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Research Guides


Near Neighbours: Records on Australia's Relations with Indonesia


4. Defence Records

On 19 February 1945 Prime Minister Curtin approved the expansion of the Department of Defence to include several key committees which were to play fundamental roles in the evolution of the Department. The Defence Committee was the principal entity in this regard, but several other committees, including the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Joint Planning Committee and the Joint Intelligence Committee (see Chapter 5), were also significant.

The Department of Defence is primarily concerned with the development of defence strategy, defence policy, higher defence organisation and joint service matters. Prior to 1973, the departments of Navy, Army and Air Force were separate but subordinate to the Department of Defence. Following a major restructure of the forces during that year, the three became part of the one department. This chapter addresses all defence records, regardless of prior service provenance, as part of the Department of Defence.

The Defence Department was deeply involved in the planning and conduct of military operations throughout the Netherlands East Indies and Portuguese Timor during World War II. At war's end military control was passed to the former colonial masters.

The Defence Department showed little interest in Indonesian matters until it became concerned about the rise of communism in Indonesia. The level of departmental concern is reflected in the number of intelligence assessments made during the late 1950s and through the 1960s reporting on the situation in Indonesia, particularly during the time ofKonfrontasi.

During this time Indonesia posed a threat not only to Malaysia, the cause célèbre for the dispute, but also came to be regarded as a military threat to Australia. Indonesia therefore figures prominently in many strategic and intelligence analyses conducted within the Defence Department. Copies of these documents can be found both in the Defence committees' records and in the department's general correspondence files.

Apart from strategic and intelligence issues, the Defence Department was also concerned with military aid, training, exercises and visits, all of which involved Indonesia and, to a lesser extent, Portuguese Timor.

To deal with the records established by various agencies within the Department of Defence, this chapter is divided into the following sections:

  1. Defence Committee
  2. Chiefs of Staff Committee
  3. Joint Planning Committee
  4. Joint Intelligence Committee
  5. Strategic basis papers
  6. Defence correspondence files and other records

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Chapter 4
Defence Records