278. Memorandum From Director of the Joint Staff (Burchinal) to the Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (LeMay)1



  • Thai Volunteers


  • a. State 2319 to Bangkok, 19 June2
  • b. JCSM 479–643
  • c. CINCPAC 200002Z June4
In reference a the Department of State reported that the Minister of the Thai Embassy in Washington indicated strong dissatisfaction with present US policy in Laos and considers US should build up Souvanna and rightists to be the dominant force in Laos. Recognizing the Lao lack of will to fight he concluded that Thai volunteers must be used, just as the communists use Viet Minh to bolster the PL. He indicated 10,000 Thai volunteers would be sufficient; the US role would be to supply equipment and similar support.
Comments on the above are as follows.
In October 1961 discussions were held between CHJUSMAG Thailand, CHMAAG Laos and C/S, RTA to discuss Thai encadrement. The Thais, as previously, indicated that they could not furnish encadrement without excessive harm to their own units. As an alternative it was suggested that the Thais furnish interpreters to USMAAG units.
In October 1962 when military assistance was pulled out there were 116 Thai volunteer specialists in Laos (43 interpreters, 73 surgical specialists, x-ray technicians, code clerks, radio operators, T–6 pilots).
A year ago when the subject of Thai encadrement was again raised the following are applicable.
CINCPAC commented that large scale Thai encadrement would be surfaced; that he doubted if Thais would confront Viet Minh without American participation on a shoulder to shoulder basis.
Both Phoumi and Souvanna were opposed to Thai encadrement; they welcomed training in Thailand but the traditional Lao mistrust and inferiority complex via-a-vis the Thais were displayed.
Recently, 8 June, Ambassador Unger has reconfirmed a negative Lao response to Thai help in Laos; he believed we should tread lightly for the moment and reopen the subject at an opportune time.
On 5 June, the Joint Chiefs of Staff in reference b informed the Secretary of Defense that use of Thai Special Forces as cadres and trainers in Laos would create major problems in coordination and control and that current training deficiencies of the Thai Special Forces would make it unlikely that their use would be effective at this time.
[3–1/2 lines of source text not declassified.
In reference c CINCPAC reports that at the planning conference in Bangkok which met on 18 June, Thai Minister of Defense Dawee indicated he was prepared to let the US make the decision on how to secure the Mekong River line and said “We will go along with you”. Dawee requested that Prime Minister Thanom be the CINC and that the Command pattern of SEATO Plan Five would be acceptable. Dawee further stated that he was prepared to commit the Second Thai Army (one division) and his tactical air forces.
These comments are submitted without the specific views on reference a of CINCPAC, or those of the American Ambassadors Bangkok and Vientiane, all of which have been requested. However, it is considered the comments in paragraphs 2c, d and e are still valid.
David A. Burchinal 5
Lt. General, USAF
Director, Joint Staff
  1. Source: Department of Defense, JCS Official Files, 9155.2 (8 May 1964) Top Secret. Prepared by Captain H.S. Jackson, USN, Pacific Division, Joint Staff.
  2. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 LAOS)
  3. Dated June 5. (Department of Defense, JCS Official Files, 9155.2 (8 May 1964))
  4. Not found, but summarized below.
  5. Printed from a copy that indicates Burchinal signed the original.