318. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • U.S. Response to Indonesia’s “Five Year Military Plan”

This memorandum follows up on a recent conversation on the above subject you had with Under Secretary Irwin and has his approval.2

Indonesian military leaders appear determined to draw from us within the very near future a reaction to their proposal to assume regional security responsibilities as well as a more precise indication of the military support we will be giving them over the next five years.

They have not provided us and perhaps have not yet formulated a clear picture of Indonesia’s prospective security role in the region. They seem to envisage as a first step, however, an in-country training program for other Southeast Asian troops as well as the stationing of Indonesian advisors in Cambodia and perhaps other forward areas. By the end of the “Five Year Plan,” they might well hope to equip a modern, mobile strike force to stand by for possible deployment on the mainland.

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We believe that we must at this point provide as unequivocal a response as possible to this Indonesian démarche if we are to place our future relations on a sound basis and avoid leading the Indonesians into potentially harmful miscalculations. In formulating our response, we should bear in mind that it is in the Indonesian nature to expect more than is usually possible and to request more than is really expected.

The enclosed paper discusses the current Indonesian probe and evaluates alternative U.S. responses. Following are our views on the approach we should take with the Indonesians:

We should discourage the Indonesians from thinking that we will underwrite a regional security role for them over the next five years:

  • —Even should funds for such a program be available, we cannot promote Indonesia into a role to which it must be elected by its neighbors. Indeed, efforts to do so would probably be counterproductive as other nations would resent Indonesia’s serving as a middleman for U.S. military assistance.
  • —More compelling, some of Indonesia’s neighbors might well view an Indonesian external defense capability as a threat rather than a contribution to their own security.
  • —Finally and most important, Indonesia’s assumption of regional security responsibilities before it has developed necessary management, logistical and operational capabilities will only delay efforts to lay an indigenous base for a more effective defense establishment.

On the other hand, we should be as positive and forthcoming as possible in helping Indonesia over the next five years to build an indigenous logistical base which would permit it to play a role in the area commensurate with its size, population and economic potential. This approach is discussed under Section V B of the attached paper. It would involve supplying light combat items wanted and required by Indonesia for helping to meet its internal security needs as well as continued concentration on improving Indonesia’s maintenance, transport and communications capabilities. In addition we might afford assistance in building up defense-related industries. If a suitable program can be worked out, we should consider increasing the currently planned FY 1972–76 annual MAP levels of $15 million ($13 million funded and $2 million excess) over the next few years to permit support for a defense-related industry (estimated at approximately $2 to $3 million per year).

We strongly recommend informing the Indonesians of the approximate levels of both funded and long supply/excess support they can expect to receive under MAP for the next year or two, subject to Congressional appropriations. Failure to do so could well lead to exaggerated expectations and thus future misunderstandings. In this respect we support Alternative D under Section VI of the attached [Page 689]paper.3 Using the current $15 million planning figure, our Defense Liaison Group in Djakarta is now working up a general prospectus of the types and amounts of MAP-supplied equipment we believe Indonesia will require next year and beyond.

We share your view that it is preferable to send a group of qualified DOD and State Officials to Djakarta to discuss this matter there with the Indonesians before General Umar’s proposed visit to the U.S. This group could also look quietly into the question of increasing LS/E for Indonesia and helping to set up a vehicle and equipment repair facility. We believe, however, that we should define our response to this Indonesian initiative before entering into these discussions in Djakarta, which might best be timed for late January or early February.

R.C. Brewster 4

Paper Prepared in the Department of State


I. The Problem

The Indonesian military leaders have reportedly approved a “Five Year Military Plan” which projects a regional security role for the Indonesian Armed Forces. They have urgently pressed for high level, bilateral meetings to sound out U.S. reaction to this plan, which would apparently rely on MAP support.

We have as yet obtained only a very sketchy outline of the Indonesian plan and it is possible that the Indonesians wish to probe the degree of U.S. support for this general concept before developing further their ideas. As a first step, they apparently envisage a large in-country training program for Malaysian, Thai, Laotian, Cambodian and perhaps other Southeast Asian troops and the establishment of regular channels for the exchange of military intelligence. (This would in fact be expansion of arrangements Indonesia has already established on a bilateral basis with certain countries.) The Indonesians also have spoken of stationing Indonesian territorial warfare advisors in Cambodia and may envisage a regional advisory effort.

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Towards the end of the Five Year Plan, the Indonesians probably wish to establish and equip a modern, mobile land force for possible deployment to the mainland, a navy strike force consisting of destroyers, submarines and attack transports and an enlarged Air Force transport arm. In addition, the Indonesians have clearly indicated their willingness to provide troops for a peacekeeping role in Viet-Nam under certain political conditions.

Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Umar Wirahadikusumah has been invited to visit the U.S. in late March and early April, 1971. The Indonesian military leadership has clearly indicated that his primary mission will be to obtain a high level reaction to the Indonesian Five Year Military Plan.

The U.S. will consequently be faced in the near future with the problem of (1) commenting on Indonesia’s plan to assume a regional role and (2) responding in some manner to an Indonesian request for MAP support for this plan. This paper discusses first the principal factors influencing the Indonesians to make this request, secondly the assets and liabilities which Indonesia would bring to a regional security role, and finally possible U.S. responses to this Indonesian démarche.

[Omitted here is discussion of further factors underlying the Indonesian request and possible U.S. responses.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 531, Country Files, Far East, Indonesia, Vol. II. Top Secret.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 314.
  3. Alternative D of Section VI of the attached 10-page paper, “U.S. Response to Indonesian Request for MAP Support of a Five Year Military Plan,” specified that the U.S. Government “could inform the Indonesians of an approximate ceiling both on funded and long supply/excess equipment.”
  4. Deputy Executive Secretary Brewster signed above Eliot’s typed signature.