792.5 MSP/9–3053

No. 404
Memorandum by the Chief of the Joint Military Mission to Thailand (Gillmore) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff1

top secret


  • Report of the Joint Military Mission to Thailand
Submitted herewith is the report of the Joint Military Mission to Thailand, established by JCS 1992/223, “The Situation in Indochina and Thailand”, 3 June 53, and implemented by Letter of Instructions, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G–3, Operations, 7 August 53.2
This report is submitted in order to provide information on the present status of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program for Thailand; and in order to provide recommended provisions for inclusion in the Terms of Reference for an expanded advisory group to this country, for which the title Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG), Thailand is proposed.
In addition to proposed Terms of Reference, Chapters VI and VII of this report contain recommendations as to composition of the mission and support required. It is requested that these recommendations be approved for planning purposes in order to expedite necessary implementing action by the applicable agency upon receipt of formal supply and personnel requests. These requests will be submitted with complete detail to the appropriate service as soon as they can be prepared.
This Mission has concluded that:
The Thai Armed Forces at present have a low overall effectiveness;
The matériel program for Thailand is generally adequate, but that to effectively incorporate this matériel into the Thai services so as to produce balanced, strong forces an intensive US-assisted training program which will provide qualified advisors at levels from the Ministry of Defense through major combat echelons is urgently needed.
Such a program could more than double the Thai military strength within one year, and within two years the program could be substantially complete.
The present government of Thailand is completely controlled by a group of military officers which seized control of the government [Page 693] in 1947. This group holds all the principal positions within the Army, Navy and Air Force. In order to insure their retention of control of the civilian government these same military officers have in all cases assumed civilian government responsibilities which include cabinet positions. In addition, these persons have used their position of power to assume many and varied commercial interests to enhance their financial status.
The end result of this is that the principal military commanders and their staffs can devote but a small portion of their time and energy solely to the military situation. Further, they are reluctant to delegate any authority for fear the delegation will result in usurpation. This state of affairs constitutes one of the greatest obstacles to creating an efficient military establishment in Thailand.
Its remedy at the present time cannot be foreseen, since the present government came into being by coup and they have no intention of delegating any authority or power which might result in their being displaced by a similar coup.
In order to accomplish the program indicated in paragraph 4 above, considerable study has been devoted to discovering the most economical utilization of U.S. personnel. These studies have resulted in a minimum requirement, in addition to personnel presently authorized, as follows:
  • Army: 51 officers; 3 warrant officers; 85 enlisted men; 1 civilian
  • Navy: 4 officers; 9 enlisted men
  • Marine Corps: 1 officer; 3 enlisted men
  • Air Force: 4 officers; 6 enlisted men
Approximately three-fourths of the additional Army personnel should come to Thailand without dependents (one year tour), since they will be stationed at and operate from the more remote of the approximately twenty posts occupied by the Thai Army. Living conditions in these areas are not suitable for American families nor is housing available. This personnel should arrive in Thailand by 15 November 53. Chapter VI contains additional details on the personnel requirements for operating this program.
Under the heading “Support Required” in Chapter VII, recommendations, in addition to those for personnel, are made for the following:
A small common-use program aimed primarily at developing at a faster rate the lines of communication in Thailand. Without this accelerated development the capability of the Thai forces to deploy or concentrate and to move equipment will remain seriously limited. The Thai Government is attacking this problem, but, because of economic difficulties, is restricted to a long term approach.
A radio communication system for the advisory group in order that the advisors in outlying areas can be properly directed and coordinated [Page 694] in their activities. A communication net of this nature would be essential, in case of an invasion of Thailand, in providing intelligence and in furnishing operational advice to the Thai. It is emphasized that this equipment is not in addition to total quantities programmed but merely involves early delivery of radios which could later be turned over to Thai units programed to receive the them.
One additional L–20 aircraft, in addition to the present C–47 and the one L–20 which has been authorized but not yet received. These aircraft furnish the advisory group the capability of providing mobile training teams for all three services and in this manner reducing the total requirements for personnel, particularly in the technical and specialist fields.
An Army Post Office or Branch in order to facilitate the handling of both official and personal mail.
The first paragraph of my Letter of Instructions refers to “the provision by the United States of a military mission to Thailand to assist Thailand to develop the capability and will to resist the Communist threat to that country.” Concerning that portion of the sentence which relates to “will to resist” I believe as long as the present government remains in power it may be assumed that this “will to resist” is present in the heads of the government since a change to a communistic form of government would sweep the present government officials from the power and financial position they now enjoy. So while in effect we are assisting a ruthless military oligarchy maintain its position, we can be reasonably assured of its “will to resist Communism.”
One member of the Mission accompanying me from Washington was Lt. Col. Melvin R. Blair, Office of the Chief of Psychological Warfare. Lt. Col. Blair has prepared a report3 on the Thai capabilities and potentialities as regards psychological and unconventional warfare. In the course of preparing his report Lt. Col. Blair contacted and discussed the problems involved with officials of the Thai National Police and interested U.S. representatives in Thailand. Since this matter is a distinct one from that covered in the attached report, it was not reproduced and submitted as a part thereof. One copy of Lt. Col. Blair’s report has been retained in MAAG; other copies were hand-carried to Washington after having been shown to interested personnel of CINCPAC staff in Hawaii.
The attached report has not been shown to any Thai officials. It has been discussed with the U.S. Ambassador who concurs in the recommendations.
It is requested that the Terms of Reference proposed in the attached report be approved and that I be authorized to complete, [Page 695] in collaboration with the U.S. Ambassador, negotiations with the Thai Government.
It is further requested that the additional recommendations in Chapter VII be approved for planning purposes.


Report of the Joint Military Mission to Thailand

[Here follow the first six chapters of the report which describe the activities of the Joint Military Mission, the Mission’s first meeting with the Special Committee of the Ministry of Defense, the Thai armed forces, the structure and functioning of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Thailand, and the proposed composition of the new advisory group.]

Chapter VII

summary of major conclusions and recommendations

Section 1—Major Conclusions

The overall capabilities of the Thai Armed Forces to maintain internal security is barely adequate; and to resist external aggression is inadequate. These capabilities are increasing slowly, but in view of the seriousness of the existing threat and considering the value of U.S. matériel already invested in the Thai Armed Forces, a much more rapid development of capabilities additional U.S. personnel to serve as advisors rather than any appreciable increase in U.S. matériel is required. This additional personnel could be provided at an insignificant cost to the U.S. contrasted with the matériel investment already made.
The Government of Thailand is presently committed to an anti-communist program. The maintenance and strengthening of this program and the development of a stronger “will to resist” among the leaders and people of the country is dependent upon and varies directly with the ability of the Armed Forces to defend Thailand successfully. It is further inseparably related to the confidence which the Thai have in U.S. support of their position.
The following conditions now existing in Thailand are favorable and will tend to increase the effectiveness of an expanded U.S. training and advisory program:
The Thai like and respect Americans. The presence of U.S. personnel in their country is considered by them to be not only acceptable but desirable.
The Thai economy is reasonably strong and comparatively wealthy by oriental standards. The dangerous conditions of abject poverty, population pressure, anti-colonialism and hatred of the white man, so common in most of the orient, are largely absent in Thailand.
The Thai Government is pro-Western and particularly pro-American. The leaders are ready to work as openly and as frankly with Americans as is possible under the existing form of government. The Prime Minister (Minister of Defense) and his top military commanders have agreed, in the course of the negotiations undertaken by this Mission, to accept U.S. advisors at all levels and to accord them complete cooperation.
The Thai Armed Forces are eager to adopt and learn U.S.-recommended procedures. In spite of the varied military background and education of the officer corps, they are unanimous in accepting the superiority of U.S. methods and techniques.
The following unfavorable conditions, now existing in Thailand, must be considered as deterrents to full and rapid accomplishment of U.S. objectives:
The political situation with its delicate balance and the ever-present possibility of coups absorbs so much of the time and effort of the country’s leaders that relatively little of their attention can be given to non-political development of the armed forces. There might also be a tendency to temporize and negotiate with an enemy were U.S. advice and influence not immediately available.
An overthrow of the present government while not at present considered probable is an eventuality that must be considered. There is reason to believe that any change in government, unless supported by force from outside Thailand, would not result in important change in the Thai orientation against communism.
The character of the Thai is such that any program requiring vigorous, resolute, cooperative action is certain to progress at a slower rate and to a less perfect completion than would be true among more progressive and energetic people.
Upon full and deliberate consideration, and based on all information available to this Mission, the chances for success of such a program as is recommended in this report seem excellent. The present time appears most opportune both materially and psychologically for the vigorous assertion of U.S. interest in this area. The costs of the program when compared with the investment already made and the benefits to be gained are considered to be reasonable.

Section 2—Major Recommendations

It is recommended that the Joint Chiefs of Staff approve as a matter of priority the proposed Terms of Reference (Annex K).4
It is recommended that the Joint Chiefs of Staff approve as a matter of priority the negotiations conducted by the Mission (Chapters [Page 697] II and IV), and authorize the finalization, in collaboration with the U.S. Ambassador, of tentative agreements already reached.
It is further recommended that the Joint Chiefs of Staff approve the following for planning purposes and so indicate to the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force:
Proposed composition of the JUSMAG as indicated in Chapter VI of this report.
Additional support required for the JUSMAG as indicated in Annex L of this report.
  1. A copy of the report was sent to the Department of State with a covering memorandum from Maj. Gen. C.D. Eddleman, Assistant Chief of Staff, G–3, U.S. Army, Oct. 28.
  2. Neither printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. None of the annexes is printed.