Posts made in June, 2015

The Civic Action Program

Posted by on Jun 17, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

  The John F. Kennedy Administration believed the twin pillars of economic development and internal security could turn back the tide of global communism. It was a refinement and extension of President Dwight Eisenhower’s containment strategy. Military assistance, police training, economic aid, the Peace Corps and covert operations were parts of a complimentary strategy. The Civic Action Program (CAP) was an important element in Kennedy’s special forces-based Cold War plan to expand American influence throughout the developing world and hold back communism’s onslaught in vulnerable states – an approach that ultimately led to America’s disastrous expansion of the Vietnam conflict. With the growing communist insurgency in Vietnam, American leaders obsessed over the loss of Indonesia to communism. By the early-1960s, after the failed regional rebellions, western officials were convinced the Indonesian Army provided the best hope to arrest the political advance of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The Indonesian Army already had an indigenous civic action (karya bhakti) program, pioneered by the Siliwangi Division in West Java during the early-1950s to counter Darul Islam. Assuming Siliwangi Command in August 1960, Major General Ibrahim Adjie intensified those efforts in conjunction with a concerted campaign to eradicate the Darul Islam menace once and for all. After Darul Islam leader Kartosuwirjo was captured in June 1962, a full eleven Siliwangi battalions were involved in civic action projects to regain the local population’s confidence.[1] Impressed by the Siliwangi success, army leaders reasoned CAP would help counter communist advances in the countryside, especially in rural Java where the PKI popularity was growing rapidly. Despite its inherently anti-communist bias, Sukarno endorsed a nationwide army Civic Action Program to promote regional development and rehabilitation – and to employ excess troops returning from the West Irian conflict. Starting in West Java, the Army expanded the territorial structure by establishing subdistrict commands (Koramil) and Village Noncommissioned Officers (Babinsa) positions, gradually expanding to other parts of Java. The Babinsa were tasked to train village guards (Pertahanan Sipil, Hansip) and indoctrinate residents. The Army opened a new Territorial Training Center in Bandung in August 1962, with principal focus on methods to contain the PKI. General Nasution enjoyed a close relationship with his American counterpart, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Maxwell Taylor. He welcomed Taylor’s offers to assist with CAP and military training to professionalize the officer corps. Similarly, the American-trained Army Commander Ahmad Yani and his staff enthusiastically supported the U.S. training and civic action programs. From American leaders’ perspective, CAP was a cheap and effective way to help the Indonesian Army and undermine the growing communist threat – short of supplying lethal weaponry to Jakarta. Indonesia was the largest recipient of Soviet military and economic assistance outside the communist bloc. Major air force and navy equipment sales comprised the lion’s share of Soviet military aid to Indonesia. The U.S. provided only minor military equipment assistance to Indonesia by comparison. Anything more would have been blocked by Congress because of Indonesian military efforts to capture Dutch West New Guinea. CAP and military training programs were non-lethal and less controversial. President Kennedy approved $4.3 million Military Assistance Program (MAP) funding...

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Sukarno and JFK

Posted by on Jun 7, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Sukarno and JFK

There had been a history of enmity between Presidents Sukarno and Dwight Eisenhower. Sukarno thwarted Eisenhower’s containment strategy by refusing to join the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), established in 1954 as an anti-communist military alliance patterned after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and headquartered in Bangkok. Rather, in April 1955 Sukarno organized the Bandung Afro-Asian Conference, the forerunner to the Nonaligned Movement. Sukarno was angered by the Eisenhower Administration’s covert support for the separatist rebellions in Sumatra and Sulawesi, and insistence on neutrality in the West Irian dispute, which the Indonesian President interpreted as tacit support for continued Dutch colonialism. Soviet Chief of State Marshal Kliment Voroshilov visited Jakarta in early-May 1957, the same month Eisenhower turned down Sukarno’s invitation to visit Indonesia. According to Ambassador Howard Jones, “President Eisenhower disapproved of Sukarno. It was not easy for him to go out of his way to please a man he intrinsically disliked and distrusted.”[1] Sukarno’s first state visit to the United States was in May 1956. His primary purpose was to seek American support to force the Dutch from West New Guinea, something President Eisenhower was unwilling to give. Eisenhower disapproved of the Indonesian leader’s leftist proclivities and promiscuity, and repeatedly put off Sukarno’s invitations for a reciprocal visit to Jakarta. During his second visit to Washington in September-October 1960, Sukarno was offended because Eisenhower didn’t meet him at the airport and kept him waiting outside his White House office for about ten minutes. Sukarno’s principal purpose for the visit was to address the United Nations General Assembly. He was accompanied by General Abdul Haris Nasution and Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) Chairman D. N. Aidit. Sukarno had mischievously brought along the communist leader to the White House meeting without advance warning. Eisenhower urgently consulted his staff about whether to receive Aidit, leader of the largest communist party outside the Sino-Soviet Bloc, but, after the delay, welcomed Sukarno, along with Nasution and Aidit, into the Oval Office.[2] Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Sukarno called for disarmament, an end to nuclear testing, and more equitable political and economic treatment for emerging nations. He also suggested incorporating the principles of Pancasila into the United Nations Charter. The Indonesian President was again miffed when Eisenhower made state visits to the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea in June 1960, but did not stop in Jakarta. John F. Kennedy took office in January 1961. He and his advisors believed Eisenhower’s policy toward Indonesia – including the disastrous covert support for Indonesian rebels in the late-1950s – had been a mistake. They were convinced support for the Army and anti-communist elements was the best way to deter communist influence. Kennedy realized personal diplomacy was the key to dealing with Sukarno and sought to improve relations with the Indonesian President. Just three months after taking office, on April 24-25, Kennedy hosted Sukarno on a state visit to Washington. This time, Sukarno was accompanied by First Deputy Prime Minister Johannes Leimena and Foreign Minister Soebandrio. Sukarno’s state visit was part of a two-and-one-half month world tour aimed at drumming up support for Indonesia’s West...

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The Indonesian Revolution: Total People’s Defense

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Indonesian Revolution: Total People’s Defense

The Republican Army had begun organizing an emergency military administration in Republican areas during late-1947 in accordance with Colonel Abdul Haris Nasution’s ideas. He recognized Dutch forces could easily hold the cities and major economic assets, and Republican forces’ inability to conventionally challenge the better armed, equipped and trained Dutch Army. Nasution’s solution was “Total People’s Resistance,” a territorial guerilla-based strategy splitting forces into static territorial units and mobile strike forces. In August 1948, four months before the second Dutch attack, Nasution distributed a pamphlet entitled “Executing Total People’s Resistance” to military commanders and government officials. The booklet emphasized that, since the enemy would not have enough troops to occupy all of Java, the Army would employ political, social, psychological and economic means to win the people’s hearts. A permanent military government, in the hands of territorial officers, would administer the territorial organization. Civilian leaders would be subordinated to local army commanders at every level. At the military government’s highest level, division commanders functioned as military governors, displacing their civilian counterparts – Soetardjo in West Java, R.P. Soerso in Central Java and R.M.T.A. (Rachmat) Soerjo in East Java.[1] It was a seminal experience that shaped the Army’s conception about civil-military relations. Nasution’s classic guerilla strategy became the basis for standard Indonesian Army Total People’s Defense doctrine, as well as, the Indonesian Army’s unique territorial structure and Dual Function concept that eventually placed thousands of military personnel in political and bureaucratic government positions. Other commanders had similar ideas, but perhaps not the educational background, organizational initiative or opportunity to express them in writing. Hence, Nasution is generally credited as the progenitor for several key doctrinal and organizational concepts. Some have suggested, perhaps unfairly, Nasution, through his prolific writings after the war, reinvented the Revolution’s history to place himself in the middle of the action.[2] In accordance with Nasution’s ideas, working with the local population, territorial defense forces would maintain prepared positions in villages and the countryside, but offer only token defense of cities and towns. They would deny Dutch use of productive or strategic facilities through scorched earth (bumi hangus) tactics. Mobile strike forces would conduct guerilla warfare to harass and interdict the thinly stretched occupation forces in the countryside. They would delay and harass the enemy, trading territory for time, while awaiting international intervention. During the second Dutch offensive starting in December 1948, that strategy resulted in an effective stalemate. Overextended Dutch forces held the cities, while Republican guerillas moved freely about the countryside and carried out harassment attacks. Nasution and other army leaders were influenced by the Japanese civil defense organization and by the territorial structure of the Peta (homeland defender) military units. Those influences translated into Nasution’s concept for a territorially-based people’s resistance strategy. Nasution divided Republican territory into defense zones (wehrkreis, a term borrowed from German military texts meaning military district) which would operate independently in terms of defensive operations and local government administration. The three wartime defense zones were: Wehrkreis I – Pekalongan-Banyumas-Wonosobo under Lieutenant Colonel Mochamad Sarbini Martodihardjo; Wehrkreis II – Kedu-Kendal under Lieutenant Colonel Muchammad Bachrun; and Wehrkreis III – Yogyakarta under Lieutenant...

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