479. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Military Assistance Programs (Wilson) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Gray)1


  • Summary of the MDA Program for Thailand

1. On 17 October 1950, a Mutual Defense Assistance agreement2 was concluded between the governments of Thailand and the United States which is the basis for the military assistance now being [Page 834] provided Thailand. At the beginning of the MDA program for the Thai armed forces in 1951, these forces had practically no combat capability. Their components were equipped with a collection of varied and often antiquated weapons and equipment of U.S., British, Japanese, Swedish, and other foreign origin. As a result of the MDA program, the armed forces have been modernized and equipment generally standardized and the forces, while still incapable of repelling an invasion of the size the Communists could mount, can safeguard internal security. By its very existence it acts as a deterrent to overt aggression.

2. Since 1951 the Royal Thai Army has been built up from 27,360 to 87,360 and is organized in ten regimental combat teams and supporting forces, such as Ordnance, Signal, and Engineer companies. The Thai Navy and Marine Corps have been raised from a force of 12,000 to 15,000 during the same period and are built around an anti-submarine warfare squadron, a mine warfare squadron, a patrol squadron, and a service squadron and three Marine Corps battalions. The Thai Air Force has progressed from 5,336 men and a diversified collection of aircraft to a modern air force of 16,997 organized into five F8–F fighter-bomber squadrons with supporting units.

3. The status of the FY 1950–55 MDA programs, in support of the above forces, is as follows (in millions of dollars):

Matériel Programmed As of 30 June 1955 Shipped As of 31 May 1955 Percentage Shipped
Army $119.2 $77.7 66
Navy 30.4 21.8 72
Air Force 65.1 41 64
Total $214.7 $140.9 66
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Training Programmed As of 30 June 1955 Completed As of 31 May 1955 Percentage Completed
Army $2.2 $.9 41
Navy 6 4 69
Air Force 2.0 1.5 75
Total $4.8 $2.8 $58

The following program increases are reflected in the above:

During the revalidation of the FY 1950–54 MDA programs, approved 11 January 1955. $27.7 million for matériel was added to the Thailand programs by diversion from other country programs.
Since the revalidation, an additional $6.5 million covering ammunition and landing craft, redistributed from Indochina, has been

4. These programs include unit equipment, training ammunition, equipment for the replacement of peacetime attrition losses, 60 days war reserve ammunition, and maintenance spare parts for the Thai Army; 3 patrol craft, 12 landing craft and 3 subchasers for the Thai Navy; and 189 F8–F, 6 T–33A, 3 RT–33A, 3 C–47, 30 T6–F, and 31 F84–G aircraft for the Thai Air Force. Most of the essential unit equipment for the Army has been delivered with the balance of materiel programmed, mostly ammunition, scheduled for delivery by the end of this calendar year. All of the vessels programmed for the Navy have been delivered except two subchasers which will be delivered by September 1955. All the aircraft except the F–84G, T–33A and RT–33A jet aircraft have been delivered. With the receipt of the jet trainers (T–33A) the transition and conversion from conventional (F8–F) aircraft to jet aircraft can be started.

As a result of a visit to the United States in 1954 by General Srisdi,3 Deputy Minister of Defense and Commander in Chief, Royal Thai Army, Thailand was granted an additional $25 million in military assistance. $12.8 million of the $25 million is included in the matériel programs above. The balance, $12.2 million was transferred to the Foreign Operations Administration for defense construction projects. Recently these projects and the funds to cover them have been returned to the Department of Defense as part of the Direct Forces Support Program for Thailand discussed in paragraph 6 below.

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5. The proposed FY 1956 MDA program includes a training program in the amount of $3.4 million. There is no matériel program planned for FY 1956.

6. Supplementing the MDA matériel and training programs for Thailand is the Direct Forces Support program now under the cognizance of the Department of Defense. While the FY 1950–55 DFS program was approved and funded, no implementing action had been taken by FOA. The Department of Navy, as executive agent, has been assigned the responsibility for the implementation of the Direct Forces Support program in Thailand. Implementing instructions have been issued to the Department of Navy regarding the FY 1950-55 DFS program for Thailand which amounts to the value of $18.2 million in U.S. and local currency. The details of this program are attached as Tab A.4 The proposed DFS program for FY 1956 amounts to $8.2 million, the details of which are included in Tab B.4

In addition to the proposed $8.2 million FY 1956 DFS program, the 84th Congress appropriated $12.2 million as additional direct forces support for Formosa and Thailand. The division of the $12.2 million between Formosa and Thailand has not been determined as yet.

In early 1954, FOA approved, as an economic project, the construction of a highway from Saraburi to Bang Phai. The Department of Defense agreed that this highway was militarily desirable but was primarily a matter of economic assistance within the province of FOA. The cost of this project was initially estimated to be $8 million, but an engineering survey increased this to approximately $22 million. ICA (FOA) implemented this program in 1954 with a partial grant of approximately $8 million. MDAP funds are not involved in this project at this time.

7. In the interest of the over-all DFS objectives in Thailand, additional assistance is being provided to the Thai Home Guard Volunteer Corps on a long-range basis under the jurisdiction of the Central Intelligence Agency, with the Department of the Army acting as the procurement agency for the equipment. This assistance is to be provided in three phases. The first phase was completed 31 July 1954 and amounted to $500,000. The funds to implement phase one were made available by FOA. Phase two of this program, completed 31 January 1955, amounted to $1.6 million, funds for which were provided by Section 121, Mutual Security Act of 1954. Phase three is to be completed by 31 January 1956 and will amount to approximately $2 million, funds for which should be provided by ICA.

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8. The 30 June 1955 Country Statement on MDAP5 submitted by JUSMAG Thailand indicates that while the MDA program for Thailand is supporting the Thai Navy and Air Force, the over-all effectiveness of the armed forces in the defense of Thailand is centered around and dependent upon the effectiveness of the Royal Thai Army. To improve the effectiveness of the Thai Army, drastic changes are required in organization, policies, and practices. While there have been some changes in the higher echelons of command and staff, the net results of these changes have been negligible. Unless removal of incompetent and corrupt senior officers is effected at an early date, it is not expected that the over-all effectiveness of the armed forces will increase significantly this year. Effectiveness at small unit level in the fields of training, maintenance and command has increased materially. However, until the conditions in the higher echelons of command are corrected, no significant improvement can be foreseen in the over-all capability of the armed forces to conduct a modern military operation.

9. It is my understanding that the Director, Special Operations (General Erskine) discussed the Thai MDA programs with General Phao during their meeting 11 August.6

10. It is recommended that:

If General Phao presses for information as to the Thai share of the additional $12.2 million direct forces support funds appropriated by the 84th Congress, he be advised that upon receipt of the FY 1956 DFS requirements for Formosa and Thailand, the proposed FY 1956 DFS programs will be reviewed and adjusted to provide for those requirements in accordance with the U.S. established priorities and to the extent available funds will permit. When adjustments to the programs are made, the Chief, JUSMAG, Thailand will be advised.
Details of the FY 1956 DFS program referred to in paragraph 6 and Tab B and the information contained in paragraphs 7 and 8 not be discussed with General Phao.

J.K. Wilson, Jr.7
Brigadier General U.S. Army
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 60 A 1025, 091.3 Thailand. Secret. Drafted by Lieutenant Colonel D.G. Schepp of the Office of Military Assistance Programs.
  2. The text of this agreement was transmitted to the Department as an attachment to telegram 267 from Bangkok, October 17, 1950. (Ibid., Central Files, 792.5–MAP/10–1750) It is also printed in 3 UST 2675.
  3. Regarding the visit of General Srisdi to the United States in July 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XII, Part 2, pp. 727748, passim.
  4. Attached but not printed.
  5. Attached but not printed.
  6. Not found in Department of State files.
  7. No record of such a discussion has been found.
  8. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.