104. Special National Intelligence Estimate1

SNIE 51–68


The Problem

To assess the probable course of insurgent activity in Burma over the next year, with special emphasis on the involvement of Communist China.


The recent sharp rift in Sino-Burmese relations, after a long period of cordiality, and the continuing deterioration in Burmaʼs economic situation have combined to produce a climate more favorable to Burmaʼs persistent insurgents—the Karen, Shan, and Kachin ethnic minorities as well as the Burmese Communists. In recent months there has been some intensification in dissident activity.
Over the next year there may be a further growth in the insurgent threat, due in part to the limited aid which we believe the Chinese will give to the ethnic minority insurgents along the border and to Burmese Communist insurgents in lower Burma.
Chinese support will probably remain limited in the near future, and the Burmese Government has stepped up both its political and military countermeasures. Hence we believe the insurgency will be contained during the next year.
The longer term outlook depends significantly upon the future policies of the Chinese and Burmese Governments. Given time and effort, Chinese supported insurgency could severely strain the re- sources [Page 254] of the Burmese Government, especially if Rangoon continues to generate popular discontent by implementing restrictive economic policies and persists in maintaining an uncompromising attitude towards the status of the ethnic minority groups.

[Here follows the Discussion section of the paper.]

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/EAP Files: Lot 90 D 165. Secret; Controlled Dissem. The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense, and the NSA prepared this estimate. All members of the USIB concurred with it except the representatives of the AEC and FBI who abstained on the grounds that the subject was outside their jurisdiction. A table of contents and a map indicating the major areas of insurgent activity are not printed.

    Fred Green, Director of the Office of Research and Analysis for East Asia and the Pacific, recommended that Hughes approve this estimate. Green noted that DIA and Berger had initially requested its production because of concern about increasing Chinese Communist involvement and cooperation among insurgent groups. DIA was the most concerned about the threat of insurgency, while the State and Office of National Estimates representatives did not view Chinese activities as a real danger. The other area of difference was the Burmese Army as a counter-insurgency force. CIA gave it high marks; DIA considered it totally inept. The estimateʼs conclusion is a compromise of these extremes, which Green considered the best judgment possible given inadequate sources of information. (Memorandum from Green to Hughes, March 12; ibid.)