Confrontation with Indonesia (1964-66)
What really happened?
In real life, the decisions which Australia
1A, 2A, 3B, 4A, 5A, 6(i)A, 6(ii)A, 6(iii)A,
The Indonesian Confrontation (or Konfrontasi
in Indonesian) was a small undeclared war fought from 1962 - 1966 through
which President Sukarno of Indonesia tried to destroy the newly created
nation of Malaysia.
Sukarno argued that the new nation was in
fact just a way of maintaining British colonial influence in the area.
Indonesia had recently gained control of West
Irian (formerly West New Guinea) from the Dutch, giving it a shared border
with Australia in Australian-controlled Papua-New Guinea. Australia did
not want any armed conflict with Indonesia on its border, but it also
wanted a strong, united, anti-communist Malaysia.
But when Malaysia was created, Indonesia
declared its opposition and hostility to it.
Indonesian President Sukarno was a
militaristic, tough, nationalist, who was also trying to balance two great
powers in his nation - the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), and the
Army. He hoped that his opposition to Malaysia would keep both of them
together and in support of him.
During 1963 the Indonesians sent small
parties of regular and irregular soldiers to wage terrorist and propaganda
actions in the former British areas of Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah). In 1964
they stepped up their actions to include raids on the Malaysian peninsula.
The Australian government was reluctant to
commit its troops to actions against Indonesian soldiers, but finally
decided to do so when repeatedly asked by the Malaysian government.
The main focus of Australian attention was in
the Malaysian areas of Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak). Fighting was in
difficult terrain and in an oppressive jungle climate. The troops were
sited along the border to protect population centres from enemy attacks.
But they also made frequent though secret incursions into Indonesian
territory, forcing the Indonesians to defend themselves rather than be an
3 RAR had four major contacts with Indonesian
forces and suffered two mine casualties in 1965. In 1966 they were
replaced by 4 RAR, which had a quieter time. In addition, two SAS
squadrons, artillery batteries, engineers and RAN ships were involved.
23 Australians were killed, seven of these on
operations, and 108 wounded.
There was very little press coverage in
Australia at the time, because of the sensitivity of the operations and
the cross-border activities. The Australian troops were all sworn to
secrecy about having entered Indonesian territory, and it was not until
1996 that the ‘invasion’ was publicly admitted.
In 1965 Indonesian army leaders staged a coup against Sukarno, and massacred thousands of PKI members. Once firmly in command, they stopped the policy of Konfrontasi, and recognised the new nation of Malaysia in 1966.
Copyright © ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee (Qld) Incorporated 1998.