69. Memorandum From the Director, Far East Region (Heinz) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Bundy)0



  • Jet Aircraft for Cambodia


The Government of Cambodia (RKG) has requested, through military assistance channels, that T–37 jet aircraft be provided to participate in Independence Day ceremonies, 9 November 1961. According to Chief, MAAG (Cambodia) intent of government officials is to demonstrate to the populace that Cambodian pilots are undergoing jet training (six now in United States undergoing basic training). The Ambassador, in message Phnom Penh 1280, 6 April 1961, stated he is in accord with the action.1


There is no military justification for a jet program in Cambodia. The FY–61 program did not include jet aircraft, and the RKG was so advised; nor does the FY–62 program, at its current stage. CINCPAC noted, in [Page 150] message. 13 April 1961,2 that Washington, D.C. agencies have approved introduction of jet training and jet aircraft on political grounds, having overridden his position that the program could not be justified from a military standpoint. He concurs in the statements by Ambassador and Chief, MAAG that the RKG request should be supported.

In the same message CINCPAC recommends:

Deliver five T–37’s to Cambodia with essential support equipment.
Return pilots to Cambodia about 20 October after completion of approximately 100 hours of primary flight training in United States, cancelling proposed basic course that would have followed.
Provide 4 U.S. instructor pilots to participate in Independence Day ceremonies, with two remaining for approximately 13 weeks to complete in-country training of the six Cambodian pilots.
Other support arrangements.

By priority message dated 3 May 1961, Department of the Air Force advised CINCPAC that plan can be accomplished, utilizing C–124 aircraft to deliver four T–37 jet aircraft from Wichita, Kansas, at a cost of $964,200.3

Before the project can be consumated, a determination must be made as to whether or not the provisions of National Security Council Action 2267c, 21 July 1960,4 apply in this instance. This action requires that NSC be consulted on any question concerning jet aircraft for Viet Nam or Cambodia.

On 9 May 1961, the Director of the Coordinating Staff (NSC and Collateral Activities) (Mr. Wade) conferred informally with the Acting Executive Secretary, NSC (Mr. Boggs). They agreed that the NSC requirement to consult might be satisfied if the Deputy Assistant Secretary (ISA) (Mr. Bundy) were to consult informally with the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Mr. McGeorge Bundy). The basis for this consultation might be that the Operations Coordinating Board, in its minutes dated 25 November 1960 of a meeting of 16 November 1960, noted that the President approved the offer of training (of the six pilots) but made no decision with respect to providing aircraft, and that the President gave instructions that if RLG asked for aircraft, reply would be made to indicate that sympathetic consideration would be made at the appropriate time (Agenda Item 3).

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Based on Mr. McGeorge Bundy’s response, two alternative causes of action are available:

If he indicates no further action by NSC is required—OASD obtain Department of State concurrence and proceed with necessary programming and delivery actions. (Incl No. 1 hereto.)5
If he indicates NSC prior approval is required—obtain signature for the attached letter to Department of State, and forward. (Incl No. 2 hereto.)6


Recommend Deputy Assistant Secretary (ISA) call the Special Assistant to the President as indicated above.7

L. C. Heinz

Rear Admiral, USN
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Cambodia 000.1–, 1961. Secret
  2. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 751H.5622/4–661)
  3. CINCPAC 130318Z. (Ibid., 751H.5622/4–1361)
  4. Not printed. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Cambodia 000.1–, 1961)
  5. See vol. XVI, p. 208, footnote 12.
  6. The attached draft letter is not printed. It was apparently not sent. The letter described in footnote 7 below probably replaced it. Telegram 1018 to Phnom Penh, May 11, informed the Embassy that it agreed to Cambodia’s request for four jet trainers and the return of jet pilots in time for the independence ceremony. When informing Cambodia of this decision, Ambassador Trimble was to stress the need for improving border control with South Vietnam. (Department of State, Central Files, 751H.5622/4–2761)
  7. Not found attached.
  8. According to a letter from William Bundy to Ball, May 11 (1–14138/61), William Bundy checked with McGeorge Bundy who reported that the recommendations were also included in the report of the Vietnam Task Force. The President provisionally supported the Task Force recommendations unless either the Departments of State or Defense objected. Since both State and Defense had concurred, McGeorge Bundy concluded it was already approved by the President. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Cambodia 000.1–, 1961)