192. Telegram From the Embassy in the Philippines to the Department of State1

Secto 51. Department pass Defense. For Acting Secretary from Secretary. On February 28 after general conversation with King of Cambodia,2 I had an hour’s working session with Prime Minister and Ministers of National Defense, Finance, Economy and Public Works.3 Informed them US prepared undertake aid program roughly $40 million over and above US equipment under usual conditions in agreements other countries. I suggested formula which might be acceptable to Cambodians and French re responsibility for training Cambodian Armed Forces.

This formula would be to start with King of Cambodia at apex as Commander-in-Chief Cambodian Armed Forces. Assisting him as his principal military adviser would be chief MAAG/Phnom Penh, who in addition to logistical functions of MAAG would have responsibility for counseling King on standards training to be maintained in ARK. There would likewise be French military mission under overall direction of King, who would be expected to require that on standards of training, military and doctrine, etc, to be adopted by Cambodian Armed Forces would be American standards. Thus although French training mission would not be under direct command of chief MAAG, it would be subject to his over-all guidance and influence channeled through King. I emphasized whether to keep French mission or not was decision for Cambodian Government. If government wanted our help and also wanted French to stay the French would have to follow US military doctrine. If it did not want them, we would seek to proceed without them. Essential point is to use methods which US military consider effective and produce results consistent with our ideas.

Prime Minister said that this formula might indeed facilitate solution of problem caused by French susceptibility and desire to retain [Page 434] a military mission in Cambodia, which government found acceptable if acceptable to us.

I stressed important to have French arrangement of short duration with possible renewal, so as to keep pressure on them to follow US doctrine. I informed them we are ready send MAAG chief to Cambodia in few days if over-all arrangements can be completed soon.

I took occasion to secure Prime Minister’s written agreement to principles established Usfoto X 2904 and give him check for $1.5 million to Minister of Finance as direct defense support for February. It was agreed that we would not publicize this. Prime Minister expressed hope that similar check would soon be forthcoming for March. We feel however that no additional payment should be made until Cambodian Government responds affirmatively to our note of January 27 proposing MAAG bilateral. I pointed out need for prompt action on bilateral (Department inform FOA/Washington).

In Saigon Tuesday evening5 Hensel informed Phnom Penh conversation. Later that evening, with Hensel present, explained training formula to General Ely and Ambassador Bonnet, saying it might not work, that our military people did not like it but that we were trying to meet the French reluctance to have their mission under US command. Neither Bonnet nor Ely like it. They thought it would subordinate in effect French military mission to over-all US direction, which I told them it would do. Yesterday General [Ely?] requested McClintock to discuss further training formula to make sure that he had understood last night’s description of it. Ely said at first he could not at all recommend acceptance by his government. He said, “I used my last ounce of influence in Paris to get acceptance of US training in Vietnam. I cannot draw further on my credit in that bank to meet your desires in Cambodia.” Ely hoped there could be slight modification of formula whereby French military mission responsible for training would take its orders directly from King but without constant “cross-fertilization” from US MAAG. Ely said he feared that if there were proliferating MAAG we would find spectacle of American advisers to French advisers which would result in chaos. However if chain of command were directly from King he felt he could recommend acceptance by French government of proposition that training conducted by French military mission should be in accord with American military doctrine, and even accepted suggestion organization of Cambodian Army be according to US TOs and Es. He said specifically if we wished he would be prepared to recommend that French military mission reorganize Cambodian Army on regimental [Page 435] and divisional basis, provided this was acceptable to King. Ely said Ambassador Bonnet would be able to report these problems promptly to his government.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 110.11–DU/3–255. Secret. Repeated to Paris and Phnom Penh. After conclusion of the SEATO Council meetings at Bangkok, Dulles made brief visits to Rangoon and Vientiane on February 27, Phnom Penh on February 28, Saigon on the night of February 28–March 1, and then on to Manila.
  2. Briefing material for the Secretary’s trip to Phnom Penh is ibid., FE Files: Lot 56 D 679, Bangkok Conference Visits. A brief summary of Dulles’ meeting with Sihanouk is in telegram 2277 from Manila, March 3, not printed. (Ibid., Central Files, 751H.11/3–355)

    For a brief summary by Dulles, for Eisenhower’s benefit, of his stay in Cambodia, see Dulte 18 from Manila, March 1, vol. i, p. 96.

  3. Pho Proeung was Minister of Finance and Neal Phleng was Minister of Public Works, Telecommunications and Economic Planning.
  4. Not found.
  5. March 1.