314. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge and Richard T. Kennedy of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Survey Group on Military Assistance to Indonesia

You have approved a draft message to General Sumitro informing him you will send a survey group to Indonesia to go into the question of U.S. military assistance in relation to Indonesian needs as soon as General Sumitro informs us of a suitable date. As finally sent, this message contains a new sentence to the effect that we will inform General Sumitro of the composition of the group once a date is established;2 Lynn to come (Tab A).3 We will of course want to inform him at an appropriate time that Dr. Lynn is no longer with the NSC and that the composition of the group will therefore be different than originally anticipated. However, any group which goes to Indonesia will be regarded as doing so under your direction and hence will be acceptable to the Indonesians.

A problem which now must be addressed is getting a suitable group organized. We believe that it would be desirable to send a small party so as to keep the visibility down, and to include one representative each from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, a logistics specialist and a representative of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs in State. A [Page 681] representative of CINCPAC also should join the team for its Indonesian visit (he would pave the way for problem solving both with PACOM and MACV). The team chief preferably should be designated by the Joint Staff or DOD/ISA.

There is also a problem on how to initiate this project. No one other than Admiral Moorer is aware of the five-year improvement plan given you by the Indonesians. We suggest a game-plan which would involve your engaging in discussions with Under Secretary Irwin, Mr. Packard, and Admiral Moorer. Your luncheon on November 20 with Under Secretary Irwin and Mr. Packard would provide the opportunity to raise this with both of them, leaving only Admiral Moorer to be brought in. You could point out that:

  • —The Indonesians have been pressing to send a high-level mission to Washington under General Umar, their Army Chief of Staff, to determine possible levels of U.S. military assistance.
  • —Indonesian expectations are very high, and we, Defense, and State (the East Asian Bureau) agree that it would be inadvisable for General Umar’s mission to come until we have a better feel for what they really need and what we can do. Otherwise, the Indonesians either would see our willingness to receive them as a sign that they can expect a great deal from us, or we would be placed in the position of turning them down.
  • —We do not want to leave the impression with the Indonesian military that we will not be helpful. The President, in fact, wants us to do what we can within the limits of available resources and has authorized an increase in the Indonesian MAP from around $4.5 million to $18 million for FY 71 (including $3 million to reimburse the Indonesians for their aid to Cambodia). The intention is to use surplus stocks as much as possible. The Indonesian military are a very important factor in the country’s stability, and President Suharto wants to be able to meet their desires for new equipment to the greatest extent possible. A negative attitude on our part could seriously impair what is now a cordial U.S.-Indonesia relationship.
  • —At the same time, we do not wish to lend any substance to the high Indonesian expectations. We want to keep the whole question of military assistance to Indonesia under control and not let the Indonesians set the pace.
  • —Accordingly, you suggest that a special survey group on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia be sent out to go into Indonesian requirements and to see what we might be able to provide, particularly from surplus stocks in Vietnam. This group would plan on spending several weeks in Indonesia, and would also go to Vietnam to inquire into the surplus situation there. In this way we could hold off General Umar’s mission, and keep the initiative in our hands.
  • —You suggest that the survey group be composed of representatives of the three Armed Services, a logistician, a CINCPAC representative, and a representative of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs in State. It would be headed by a military officer to be designated by the Joint Staff, or by someone of appropriate rank from OASD/ISA.
  • —We would want to keep the existence of the survey group very closely held. Its members would be picked very carefully and briefed thoroughly on the political sensitivities involved and on the need to stay out of the public eye while in Indonesia.

Wayne Smith (John Court for) concurs.


That you discuss with Under Secretary Irwin4 and Mr. Packard the question of sending a survey group to Indonesia along the lines outlined above.
That you ask Mr. Packard to bring up this matter with Admiral Moorer.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 101, Backchannel Messages 1970, Indonesia, HAK/Sumitro 1970 [1 of 2]. Kissinger’s handwriting in the upper right-hand margin of the first page reads: “Discuss soonest. Why not smallNSC working group on model of VSSG (Vietnam Special Study Group) task force.” A note attached to the first page reads: “Xeroxed comeback copy sent to Holdridge/Kennedy 11/27 for action.” In a memorandum to Kissinger, November 30, Holdridge stated that he, Kennedy, and Dr. Wayne Smith had agreed that the NSC should not become involved directly in the group sent to Indonesia, “but rather leave this to the bureaucrats to determine and staff through the NSC process.” (Ibid.) Kissinger initialed his approval of this idea on a November 10 memorandum from Herbert Levin. (Ibid.)
  2. The attached message, sent as backchannel message WHO 2234 to Djakarta, from Kissinger to Sumitro, December 24, advised that the group was in the process of being organized, would depart shortly after the start of the new year, and “I will be communicating with you further as details are worked out.”
  3. Quoted in a November 14 memorandum from Karamessines to Kissinger, attached but not printed.
  4. According to an attached but not printed December 1 memorandum from Holdridge and Kennedy to Kissinger, Kissinger met with Irwin on November 30 and obtained his agreement “on the desirability of sending a survey group to Indonesia to consider military assistance which might be provided by the U.S.” The memorandum also suggested that Kissinger meet with Packard “following the next SRG meeting.”