488. Memorandum of Discussion at the 279th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, March 8, 19561

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and items 1–4.]

5. FY 1957 MDAP Objective for Thailand (NSC 5429/5; NSC 5405;2 Progress Report, dated December 21, 1955, by OCB on NSC [Page 859]5405;3 NSC Action No. 1486;4 Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated January 10, 1956; Memo for NSC from Acting Executive Secretary, same subject, dated February 17, 19565)

After Mr. Anderson had briefed the Council on this problem, Governor Stassen expressed very great concern lest raising the force levels of the Thai armed forces result in a situation such as we were now facing in Turkey as a result of the serious impact on the domestic economy. Mr. Anderson replied by pointing out that this consideration had led the Planning Board to insert a caveat in its recommendations for Council action.6 Secretary Hoover added that, with respect to Governor Stassen’s point, the armed forces of Thailand have for some time been above what this Government felt necessary to maintain internal security. Accordingly, adoption of the recommendations of the Planning Board by the Council would not further heighten the adverse economic impact on Thailand.

Governor Stassen then inquired whether any jet aircraft were to be included in the expanded program of military assistance to Thailand. If such aircraft were included, he warned, we would promptly and enormously increase the drag on the domestic economy of Thailand.

General White, sitting for Admiral Radford, consulted his papers and indicated that a certain number of jet light bombers were indeed included in the expanded program. In that case, replied Governor Stassen, the United States would either have to back up its additional military program for Thailand with economic assistance, or else pose a new threat to the well-being of the Thai economy.

Director Hughes indicated that he did not believe adoption of the Planning Board recommendation would prejudice or prejudge the analysis of the economy of Thailand and its capability to support the existing levels of military forces, which was now being undertaken by the so-called Prochnow Committee.7 The President inquired what [Page 860] the Prochnow Committee was and, upon being informed, said that at any rate he agreed with Governor Stassen that we should not have a duplication of the Turkish problem in Thailand. Secretary Humphrey also expressed emphatic agreement with this statement.

The President then inquired whether we had told the Thais whether we proposed to give them jet aircraft. General White replied that he could not answer this question definitely, but thought it was likely. After further questions by the President as to the cost of maintenance of jet aircraft and the availability of fields for their use in Thailand, the President suggested adoption of the recommendations of the NSC Planning Board, together with a study by the Departments of State and Defense of the proposed shipment of jet aircraft to Thailand under the FY 1957 program.

The National Security Council: 8

Discussed the subject in the light of the memorandum by the Secretary of Defense9 transmitted by the reference memorandum of January 10.
Noted that the FY 1957 mutual defense assistance program for Thailand has been developed on the basis of providing Thailand, beyond the needs of internal security, with a limited capability for initial resistance to external aggression and for contribution to a collective defense effort under the Manila Pact.
Directed the NSC Planning Board, in its review of NSC 5405, to review promptly the objectives of military assistance to Thailand, taking into account, if available at the time of such review, a forthcoming report on Thailand by the Interdepartmental Committee on Certain U.S. Aid Programs referred to in NSC Action No. 1486–e.
Noted that, pending the review directed in c above, the basis on which the FY 1957 mutual defense assistance program for Thailand has been developed (b above) will not create an immediate requirement for increasing the MDA program for Thailand, and will result in no new commitments to Thailand.
Noted the President’s authorization that the Departments of State and Defense re-examine the proposed shipment of jet aircraft to Thailand under the FY 1957 MDA program.

Note: The action in e above, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretaries of State and Defense.

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Gleason on March 9.
  2. For texts of NSC 5405, “United States Objectives and Courses of Action With Respect to Southeast Asia,” January 16, 1954, and NSC 5429/5, “Current U.S. Policy Toward the Far East,” December 22, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XII, Part 1, pp. 366 and 1062, respectively.
  3. The OCB Progress Report on NSC 5405, December 21, 1955, is in Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, NSC 5405.
  4. Regarding NSC Action No. 1486, see footnote 2, Document 484.
  5. These memoranda, both entitled “FY 1957 MDAP Objectives for Thailand,” are in Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, NSC 5405.
  6. Not found in Department of State files.
  7. At its 269th meeting on December 8, 1955, the NSC directed an interdepartmental committee, composed of representatives of the Departments of State, Defense, and the Treasury, and the ICA, to prepare studies of the programs of military and economic assistance provided by the United States to Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Vietnam, Formosa, and Korea. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council, 1955) The committee was chaired by Herbert V. Prochnow. A copy of the committee’s report on Thailand, dated August 6, 1956, is in Department of State, E/OFD Files: Lot 59 D 620, U.S. Aid Programs, 1956.
  8. The following paragraphs constitute NSC Action No. 1527. (Ibid., S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council, 1956) NSC Action No. 1527 was approved by President Eisenhower on March 9.
  9. Enclosure dated January 9, not printed, attached to Lay’s memorandum of January 10, cited in footnote 5 above.