428 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 20 February 1976


East Timor

A reliable contact has told us that a permanent Indonesian military organisation is being set up in East Timor. It will be along parallel lines to the military establishments in every province of Indonesia.

  1. Comment: While the Indonesian combat units in East Timor presently engaged in mopping-up operations against Fretilin will be withdrawn in due course, our assessment is that there will not be a complete withdrawal of Indonesian forces even after Fretilin has been completely defeated and law and order restored.In other words, there will always be an Indonesian military presence in East Timor as there is in all Indonesian provinces.
  2. Our contact also told us that with the completion of the military operation in the South (immediately prior to Winspeare's attempt to visit Fretilin-held areas using a Portuguese corvette) the military tactic was again to go slow and apply pressure on Fretilin to surrender (for example, by cutting off sources of supply) rather than to use conventional offensive means. One consequence of the United Nations' Mission's request to visit Fretilin-held areas was that towns and areas had to be taken much more quickly than originally planned and that consequently conventional warfare had been employed.


[NAA: Al0463, 801/13/11/1, XX]