U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > Foreign Relations of the United States > Johnson Administration > Volume XXVI
Foreign Relations 1964-1968, Volume XXVI, Indonesia; Malaysia-Singapore; Philippines  
Released by the Office of the Historian

Documents 142-164

Indonesia:  Coup and Counter Reaction
October 1965-March 1966

142. Memorandum for President Johnson/1/

Washington, October 1, 1965, 7:20 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. V, Memos, 10/65-11/65. Secret. There is an indication on the memorandum that the President saw it.


(Following is the text of a CIA situation report.)

A power move which may have far-reaching implications is under way in Djakarta.

A group which calls itself the "30 September Movement" claims to have forestalled a "Generals' coup" in Indonesia./2/ A number of unnamed generals and politicians have been arrested, and the homes of Defense Minister General Nasution and Army Commander General Yani are under guard.

/2/In Tosec 34 to USUN, October 1, the Department transmitted a memorandum, originally prepared by Underhill for William Bundy, to Rusk and Goldberg both of whom were at the United Nations. The memorandum noted that the 30th of September Movement had installed a 40-man Revolutionary Council led by Untung who had a "military police background and was trained in the United States," although he was unknown to the Embassy. Underhill considered that the way the Revolutionary Council was virtually ignoring Sukarno "suggests he is either dead or completely incapacitated," and noted that as a senior member of the Palace Guard, Untung was in an ideal position to know if Sukarno had been suddenly stricken. Underhill summarized the proclamations issued by Untung, and weighed 4 unfavorable tentative indicators against 3 favorable ones. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON)

A decree issued on 1 October by Lt. Colonel Untung, Commander of the Presidential Bodyguard, stated that the government would be administered by an Indonesian Revolution Council. According to the decree, the council will follow already established government policies, and council membership will be announced shortly.

No mention has been made of any active role by Sukarno. The government radio initially announced that the 30 September Movement was organized to "save President Sukarno whose health was in danger." It later commented that he was safe and "continues to carry out the leadership of the state."

The 30 September group claims that the alleged Generals' plot was American inspired. The US Embassy's external telephone line was cut three hours before the Indonesian Radio announced that the "coup" had been thwarted. Troops are stationed at the Embassy.

The immediate purpose of the 30 September Movement appears to be the elimination of any political role by anti-communist Army elements and a change in Army leadership. Action against similar Army elements apparently is also planned outside Djakarta. The affair may also be used to generate new Anti-American activity.

It seems likely that Sukarno knew in advance of the movement and its intention. Prime movers in the whole affair, however, in terms of timing and detailed planning may well have been First Deputy Prime Minister Subandrio and Communist Leaders who are close to him and to Sukarno.


143. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Acting Secretary of State Ball and Secretary of Defense McNamara/1/

Washington, October 1, 1965, 9:30 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia [4/12/64-11/10/65]. No classification marking.

Ball thinks the business in Indonesia has a very bad smell. It looks more and more as though this is a PKI operation but he could not be sure. Ball's feeling is that this may be the first step toward a Communist takeover. They have pushed the young officers out in front. The PKI headquarters seem to be going ahead without any strain and the people we have depended on in the Army are under house arrest or have been shot--we do not know. The people on the list are not terribly reassuring. Subandrio is on the list but as number nine. It is not a healthy situation on its present appearance./2/

/2/Ball also called Rusk at 10 a.m., McGeorge Bundy at 10:35 a.m., and Helms at 11:35 a.m. In the conversations with Rusk and McGeorge Bundy, Ball reiterated his concern as expressed to McNamara, but with McGeorge Bundy Ball noted that there was an FBIS report that the Indonesian Army had retaken the Djakarta radio station. Ball asked Helms "if we were in a position where we can categorically deny this involvement of CIA operations in the Indonesia situation." Helms replied, "yes; that he had been in touch with Rayborn [Raborn] by phone and had gotten his permission to identify himself with Helms in denying it so they are solidly lined up." Helms stated, "they had had absolutely nothing to do with it. [1 line of source text not declassified]." Ball called Rusk again at 3:15 p.m. to inform him that there was a counter coup led by Nasution "which would mean bringing back Sukarno in some way." (Ibid.)

Ball said we are taking a look at the contingency plans that have been made. Ball asked if McNamara's people could take a look and see if there are any ships in the area and perhaps we should talk to the British and the Australians about putting some aircraft into Singapore in the event we have to take some people out. We have a couple of thousand Americans throughout the islands.

McNamara asked Ball if he were only thinking of evacuation and not any other plans. Ball said he would not know about this until the situation clarified. McN asked what kind of clarification could lead to other action--a definite Communist takeover? Ball replied he thought the situation hopeless. McN said what Ball then was really asking was for them to examine possibility of evacuation. McN said they would go to work on it.


144. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Acting Secretary of State Ball and Senator William Fulbright/1/

Washington, October 1, 1965, 3:45 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia, [4/12/64-11/10/65]. No classification marking.

Ball called Fulbright re the Indonesian situation and said it is very murky still. There has been a coup and counter-coup and we cannot tell how successful the counter-coup has been. Ball said quite definitely the first coup would appear to have been from the leftist side. It was by group of young officers but most of the council they set up are pretty far on the left and there is very big question as to how much PKI were instrumental in this or at least aware of it. There was a lot of activity in PKI Hq which remained open. We have had in past three hours report that Nasution had gotten hold of other army elements and taken back Djakarta radio station and rescued Sukarno and to what extent he has been able to get control of the situation is not known. Ball said if it would be useful to Fulbright he could send someone up to give him drill. Fulbright said Lausche and some others wanted to have a meeting but he had gotten a report that there was not enough information to warrant it. Fulbright said in view of circumstances he did not think it would do much good. Ball said it is very hard to know just what the situation is--they simply say Sukarno is fine and that they had rescued him. The other side said Sukarno was in good health. Ball said he has feeling if Nasution takes over he may keep going and clean up PKI--this is the most optimistic expectation but it is unclear at the moment. Fulbright again said in view of tentative nature of it it would be waste of time for Ball to send someone over until Monday./2/ Fulbright asked if Nasution was best bet and Ball said he is about the best bet but that the army's antipathy to PKI is not based on ideology--but the army may not be in a cushy spot--it is [an] ignoble motive. Ball and Fulbright agreed they could not depend on any Indonesians.

/2/October 4.

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Indonesia.]


145. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Acting Secretary of State Ball and Secretary of State Rusk/1/

October 2, 1965, 10:45 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia. [4/12/64-11/10/65]. No classification marking. Ball was in Washington, Rusk was in New York.

Secretary wanted to know if there was anything special this morning on Indonesian situation. Ball mentioned the telcon during the night,/2/ which Secretary said he had seen. Ball said situation still pretty opaque, but definite indications that army under General Suharto/3/ and, from that point of view, doesn't look too bad. Ball said PKI have definitely aligned themselves with Untung side which seems to be the losing side. Secretary said this could work out advantageously later in the day. Ball said he was surprised that there had been nothing from Sukarno. Secretary said he was probably dead or seriously ill.

/2/In this teleconference, October 2, Ball asked the Embassy four questions: what was the current situation, who was in ascendancy, what was Sukarno's status and if unknown, what was the Embassy's estimate, and what was the situation with the PKI? The Embassy responded that Djakarta was relatively quiet with forces loyal to Untung no longer a major military threat. Suharto was in ascendancy, Sukarno's status was unknown, but he was not supporting the Army. He was in order of probability either dead, incapacitated, in custody, waiting for the dust to settle, or he masterminded the whole affair to discredit the Army (highly unlikely). PKI was not active but still prepared and able to combat Army repression. Green did not think evacuation of Americans was necessary and could even be counterproductive. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON)

/3/The CIA prepared an intelligence memorandum on Suharto's background on October 2. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. V, Memos, 10/65-11/65)

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Indonesia.]


146. Memorandum From the Director of the Far East Region (Blouin) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (McNaughton)/1/


Washington, October 4, 1965.

/1/Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 70 A 3717, Indonesia, 000.1-291.2. Secret. Drafted by D.E. Nuechterlein (OASD/ISA/FER).

Situation in Indonesia

The situation in Indonesia is in an uneasy calm, and President Sukarno seems to be making great efforts to bring about national unity in the face of growing antagonism between the Army and the groups that supported the 30 September Movement. The bodies of the senior military officers who were shot early in the 30 September attempted coup have been discovered. There is report of "brutalization" of their bodies, and the Army is capitalizing on these incidents to build up public support for its position. Sukarno, however, has indicated that he is not prepared to move against the PKI, the Air Force, Subandrio, or other elements who may have been in on the 30 September grab for power. One report indicates that Sukarno was in the hands of the Air Force until Sunday and did not know the true situation. Another report states that he now is fully aware of what happened and who were the culprits. The Army has banned the PKI newspaper but has made no move against PKI headquarters. General Suharto, who seems to have firm control of the military situation in and around Djakarta, went on the radio today with a strong speech denouncing the Air Force for its role in the plot and went to great lengths to build up public support for the Army by describing the brutal slaying of its top generals. This is the first indication we have that the Army may be willing to take issue with Sukarno's policy of trying to gloss over the events of the last few days.

Evacuation of Americans

There has not yet been any departure of U.S. dependents from Djakarta via commercial aircraft, although the Embassy indicated that this might begin today. A high Indonesian official (General Rubiono) told the Embassy it would be unwise to evacuate Americans at this time because it would show a lack of confidence in the Army's ability to control the situation. On the other hand there are reports that Colonel Untung is in central Java organizing several battalions for possible further action against the Army and that PKI leader Aidit is in hiding. At noon, Task Force 77 and 76 were holding in two positions about 320 miles apart, with TF-76 at about 5 degrees north latitude. Late this afternoon TF-76 was ordered to steam north and "hold" at 8 degrees north latitude, near the position now being held by TF-77./2/

/2/The decision to position these naval forces for possible emergency evacuation of U.S. citizens from Indonesia was the subject of multiple telephone conversations among Ball and McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, William Bundy, and Rusk on October 3 and 4. The memoranda of these telephone conversations are at the Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia, [4/12/64-11/10/65].

Estimate of Situation

There are several current appraisals of the recent course of events, all of which are supported by the sometimes conflicting information. The two major ones are:

(1) Sukarno knew what was happening all along and was lying low until he could see who was going to come out on top (presumably he hoped the Untung-Subandrio-Dani coup would succeed and the Army high command would no longer be a threat to his pro-Peking policy).

(2) Sukarno was duped into believing that the Untung coup was to save him from a US-sponsored coup by the Army and that he is only now beginning to believe that the Air Force PKI were involved in a plot to get rid of their only major opposition, the Army.

If one assumes estimate (1) above to be true, it follows that Sukarno will do everything possible to prevent the Army from cracking down on the Air Force and PKI and that he will continue his previous policy of close relations with Peking and with the PKI, to our disadvantage. He has already made some attempt at playing up the incident as a mere interservice squabble. If we assume that estimate (2) is correct, then it follows that the Army will be given more authority and that people like Subandrio, Dani and Untung are out. But, Sukarno may fear that if he allows the Army to move too fast against the 30 September Movement, and more particularly against the PKI, civil war will develop and tear the country apart--leaving the outer islands open to foreign penetration and perhaps independent governments. By moving slowly and making a great show of national unity, he may be able to prevent disintegration of the Federation and still take care of the elements who sought to topple the government.

I am inclined to think that Sukarno was aware, at least in part, of what was going on from the beginning and that he is now attempting to put the best face on a botched job, hoping to keep his own prestige intact. The big question is whether the Army, having shown its strength and unity in the face of an effort to demolish its influence, will permit Sukarno to exercise the kind of control he had before. In any event, the Sukarno image has been tarnished.

The next two days should tell a lot. If the Army turns the Armed Forces Day celebration (October 5) into a big funeral procession for its fallen leaders, the momentum generated could well put the Army into the commanding position in spite of Sukarno. However, we cannot underestimate the power of Sukarno to manipulate the situation any way he wants, for better or worse. There is probably no other person in Indonesia today who can hold the Federation together, and the Army may well consider this factor more important than taking revenge on the Air Force and PKI.

F.J. Blouin/3/
Rear Admiral, USN
Director, Far East Region

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


147. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State/1/

Djakarta, October 5, 1965, 1435Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON. Secret; Priority. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD, Canberra, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, New Delhi, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo, and Wellington. Passed to the White House, DOD, CIA, USIA, and USUN. In situation report 9 of the Indonesia Working Group, October 5, this was described as the "first of a series of telegrams recommending courses of action (Djakarta 868, October 5) which generally suggests that the United States avoid overt involvement in the power struggle but should indicate, clearly but covertly, to key Army officers our desire to assist where we can." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. V, Cables, 10/65-11/65, [3 of 3])

868. Ref: Embtel 852./2/

/2/In telegram 852, October 5, 0405Z, the Embassy reported on the implications of the unsuccessful September 30 coup, suggesting that Army had an opportunity to move against the PKI. The Embassy stated, "it's now or never" and estimated that the "agony of ridding Indonesia of the effects of Sukarno and NASAKOM has begun," but it would be wrong "to assume process will be over easily or quickly." (Ibid.)

1. Events of the past few days have put PKI and pro-Communist elements very much on defensive and they may embolden army at long last to act effectively against Communists.

2. At same time we seem to be witnessing what may be the passing of power from Sukarno's hands to a figure or figures whose identity is yet unknown, possibly bringing changes in national policy and posture in its wake.

3. Right now, our key problem is if we can help shape developments to our advantage, bearing in mind that events will largely follow their own course as determined by basic forces far beyond our capability to control.

4. Following guidelines may supply part of the answer to what our posture should be:

A. Avoid overt involvement as power struggle unfolds.

B. Covertly, however, indicate clearly to key people in army such as Nasution and Suharto our desire to be of assistance where we can, while at same time conveying to them our assumption that we should avoid appearance of involvement or interference in any way,.

C. Maintain and if possible extend our contact with military.

D. Avoid moves that might be interpreted as note of nonconfidence in army (such as precipately moving out our dependents or cutting staff).

E. Spread the story of PKI's guilt, treachery and brutality (this priority effort is perhaps most needed immediate assistance we can give army if we can find way to do it without identifying it as solely or largely US effort).

F. Support through information output and such other means as becomes available to us unity of Indonesian armed forces.

G. Bear in mind that Moscow and Peking are in basic conflict regarding Indonesia, and that Soviet Union might find itself even more in line with our thinking than at present. This will be subject of our next Country Team meeting and we may have specific recommendations for exploiting this phenomenon.

H. Continue to consult closely with friendly embassies (who take up much of our time and occasionally our facilities) extending our line of credit and enhancing our image generally through them as a constructive influence here.

I. Continue for time being to maintain low profile and be restrained about any apparent opportunities to rush in with new, overt programs (although need for stepped-up information effort will be great).

5. We will submit further recommendations as these seem to be appropriate to what will undoubtedly be fast-moving or at least uncertain situation for some time to come.



148. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Indonesia/1/

Washington, October 6, 1965, 7:39 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON. Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Underhill and Cuthell; cleared by James B. Freeman, Special Assistant in P, Richard L. Sneider, Public Affairs Adviser in FE, and in substance by Daniel E. Moore, Deputy Director, Office of Assistant Director (Far East), USIA; and approved by Ball and William Bundy. Repeated to Canberra, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, New Delhi, Paris for TOPOL, Tokyo, Wellington, Singapore, and CINCPAC for POLAD.

400. Ref Embtel 868./2/

/2/Document 147.

1. Subject to comments on emphasis and discretion below, we are in basic agreement with policy guidelines set forth para 4 reftel.

2. Reports of October 6 Cabinet meeting just received via FBIS make it clear Sukarno is attempting to reestablish status quo ante by raising bogey of imperialist exploitation Indonesian differences and submerging Army's vengeful hostility towards PKI in a closing of ranks to preserve national unity./3/

/3/At 9:19 a.m. on October 5, Rusk and Ball talked on the telephone. Rusk asked about Indonesia. Ball answered that "the army is not moving and this is a matter of concern because Sukarno got away with his press conference and cabinet meeting. It looks as though they are losing a lot of critical time there because PKI disavowed September 30 movement and are moving toward position of respectability." (Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia, [4/12/64-11/10/64])

3. As you have brought out, major question is whether Army can maintain momentum its offensive against PKI in face Sukarno's practiced political manipulations.

4. Sukarno, Subandrio and PKI sympathizers in Cabinet will be alert to any evidence substantiating their charges that NEKOLIM will attempt to exploit situation. We believe it essential that we not give Sukarno and company opportunity claim that they about to be attacked by NEKOLIM and that we not give Subandrio and the PKI citable public evidence that USG supports Army against them.

5. Army clearly needs no material assistance from us at this point. Over past years inter-service relationships developed through training program, civic action program and MILTAG, as well as regular assurances to Nasution, should have established clearly in minds Army leaders that U.S. stands behind them if they should need help. Reur paras 4 b and c believe we should therefore exercise extreme caution in contacts with the Army lest our well-meaning efforts to offer assistance or steel their resolve may in fact play into hands of Sukarno and Subandrio. In particular, given Nasution's apparent present emotional state and precariousness his position do not believe it wise for you to attempt direct contact with him unless he seeks it, but know you have reliable indirect access to him through politically conscious senior officers who routinely in contact with Mission.

6. We plan and are already carrying out VOA and information program based on citation Indonesian sources and official statements without at this stage injecting U.S. editorializing. At least in present situation we believe ample such material pointing finger at PKI and playing up brutality of September 30 rebels is available from Radio Djakarta and Indo press, but we will look at situation again if in coming days or weeks these sources dry up. Similar coverage will be given by VOA to Indo situation in key broadcasts other than to Indonesia.

7. Reur para 4 d, agree that precipitate evacuation undesirable, but it is essential that you start moving out dependents and non-essential staff as commercial space becomes available on any carrier to any point. Septel this subject follows.

8. Will look forward to further Embassy recommendations as to how we should proceed.



149. Intelligence Memorandum/1/

OCI No. 2330/65

Washington, October 6, 1965.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. V, Memos, 10/65-11/65. Secret. Prepared by the Office of Current Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency.



The Indonesian army, having countered what appears to have been a leftist coup on 1 October, is for the time being firmly in control of Indonesia. It would like to use the opportunity to take strong steps against the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and elements allied with it. It would be reluctant to take decisive action, however, without the approval of President Sukarno. Sukarno, in the interest of national unity and probably fearing the ascendancy of the army, has asserted that the present situation is a political problem that requires a political settlement and that he wishes to settle it himself. He apparently hopes to conciliate the leftists and return the Communist Party to the favorable political position it enjoyed prior to the events of 1 October.

1. Early on 1 October a group which called itself the "30 September Movement" kidnapped six army generals, including Army Commander Yani, and later murdered them. The movement was led by Lt. Col. Untung, a battalion commander in President Sukarno's bodyguard, the Tjakrabirawa regiment. In addition to Untung's own battalion (which was one of three in the regiment), the movement also appears to have included some elements of the air force and initially was openly supported by the Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Dani. Also reportedly involved were Communist-influenced army elements from Central Java and members of Pemuda Rakjat--the Communist youth organization, the party's special security force, and GERWANI--the Communist women's front group.

2. A message read over the Djakarta radio on the morning of 1 October claimed that Untung's action was "supported by troops of other branches of the armed forces" and that the "30 September Movement" had acted to forestall an American-inspired "generals' coup." The message stated that President Sukarno and other targets of the "generals' coup" were under the protection of the movement. Shortly thereafter the 45 members of a leftist "Revolutionary Council" were announced. About half of the council's membership was composed of government officials, a few of whom were high-level and none of whom at that time was maintaining an anti- or even strong non-Communist position. The council contained three members of the Indonesian Communist Party Central Committee. The rest were well-known fellow travellers or crypto-Communists.

3. By the early evening of 1 October Army General Suharto, commander of the Army Strategic Reserve (KOSTRAD), informed all military areas that in the absence of Army Commander General Yani, who had been kidnapped, he was assuming command of the army. He was doing so with the understanding and cooperation of the navy in order to destroy the "30 September Movement." Two hours later Radio Indonesia announced that the army controlled the situation, that the police had also joined the army and navy to crush the "counterrevolutionary movement," and that President Sukarno and Defense Minister General Nasution--the latter had been a target of Untung's group--were safe.

4. During the night of 1 October, Lt. Col. Untung apparently fled to Central Java where he apparently hoped to establish a position with pro-Communist elements in that province. Repeated broadcasts of President Sukarno's appeal for restoration of order and the strong pro-Sukarno, pro-army stance of both General Sabur--Untung's superior officer in the Tjakrabirawa regiment--and of General Surjosumpeno--army commander in Central Java--appear to have cut away much of Untung's following. Reports are confused, however, as to his present support. They range from a mere 110 troops to several battalions. There are no present plans to send additional troops into Central Java to deal with him; loyal troops already stationed in that province are deemed sufficient to cope with the situation.

5. On 4 October Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Dani, who had already been absolved of complicity in the "30 September Movement" by Sukarno, by implication denied any connection with the movement. In a special broadcast he thanked Sukarno "for trust in the air force" and said appropriate action would be taken against any air force personnel involved in the movement.

6. Meanwhile President Sukarno had been maneuvering to reaffirm his own control of the situation. On 2 October he summoned all military commanders and Second Deputy Prime Minister Leimena to a meeting "to settle the 30 September incident immediately." (First Deputy Prime Minister Subandrio was in North Sumatra but has since returned and is with Sukarno in Bogor; Third Deputy Prime Minister Chaerul Saleh is en route home from Communist China.) Sukarno subsequently broadcast to the nation that he had assumed personal command of the army, that he had appointed General Pranoto, an army headquarters staff officer, administrative head of the army and had deputized General Suharto "to implement the restoration of security." A statement by Suharto which followed that of Sukarno affirmed the changes made by the president. A 3 October broadcast by the Supreme Operations Command (KOTI) described Pranoto only as "assisting the president."

7. Suharto, long regarded as apolitical and possibly an opportunist, emerges in the present situation as a strong military leader and apparently a firm anti-Communist. Pranoto, on the other hand, does not belong to the group of officers who looked to Yani and Nasution for leadership and obviously is viewed with some disfavor by Suharto and his colleagues. Sukarno is said to have elevated Pranoto during the present crisis as a means of conciliating and protecting the left, and it would seem that he also did it as a means of imposing disunity upon the army. Appraisals of Pranoto range from passive and soft on the Communists to actively pro-Communist. He has served in Central Java, a Communist stronghold, as a battalion commander and later as the territorial commander; he is reputed during those years to have done nothing to obstruct Communist growth there. Available information, most of it from pro-Suharto sources, has not mentioned any action taken by Pranoto in his present capacity.

8. The US Embassy in Djakarta has a confirmed report that Sukarno's palace guards and air force troops are protecting Sukarno and Dani in Bogor. Reportedly, Suharto's troops have their guns trained toward the palace. The US Embassy now believes that Suharto's forces are allowed access to Sukarno for bargaining and tape recording Sukarno's statements but they do not control him.

9. Sukarno has rejected army suggestions for firm measures against leaders of the "30 September Movement" and the Communist Party. On 4 October he told the army generals that the situation basically involves political issues, that tranquillity and order are needed for a solution, and that the generals should "leave the political settlement to me." Army officers, initially jubilant at the prospect of cracking down on the Communists, were reported depressed after their meetings with Sukarno.

10. Apparently a few hours prior to this 4 October meeting between Sukarno and the generals and apparently also under the emotion of having just viewed the exhuming of the murdered generals, Suharto made an unusual public statement which strongly implied both doubt and criticism of the president and accused the air force and the Communists of complicity in the "30 September Movement." He stated that the bodies had been found in a well within the jurisdiction of the Halim Air Force Base near Djakarta. He said that an area near the well had been used as an air force training center for volunteers from Pemuda Rakjat (the Communist youth organization) and GERWANI (the Communist women's organization). He went on that "based on these facts, it is possible that there is truth in the statement of our beloved father, President, Supreme Commander, Great Leader of the Revolution, that the air force is not involved in the affair. But it is impossible that there is no connection with this affair among elements of the air force." Suharto said he conveyed the sentiments of "patriots who are members of the army" that "air force patriots will purge such members (of the air force) who are involved in this adventure."

11. A few hours later, General Sabur in his capacity as Secretary General of the Supreme Operations Command (KOTI) broadcast an account of Sukarno's 4 October admonitions to the generals, combat commanders, and all commanders of the armed services. According to Sabur, Sukarno had ordered those present, and inferentially all Indonesians, not to permit themselves to be "set off against each other" since this would "harm our struggle and weaken our potential." Sabur said settlement of the 30 September incident would be handled personally and soon by the president. He quoted Sukarno as warning military leaders "not to fall into the trap of (garble--probably imperialist or neocolonialist) tactics in view of their latest activities for weakening us from inside as a prelude for their attacks against us." He specifically ordered combat commanders to "realize the danger of intrigue of our adversaries," to "remain vigilant and continuously enhance unity." Sukarno did manage to say that those who fell victim to the "30 September Movement" were heroes of the revolution, and he invited prayer for their souls.

12. The Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), after indicating its support of the "30 September Movement" through its official newspaper Harian Rakjat, has now largely lapsed into silence. Communist Party leaders apparently are in seclusion or actual hiding. According to a clandestine source, party policy is to disavow the "30 September Movement." Party members caught with arms or found in other ways to be supporting the rebellion will be regarded by the PKI as misguided adventurers.

13. The leftist press in Medan, North Sumatra, has continued to publish, and probably is setting the line the party plans to take when its leaders emerge again. The pro-party press in Medan expresses a hope for increased solidarity between the army and the people "particularly in settling the 30 September affair strictly along lines set out by President Sukarno."

14. Many questions remain unanswered about the "30 September Movement." Most revolve around Sukarno. Did Sukarno have prior knowledge of the "30 September Movement" and its intentions? Was he taken into protective custody by members of the movement or did he, as he publicly announced, visit Halim Air Force Base--the headquarters of Air Force Chief of Staff Dani and probably the headquarters of the 30 September group--of his own will on 1 October because he thought it wise to be near an airplane? Or was his presence there an indication that he, like the air force and the Communist Party, openly and briefly endorsed the movement? Or was this part of the escape route, reportedly engineered by General Sabur, to get Sukarno out of Djakarta to Bogor? Did Sukarno's appearance of illness during an address on the evening of 30 September motivate the events of 1 October--events which seem to have been previously but perhaps incompletely planned?

15. Other questions pertain to Lt. Col. Untung and Communist Party leaders. Most reports claim or assume that Untung was merely a dupe; according to one source, he is a strict Moslem who was outraged by the high living and corrupt practices of high-ranking army officers. If he was only a tool and a front man--and this seems plausible--who did the actual planning? Or did several plans by various elements become entangled, with one being used to justify another?

16. It has been reliably reported that the Communist Party in August had reviewed contingency plans which would be put into effect if Sukarno died within the next few days or weeks. These apparently involved the seclusion of top Communist leaders and moves to protect Communist assets by members of the Communist youth front and the party's special security force. There is at least one report that Sukarno had agreed to the arrest--by whom was not reported--of the anti-Communist generals but that he did not know of plans to kill them and, had he known, would not have approved them. A high-ranking army source (one of Sukarno's physicians and a key figure in army communications), who has occasionally been candid about internal matters, stated on 3 October that among Untung's sponsors were armed Communist cadres who had been armed and uniformed. He said Untung's troops had been among those who had gone to the generals' houses but that it was not clear who had done the firing--implying that uniformed Communists had also been part of the group.

17. A plausible view of the immediate background of the "30 September Movement" is that Sukarno, Subandrio, and perhaps Communist leaders close to them had considered the arrest of certain army generals. Sukarno and Subandrio have repeatedly and publicly warned the armed forces in recent months that individual leaders must cooperate with the "revolution" or be "left behind." More recently they have even implied some sort of action against them. With the knowledge of this possibility, militant Communist cadres both inside and outside of the air force (and it seems well-established that such were involved) may have used it to justify action against the generals to Untung, and may have played also upon his resentment of high living among the brass. Young militants are known to be chafing against the peaceful united front tactics espoused by top Communist leaders and the latter's strong support of Sukarno. The timing of their action could have been influenced by reports on Sukarno's illness on the night of 30 September and by partial or garbled knowledge of Communist contingency plans in the event of Sukarno's death. The militants--probably impetuous, zealous, and none too clear in their thinking--would have assumed that the swiftness and decisiveness of their actions--the death of the generals and the formation of a new government--would force Sukarno and thereby the rest of Indonesia to fall in behind them.

18. Despite Harian Rakjat's brief espousal of the movement it does not seem likely that party chairman Aidit would have approved the murder of the generals or even the change of government. The Indonesian situation, both foreign and domestic, was highly favorable to the Communists and--barring Sukarno's immediate death--showed every sign of becoming progressively more so. Possibly a few militant members of the Central Committee approved the plan; future internal party developments may so indicate. The motivation of Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Dani remains an open question. He has assumed an increasingly leftist position during the past year.

19. With the army's counteraction and Sukarno's subsequent moves, many of the questions pertaining to the promotion of the "30 September Movement" become almost academic. The principal point now is whether the army will go along with Sukarno in papering over the situation and returning to the political status quo prior to the events of 1 October.

20. The previous record of the army seems to indicate, that despite frustration and rage over the murders of six highly regarded generals, most officers will continue to support Sukarno. Although there is considerable individual and collective doubt among the officer corps as to the wisdom of Sukarno's policies, there is also enormous reluctance to oppose him. Sukarno has so presented his position that any specific action against the Communists would be considered an anti-Sukarno act. It now appears that only if Untung can develop a following in Central Java and renew armed action--and at the moment this does not appear to be a strong possibility--would Sukarno tolerate a significant move against him and his allies.

21. In the aftermath of the "30 September Movement," however, the army temporarily will retain a political ascendancy. This is based in the martial law still obtaining in Djakarta, in the army's physical control of most of the country, and in the present policy of seclusion being followed by Communist leaders.

22. Should Sukarno move too rapidly in favor of the left during this period, he could cause a sharpening of feeling between himself and most army leaders. This could promote a stronger public and political anti-Communist stand by the army than it has maintained in the past year and weaken the political position of the party. Such a development, however, is highly speculative.

23. Sukarno's health continues to be a major factor in determining the course of events. The army is far more likely to act decisively if the president dies or is disabled than if he remains reasonably vigorous. Sukarno's continued seclusion is not necessarily an indication that his health has further deteriorated; he will probably defer a public appearance until he feels that it is to his political advantage. Meanwhile he apparently is holding frequent meetings with various military and civilian officials.


150. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Ball) and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (Helms)/1/

Washington, October 7, 1965, 12:05 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia, [4/12/64-11/10/65]. No classification marking.

Helms asked Ball if he were deadset to get the dependents out of Indonesia. Ball replied that he could foresee a real civil war in Indonesia, however, this request had come in from Green himself. Ball said we were trying to get them out as inconspicuously as possible on commercial airlines./2/ Ball informed Helms there were several companies in Indonesia. Ball asked Helms if he had doubts.

/2/In telegram 401 to Djakarta, October 6, the Department instructed the Embassy to begin moving of U.S. families out of Indonesia by international air carriers. In order to make the operation unobtrusive, the Embassy could explain at least at the beginning of the process that these were routine transfers for home leave, medical reasons, and so on. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-1966, POL 23-INDON)

Helms said in light of the sentiments he guessed this was the right thing to do. The President would be disturbed if there were street fighting.

Ball said he thought the communists would go underground and the country could go up in flames. Ball said he would feel better if the women and children were not there. In three weeks all dependents would have departed. Helms asked if we were keeping them in the area. Ball said we had told them to come on home but we don't really care where they take them.

Helms told Ball he was with him on this./3/

/3/At 5:30 p.m. on October 7, Ball talked on the telephone with McNamara about the possibility of sending the evacuation task force back to home ports. Ball worried that there could be a civil war in 2 or 3 days, but he agreed with McNamara that the evacuation force could return slowly. (Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia, [4/12/64-11/10/65])


151. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State/1/

Djakarta, October 10, 1965.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL INDON-UK. Secret: Eyes Only. There is no time of transmission on this telegram, which was received in the Department of State at 2:46 p.m., October 10.

Unnumbered. For Assistant Secretary Bundy from Ambassador Green.

1. Following is Ambassador Green's comments on Secretary Bundy's message re pattern of UK actions on Kalimantan and how we should handle with Indonesians./2/

/2/Not further identified.

2. I generally agree with your suggested approach. At same time I question contention in Deptel 413/3/ that "we should credit Indo military with sufficient sophistication to realize that British would not stab Indo army in back while it was dealing with PKI." Latter contention overlooks suspiciousness of hard-pressed army and its poor communications. We just cannot leave to chance that Indos will understand British restraint.

3/In telegram 413 to Djakarta, October 7, the Department told Green it "had serious reservations on wisdom proposal that British convey to Indonesia military willingness to refrain from attacks as long as Indo Army continues to press PKI." No matter how discreetly passed, it would saddle the recipient Indonesian with the danger of "exposure as traitor to nation." The Department then suggested that the Indonesian military was sophisticated enough to realize that the British "would not stab Army in back while dealing with PKI" without being specifically informed. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-1966, POL INDON-UK)

3. In latter connection, Colonel Ethel was told today by his Indo army contact (who is close to Suharto and Nasution) that Indo army hopes British will not escalate Malaysia confrontation at this time because it would weaken army position. Source believes US only nation which could bring pressure to bear on British on this matter. Later on in conversation, source stated that Indo army leadership feels it has situation well in hand and will win this time, provided British do not interfere by escalation.

4. I therefore recommend that Ethel reply to his contact just about along lines Secretary Bundy suggests. This would of course require that British desisted from any kind of aggressive patrolling but it should not involve any weakening of UK defensive position./4/

/4/In telegram 437 to Djakarta, October 10, the Department agreed with Green's recommendation, but asked that the Embassy withhold action until the matter was cleared with the British. (Ibid.) In telegram 1918 to London, repeated to Djakarta as telegram 446, the Department reported that Berger had suggested to a British Embassy official that the United States pass the following message to the Indonesians: "First, we wish to assure you that we have no intention of interfering Indonesian internal affairs directly or indirectly. Second we have good reason to believe that none of our allies intend any offensive action against Indonesia." (Ibid., POL 23-9 INDON) The British agreed, but asked that the phrase, "to initiate," be included between "allies intend" and "any offensive action." (Telegram 447 to Djakarta, October 1; ibid.)

5. Colonel Ethel hopes see contact tomorrow./5/

/5/Printed from a copy that bears no signature.


152. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Ball) and Secretary of State Rusk/1/

Washington, October 12, 1965, 5:40 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia, [4/12/64-11/10/65]. No classification marking.

Ball told the Secretary that he went over with Berger and Cuthell as to what we propose to say to the army in Indonesia. One telegram which we are sending to London for approval is telegram of assurance that we do not propose to interfere in their internal affairs./2/ The harder question is their request for our assessment of the situation. Ball continued that he is going into detail with Cuthell and he (Cuthell) has great fears and doubts of our expressing encouragement, etc. This is a complex power fight that is going on and we do not know who is on top and we do not know, for instance, whether the army might resolve this by declaring a war on imperialists and we would be left on the limb by the army moving in and exploiting anti-American feelings. The Secretary thought this a very far-fetched likelihood. Ball said this is not an ideological fight but a power fight. Ball thinks that any indication that we are giving army help in its dealing with PKI could be misused./3/

/2/See footnote 4, Document 151.

/3/At 10:30 a.m., October 12, Ball and Fulbright discussed Indonesia on the telephone. Fulbright asked is the "Sukarno situation as good as it appears to be represented in the papers?" Ball answered that for the first time the army was "disobeying Sukarno." The generals were asking if they might be the next victims. Although they were afraid to move directly against Sukarno and the PKI, they were encouraging the Muslims and other groups to do so. Ball guessed that Sukarno would never regain the power he had and the PKI would have to go underground, but he did not want to underestimate Sukarno. Any U.S. interference could be a serious mistake. (Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia, [4/12/64-11/10/65])

The Secretary stated that the telegram to London should go but that he wished to discuss the other/4/ further tomorrow.

/4/Apparent reference to Document 153.


153. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Indonesia/1/

Washington, October 13, 1965, 7:03 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Cuthell and Berger, cleared by William Bundy, and approved by Rusk.

452. Ref: Djakarta's 962./2/

/2/Dated October 12. (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Roger Channel, Djakarta)

1. We think time is approaching when it may be desirable to give some indication to the military of our attitudes toward recent and current developments. While we might do this by taking advantage of request for our assessment put to us by Nasution's aide (reftel paras 1 and 2), we are reserved for three reasons:

a. We are not at all clear as to who is calling the shots within the military. As examples: although it appears to be Nasution, Suharto seems to be taking a stronger line vis-a-vis Sukarno. We do not know who else is playing what role, or what degree of unity exists among the military leaders, or what their strength is.

b. We have no real knowledge of the military plans and intentions or what debates are going on in the inner circle, without which it is impossible to make an assessment.

c. We are not even certain that Nasution's aide is really speaking for him, or has taken initiative on his own.

2. Under these circumstances we think it would be best to move cautiously.

3. Dilemma is that (a) we do not wish to give army impression that we are trying to inject ourselves into Indo internal situation, or that we wish to channel army's actions for our--as opposed to Indo's--benefit, or that we encouraging action against Sukarno or, in fact, anyone except PKI. On other hand, (b) if army's willingness to follow through against PKI is in any way contingent on or subject to influence by US, we do not wish miss opportunity consider US action. As noted 1 c above, we not sure whether Indos making typically over-subtle approach via Nasution's aide.

4. With respect to aide's question re our assessment of situation, suggest you respond on following lines: We are, as always, sympathetic to army's desire eliminate communist influence, but difficult for us to assess current situation since we do not have clear picture of military aims and plans. Realize situation fast moving, but would be helpful if we could be given indication to army's assessment and intentions.

5. Purpose of throwing ball back to Nasution is to see how forthcoming he is prepared to be with us.

6. Request your comments./3/

/3/In telegram 1002 from Djakarta, October 14, Green commented that it was "reasonably clear Nasution calling the shots" and was working through Suharto. The Embassy agreed that it did not have detailed knowledge of the military's plans and intentions, but wondered if they existed beyond a desire to keep the pressure on the PKI and to force Sukarno to face the fact of its treachery. The Embassy was "quite sure Nasution's aide speaks for him." The Embassy agreed that the United States needed to move cautiously and give the impression that it was not interjecting itself into Indonesia internal affairs. The Embassy did not want to discourage the Army from discreetly approaching the United States and preferred a slightly more "understanding posture." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON)



154. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State/1/

Djakarta, October 14, 1965, 1020Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD and passed to the White House.

1006. 1. Colonel Ethel conveyed to Nasution's aide today our oral message (Deptel 447 and previous)/2/ re confrontation; aide took it down on a piece of paper and said he would give it to Nasution within the hour./3/ He commented to effect that this was just what was needed by way of assurances that we (the army) weren't going to be hit from all angles as we moved to straighten things out here.

/2/See footnote 4, Document 151.

/3/In telegram 2005 to London, October 15, the Department reported that Nasution received the message and was very satisfied with it, hoping that the "British will lay off." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON)

2. Aide said that army is now rounding up suspect Chinese businessmen and seeking to find out through Chinese just what role ChiCom Embassy here played in aborted coup. Aide cautioned however that, even if army got the goods on Peking, Djakarta would have to be very careful about its relations with China. Army could not go after the ChiComs frontally, he said, but made a gesture with both his hands as if to suggest a subtle envelopment technique.

3. Aide said that army rounding up Communist cadres but having a hard time finding guns which had been disseminated. Asked if rumor were true that Lukman or others were starting a new Communist Party to replace the discredited PKI, aide said he did not know but he was looking into that kind of question.

4. Aide said that Antara would be allowed to continue its anti-NEKOLIM line but it would be played in lower key.

5. Aide heard about my talk with Suwito re Lovestrand. He thought that approach should work (Embtel 991)./4/

/4/Dated October 13. (Ibid., PS 7-1 US-INDON/LOVESTRAND) Harold L.B. Love- strand was a missionary of the Evangelical Alliance Church. He, his wife, and four children were taken into custody by Indonesian authorities at Manokawari in August 1964. All but Harold Lovestrand were released in March 1965. After considerable U.S. representations, Harold Lovestrand was released on March 23, 1966. (Telegram 2710 from Djakarta, March 23, 1966; ibid.)



155. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State/1/

Djakarta, October 14, 1965.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 21 INDON. Secret. There is no time of transmission on this telegram, which was received at the Department of State at 9:33 a.m. on October 14.

Unnumbered. Please pass Secretary Bundy from Ambassador Green:

1. Reference Deptel 458./2/ In addition reply regular channels. We were approached yesterday through Col. Ethel by Nasution's liaison officer for help with portable voice communications gear for use by guards protecting Nasution and other top army people and their families. Unclear whether AP story based approach here or in US. We have carefully limited knowledge of liaison officer's request to several key officers. In this Embassy, none of whom have talked to AP or anyone else about this.

/2/In telegram 458 from Djakarta, October 13, the Department informed the Embassy of an Associated Press story based on an "informed source" that Suharto had sent a colonel to the United States to procure communications equipment to contain the Communist threat of civil war in Indonesia. The Department asked for the Embassy's comment. (Ibid.)

2. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has, with my approval, offered to provide three Motorola P-31 handy-talkies 49.9545 with batteries and battery chargers. Army Attache will covertly turn over the above to the Indonesian army on October 14.

3. We are taking cautious approach to providing further assistance of this kind [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] although it is in our interest to preserve present army leadership from danger assassination which we assess very real. Also believe small quiet gesture such as this (or help to Nasution's child) could be important in terms of helping a friend in need and will be remembered accordingly.

4. Conceivably army has intention to seek again from US sources equipment for communications with outer islands. As you know, this is old story which could be basis AP report.

5. I would appreciate your comments./3/

/3/In telegram 470 to Djakarta, October 14, Bundy told Green that he completely concurred in the action that Green took on portable voice communications. The Department had no indication that the Army would renew its request for a major communications project with the outer islands. Such would be a long-range project and the Army probably had sufficient control of civilian communications network for the time being. If the Army renewed its request, the Department suggested it should be given serious consideration. (Ibid.) Printed from an unsigned copy.


156. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State/1/

Djakarta, October 17, 1965, 0030Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON. Secret. Repeated to Bangkok, Canberra, CINCPAC for POLAD, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, New Delhi, London, Singapore, Tokyo, and Wellington.

1047. 1. Indonesia's political crisis seems to be moving toward a "political settlement" which we believe will do little more than paper over the deep cracks which have appeared in the nation's leadership. Many basic issues will remain unresolved. Prolonged maneuvering among the various elements is likely and, whatever the outcome, the Sukarno image and leadership will never be quite the same.

2. The following basic factors underlie Indonesia's present political maneuvering:

A. There are now two power centers in Indonesia, not one. These are Sukarno and the army. Each needs the other and at the same time each is trying to undermine the other. But in true Indonesian fashion they are trying to reach an agreed settlement which will give the outward impression that all is well and that national unity has been preserved.

B. Sukarno's image has been damaged but there is little likelihood of any serious move to dump him. Many Indonesians privately believe he was aware of, or even back of, the Sept 30 affair. Nonetheless, they do not want to make this fact public or to face openly its logical consequences. They will probably whitewash Sukarno, for to them, and despite his faults, he is Indonesia and national unity depends on allegiance to his father figure, but the army, for its part, finds its public support of Sukarno a useful symbol that it is the protector of national unity.

C. The present political jockeying takes place in an atmosphere of considerable national tension. The attacks on PKI installations which started in Djakarta have spread to other regions of Indonesia. In some areas it could strike a spark leading to the outbreak of real conflict. The army regards central Java as politically sensitive, even though the security situation has been brought into line. Communists and non-Communists have been at each other's throats in east Java and in north Sumatra for months and some observers fear civil war in those areas. This situation cuts both ways for the army. It strengthens the hand of the military in bargaining with Sukarno who fears national disunity. But the army also fears civil war, particularly in any situation which would pit them publicly against Sukarno, who might rally forces against the army that would make their position untenable, and thus move the army toward compromise.

D. The basic framework of Indonesia's domestic ideology will be retained but there will probably be changes of emphasis, for the present at least, and possibly and hopefully of longer duration. Elements such as NASAKOM will not be completely dominant theme they had become in recent months although lip service will probably continue to be paid to these concepts. In this connection, song "NASAKOM Unity" is now heard again on radio after two week absence. Suharto also expressed support for NASAKOM at his installation ceremony. (NASAKOM is, of course, the Indonesian acronym and cover for Sukarno's drive to establish a Communist-oriented Indonesian political unity. That Moslem elements maintain a healthy resistance to this forced adjustment of their religious convictions to Communist ideology has become apparent in a way that is both surprising and heartening during these last few days.)

E. No dramatic changes in Indonesia's foreign policy are likely. The army and large sections of the Indonesian public suspects Communist China's hand behind recent events. Sukarno does not, or at least he will not admit this possibility. However, as one general said, "We already have enough enemies. We can't take on Communist China as well." The Sept 30 affair will almost certainly cause strains between Djakarta and Peiping, but close cooperation will probably continue because both parties find it useful. But there latent explosiveness against the Chinese in the minds of many, particularly strong Moslem elements, among the Indonesians.

F. Indonesia's basic "anti-NEKOLIM" policy will probably also be retained although the army may well seek to twist definition of the term when this suits the army's purposes.

3. Appears likely that partial deal between army and Sukarno may already have been reached while other matters are still under negotiation. (It is even more commonplace here than elsewhere to come up with vague phraseology to reach agreement on obstinate points leaving future in-fighting to determine final outcome.)

A. One side of deal may be that army will hush up any indications of Sukarno's involvement in Sept 30 affair. We have in fact already noted that army sources are now playing this down following earlier open talk that President was involved. Army has probably also agreed to continuation of certain essential aspects of Sukarno's foreign policy and this will produce competition and perhaps confusion in weeks ahead.

B. There are several different versions of army's five point demands on Sukarno but these appear generally to involve following: (I) Appointment of Suharto head army, (II) all persons involved in Sept 30 movement to be punished in accordance with Indo law, (III) Indo air force to be retooled, (IV) all mass organizations and political parties which supported Sept 30 movement to be banned, and (V) replacement of PKI, Subandrio's intelligence organization.

C. Appointment of Suharto is only point in above list which Sukarno has completely carried out. He has agreed to send Dani abroad but has not yet selected a regular replacement for him as head of air force. Army, of course, is going ahead on its own to punish many of those involved in Sept 30 movement.

4. While firm evidence lacking we believe there are two major ways in which internal political crisis might be resolved. First in formation of new "pure" and "indigenous" Communist Party to replace bad old PKI. Sukarno would probably like new party to be headed by Njoto but this would be subject to negotiation. This seems more likely outcome, but possibility of single national party should not be ruled out. Both Sukarno and Nasution have in past advocated one-party system of substitution of "National Front" for all parties although they would have different views on nature of single party. Army leadership wants complete ban of PKI but, if Sukarno insists, would reportedly propose single party which, in contrast to Sukarno, they would want to be "right-wing" with heavy representation of "functional groups."

5. Activities of Indo press and other information media here are almost certain to be continued bone of contention between Sukarno and his backers and army leadership and other anti-Communists. Sukarno will want to push his anti-NEKOLIM program in which he identifies Indonesia with other Communist countries. He will want to play down anti-PKI complexion which has been introduced under recent army direction of Indo information media. Army still seems dissatisfied with activities of Indonesia's sole news agency, Antara, and continues to interrogate and harass its staff which, of course, was heavily Communist infected.

6. The activities of the National Front, especially those relating to demonstrations (that peculiarly Indonesian method of political expression), will probably, like the press, be subject to tugging and pulling between Sukarno and his leftist advisers and the army.

7. Sukarno and army may already have reached ostensible, modus vivendi, on basic political issues. If not, odds are that they will in near future. However, working out details will be serious problem, as will probable differences of interpretation between Sukarno and army on points already accepted. While recent crisis is likely to be papered over, basic problems have been brought to surface and will not easily or successfully or for very long be sublimated. Role of Subandrio, and others in cabinet spiritually akin to if not active in September 30 movement, many of whom now appear likely to survive present crisis, will be source continued friction between Sukarno and army. But issues, such as those mentioned above, and many others including personal feelings of revenge, are likely continue plague GOI and reduce effectiveness and cohesion of government for foreseeable future.



157. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State/1/

Djakarta, October 18, 1965, 0845Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 15-1 INDON. Secret; Exdis; Immediate. Repeated to CINCPAC for Manila and to the Department of Defense. Passed to the White House.

1055. For Assistant Secretary Bundy from Ambassador. Re Embtel 1017./2/

/2/In telegram 1017, October 15, the Embassy reported that Nasution was satisfied with the U.S. assurance concerning British military intentions. (Ibid.)

1. Colonel Ethel has had two more meetings with Nasution's aide who made a number of interesting points as follows:

2. Police say they have caught Aidit in central Java, but this fact is not being released now. For publication, he remains still at large. One reason given for this is to obstruct PKI from naming new head of party.

3. Sukarno trusts Nasution about 80 percent of the time and discussions continue between them. Nasution has been pressing for accept- ance of five following points, first two of which already granted: (a) appointment of Suharto as Chief of Staff, (b) ouster of Dani (there is a report that Dani left for K.L. yesterday. We are checking), (c) PKI totally banned, (d) re-tooling of cabinet, (e) disbanding of BPI, which is Subandrio's intelligence organization.

4. In latter connection army is out to get Subandrio and is worried lest Subandrio succeed in his current efforts to poison Sukarno's mind that there was in fact a plot master-minded by the NEKOLIMs, to be executed by the army, navy and police, against the air force. Sukarno has told Nasution that he wants all the facts of this 30 September incident in order to reach his final political solution on current crisis. The army is working hard, along with police, to get the facts and they already have a good deal of incriminating evidence against Subandrio and others.

5. There is a major split between Subandrio and Suwito (Subandrio's Chief Deputy in the Foreign Office). Suwito has the support of almost all the foreign office.

6. If Subandrio has anything to say about it, it is questionable how long Suharto can remain as Army Chief of Staff. There is strong mutual dislike between them. Furthermore, Sukarno did not wish to appoint Suharto, but was forced to do so by Nasution.

7. Earlier report we had from another source to effect that Sukarno was ousting Sughardi as information officer of Department of Defense is not true. It is true that Sukarno at first considered Sughardi as being too outspoken against PKI and Tjakrabirawa, but Sukarno has relented, partly because he now knows more of the facts and partly because Sughardi used to be one of Sukarno's aides. Sughardi now sees Sukarno every day.

8. There is danger of trouble in the navy, where Subandrio is attempting to stir up dissidence. Martadinata is aware of this and is trying to head it off.

9. Untung is proving to be a problem to his interrogators who have been unable to extract much of interest from him. (Note that this conflicts with a German Embassy source, but we believe that Nasution's aide's information correct.)

10. Army is now screening all of its officers to eliminate those who are untrustworthy. In past several days forty have been picked up for detention, including Lt. Col. Soewasono who, working directly under General Pronoto, was largely responsible for personnel assignments and who used his office for infiltration of leftists into key spots.

11. General Comment: In reviewing telegrams I have drafted during past two weeks reporting Colonel Ethel's regular contacts with Nasution's aide, I gain distinct impression that army is proceeding methodically against Communists and Subandrio, though being prepared to co-exist with Sukarno for reasons Embassy has recently reported in detail. Also looking back over record I note that Nasution's aide has given us much accurate information as to up-coming developments, which helps to establish his reliability as well as fact that army leadership seems to know where it is going, at least in short run.



158.Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State/1/

Djakarta, October 20, 1965, 0330Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 12 INDON. Confidential. Repeated to Canberra, CINCPAC for POLAD, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo, and Wellington.

1090. 1. Army and other actions against PKI have been covered in detail in our sitreps and regular reporting./2/ Question now is extent to which party's effectiveness and potential have actually been impaired.

/2/In telegram 923 from Djakarta, October 8, the Embassy reported that the Army had arrested several thousand PKI activists and it has recovered many, but far from all, of the weapons distributed to Communist troops. (Ibid., POL 23-9 INDON)

2. While situation still fluid, evidence to date indicates party has received major, though not necessarily mortal, blow to its image, considerable damage to its communications and command structures, and some damage to its organizational strength through arrest, harassment and, in some cases, execution of PKI cadres.

3. Extent of this damage cannot be definitely fixed but is certainly significant. In area of communications and command, we have direct evidence [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that PKI itself already regarded its communications to be virtually shattered a week or so ago, even before army repression had reached its peak. Some thousand of PKI cadres have reportedly been arrested in Djakarta area alone and several hundred of them have been executed. We know that Njono, head of Djakarta PKI and Politburo member, was arrested and may have been executed and there are unconfirmed reports of other arrests of top leaders including Anwar Snauee. Army sweeps of Kampung areas have also disrupted channels of communication, and loss of buildings, effects of curfew in Djakarta shut-down of telephone and telegraph system, etc., are forcing PKI to employ inefficient and cumbersome devices no matter how well prepared their underground network may have been.

4. Thus far, however, basic PKI organizational potential would appear to be largely intact and capable of recovering quickly in a purely organizational sense if its status were recognized by the government and army attacks were stopped. However, there would still be severe damage to its image that, taken by itself, would tend to impair recruitment and decrease possibilities for successful prosecution of United Front tactics. Also, even now party will face uphill fight in regaining degree of popular acceptance and ostensible prestige it enjoyed before Sept 30. At same time, if return of PKI did take place and could be shown as sign of anti-PKI weakness and indication that opposition to PKI was useless, loss popular image could be at least partially offset by psychology of intimation and by terror.

5. If army repression of PKI continues and army refuses to give up its position of power to Sukarno, PKI strength can be cut back. In long run, however, army repression of PKI will not be successful unless it is willing to attack communism as such, including associations with China and other bloc countries and Communist ideology, including many of key pillars of Sukarno doctrine. Army has nevertheless been working hard at destroying PKI and I, for one, have increasing respect for its determination and organization in carrying out this crucial assignment.

6. PKI capability for insurgency reported septel./3/

/3/In telegram 1098 from Djakarta, October 20, the Embassy stated it had no real evidence that the PKI was planning insurgency. On balance, the Embassy concluded that the Army could cope with insurgency on a national basis, but it would have serious and perhaps prolonged trouble rooting the PKI out of some areas of Java and North Sumatra. The Embassy added that should Sukarno side with the PKI, the difficulties would be greatly increased. (Ibid.)



159. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Indonesia/1/

Washington, October 22, 1965, 7:14 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Drafted by Cuthell, cleared by Berger, and approved by Bundy.

508. 1. Following thoughts on current and prospective Indo situation are based primarily on Mission's excellent reporting during past few weeks, are tentative, and are intended to solicit Embassy's comment.

2. Main elements current situation are:

a. Indo Army still cleaning up situation;

b. Sukarno resisting elimination PKI and trying to reassert control;

c. PKI apparently undecided between pursuing legal struggle if possible or resorting to insurgency and terrorism;

d. Non-communist civilians who have been inactive in past years becoming actively anti-PKI, but their leaders still much in background and not playing major role. Situation likely settle down slowly in some new pattern. To date and probably in near future issue regarded as domestic (except for question of Chicom involvement), and our only role has been to give quiet assurance that we and allies will not interfere. As situation takes new shape believe it likely Army and perhaps others who will be responsible for running country will feel need to know our position toward their regime.

3. Obviously premature to assess what shape new situation will take. Alternatives seem to include, in broad terms,

a. Restoration pre-September 30 situation--i.e. Sukarno-run PKI dominated Indonesia;

b. Some version of NASAKOM with Army having ultimate responsibility for success, and "KOM" being successor to PKI;

c. Army-backed, and in part operated, civilian regime with substantial Marxist-Socialist civilian component;

d. Out and out Army regime.

4. In unlikely event a. above develops, our relations with Indo clearly back where they were and probably much worse. d. seems equally unlikely in view Nasution's and Army's often stated desire avoid military vs. civilian situation and importance military has long given to need for development anti-PKI, non-communist civilian government. This course would also involve direct challenge to Sukarno and subject Army's real cohesion to major and unwanted test (Embtel 1098)./2/

/2/See footnote 3, Document 158.

5. b. and c. above, which we currently believe more likely, are essentially variants of same situation but probably with different internal backgrounds. b. implies settlement with Sukarno which tolerates existence weakened PKI, while c. might well result in PKI hard core being out of power, underground, and engaged in insurgency and terrorism. Likelihood in both cases is that Subandrio would be out or reduced to non-control position, while Sukarno, if present, would not have final authority in basic issues.

6. Regardless of which form new regime takes it will be faced by three major problems apart from basic issue internal security:

a. Priorities: While operating behind facade of current domestic policies regime will be oriented more toward Indonesians' domestic problems, and this in turn will mean greater attention to long neglected and critical economic problems.

b. Foreign Policy: Indoctrination in NEFO-NEKOLIM and other acrostics so deep (and often swallowed by military themselves) that changes can only be gradual in short term and likely to be in style rather than substance;

c. Communism: As indicated para 3 your 1021,/3/ PKI is one thing, communism another. As most educated Indos have large Marxist element in their thinking, regime will have to try to educate opinion slowly to recognize that communism is more than economic theory, and that it is not simply aggressive form Indonesian nationalism (para 5 your 1090)./4/

/3/In paragraph 3 of telegram 1021 from Djakarta, October 15, the Embassy noted: "There is a subtle but important difference in Indonesia between being anti-Communist and anti-PKI. It is okay now to be the latter but not former." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON)

/4/Document 158.

7. New regime will obviously need external aid to deal with economy. Will have difficult task of doing so while handicapped by foreign policy and hobbled by confusion on economic theory. Despite this problem, approaches to Thai, Japanese, Germans and apparently others which already made will have to extend toward something more formal than simple search for emergency bailing out in terms of food.

8. Basic to getting such foreign assistance will be establishment abroad of fact that Indonesia has new face, and in this Indos likely want to know how U.S. views them and what position U.S. will be conveying to other countries whether or not Indos choose seek direct help from us. As Indos probe us on question, and recognizing we dealing in still very hypothetical situation, suggest our description of our attitude should include following:

a. Like Indo Army, we have long assumed that at what it considered appropriate time PKI would make overt bid for power. We were surprised that PKI chose present period for open assault re Army, as events in past months seemed to us to have been moving steadily in PKI's favor. Only tenable conclusion we have been able reach after considerable study of available info is that Aidit and PKI were under heavy pressure from Chicoms to produce abrupt and prompt victory for Chicom interests in Asia in view recent setbacks for Chinese in Africa and elsewhere--without, of course, considering Indo interests.

b. Our hope continues to be that Indos will produce government and policy dedicated to Free Indonesia and to full development of country for benefit of Indo people;

c. As Army and non-PKI elements move into control of and responsibility for welfare of country they are going to have to take rapid and effective steps to correct current economic mess, and for this they will need foreign help. Indos have many friends in non-communist world who have long desired help, their objectives ranging from desire see Indo strength develop as force supporting freedom of other states to simple desire for normal and mutually profitable trade and commerce. We unaware of any free country which foolish enough to wish simply "exploit" Indonesia or its people in colonial sense. We are disposed to help Indos locate such help if they wish, but believe they will find it available without difficulty;

d. Our own bilateral relations have been poisoned by sea of hatred (of sort which produced September 30) which PKI has poured into Indonesia in past years. We recognize this background cannot be eliminated over night nor can it be ignored by Indo Government or by us;

e. In view foregoing, we assume Indos will want avoid anything looking like overt GOI turn toward U.S. For short run our assistance to them would probably have to be on covert or semi-covert basis related specific, small, ad hoc needs. We quite willing go along with this. In addition showing Indos we will not take advantage of difficult internal situation to intervene, we recognize probable need for passage of time to allow cooling off period, and will not seek or expect public evidences of pro-American feeling. (FYI: Further down road we would hope situation might stabilize to point where structured economic support along lines 1963 consortium idea could be considered, but think speculation about this, except as indicated sub-para c. above, not likely be useful in near future. End FYI.);

f. If real PKI insurgency situation develops we would, of course, try to meet Army needs as expressed to us by Army. Problem here could be continuation military aspects of confrontation and continuation stridently aggressive anti-American propaganda. If former stopped or suspended and latter moderated, we believe U.S. public and Congress would go along.

9. Foregoing obviously very tentative but believe Department and Embassy should try to agree on main lines of U.S. response if and as Indos probe our position in days and weeks ahead. Embassy's comments requested./5/

/5/In telegram 1236 from Djakarta, October 27, the Embassy agreed with this analysis and recommendations. The Embassy recommended that the Department explore the possibility of "short-term, one-shot aid on covert, non attributable basis assuming Indo Army clearly solicits such aid." The Embassy was less pessimistic than the Department about changes in Indonesian foreign policy, especially towards China. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON)



160. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, October 22, 1965, 11:30 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 16, 10/15-11/19/65. Secret.

The Week's Developments in Asia

There follows a summary of significant developments in Asia during the past week. Information classifications are given in brackets.

[Here follows material on Vietnam.]

Indonesia (secret)

Events in Indonesia since the abortive September 30th coup are so far a striking vindication of U.S. policy towards that nation in recent years: a policy of keeping our hand in the game for the long-term stakes despite recurrent pressures to pull out, break relations, recall our Ambassador, etc. More specifically, they are a vindication of our post-1963 approach and the recommendations of last spring's Bunker Report.

In the past week we have continued to grope with the obscure but very promising forces set free by the defeat of the September 30th plot. Ambassador Green's early analysis that there are now two Indo Governments--Sukarno and the Army--still seems valid; and since each Government needs the other (or rather, is too weak to topple the other), the uneasy balance may continue for a while. The Army is showing considerable courage, and the populace is with the Army to an extraordinary degree so far. Our Embassy is performing well.

Important unknowns remain: Sukarno's health, his degree of involvement in the September 30th plot, the whereabouts of Aidit (reportedly under arrest), anti-Chinese passions, etc. Whatever happens, we should expect no abrupt major change in Indonesia's vocal fuzzy Marxism or in its foreign policy--regardless of who runs the country. The longer we remain restrained and discreet (and the same for our press), the better.

[Here follows material on the Philippines, Ryukyus, and Chinese representation.]



161. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State/1/

Djakarta, October 26, 1965.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Canberra, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila for FELG/RSO, Medan, Singapore, Tokyo, Wellington, Paris, Hong Kong, Surabaya, and CINCPAC for POLAD. There is no time of transmission on this telegram. Passed to the White House, DOD, NSA, CIA, and USIA.

1184. 1. Pouching today detailed analysis of Sept 30 Movement./2/ Many key facts still not known but I believe we now have adequate information for informed assessment and suggest report be given wide dissemination. Following for immediate use are major highlights of report.

/2/Airgram 300 from Djakarta, October 22. (Ibid., POL 23-8 INDON) The Central Intelligence Agency's Office of Current Intelligence also prepared an analysis of the 30 of September Movement, OCI No. 2342/65, October 28. The memorandum's summary stated that the purpose of the coup was to "destroy the army leadership and presumably to redirect the army's political thrust," but beyond these ends the motivation of Untung and Vice Air Marshal Yani remained unclear. As for the PKI, elements were involved, but the "role of the party leadership remains obscure." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. V, Memos, 10/65-11/65)

2. Sept 30 Movement. This Movement consisted of several army units, air force chief and several of his colleagues, and paramilitary elements formed from Communist cadres. Leaders included Lt. Col. Untung of Palace Guard (tough, dissatisfied soldier with Communist background); Army Brig. Gen. Supardjo (Pontianak); Lt. Col. Heru (Air Force Intelligence); and Navy Col. Sunardi. Principal culprits, however, are at very top: Sukarno, Subandrio, Aidit and his PKI, Omar Dani and elements of his air force. Communist China was involved, at least to extent of supplying several thousand guns which smuggled into Indonesia and distributed to Communist RBP. There circumstantial evidence that Peking aware of or perhaps even had hand in plot but this not established.

3. Objective. Plot probably had two options: (a) total coup except for Sukarno, or (b) limited coup involving removal of army leadership. Plot perhaps failed because it climaxed between these two. Additional complicating factor is likelihood that not all elements were working for same objective. Untung, for example, appears to have been fall guy who went along because of pro-PKI sympathies and resentment over high living of top GOI leaders. Others (PKI, Dani, possibly Subandrio and Sukarno) probably wanted to cut army down to size now in order accelerate Sukarno's rapid "turn of wheel" to left. Possible fear of army pre-emptive coup may have sparked move but this not known.

4. What Probably Happened. At 0200 Oct 1 less than three battalions army troops began move and by 0400 had sealed off palace, taken telegraph office, telecommunications building and perhaps National Bank, and assumed position around Merdeka Square. Other key objectives obtained through inside cooperation. Between 0300 and 0500 raids by element army, Palace Guard and PKI youth occurred on homes of 7 top generals resulting in murder Gen. Pandjaitan, kidnapping (with some wounded) of Gens. Yani, Soetojo, Parman, Harjono, Suprapto. Armed Forces Chief of Staff Nasution escaped over wall and Gen. Suharto apparently missed because he not at home. Generals and Nasution's aide were hauled off to secluded spot on grounds Halim Air Force [Base] and tortured and murdered. Mutilated bodies found Oct 3. There seemed to be no close coordination in provinces except possibly central Java where Sept 30 Movement forces held several points briefly and Joga changed hands several times before reverting to government control Oct 4.

5. Movement forced into early retreat by quick reaction under Gen. Suharto of Strategic Command (Kostrad) and dwindling support for Untung. During evening Oct 1 Suharto, joined by cavalry battalion from Adjie's Siliwangi division recaptured strategic points and secured city. Rebel troops retreated to Halim; Untung and Air Force Chief Omar Dani flew to his Swahjudi air force base near Madiun early Oct 2. Sukarno went to Bogor Palace.

6. Probable Role of PKI. Since 1952 PKI has pursued United Front strategy proceeding cautiously toward peaceful transition into socialist stage. In mid Sept party began taking vigorous security measures. Whether it feared army attack or was itself preparing for coup attempt not known. In any event there no question of PKI involvement in Sept movement. Aidit and other top leaders almost certainly in on planning, PKI unions in transport and communications fields assisted movement and PKI newspaper was only one to support it. Whether timing was triggered by concern Sukarno's health or fear imminent army coup, PKI decision to participate seems to have been hurried one.

7. Role of Sukarno. Many knowledgeable Indonesians join most foreign diplomats here in believing Sukarno involved in Sept 30 Movement, although extent his complicity not clear. Sukarno's long term political record of close association with PKI merged over past year into virtual public identification with PKI. On Sept 29 in speech to Communist youth, he referred to former "loyal generals" who had become "protectors of counter-revolutionary elements. These we must crush." Important circumstantial evidence lays critical questions at Sukarno's door. His actions during and after coup are suspect, including his lack of any real public remorse over murdered generals. There are reservations, but odds seem overwhelming that, at very least, Sukarno knew what was afoot and had given tacit blessing to seizure of generals, probably having let himself be convinced (not a hard job) that they planning coup against him. He may not however have been in on all details.

8. What Went Wrong. Coup came dangerously close to success. It perhaps failed because of differing objectives of those involved and fact it climaxed between being standard coup attempt and pure act of terror. Untung quickly gained control of capital, and Dani and Aidit came to his support. However, army regrouped quickly around Nasution and Suharto, masses failed to rise against "capitalist bureaucrats," and it possible Sukarno backed out when he learned generals killed and all not going well.

9. Conclusions

A. PKI has received serious setback to prestige and organization. Road back will be long one but with Sukarno's support party could eventually make it if army permits. This is key to situation.

B. Seems army will not now move directly against Sukarno, whom they probably believe necessary as symbol national unity.

C. Sukarno likely remain single most important figure in Indonesia but will not for foreseeable future regain power and prestige he had before Sept 30.

D. To date army has performed far better than anticipated in attacking PKI and regrouping. Degree to which it will stand up to Sukarno not yet proven, but seems almost certain army will continue exercise considerable restraining influence on him.

E. Communists could cause considerable difficulty through insurgency, strikes or mass action but will probably not resort to this tactic except as very last resort. Some elements in army hope PKI will take to hills so army can use its military strength against them.

F. If Sukarno dies in near future, recent events give major boost to army in assuming effective control and countering PKI.

G. Comments on implications recent events for Indonesian foreign policy reported Embtel 1166/3/ (Notal).

/3/In telegram 1166 from Djakarta, October 23, the Embassy suggested that the outcome of the power struggle between Sukarno and the Army had the potential for a significant shift in Indonesia's foreign policy. Complete victory by the Army might well make expansionism and concomitant anti-Westernism outmoded. Even a partial Army victory would produce a change for the better. The central question was how to help the Army to win, but without revealing that assistance and thereby becoming a handicap rather than an asset. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL INDON-US)



162. Editorial Note

The Embassy in Djakarta was hampered in its reporting on events in the areas outside the capital by the general confusion and chaos of the initial conflict between the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) on one hand and the Indonesian Army and anti-Communist forces on the other. At first the Embassy viewed the fighting and violence as a potential military/guerrilla conflict and concentrated on the PKI's armed activity and its potential for terrorism. In telegram 1215 from Djakarta, October 27, 1965, the Embassy recounted multiple reports of increasing insecurity and mounting bloodshed in Central Java, but could not determine whether it was caused by the PKI moving towards terrorism and sabotage, "local PKI cadres reacting uncoordinatedly to pressures upon them," or the Army "purposely moving to wipe out questionable elements and gain control." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 84, Djakarta Embassy Files: Lot 69 F 42, POL 23) On October 28 the Embassy reported that a PKI source alleged that the PKI was about to engage in a "war of liberation" and cited incidents of PKI terrorism to support this conclusion. The telegram stated, "There [is] no question, even allowing for exaggeration, that PKI acts of terrorism have increased." (Telegram 1248 from Djakarta, October 28; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON) On October 28 the Embassy Country Team reviewed the situation and sent its appraisal. Although the report emphasized the deteriorating security situation in Central Java, East Java, Bandung, and Djakarta, the team could not say "whether these incidents were isolated acts of local communists or beginning of a coordinated act of terror and sabotage." The report concluded that Indonesia was heading for a "period of chaos, since PKI has residual strength and arms, but balance seems on Army side." (Telegram 1255 from Djakarta; October 28; ibid.)

At the end of October 1965, the Embassy began to receive reports of killings and atrocities against PKI members, which were generally reported upon in the context of continued armed PKI resistance. On October 29 the Embassy reported that "Moslem fervor in Atjeh apparently put all but few PKI out of action. Atjehnese have decapitated PKI and placed their heads on stakes along the road. Bodies of PKI victims reportedly thrown into rivers or sea as Atjehnese refuse 'contaminate Atjeh soil.' " (Telegram 1269 from Djakarta; October 29; ibid., RG 84, Djakarta Embassy Files: Lot 69 F 42, Pol 23-9) By November 8 the Embassy reported that in North Sumatra and Atjeh "the Army with the help of IP-KI Youth organizations and other anti-Communist elements has continued systematic drive to destroy PKI in northern Sumatra with wholesale killings reported." On November 13 the Embassy had a report from the local police chief that "from 50 to 100 PKI members were being killed every night in East and Central Java by civilian anti-Communist troops with blessing of the Army." A missionary in Surabaya reported that 3,500 PKI were killed between November 4 and 9 in Kediri and 300 at Paree, 30 kilometers northwest of Kediri. (Telegrams 1374 and 1438 from Djakarta, November 8 and 13, and telegram 171 from Surabaya, November 13; ibid.) These types of anecdotal reports continued well into the first months of 1966. In airgram A-527 from Djakarta, February 25, 1966, the Embassy reported estimates of the PKI death toll in Bali at 80,000 with "no end in sight." The Embassy attributed the murders to sharp conflict there between PKI and the Indonesian National Party (PNI), but also to the "tradition of family blood feuds" and suggested that "many of the killings that are taking place under a political cover are actually motivated by personal and clan vendettas." (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON)

Gradually the Embassy came to realize that Indonesia was undergoing a full scale purge of PKI influence and that these killings were overlaid with long standing and deep ethnic and religious conflicts. The fact that many of the killings took place in outlying areas tended to obscure their magnitude. The Embassy still had no good estimates of the number of Indonesians who perished. In airgram A-641 to the Department, April 15, 1966, the Embassy stated that the problem was the impossibility of weighing "the countervailing effects of exaggeration (which is especially common in Indonesia) and the interests of persons involved to cover up some of the crimes. The truth can never be known. Even the Indonesian Government has only a vague idea of the truth." The Embassy admitted, "We frankly do not know whether the real figure is closer to 100,000 or 1,000,000 but believe it wiser to err on the side of the lower estimates, especially when questioned by the press." (Ibid., POL 2 INDON)

In 1970, Foreign Service Officer Richard Cabot Howland, an officer at the Embassy in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966, published an article in the classified publication, Studies in Intelligence (Vol. 14, Fall 1970, pages 13-28) which has subsequently been declassified and is available at the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 263, CIA Records, Studies in Intelligence. Howland's article attempts to refute three misconceptions popular at the time of his article: that the Indonesian military was encouraged to move against the PKI by the forceful U.S. stance in Vietnam, that the Chinese were behind the September 30 coup attempt, and that from 350,000 to 1.5 million PKI members were killed in reaction to the September 30 coup. Howland described his own efforts in Indonesia to elicit information from Indonesians in 1966 and his difficulties in obtaining accurate answers and hard data. He suggests that PKI death numbers were inflated by local Indonesians to demonstrate their anti-PKI sentiments to the new anti-Communist authorities in Indonesia. Howland does make his own estimate. He recalls that he received figures from a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army's Supreme Operations Command's "Social Action Affair Section" which the military man assured him were accurate from field reporting. Howland writes: "The totals were 50,000 dead on Java; 6,000 dead on Bali; 3,000 in North Sumatra. I was skeptical of his methods but accepted his estimates faux de mieux, and combining them with my own data produces a figure of 105,000 Communist dead." (Ibid., page 23)


163. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Indonesia/1/

Washington, October 29, 1965, 3:48 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Drafted by Berger, Cuthell, and Underhill and approved by Berger. Repeated to Tokyo, and CINCPAC also for POLAD.

545. 1. Following is our tentative analysis of developing situation in Indonesia and implications for US. We very conscious you have most or all of what follows in mind, but would like your comments and observations in order to develop it into policy recommendations./2/

/2/In telegram 1304 from Djakarta, November 2, the Embassy agreed with the general conclusions in this analysis, although it stressed that the outcome of the continuing struggle between Sukarno and the Army was not clear. On balance the Embassy believed the Army would continue to exercise an important political role, but would make concessions to Sukarno because it needed him and because some Army leaders still revered him. The Embassy anticipated a long, difficult political struggle. (Ibid.)

2. Nasution's speech October 25 and the openly declared campaign against Subandrio are first conclusive evidence that Army leaders are determined make all-out fight against PKI and its fellow-travelers, and will not be deflected from this purpose by Sukarno's opposition.

3. Army leaders are increasingly asserting themselves against Sukarno. Their game appears be to separate him from his anti-Army advisers; isolate him; and then use him, or possibly dispose of him, as situation requires. Seems inconceivable, at this stage, they can afford let initiative slip from their hands back to Sukarno's.

4. PKI in headlong retreat in face of mass attacks encouraged by Army. However, at some stage PKI will reconstitute some of their forces and fight back--by strikes, sabotage, or guerrilla action, against background of propaganda that Army is reactionary tool of imperialist powers and C.I.A. Army will have no choice except meet this counterattack and will need more or less coherent government to back up their efforts.

5. Army has traditionally maintained that its role is non-political and has shied away from any idea taking power or sharing direct responsibility for governing. But appalling fact in Indonesia, with collapse NASAKOM concept, is that there is no organized or disciplined force capable of providing leadership and direction to successor government, except Army. Unless Army accepts the responsibility for taking lead in new government, however unready or unwilling it may be, there will be anarchy in government, further economic chaos, and Army will be handicapped in meeting the PKI challenge. Sooner or later, and probably sooner, it will become increasingly clear to Army leaders they are only force capable of creating order in Indonesia, and that they must take initiative to form a military or civilian-military provisional government, with or without Sukarno. The Army is already making top policy decisions independently of Sukarno and is more and more acting as de facto government.

6. Relations with Red China are increasingly strained, and given the suspicion of Army leaders that Chinese Communists were behind the coup, and the course Army must take--i.e., destruction of PKI--a break with China cannot be ruled out. The Soviet Union has begun to exert pressure on Army to call off its campaign against the left, even hinting aid would be cut off. Army cannot capitulate to this pressure without endangering its whole position.

7. If foregoing analysis correct, we can begin see shape of some problems that may be posed for us:

a. As the Army begins to think in terms of new government, they may move toward military junta, a civil government, or a military-civil coalition. If our views are sought, any doubts they may have should be resolved by encouraging them to form a civil-military coalition, on grounds that their presence in government as a unified and disciplined force is essential in at least early stages, to stability of such a government, to campaign against PKI, to economic reform, and to plotting Indonesia's new course independent of outside influence.

b. Chinese Communist open hostility toward Indonesian Army bound to increase as Army moves against PKI. Soviets are in somewhat different position, since they blame Peiping for aborted coup, but they will also be embarrassed as Army engages the PKI. If they support the PKI against the Army, they will put strain on their relations, but they cannot support Army. They will probably take nebulous and opportunist position. Both China and Russia are probably hoping Sukarno can still reestablish his control and force Army to accept "purged" leftist party in a reconstituted NASAKOM.

c. If our assumption correct that Army must carry on its campaign against PKI, that PKI will react, and that China and Russia cannot ignore Army's destruction of PKI and may criticize it--in fact they are already doing this--then Army will be forced to examine its attitude toward China and Russia.

d. From there it is only one step for Army to conclude that they must look elsewhere for friends and support. We can expect they will approach Japanese, other powers, and, no doubt, us. They will need little education in fact that Sukarno's and PKI's extreme foreign and domestic policies have isolated Indonesia and led Indonesia to brink of economic, political and social chaos. But given warped Sukarno thinking to which they have been exposed for so long, they will be less certain what to do about all this and fearful or suspicious of our advice and assistance. The Indonesian Army leaders' close service-to-service relations with our military provide important channel of influence.

8. The next few days, weeks or months may offer unprecedented opportunities for us to begin to influence people and events, as the military begin to understand problems and dilemmas in which they find themselves.

a. We should try to fortify their confidence that Indonesia can be saved from chaos, and that Army is main instrument for saving it.

b. We should get across that Indonesia and Army have real friends who are ready to help.

c. When asked for help by Nasution we should respond by saying we are ready to help as they begin tackling their problems in sensible way.

d. They will need food, and we can point out that the International Red Cross can supply it, if they find direct help from us or others embarrassing. (Japan, Brazil, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, and even the Republic of Korea have rice.) Raw materials and spare parts for machinery may be needed soon.

e. Indonesia's currency and credit chaos needs immediate expert attention. We can point out that IMF can provide advice and that IMF and Indonesia's real friends can provide assistance. But this will require change in recent attitude toward the IMF and toward friends.

f. Small arms and equipment may be needed to deal with the PKI. (Would the Soviet Union supply Army with equipment so long as it is attacking PKI?)

g. As events develop, the Army may find itself in major military campaign against PKI, and we must be ready for that contingency.

h. POL requirements may give us opening to suggest a de facto moratorium on nationalization of oil industry so as permit companies to give all-out support to Army's and the country's needs.

9. It may well be that Army will turn to Japanese in first instance. Japan can play notable part in this evolution toward more rational Indonesia. Japanese have a vital national interest in success of Army's campaign against PKI and in a stable and independent Indonesia. The Japanese are already taking initiative. (See Djakarta's 1238.)/3/

/3/Dated October 28. (Ibid., AID 1 INDON)

10. For the moment Japan is still hypnotized by Sukarno as the "essential" man and they are being careful not to antagonize him. But if events move in direction we have indicated, and Sukarno is isolated or removed, very different situation will present itself to Japanese. At some stage we must have quiet discussions with Japanese, compare notes on developments, and work out with them agreed lines of action. The time for that may well be not long after Subandrio is removed. We shall, of course, want to consult with British, Australians, and others as well.



164. Memorandum From the Assistant for Indonesia (Nuechterlein) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Friedman)/1/


Washington, October 30, 1965.

/1/Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 70 A 5127, Indonesia 000.1 Sensitive, 1965. Top Secret; Sensitive. Friedman was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in charge of Far Eastern Affairs. Also sent to Admiral Blouin, Director of the Far East Region, ISA.

Establishment of Inter-Agency working group on Indonesia

On October 29 Mr. Cuthell, Director of the State Department's Office of Southwest Pacific Affairs, called a meeting to discuss measures that might be taken to prepare for an insurgency situation in Indonesia. Present were Mr. Cuthell, his deputy Mr. Underhill, State's Indonesian desk officer Mr. Goodspeed, Mr. [name not declassified] of CIA and myself representing DOD.

The current situation in Indonesia was discussed briefly and it was agreed that there has been a sufficient deterioration in the security of central Java to warrant contingency planning in Washington of how the United States might aid the Indonesian Army if it requested our assistance. A joint State-Defense cable to Embassy Djakarta was finalized, asking for the Embassy's estimate of what items of equipment and other materials the Indonesian Army might need if armed insurgency should develop suddenly./2/ In addition, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] submitted a report [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]/3/ which indicated that the security situation in Java might be considerably worse than reported thus far by the Embassy and that the Army might have difficulty coping with large-scale Communist insurgency. It is apparent that the Army's greatest deficiency is in short-range communications equipment to support sustained operations against PKI guerrilla operations. Longer range communications equipment, between islands and perhaps also with other countries, may also be required if large-scale warfare breaks out. As DOD no longer has a military officer in Indonesia with communications expertise, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] is sending a specialist in this field to review the communications situation with U.S. Mission officers (he will not talk to Indonesians) and his report should help clarify the Indonesian Army's needs in this field.

/2/Telegram 544 to Djakarta, October 29. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 INDON)

/3/Not further identified.

It was agreed that for the moment, at least, the Indonesian Army probably has most of the equipment it needs to deal effectively with any PKI insurgency. What the U.S. might be requested to supply would be small quantities of specific items which are in short supply or in a poor state of repair. We would probably be requested to channel delivery of such items through a third country, such as Thailand or the Philippines. Therefore, it was agreed that we should not plan in terms of a resumption of MAP but rather a covert plan of assistance in which DOD would work [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] to insure the minimum risk of exposure. If the amount of equipment turns out to be more costly than [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] is able to handle, DOD may be asked to find ways to augment this effort. DOD was requested to determine quietly what stocks of communications equipment and other items that might be requested by the Indonesian Army are available in Thailand and what would be the means of getting it quickly in response to an urgent request.

The working group will meet again on November 3. It is expected that a reply to the joint State-Defense message as well as a report from the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] specialist will then be in hand. Hopefully, it will then be possible to plan more precisely for the types of equipment and other materials that the Indonesian Army may need to meet a serious insurgency situation.

D.E. Nuechterlein/4/

/4/Printed from a copy that indicates Nuechterlein signed the original.

Volume XXVI Index

  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.