221. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (McElroy)1



  • French Proposal for Supporting and Improving Armée Nationale Laos (C)
The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reviewed the French proposals2 appended to the memorandum from the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA), dated 17 April 1959,3 for supporting and improving the Armée Nationale Laos, and consider these proposals unacceptable for the reasons indicated below:

[Here follow five reasons, a–e, why the French proposals were unacceptable to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They are substantially the same as the five reasons listed in Kocher’s memorandum supra .]

f. The French proposals still call for U.S. personnel to function as civilian “specialists” which would prolong this thinly disguised subterfuge with an inevitable loss of dignity and face for the United States.

It is manifestly in the best interest of the United States to have French cooperation in this important program. The current position of the French Government, which accepts participation by the United States in the over-all training effort in Laos, does represent an important step forward. However, it is apparent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that acceptance of the French proposals would in fact subordinate the U.S. training effort to that of the French and as a practical matter would not achieve the desired results.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that training of the Lao Army should be decentralized throughout the countryside in accordance with the concept previously recommended by the Heintges plan, and that U.S. participation in both combat and logistical training is essential. Furthermore, the urgency of the situation, together with the courageous actions of the Royal Lao Government in regard to the Geneva Accords and their current desire for U.S. assistance in matériel, instructors, training personnel and technicians, dictate that immediate action be taken by the United States, preferably within the framework of French cooperation, but with a determination to act unilaterally if circumstances require.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff have noted that the Department of State on 22 April 1959 communicated to the French Government U.S. comments on the French proposal for Franco-American cooperation for improvement of the Armée Nationale Laos.4 In view of paragraph 2 above, the Joint Chiefs of Staff do not concur with French over-all command of any joint training plan developed.
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 63 A 1672, 353 Laos. Secret.
  2. Reference is to the French note attached to Document 219.
  3. Memorandum from Irwin to the JCS, April 17. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 63 A 1672, 353 Laos)
  4. The meeting took place on April 21; see footnote 7, supra .