The importance of the intelligence services in an asymmetric war against what was, from a Dutch perspective, an invisible and elusive enemy can hardly be overstated. These services gathered information about the identity, location and plans of the enemy for the Dutch counter‑guerrilla campaign and territorial control. The military intelligence units in the field, such as the Intelligence and Security Groups (Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsgroepen, IVGs), the Territorial Intelligence and Security Groups (Territoriale Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsgroepen, TIVGs), the Military Intelligence Services (MIDs) of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) troop commands and the Marine Brigade Security Service (Veiligheidsdienst van de Mariniersbrigade, VDMB), played a crucial role in this regard.
The Dutch intelligence units in the field that functioned as the eyes and ears of the infantry units were already notorious at the time for their extreme interrogation methods, which included torture. Little is known, however, about the services that used these methods, how they operated and the circumstances in which they resorted to torturing prisoners and other extreme measures. Regarding the methods referred to, there was already doubt at the time about the reliability of statements obtained through violence or the threat of violence. It is therefore all the more interesting to study the extent to which the intelligence services used these methods nonetheless, what their expectations were, the interrogation techniques that in their view yielded the most information, how they took people into custody and how they evaluated their working methods. Informants or spies working for the services were another important source of intelligence. This is likewise an obscure area in that not much is known about the selection, recruitment, payment and specific activities of these individuals. The same is true regarding Dutch civilian personnel who worked for the intelligence services.
For the reasons given, this substudy will be an in-depth study into, among other things, the respective backgrounds of the personnel and those in charge of the intelligence services (origin, education and training, experience and unit they belonged to, for example), their way of working and command structure, their relationship with other services and authorities, and their reflection on their own acts. In addition, specific attention will be given to the role that the intelligence services played in the chain leading to the Netherlands’ use of force. Because the quality of the intelligence about the adversary that was passed on to the infantry battalions largely determined the success of those battalions, both the direct use of force by the intelligence services and the indirect effect of this force will be studied. The repeated failure of patrols and larger military operations could result in frustration and declining morale, and therefore lower the threshold with respect to the use of extreme force. At the same time, it is likely that the heavy-handed actions of the intelligence services triggered reactions on the Indonesian side on the part of both the armed forces and the civilian population. To what extent did the attitude of the Indonesian civilian population change as a result? And did the conduct of the intelligence services lead to retaliatory action or a change in tactics on the part of the Indonesian armed forces? The substudy will therefore also focus on the interaction between the Dutch intelligence services and the Indonesian civilian population and armed groups. Where possible, attention will also be given to Indonesian intelligence and counterintelligence activities.
This project is being implemented by Rémy Limpach. The research assistant is Tico Onderwater.