316. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State1

8853. For Asst. Sec. Green from Ambassador. Ref: A. Djakarta 87702 3

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Before meeting mentioned para 1 ref A took place last night we learned that Chief of Staff of Air Suwoto was having cold feet about discussing alleged Soviet offers of military assistance with me. Nevertheless Suwoto and his chief of operations (Air Vice Marshal Slamat, who had served as intermediary) showed up at house of one of DLG staff and after some awkwardness about opening up subject (I eventually took initiative) Suwoto talked briefly and in very general terms about “probability” that Soviets will make attractive offer of military assistance to Indonesia. Suwoto said it is apparent to him that Soviets want to establish themselves in Southeast Asia in order to out-flank Communist China and that strenuous efforts they are making in this regard elsewhere in area is indication they will make attractive offer of military assistance to Indonesia. Suwoto said he does not want his air force split into two sections, one supplied by Soviet and one by U.S. (implying he is not in favor of accepting Soviet assistance) but he also implied that unless U.S. moves faster with its assistance for close air and other support for Indonesian air force he may be forced to take Soviet assistance.
I questioned Suwoto as closely as I could on whether Soviets had already made an offer or indicated in any concrete way that they are prepared to discuss the matter further. He maintained that this was all still in the conditional and the realm of possibility.
Air Marshal Slamat had also indicated previously that Suwoto would press me on possible procurement of excess B–25 aircraft. Suwoto did not do so although he queried me in general terms about availability of excess material in Vietnam. He also questioned me in general terms about future of U.S. military assistance to Indonesia. I replied in equally general terms that it was possible that there would be some excess equipment in Vietnam available that would be useful to Indonesia although we had not thus far been able to locate much within context our MAP. With respect to future U.S. military assistance I only said that Congress was watching this very carefully but that I felt sure we would do our fair share to help countries which showed that they could help themselves.
[less than 1 line of source text not declassified]contact has repeatedly assured [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that Indonesians would not accept offer on spare parts from Soviets for Soviet military equipment. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] contact told [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] on November 23 that Soviet military attaché had recently approached Suwoto with offer of spare parts for Indonesian air force. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] less than 1 line of source text not declassified]contact said he would advise [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] results their investigation.
Comment: It is hard to sort truth from fiction among the spongy and sometimes contradictory discussions referred to above. Our best guess is that although GOI, particularly army, has decided against accepting Soviet assistance and number of Soviet personnel which go with it, there are those among the armed services and, of course, in foreign office who believe that offer of credit terms which Malik brought back from Moscow for purchase of spare parts for military equipment should be taken up. The Soviets may be seeking to reopen the debate within the military over accepting Soviet spare parts (and incidentally embarrass the U.S. since they undoubtedly aware of our tardiness in delivering promised air force items) by a specific and presumably more attractive offer. Whatever Suwoto’s motives in approaching me, he obviously backed away at last moment possibly at insistence of Hankam.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 531, Country Files, Far East, Indonesia, Vol. II. Secret; Nodis. Repeated to CINCPAC for Admiral McCain. A notation on the first page in Kissinger’s handwriting reads: “We can’t rest till they [or they will] buy Soviet arms. HK” An arrow was drawn from this notation to Haig’s name, which is followed by Haig’s initials.
  2. Document 315.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 315.