Amirmachmud was born on 21 February 1923 at Cimahi, West Java. He was the second of five siblings and his father worked for a public company under the Dutch Colonial Government.
After completing his education in 1940, Amirmachmud began thinking of a career which he would undertake. In 1941 he took a topography course, although nothing ever came out of it.
In 1942, the Dutch Colonial Government was defeated by the Japanese Imperial Army and Indonesia came under the occupation of the Japanese Empire. By 1943, with the tide of the war beginning to turn against them, the Japanese established the Defenders of the Motherland Army (PETA). PETA was an auxiliary force which contained of Indonesians and was designed to bolster the amount of troops for the Japanese and assist them in fighting the United States should they decide to invade Java. Amirmachmud joined PETA and rose to become a platoon Commander.
On 17 August 1945, nationalist leaders Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaimed Indonesia's Independence. Days later, Sukarno called for able-bodied Indonesians to collect weapons and group themselves in preparation of the establishment of an Indonesian Army. Militia groups known as the People's Security Body (BKR) were formed and Amirmachmud headed one in Lembang, West Java.
In 1946, after the People's Security Army (TKR) had been established, the Lembang BKR was integrated into Kodam VI/Siliwangi (Siliwangi Division), a military regional command responsible for the security of West Java. Amirmachmud was then transferred to North Bandung, where he led his troops in battles against British troops and Dutch troops, who were eager to retain their colonial empire.
Amirmachmud and KODAM VI/Siliwangi was then forced to leave West Java in 1948 after the signing of the Renville Agreement. Under this agreement, the Indonesian Government was forced to recognize territories which had been taken under Dutch Control and this included West Java. Under the command of Colonel Abdul Haris Nasution, KODAM VI/Siliwangi was relocated in Central Java. During the same year, Amirmachmud would join his troops in a crackdown on the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) at Madiun.
In 1949, with the Dutch beginning to withdraw from Indonesia, Amirmachmud and his troops returned to West Java. There, Amirmachmud would be involved in skirmishes against the Darul Islam movement, a separatist group who wanted to establish a theocratic Indonesia under the religion of Islam. In 1950, Amirmachmud was also involved in a crackdown against the Just King Armed Forces (APRA), a military group which entered Bandung and started targeting TNI soldiers.
Once the situation began to settle down, Amirmachmud had a relatively uneventful military career and served as a Battalion Commander in Tasikmalaya and Garut before being appointed a Regimental Chief of Staff in Bogor. After serving in Bogor, Amirmachmud served as a Chief of Staff to the Commander of KODAM VI/Siliwangi.
In 1958, Amirmachmud was transferred to Jakarta where he worked as a staff member at the Army headquarters for two years.
In 1960, Amirmachmud was sent to Bandung to attend Seskoad. Here, he learned about politics and economics, important subjects for a soldier in an Army getting more and more involved in the running of the Government. Amirmachmud also became acquainted with Suharto during his time at Seskoad.
Once he had completed his Seskoad course, Amirmachmud was appointed Caduad Deputy Chief of Staff. Caduad, who would go on to become Kostrad was a strategic force which was designed to be on stand by at all times so that it can easily be summoned during the case of national emergency. Caduad was commanded by Suharto, who appeared to like Amirmachmud enough to appoint him to his position.
In 1962, President Sukarno was determined that Indonesia would occupy Western New Guinea and formed a war command for the liberation of Western New Guinea. For this operation, Suharto was appointed Field Commander and once again, he showed his trust in Amirmachmud by appointing him to the position of Head of the Operational Staff. However, after some minor military incursions, the Netherlands wielded under pressure of the United States and signed the New York Agreement to transfer Western New Guinea to Indonesia, provided a plebiscite would be held in which Western New Guinea could vote for independence.
Amirmachmud would now have his first stint as a Regional Commander. In 1962, he was appointed Commander of KODAM X/Lambung Mangkurat, which was responsible for the security of South Kalimantan.
It was during this time that the G30S Movement made their alleged coup attempt in Jakarta on 1 October 1965. During the day, the G30S Movement would announce the formation of the Revolutionary Council which would include Amirmachmud as a member. Amirmachmud, like many other anti-Communist Generals who were put on the list, was quick to deny the allegations. The day would finish with Suharto taking back control of the situation in Jakarta and PKI being accused as the culprit behind the G30S Movement.
In December 1965, Amirmachmud was appointed Commander of KODAM V/Jaya and he was now responsible for the security of Jakarta and its surrounding areas.
Amirmachmud's appointment came at a crucial point in Indonesian history and it was during his appointment that Suharto was beginning to gather political support and momentum to mount a challenge to Sukarno. Amirmachmud, like most of his Army colleagues threw their support behind Suharto.
At the beginning of 1966, Sukarno's popularity declined enough for people to openly oppose him via the means of protests. The most vocal of the protesters was the Indonesian Students Action Front (KAMI) who on the 10 January demanded that PKI be banned, PKI sympathizers be arrested and for the prices to be lowered. Amirmachmud and the Army supported, encouraged, and protected the protesters. To make things more practical, Amirmachmud together with Umar Wirahadikusumah (The Kostrad Commander) and Sarwo Edhie Wibowo (The RPKAD Commander) authorized Kostrad Chief of Staff, Kemal Idris to take control of their troops which were now concentrated in Jakarta.
There was duality to Amirmachmud's stance at this point. Politically, he was with Suharto, the Army, and the anti-Sukarno protesters. At the same time however, he felt a professional responsibility to prevent Jakarta being reduced to chaos by all the protests and demonstrations. In February, Amirmachmud actually banned protests in Jakarta. This ban was ignored.
On 11 March 1966, Sukarno held a Cabinet Meeting and invited Amirmachmud along to attend. Before the meeting Sukarno asked Amirmachmud if the situation was secure to which Amirmachmud responded that it was. Sukarno then began meeting which was marked conspicuously by Suharto's absence. 10 Minutes into the meeting, Amirmachmud was approached by Brigadier General Sabur, the Commander of the Presidential Bodyguards. Sabur said that there are unidentified troops outside. Amirmachmud told Sabur to not worry about it.
Five minutes later, Sabur repeated the message, this time notifying Sukarno of the problem as well. Sukarno quickly suspended the meeting and left the room with Amirmachmud intact. Insisting that Sukarno will be safe, Amirmachmud discussed security options with the President and decided that Bogor would be a safe enough place to avoid the tense situation.
The meeting was adjourned after Sukarno left for Bogor with a helicopter and Amirmachmud was joined by Major General Basuki Rachmat, who was the Minister of Veterans' Affairs and Brigadier General Mohammad Jusuf, who was the Minister of Industry. Jusuf suggested that the three of them go to Bogor to provide from moral support for Sukarno. The other two Generals agreed and together, the three left to Bogor after asking for Suharto's permission. According to Amirmachmud, Suharto asked the three Generals to tell Sukarno of his readiness to restore security should the President order it.
At Bogor, the three met with Sukarno and once again Amirmachmud said to Sukarno that the situation was secure. Sukarno became angry at him, asking how could the situation be secure when the protests are happening. Sukarno then began discussing options with Basuki, Jusuf, and Amirmachmud before finally asking them how he can take care of the situation. Amirmachmud suggested that Sukarno give Suharto some powers and govern Indonesia with him so that everything can be secured. The meeting then disbanded as Sukarno began preparing a Presidential Decree.
It was dusk when the decree that would become Supersemar was finally prepared and awaiting Sukarno's signature. Sukarno had some last minute doubts but Amirmachmud, the other two Generals, and Sukarno's inner circle in the Cabinet who had also made the trip to Bogor encouraged him to sign. Sukarno finally signed and handed Supersemar to Basuki to be passed on to Suharto. On the way back to Jakarta, Amirmachmud asked to read Supersemar and seemed shocked to find out that it was a handover of power to Suharto. He would later claim that Supersemar was a miracle.
On the 13 March, Sukarno summoned Amirmachmud, Basuki, and Jusuf. Sukarno was angry that Suharto had banned the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and told the three Generals that Supersemar did not contain such instructions. Sukarno then ordered that a letter be produced to clarify the contents of Supersemar but nothing ever came up apart from the copies that former Cuban Ambassador, AM Hanafi recollected.
As Suharto removed Sukarno from power and replaced him as President in 1967, Amirmachmud continued as Commander of Kodam V/Jaya. In early 1969, Basuki, who became the Minister of Home Affairs died suddenly. Amirmachmud was then transferred from his position as Commander to Kodam V/Jaya to take Basuki's place as Minister of Home Affairs.
During his tenure as Minister of Home Affairs, Amirmachmud developed a reputation of being tough on Government opposition and dissidents. This earned him the nickname of "The Bulldozer. Amirmachmud also dealt harshly with the people who had gone to prison for allegedly being involved with PKI. In 1981, he ordered that the former convincts be given special supervision.
Amirmachmud also helped strengthen Suharto's control over Indonesia. In 1969, he banned civil servants from being involved in politics but would encourage them to vote to Golkar in Legislative Elections as a sign of loyalty to the Government. In 1971, Amirmachmud was influential in the formation of the Republic of Indonesia Civil Servants Corps (KORPRI).
In addition to being Minister of Home Affairs, Amirmachmud was also the Chairman of the LPU. The Legislative Elections of 1971, 1977, and 1982 were held under his supervision.
In 1982, Amirmachmud was elected as the chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) and like all the other Chairmen of the MPR, he was also concurrently elected to the position of the speaker of the People's Representative Council (DPR).
Amirmachmud presided over the 1983 MPR General Session which saw Suharto being elected to a 4th term as President with Umar Wirahadikusumah being elected to the Vice Presidency. Under his Chairmanship, the MPR also awarded Suharto the title of "The Father of Development" in recognition of what he had achieved.
In the DPR, Amirmachmud presided the passing of laws which reorganized the structure of the MPR, DPR, and Regional People's Representative Council (DPRD), set the rules for Political Parties, and laid down the guidelines for a referendum.
Amirmachmud went into retirement after completing his term as the Chairman of MPR/Head of DPR.
He died on 21 April 1995.
Amirmachmud was married to Siti Hadidjah, with whom he had two children, Anon Badariah and Bambang Permadi Amirmachmud. The four-star general had 10 grandchildren. When Siti died he remarried to Shri Hardhani Sadat Siswojo.
Amirmachmud became close friends with fellow Supersemar witness, M Jusuf. Before he died, Amirmachmud had requested that Jusuf attend the funeral. This request was never fulfilled as Jusuf was unable to attend the funeral. Amirmachmud also left Jusuf a secret letter."Supersemar itu benar-benar mukjizat Allah" ("Supersemar was truly the miracle of God")
Developing Politics at Home (1981)
Developing A Religious Life In A Pancasila World (1981)
Developing A Pancasila Social Culture (1983)