220. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Southeast Asian Affairs (Kocher) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson)1


  • Franco-American Cooperation in ANL Training


The French Ambassador called on you on April 10 to present the French Government’s views on ANL training and to describe a new formula to assure useful Franco-American cooperation in Laos (Deptel 1228,2 Tab A). This formula included French acceptance of the principle of U.S. participation in ANL training and French willingness to pay the cost of 80 additional French instructors. Thus it represented progress from the earlier French position of a French monopoly of training activities. You informed Mr. Alphand that we would submit the new proposal for Defense Department consideration. We have learned informally from Defense (Mr. Irwin through Colonel Bingham) that the [Page 526] Defense Department3 will find the French proposal unacceptable substantially for the reasons set forth in Vientiane’s 17674 (Tab B) and Baguio’s 165(Tab C).

These reasons may be summarized as follows:

The new French proposal would almost certainly be unacceptable to the RLG which does not really want French training to continue;
It is not responsive to the urgent political and security needs which the Heintges plan was designed to meet through immediate, simultaneous country-wide battalion training;
Removal of two battalions from the field to a training center would critically reduce the already weak internal security arrangements and would probably result in RLG requests for an increase in the ANL force level and support;
Continued French monopoly of combat training would exclude the U.S. from a vital sector necessary to sound logistic programming;
It would involve a large new expense item, i.e., transportation of two battalions and equipment by air about every three months to and from the training center as well as the redeployment of troops to cover vacated areas.

FYI: A later report from Vientiane (Embtel 1780,6 Tab D) indicates a possibility that the French might agree to the formation of field training teams assigned to regional headquartrs and to the attachment to these teams of U.S. logistics instructors in civilian clothes. If this should be so (and we are not at all sure that Delafon, the French Army Attaché in Vientiane, who gave our Embassy this report, speaks with authority in this case) then 2) above would no longer be applicable. End FYI.

Recommendation: 7

That you inform Mr. Joxe, or instruct Paris to inform the Quai d’Orsay that: [Page 527]

We see certain disadvantages in the French proposal for the reasons set forth in numbered paragraphs 1) through 5) under Discussion above. However, we feel these disadvantages can be eliminated within the framework of the French proposal in a manner which will satisfy the RLG, France and the U.S. and at the same time meet our indispensable requirement of prompt rehabilitation of the Lao National Army.
We are pleased to learn that the British are prepared, provided discreet Franco-American plan can be worked out, to take the position that admission of U.S. instructors would not be a violation of the letter or the spirit of the Geneva Accords by arguing from Article 10 of the Laos Ceasefire Agreement and the last sentence of the Lao Unilateral Declaration at Geneva (IC/47 Rev.1, 21 July 1954)8 (Tab E). They would take the line that these references indicate it was presumed at Geneva that other than French instructors might be admitted to Laos in the future if required for effective territorial defense.
We would prefer that the Chief of the French Military Mission maintain overall command of the training of Lao combat units in order to make the fullest use of existing French assets and to minimize provocation of the Communist bloc. We also consider it important, however, to meet the wishes of the Lao and our own requirement. FYI: One suggestion, made by Mr. Parsons, is that U.S. training personnel in civilian clothes be stationed at area headquarters, ostensibly only for logistic training but with the understanding that they shall take part, under French overall command, in troop training. This is a possible compromise solution that can be proposed to the French unless further explorations with the British re 2) above should indicate that they are prepared to support U.S. uniformed personnel. End FYI.
We are prepared to undertake detailed discussions of the foregoing in Paris or in Washington as the French Government prefers. We believe that such discussions should be broadened to include representatives of the RLG as soon as practicable. FYI: If possible, Mr. Parsons on his return to the States might stop in at Paris to participate in these talks if the timing should be suitable and if his schedule can be arranged accordingly. End FYI.

  1. Source: Department of State, FE/SEA (Laos) Files: Lot 65 D 169, 403.2 Lao Army Training, Dec. 1958–Apr. 1959. Secret. Drafted by Corcoran and cleared with WE and the Department of Defense in substance. None of the tabs was attached.
  2. Telegram 1228, April 10, summarized the conversation reported supra .
  3. The formal Department of Defense response is in a letter from Deputy Secretary of Defense Quarles to Herter, May 4. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5/5–459; included in the microfiche supplement)
  4. Telegram 1767, April 15, contained the views of the Embassy, Military Attaché, and PEO. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5/4–1559; included in the microfiche supplement)
  5. Telegram 16, April 16, contained the views of Ambassador Smith and Admiral Felt, both of whom were in Baguio, Philippines, for the annual Far East Chiefs of Mission meeting. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5/4–1659; included in the microfiche supplement)
  6. Dated April 18. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5/4–1859)
  7. There is no indication on the source text if Robertson approved these recommendations, but he made the recommended points to Secretary General of the French Foreign Ministry, Louis Joxe, and French Ambassador Alphand on April 21, according to telegram 3986 to Paris, April 22. (ibid., 751J.5/4–2259; included in the microfiche supplement)
  8. The Geneva agreement on cessation of hostilities in Laos and the Lao unilateral declaration are printed in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. xvi, pp. 15401544.