93. Paper Prepared by the President’s Military Representative (Taylor)0
IMPRESSIONS OF CAMBODIA
1. Sensitivity Towards Border Violations
There is no question but what Sihanouk and his Government are genuinely disturbed over the violations—real and imagined—of their territory by Vietnamese and Thai forces. It is entirely possible that if these violations continue and the U.S. does nothing in Sihanouk’s eyes to remedy this situation, Sihanouk, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] might throw out our MAAG and invite in Communist advisors. (For my meeting with Sihanouk, see appended cable.)2
2. The Mission of Military Aid
The expressed objectives of the Military Aid Program appear consistent with U.S. area objectives. The most urgent problem in the MAP field is the increase in the Cambodian Army now under discussion. The proposal is to add three infantry battalions, a frontier battalion, and some 924 augmentation spaces to the MAP-supported troop structure in order to allow Sihanouk to reinforce the northeastern provinces and to improve their capability of opposing VC infiltration. The total cost of the equipment which we are prepared to furnish through FY 68 is $1.7 million, but there is an additional $1.0 million for the first year with annual reductions thereafter in pay, allowances and soft goods necessary to support the increase which neither the U.S. nor the Cambodians have agreed to pay. The Cambodian position is that the U.S. should pay the same percentage (45-U.S.; 55-RKG) of these costs as that which the U.S. has been paying for the remainder of the Armed Forces of Cambodia. Whether or not to accede on this point is presently an unresolved problem.
3. Attitude of Minister Lon Nol
In my call on Lon Nol, his attitude was generally grumpy and unpleasant. I gathered that Sihanouk has borne down hard on him to prevent the border violations which are causing such a national rumpus.[Page 210]
In expressing his unhappiness, Lon Nol hinted broadly at the possible need for the Cambodians to look elsewhere for help because of the uncooperative attitude of the U.S. When I tried to get him to speak frankly on the subject of the proposed augmentation in Cambodian forces in order to understand his position, he was generally evasive. My impression was that for considerations of face, the Cambodians are unlikely to reply formally to our latest and—from their viewpoint—unsatisfactory offer.
4. Counterinsurgency Activities
The Cambodian Army has a very effective civic action program which dates back to about 1954. According to Lon Nol, the police are well trained and work well with the Army in holding down subversive insurgents. However, the large Vietnamese minority in the country affords an excellent background for the formation of VC cells throughout the country. The police are intermittently successful in rounding up these cells.
(See attached Memo on FARK & Police re CI roles)3
- Sihanouk’s morbid fear of his neighbors—Thailand and Vietnam—have created a situation of tension and emotionalism which might blow up at any time.
- Sihanouk would like to be counted an anti-Communist, neutral ally of the U.S. and a favored recipient of U.S. aid.
- To deal with border incidents, we need to find some formula for policing the Cambodian frontier by a respected neutral authority. Perhaps the UN presence may be the answer. Sihanouk’s alleged willingness to receive SVN military representation should be explored and, if sincere, accepted.
- It is worth our while to work out a solution with Sihanouk for the provision of forces for northeastern Cambodia. We have already paid the price for this reinforcement in terms of our relations with Thailand. The main problem is to reach agreement with Sihanouk which will not appear to him as a yielding to blackmail.
- Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Far East Trip, September 1962, T-022–69. Top Secret.↩
- Taylor was on the second to last day of his trip and was probably in Hawaii or en route there.↩
- See Document 92.↩
- Not printed. Apparent reference to a Draft #3 by William Bundy, September 18. (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Far East Trip, September 1962, T-022–69)↩