244. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Southeast Asian Affairs (Anderson) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Harriman)0


  • Lao Internal Security Forces

We believe it would be desirable to provide Souvanna with a completely loyal and well-trained internal security force that would serve him as a force to deal with internal subversion and, if need be, as a counter weight to the integrated army. Several months ago we asked the French to join with us in working out an agreement on the organization, support and training of these forces after informal discussions disclosed that our planning needed to be carefully coordinated if we are to avoid the sort of friction that has marred past Franco-American efforts in Laos. The attached telegram (Tab A)1 outlines our views on the position Embassy Vientiane has proposed we take in discussions with the French on this subject.

Our Embassy believes quite strongly that the civil police should be organized and trained according to the Ryan Plan2 which was drawn up by USOM/Laos security adviser Jack Ryan. This plan calls for a US trained civil police force in the Ministry of Interior that will eventually number about 6,000; this force will consist of urban, rural mobile and fixed units and specialized police. The French for their part have indicated that they will train the gendarmerie, some of whose functions duplicate those of the Ryan Plan’s rural police.

The Ryan Plan is well conceived and we have no objections to the Embassy’s using it as an initial position in talking with the French, especially as the Embassy has made certain modifications that may be acceptable to the French. However, we doubt whether Souvanna will agree to the implementation of the plan and we have instructed the Embassy [Page 541] not to insist upon it if it is not fully acceptable to Souvanna and the French. Since the Embassy has worked closely with Souvanna’s police adviser in the past and has good working relations with the French who are in contact with Souvanna now, we believe the Embassy is in the best position to determine what will be acceptable to all sides.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 851J.501/12–1961. Secret. Drafted by Bruns, cleared by Cross and Usher, and sent through Steeves and Peterson.
  2. Not attached and not identified.
  3. The Ryan plan is described in more detail in a memorandum from Anderson to Steeves, November 10. The plan envisioned a 3,200-man police force under the Ministry of Interior ultimately to number 6,000. The emphasis was on the countersubversive role of the provincial police in rural areas. A lightly armed village police would be reinforced by more heavily armed intervention units in each province, which would act as a strike force to counter armed terrorists. The United States would provide technicians, training personnel, and financial support for the police. (Department of State, Central Files, 851J.511/11–1061)