Holdridge for transmittal to Admiral Moorer.

Dr. Kissinger raised the issue of the Indonesian offer to provide AK–47s to Cambodia. General Sumitro said that Indonesia had 25,000 on hand which they were willing to offer as soon as they heard from Phnom Penh and as soon as U.S. replacement rifles arrived in Djakarta. They understood that the total Cambodian requirements were for 30,000 small arms. Dr. Kissinger informed General Sumitro that we would be willing to send 15,000 M–14s immediately, on loan, and replace these with M–16s under the Indonesian MAP. General Sumitro remarked that of the types of weapons available—the M–14, the AR–15, and the modified M–16—the modified M–16 was much the best. Dr. Kissinger reiterated that our proposal was to give M–14s now and replace them with M–16s as production became available.

General Sumitro raised another question: the re-equipping of the Indonesian State Police, for which they had also forwarded requirements. He pointed out that the Police were a part of the Indonesian defense establishment. Dr. Kissinger and Dr. Lynn indicated that this question, too, would be considered in the study.

Dr. Kissinger then telephoned Admiral Moorer to ask about the time which would be required to provide M–16s under the Indonesian MAP. He quoted Admiral Moorer as saying that the M–16s would be provided within a year or even less, and that the M–14s would thus be on hand for a relatively short period. These M–14s would be in good condition, since they were being held in reserve for the U.S. forces.

General Sumitro referred to the fact that the Indonesians had an arms factory capable of producing a machine gun known as the BM–59. This was a stop-gap weapon, which did not compare with the M–16. Was it correct that the U.S. had given an arms factory to Singapore for manufacturing M–16s? Mr. Holdridge said that he thought this was still under discussion, and had not yet been decided. Dr. Lynn asked if their existing factory could be converted to manufacture modern weapons, to which General Sumitro expressed uncertainties as to the technical nature of the problem. Again, the M–16 was better than anything else. Dr. Kissinger explained that we were in principle prepared to provide M–16s and would do so as soon as production caught up. We were in fact cutting back on production for our forces.

[Page 674]

Dr. Kissinger wondered how AK–47 deliveries to Cambodia could be worked out. General Sumitro responded by saying that President Suharto wanted the Cambodians to take over this responsibility and transfer the weapons to Phnom Penh themselves. Dr. Kissinger stated that this was satisfactory, and that the Indonesians should let us know when the transfer had been completed so we could provide replacement weapons. General Sumitro then said that the Indonesians wanted the U.S. rifles first, to which Dr. Kissinger observed that we should start doing this and would take it up in the next WSAG meeting.

Dr. Kissinger touched on the question of Bandung ammunition factory, asking about its status. General Sumitro noted that the money was available in Indonesia to start building a new plant for AK–47 ammunition, and that nine months would be required for the first production. They still had ammunition reserves, but had pulled it all back to Djakarta and had re-equipped their commando and parachute brigades.

General Sumitro again brought up the question of the National Police, explaining that the Police would need to take over internal security responsibilities from the other services so that these services could concentrate on the national defense effort. Dr. Kissinger thought that our program would take care of most essentials.

General Sumitro went over Indonesian strategic concepts in the same terms which he had outlined in Los Angeles. Once again he expressed reservations about the role of Japan in Southeast Asia, pointing out that the Japanese military leaders properly understood the threat Communist China posed for Japan but that the Japanese politicians in contrast wanted to avoid a conflict with China and might accommodate. In fact, Japan’s approach to the other Asian countries might even constitute an economic and political threat if things were to go wrong. When Dr. Kissinger asked what could go wrong, General Sumitro pointed once more to the possibility of a Japanese accommodation with Communist China. He hoped that the U.S. would be successful in influencing the Japanese to follow the proper line, but he was not so sure about this— he had the impression that the Japanese politicians were stubborn. Dr. Kissinger recalled that when he had been in Indonesia last year he had encountered disquiet over the future role of Japan.

The conversation concluded with a reaffirmation from Dr. Kissinger that the President had wanted very positively to respond to the Indonesian proposals and had asked that his warmest feelings be conveyed to President Suharto. He considered his relationship with President Suharto as one of the warmest he possessed. We had certain restraints on what we can do, but within these limitations we would act. We recognized the Indonesian role, which was precisely what the Nixon Doctrine required. General Sumitro should feel free to write on any subject and to keep in close contact.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 531, Country Files, Far East, Indonesia, Vol. II. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Drafted by Holdridge and sent to Kissinger for approval under a July 13 covering memorandum. Kissinger initialed the approve option and also approved sending an attached sanitized summary of the conversation to the Department of State, which had “been pressing for word of what was said.” Attached but not printed. The summary is also ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 CAMB/KHMER. The meeting was held in Kissinger’s office.
  2. Summarized in Document 309.
  3. According to the President’s Daily Diary for July 8, Kissinger met with President Nixon from 4:17 to 5:10 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files)
  4. Lynn had already looked at the Indonesian plan that Sumitro had given Kissinger, and had reported his conclusions in a July 7 memorandum to Kissinger. Lynn reported that the Indonesian plan requested “a complete force modernization plan,” including such new big-ticket items as B–52s and IRBMs, and that it would cost “billions of dollars.” Lynn proposed instead “to give them assistance which contributes to the priority mission of maintaining internal security,” including 18 T–37 aircraft, 20 C–47 aircraft, 10 patrol craft, 12 light landing craft, and initial equipment for 9 infantry battalions, which he estimated would cost $75 million over 5 years. (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 531, Country Files, Far East, Indonesia, Vol. II)