179. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Davis) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Radford)1


  • U.S.-Cambodian Bilateral Agreement on the Establishment of a U.S. Military Advisory Group (MAAG), Cambodia


1. Should the Department of Defense continue to insist upon a written agreement pertaining to the withdrawal of French instructors and technicians as a prerequisite to the negotiation of a bilateral agreement with the Government of Cambodia, in reference to the establishment of a U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), Cambodia?


2. During the period 16 November–15 December 1954, Ambassador McClintock, in a series of messages to the Department of State, generally supported the Joint Chiefs of Staff prerequisite for obtaining Cambodian agreement to the eventual phase-out of French instructors and technicians prior to negotiating a MAAG, Cambodia, bilateral agreement.2

3. On 17 December 1954, the Chief, MAAG, Indochina, was informed of the Defense position in reference to a MAAG bilateral for Cambodia in order that he might have adequate guidance while assisting Ambassador McClintock in determining the military requirements of the Cambodian aid program. He was also informed that he [Page 410] should furnish a small number of personnel to Ambassador McClintock, on a temporary duty basis, for the purpose of supervising the logistical aspects of U.S. support of the Cambodian military forces subsequent to 1 January 1955.

4. On 19 December 1954, Ambassador McClintock stated that the Cambodians had negotiated a secret agreement with the French calling for 720 French military instructors to be provided for the Cambodian Armed Forces during 1955.3 The Cambodians insisted on reservations which would permit Cambodia to decide, on a continuing basis, the number of instructors required and their nationality. This clause was apparently designed to meet the U.S. requirement for the gradual phase-out of the French as the King and the Prime Minister indicated agreement in the concept of replacing the French with U.S. military guidance.

5. During the tripartite discussions at Paris on 19 December 1954, Mendes-France informed Secretary Dulles that the French had a training mission of 500 officers in Cambodia and intended to keep them there. Further, Mendes-France stated that the French considered the presence of their military mission in Cambodia as being consistent with French defense policy.4

6. On 21 December 1954, Ambassador McClintock stated, as a result of conversations with the French Chargé Bicurani and Colonel Dessessars, Chief of the French Military Training Mission to Cambodia, that the French would probably not contribute financial assistance to the Cambodians for military purposes. Ambassador McClintock further stated that these French representatives reiterated, on several occasions, that the French had a training mission for the Cambodian Army and, therefore, an American training mission was unnecessary.5

7. On 21 December 1954, the Department of State transmitted to Ambassador McClintock the State and Defense positions on the problem of a MAAG bilateral for Cambodia.6 However, State did not inform or obtain concurrence in this message of any agency within the Department of Defense.

8. On 22 December 1954, Ambassador McClintock stated that Admiral Radford shared his view that the Joint Chiefs of Staff insistence on phasing out the French was unduly restrictive.7

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9. On 26 December 1954, Ambassador McClintock stated that in reference to Cambodia, the French were making every effort in the military field to maintain control of doctrinal guidance and would attempt to keep a French training mission in Cambodia even though the U.S. assumed direct support of the Cambodia Army.8

10. On 31 December 1954, Ambassador McClintock stated that aid should not be provided to Cambodian Armed Forces until written assurances, in accordance with U.S. desires, were obtained from the Cambodians.9

11. On 3 January 1955, the Department of State informed Ambassador McClintock that they were concerned over aggressive French competition with U.S. assistance to Cambodia.10

12. On 8 January 1955, Ambassador McClintock requested authorization to commence negotiation with the Cambodians in reference to the establishment of a small logistical MAAG.11 (This is not necessary as he had been informed that General O’Daniel would provide him with personnel for temporary logistical supervision.)

13. On 9 January 1955, the Department of State informed Ambassador McClintock that the Defense position was unchanged; he could not negotiate for the establishment of a logistical MAAG: and that this matter would be discussed with Admiral Radford subsequent to his return.12

14. On 12 January 1955, Ambassador McClintock stated that the French training mission in Cambodia was there on an informal basis only and that the Cambodians have the right, at any time, to withdraw their somewhat vague terms of reference.13


15. The problem of a bilateral agreement establishing a MAAG, Cambodia, has been discussed in great detail by representatives of the three Services and agencies within the Department of Defense. As a result of these discussions, the following conclusions have been arrived at: [Page 412]

As long as the French remain in Cambodia, there will be only token compliance on the part of the Cambodians, due to French influence, in reference to the acceptance of U.S. doctrinal guidance.
The French will make every effort to deemphasize the scope, magnitude and effectiveness of a U.S. military aid program for Cambodia.
The effectiveness of a U.S. military aid program for Cambodia will be negligible for the reasons stated in a. and b. above, and will represent a major waste of money, effort and the services of critical U.S. personnel.
The ultimate effectiveness of U.S. efforts in relation to Cambodian military forces will be a responsibility of the Department of Defense and an ineffective program for Cambodia will subject Defense to adverse criticism and cause a further loss of U.S. prestige in the Southeast Asia area.

16. The conclusion arrived at by various Service and Department of Defense representatives as a result of discussions with representatives of the Department of State on this problem is that:

The Department of State will, for reasons of political expediency, attempt to persuade the Department of Defense to accept responsibility for a military aid program to Cambodia even though such a program would be fettered by the bonds of French inefficiency and would produce only negligible results due to French interference.


17. That you continue to support the Department of Defense position in this matter which is:

Either prior to or concurrent with the negotiation of a MAAG, Cambodia, bilateral agreement, the U.S. must obtain from the Government of Cambodia, an agreement in writing providing for the ultimate withdrawal of French instructors and technicians, on a gradual phase-out basis, as Cambodian officers and NCO’s become adequately proficient.

A.C. Davis14
Vice Admiral U.S. Navy
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OASD/SA Files: FRC 60 A 1025, 334 MAAG, Cambodia. Secret.
  2. Documentation on this topic is in Department of State, Central File 751H.5–MSP.
  3. Telegram 389 from Phnom Penh, December 19, 1954, not printed. (Ibid., 751H.5–MSP/12–1954)
  4. As reported in telegram 2601 from Paris, December 19, 1954, Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XIII, Part 2, p. 2400.
  5. Telegram 394 from Phnom Penh, December 21, 1954, not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 751H.5–MSP/12–2154)
  6. Telegram 223 to Phnom Penh, December 21, 1954, not printed. (Ibid.)
  7. Telegram 398 from Phnom Penh, December 22, 1954, Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XIII, Part 2, p. 2410.
  8. Apparent reference to telegram 402 from Phnom Penh, December 24 (not December 26), 1954, ibid., p. 2420.
  9. Telegram 427 from Phnom Penh, December 30, received on December 31, 1954, not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 751H.5–MSP/12–3054)
  10. Telegram 252 to Phnom Penh, January 3, 1955, not printed. (Ibid., 751H.5–MSP/12–3054)
  11. Telegram 445 from Phnom Penh, January 8, 1955, not printed. (Ibid., 751H.5–MSP/1–855)
  12. Telegram 265 to Phnom Penh, January 9, 1955, not printed. (Ibid.)
  13. Telegram 459 from Phnom Penh, January 12, 1955, not printed. (Ibid., 751H.5–MSP/1–1255)
  14. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.