By S. Thompson
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Extra info for British Military Withdrawal and the Rise of Regional Cooperation in South-East Asia, 1964-73
During the proceedings, Wilson told his colleagues that the cost of maintaining British forces would probably increase at a faster rate than Britain’s GNP, and that in an estimated five years the cost of a tank regiment would double, while that of an infantry battalion would increase six times. When Wilson came to power, the cost of the defence establishment was the equivalent of 7 per cent of GNP, thus the defence budget in 1969–70 would reach £2255 million. 13 The Chequers meetings signalled the beginning of a series of defence reviews.
James Murray, a British diplomat in Jakarta, spoke with several generals, two of whom, General Mokoginta and Colonel Soesatjo, gave Murray the impression that the army might be interested in negotiating an end to Confrontation, although only under the right conditions and beginning with secret talks. 31 Soesatjo also told Murray that incentives were needed for any negotiations. 32 Britain believed there might be an opportunity to present Indonesia with incentives to convince the Generals that if Confrontation ended, Britain could return a favour.
Therefore, Britain’s position in Singapore was ‘politico-strategic’ rather than economic; and if financial considerations forced a decision between a reduction of forces in the Middle East or those in the Far East, the latter would be reduced. 6 Yet the Long Term Study Group’s proposals were not necessarily going to be taken seriously by other sections within the British Government. The OPD(O) included in the Long Term Study Group’s report a note stating that the study did not commit London to any decisions, and that they were based deliberately on a ‘radical approach’.