The Indonesian War was a war between the United States, the Dutch and Indonesia, and communists and their allies. It was similar to contemporary wars like the Vietnam War and the war in Malaysia. From 1962 to 1967 the Dutch fought alone and after 1967 the United States was the main fighter. The war lasted from 1962 to 1977.


Since the early twentieth century, Indonesian nationalists had sought an independent Indonesia based on all Dutch colonial possessions in the Indies, including western New Guinea. In December 1949, the Netherlands recognised Indonesian sovereignty over the Dutch East Indies with the exception of Dutch New Guinea, the issue of which was to be discussed within a year. In an attempt to prevent Indonesia taking control of the region and to prepare the region for self-rule, the Dutch significantly raised development spending off its low base, began investing in Papuan education, and encouraged Papuan nationalism. A small western elite developed with a growing political awareness attuned to the idea of independence, with close links to neighbouring eastern New Guinea, which was administered by Australia. A national parliament was elected in 1961, however, support for the nascent nationalist movement across the region was fragmented.

Sukarno made the take-over of western New Guinea a focus of his continuing struggle against Dutch imperialism and part of a broader Third World conflict with the West. Indonesia launched seaborne and paratroop incursions into the territory but with little success in 1962. In April of 1962, Indonesia helped communist guerrillas to begin fighting in Western Papua and soon the Netherlands send troops to prepare for the war. In 1962 (August) 3800 soldiers of the command of counter insurgence expert commander Raymond Westerling of the Royal Netherlands Army were sent to fight in the war. 

Important players

  • Indonesian Army, the main organized soldiers
  • Tentara Pembebasan Rakyat (Peoples Liberation Army), known as Tepes, the communist guerrillas
  • Royal Dutch Army, active from 1962 to 1967 alone in the war, and then until 1970
  • United States, who were in an assisting role to the Dutch but sent the first troops in 1967 and many Vietnam veterans after 1970
  • Australia, which assisted the United States and Dutch after 1969
  • Papuan allies of the US and Dutch, few resistance groups
  • USSR and China give support and weapons to Indonesia

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