Posts made in July, 2015

The Indonesian Revolution: The Madiun Mutiny, September 1948, Part 2

Posted by on Jul 22, 2015 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

The Indonesian Revolution: The Madiun Mutiny, September 1948, Part 2

The Mohammed Hatta government had started preparing for a showdown with the leftist People’s Democratic Front (FDR) coalition after the Amir Sjarifuddin Cabinet collapsed in late-January 1948. Now, nearly eight months later, PKI-FDR leaders saw the Siliwangi assault on Senopati Division and Pesindo (the Indonesian Socialist Youth militia) in Surakarta as the beginning of a campaign to forcibly bring leftist units under government control. The Siliwangi units in and around Surakarta constituted a significant obstacle to the anti-government communist-People’s Democratic Front (PKI-FDR) coalition. On September 12 and 13, just days after Senopati officers had started disappearing in Surakarta, pro-government units launched a provocative military campaign to clean-up disruptive elements in Blitar and Nganjuk, East Java, arresting several PKI officials in the process. On September 16, Vice President Hatta declared the government’s intent to use an “iron fist” to maintain internal security. PKI-FDR leaders Musso, Amir Sjarifuddin, Setiadjit and Wikana were on a two-week whirlwind tour from town to town in Central and East Java. From the road, they monitored the government-backed Siliwangi offensive against Pesindo and Senopati with growing alarm. Marine forces withdrew from their frontline positions along the demarcation line on September 16 and returned to Surakarta to help their Pesindo allies, but arrived too late. Siliwangi and Barisan Banteng militiamen had already forced Pesindo troops out of the city. The next morning, September 17, Pesindo and marine units mounted a final unsuccessful counterattack against the city’s heavily-defended Siliwangi units. Musso and Sjarifuddin called for leftist militias to turn Surakarta into a “Wild West” and establish Madiun (about seventy-five kilometers to the east) as a base for guerilla resistance against the government rationalization program. Leftist units regrouped around Madiun, where Sumarsono’s national Pesindo headquarters, PKI elements under Colonel Djokosujono, Narottama 29th Brigade under Lieutenant Colonel Dachlan, and Madiun Area Commander Lieutenant Colonel Sumantri were based. Sumarsono had belonged to Amir Sjarifuddin’s anti-Japanese underground movement in Surabaya during the war. As Youth of the Republic of Indonesia (PRI) laskar commander, he played a prominent role in the Battle of Surabaya. While serving as Defense Minister, Amir Sjarifuddin appointed his comrade to head the TNI Masyarakat (Indonesian People’s National Army) organization and made him a senior Pepolit (Pendidikan Politik Tentara, Army Political Education) staff officer with the major general rank. Sumarsono assumed duties as the national Pesindo Commander and, after Sjarifuddin’s fall from grace, agreed to merge his command into Senopati Division. Headquartered in Madiun, Lieutenant Colonel Dachlan’s 29th Brigade was a former TNI Masyarakat unit composed mostly of Pesindo fighters. With a population of over 100,000, Madiun was the third largest city under Republican control, after Yogyakarta and Surakarta. Location of the “Marx House” training center, the city was considered a PKI-FDR stronghold, but was also home to various non-communist laskar, including Hizbu’llah and Barisan Banteng units. Like Surakarta, the atmosphere in Madiun was tense and political kidnapping a common occurrence. PKI officials later suggested Musso had sent a message to his followers on September 16 warning them not to let the Surakarta violence spread to other areas. Apparently unaware of Musso’s edict, leftist officers in Madiun, led by...

Read More

The Indonesian Revolution: The Madiun Mutiny, September 1948, Part 1

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Indonesian Revolution: The Madiun Mutiny, September 1948, Part 1

Surakarta (Solo) in Central Java became ground zero for the rationalization contest. The royal city was headquarters to the leftist Senopati Division and former Prime Minister Amir Sjarifuddin’s Pesindo (Indonesian Socialist Youth) militia, along with the right wing Barisan Banteng under Dr. Muwardi (a Tan Malaka disciple), Bung Tomo’s Indonesian People’s Revolutionary Corps (BPRI) and Masjumi’s Hizbu’llah organization. Intense rivalries and alliances of convenience developed as the armed groups in the city jockeyed for position. To illustrate the complexities, the pro-government Barisan Banteng had taken power from the two Surakarta sultanates in May 1946 working hand-in-hand with anti-rationalization Senopati Division Commander Major General Sutarto, while the Hatta Cabinet had placed Pesindo leader Wikana in charge of the city’s emergency military government. Clashes between competing groups had become increasingly violent even before exiled West Java Siliwangi units started arriving in the city in February 1948. The Siliwangi hijirah troops altered the balance of power. Lieutenant Colonel Sadikin – who had replaced Lieutenant Colonel Alex Kawilarang as Siliwangi 13th Brigade Commander in early-1948 – stationed his men in the Srambatan neighborhood (north of the city center) and Tasikmadu village (east of the city), along with reinforcements from local Hizbu’llah units and Dr. Muwardi’s Barisan Banteng, the largest component in Tan Malaka’s newly-formed Gerakan Revolusi Rakyat (GRR, People’s Revolutionary Movement) radical nationalist coalition. On orders from Colonel Nasution, Sadikin’s pro-government Siliwangi units moved forcefully to demobilize militias, including many allied with the left wing, anti-government People’s Democratic Front (FDR) coalition. With help from Barisan Banteng and Hizbu’llah militia members, Siliwangi soldiers arrested, kidnapped and on occasion “disappeared” laskar officers who resisted demobilization. The government assigned the visiting Siliwangi units to guard industrial facilities in Surakarta. Residents tended to view the West Java troops as a foreign occupation force, since they were predominantly Sundanese and frequently clashed with Pesindo and Senopati units. The Siliwangi men lacked adequate quarters and provisions. They alienated locals through their brawling and involvement in petty crime. Nasution admitted the poor living conditions in Surakarta had “disturbed the health and morality of the troops.” [1] Senopati Division under Sutarto was openly aligned with the left wing FDR coalition. A friend of pre-war Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) leader Alimin Prawirodirdjo, Sutarto was a card-carrying party member. Murals of Marx and Lenin were painted on the walls at his Surakarta headquarters. The divisional flag had a red star imposed over the Indonesian eagle (garuda). Tensions between Senopati and Siliwangi troops escalated. “The Senopati was a heterogeneous collection of Peta and irregular elements which shared a radical populist outlook and attached great importance to their close ties with the local communities in the Surakarta area; the Siliwangi, on the other side, was inclined to be elitist, authoritarian, and conservative, largely because it had many more officers with upper class, cosmopolitan backgrounds and a far higher concentration of educated personnel within its ranks.” [2] On Java Commander Colonel Abdul Haris Nasution’s recommendation, in May 1948 the government placed Major General Sutarto on inactive status. His roughly 5,000 Senopati troops, mostly Pesindo and the marines, staged a large demonstration to defy the government order...

Read More

The Indonesian Revolution: Rationalization of the Republican Army

Posted by on Jul 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Indonesian Revolution: Rationalization of the Republican Army

The national debate whether the Republican Army should be a guerilla or a professional force had started before the first Dutch offensive in July 1947, led by Vice President Mohammed Hatta and Colonel Abdul Haris Nasution on one side, and President Sukarno and Prime Minister/People’s Security Minister Amir Sjarifuddin on the other. Nasution’s ally, Deputy Armed Forces Chief of Staff Colonel T.B. Simatupang formed a study group with several Dutch-trained officers to provide recommendations on modernizing and professionalizing the Army. The group’s ideas became the basis for the government “Reorganization and Rationalization” (Reorganisasi dan Rationalisasi, Re/Ra) program – more commonly referred to simply as “rationalization.” Those opposing rationalization argued the advantages of a people’s army based more on fighting spirit. Simatupang’s study group report and the government rationalization plan further inflamed suspicions among the Japanese-trained officer corps, the irregular forces and Army Commander Sudirman. On February 27, 1948, the Hatta government appointed Colonel Nasution Deputy Armed Forces Commander in charge of Java Mobile Defense Forces (Angkatan Perang Mobil). Apparently the government had considered East Java Ronggolawe Division Commander Major General G.P.H. Djatikusumo as General Sudirman’s deputy, but Nasution prevailed, a decision influenced by his proximity, familiarity and established loyalty to the government. [1] The Siliwangi Division’s exodus from West Java (in accordance with the January 1948 Renville Agreement) facilitated Nasution’s installation as Armed Forces Deputy in charge of the primary fighting forces on Java, since the Hatta cabinet also entrusted him to implement the army reorganization and rationalization program – with Siliwangi Division as his weapon to enforce the unpopular demobilization orders. Still a colonel, Nasution’s authority suddenly challenged the seriously ill Sudirman and the Java-based division commanders. His immediate goals were to reduce the number and size of irregular units – and, with Amir Sjarifuddin out of the government, to reverse his earlier political measures preserving a separate identity for the laskar forces. The Hatta government dismantled the TNI Masyarakat and Army Political Education (Pepolit) organizations, which by then were largely controlled by the left wing, anti-government People’s Democratic Front (FDR) coalition. Nasution estimated there were 350,000 regular troops and 470,000 irregulars on Java at the time of the August 1947 cease-fire. [2] There were only enough weapons and equipment for sixty-nine battalions relative to the roughly 400 battalions in the revolutionary army. [3] He aimed through the rationalization process to reduce the combined armed strength to 160,000 well trained and well-equipped regulars, and eventually create a compact mobile force of just 57,000, backed by a fixed Territorial Army structure, or permanent military administration. The government plan called for 100,000 demobilized fighters to return to their homes and practice agriculture. The Ministry for Youth and Reconstruction was to provide job training to the remainder. [4] The West Java Siliwangi Division (still commanded by Nasution) and the mobile Sunan Gunung Jati Division under Colonel Gatot Subroto, based in the West-Central Java border area, were the most conservative and loyal army formations. The Yogyakarta-based Diponegoro Division was also generally loyal to the Republican government. The Surakarta-based Penembahan Senopati Division, under affirmed communist Sutarto, and the three East Java divisions (Ronggolawe,...

Read More