470 Burton to Shedden

Memorandum CANBERRA, 12 August 1949.


You will be aware that agreement has recently been reached between the Netherlands and the Republic of Indonesia on the terms of a 'cease-fire' order [1] which is intended to put an end to the intermittent fighting which has proceeded ever since the beginning of the Netherlands police action last December. The cease-fire order has now been promulgated, and it will be the task of the United Nations Commission for Indonesia, in co-operation with the Netherlands and Republican authorities, to ensure that it is implemented.

This will impose increasing responsibilities on the corps of military observers attached to the Commission. The Commission's senior military advisers have estimated that a total of 63 military observers will be required to meet the Commission's commitments in policing the implementation of the cease-fire order. A schedule has been prepared by the Commission under which the Australian and United States observer contingents are each to be increased to 22. This involves an addition of 7 officers to the present Australian observer strength.

The Australian representative on the United Nations Commission for Indonesia has recommended in the strongest terms that the Australian Government should agree to provide the additional 7 observers, and his recommendation is fully endorsed by this Department. It is in our view most important that Australia, which has played a leading part in the activities of the Commission, should continue to do so at this crucial stage. Considerations of Australia's prestige throughout Indonesia are also involved.

I should be grateful if you would take this matter up urgently with the Departments of Army and Air. The Australian representative on the Commission has emphasized that the additional 7 officers are required as soon as possible. He also recommends that officers selected should if possible have the rank of Major or above (it is probable that they may be called upon to act as Chairmen of local cease-fire boards), and that some of the officers who have already done a tour of duty in Indonesia and proved their worth as observers might be released for a second term.

1 See Document 463.

[AA : A816/1, 19/305/135]