Padang is the capital and third largest city of the Republic of Indonesia and the capital of West Sumatra Province. The original capital was located at Jakarta upon independence from the Netherlands in December 1949, but with the West Australian invasion and subsequent occupation of Java in June 1959, the national capital was evacuated to Padang. Situated on the western coastline of Sumatra, the location was considered ideal since the Barisan Mountains to the north offered a 'shield' against land invasion and the excellent natural harbors (the Teluks) to the south that provided a substantial anchorage for both civilian and military vessels. On several occasions during the Indonesian War, most notably in 1972, 1973, and 1975, West Australian destroyers or even cruisers and jet bombers would conduct nighttime raids on Padang, forming the impetus that created the Indonesian "Night Watchers" (Pengamat Malam) division.

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