286. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Minutes of the Meeting of the Special Group (CI), 2:00 p.m., Friday, January 29, 19652


  • Mr. McGeorge Bundy, Mr. McCone, General Wheeler, Mr. Rowan, Mr. Komer, Ambassador Thompson vice Governor Harriman, Mr. Solbert vice Mr. Vance, Mr. Gaud vice Mr. Bell
  • General Carter, Ambassador Martin, Mr. Trueheart, Mr. Pickering, Mr. Maechling, Mr. Colby, [name deleted] and Mr. Lair were present for the meeting

At Mr. Bundyʼs suggestion, Mr. McCone explained to the Group his concern over ominous signs of trouble in Thailand, a country which has long been under surveillance by the Special Group. He suggested that the Group discuss the problems with the Ambassador, particularly in view of signs that Thailand is becoming a prime target for ChiCom infiltration and subversion.

At Ambassador Martinʼs request, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] reviewed the indicators pointing toward the dangers of Thailand [Page 614] becoming a target of increased Communist activity in 1965. Among these, he mentioned increasing terrorism and assassination of Thai officials in the Northeast, establishment of a “Thai National Front” group, Chen Yiʼs statement to the French Ambassador in Peking that insurgency may break out in Thailand in 1965, and an increase in Communist radio propaganda and distribution of leaflets. Nevertheless, he said, the situation still remains in Phase I of insurgency. In reply to Mr. Gaud, he said that the Thai Government is capable of handling the situation at its present level and is planning a series of internal security measures throughout the area, at the same time conducting civic action.

Ambassador Martin then briefed the Group on how he interprets these signs, saying that he is of the opinion that this is preliminary preparation for an all-out subversive movement in Thailand. He then reviewed the principal counterinsurgency programs, stating that the success of the Mobile Development Units (MDUʼs) has had a catalytic effect on other programs of the Thai Government. He pointed out that in all these programs the Thai attitude is one of intense cooperation, and the climate is favorable for permanent improvements. He said that one of the most significant developments is President Johnsonʼs recent letter to the Prime Minister of Thailand approving joint planning between Thailand and the United States for the defense of the Mekong lowlands, adding that this joint planning is evidence of partnership to the Government of Thailand.3

Mr. McCone asked if Thailandʼs long history of independent, rather than colonial domination, has prepared her better to cope with insurgency or is there the same lack of interest or discontent on the part of the people with the central government as evidenced in South Vietnam. The Ambassador said that a negative feeling toward the central government is similar in the underdeveloped areas, particularly the Northeast, but for different reasons: these areas of Thailand have always been considered economically unimportant, and the central government has paid them little attention.

Mr. McCone mentioned several of the programs in Thailand, including the police programs, with which the Group had been previously involved, and asked the Ambassador what we need—an intensification of these programs, more money, more people, or more training? Ambassador Martin explained that the Border Patrol Police is an effective unit, [1 line of source text not declassified].

Mr. Bundy asked about intelligence collection in these areas, whether it is continuous or on an in-and-out basis. [less than 1 line of source text [Page 615] not declassified] answered that his representatives are in and out of the area, remaining in the background.

Ambassador Martin continued that he is in the midst of talks on the Military Assistance Program and that his recommendations are under consideration. With respect to other programs he cited the following as examples of what is needed: (a) The Government of Thailand is having difficulty in meeting payment of per diem to the police for field duty in the Northeast connected with the current emergency; he requested an additional $36,000 for this purpose; (b) Additional funds are needed for petroleum requirements for the MDUʼs ($346,000); (c) Additional road equipment is required for the MDUʼs ($300,000); (d) $42,000 is needed for Special Operation Center radios; and (e) Ambassador Martin requested that AID consider increasing the $50,000 annual contingency fund. Mr. Gaud replied that if that amount is spent wisely, additional contingency funds would be available.

Mr. Rowan requested information on the proposal to locate a million-watt transmitter in Thailand to beam broadcasts to the whole of Southeast Asia. The Group discussed the reasons why it had not been wanted in Vietnam. Ambassador Martin said that the previous attitudes of the Thai Government had been negative on the proposal, and that he preferred not to reopen the subject unless it is firm that we want to locate it in Thailand rather than in Vietnam. It was agreed that USIA would query Ambassador Taylor on his wishes in this matter.

C.G. Moody, Jr.
Executive Secretary
Special Group (CI)
  1. Source: Department of State, S/S-Special Group (Counter Insurgency) Files: Lot 68 D 451, Minutes of Meetings, Jan.–Dec. 1965. Secret. Drafted on February 2.
  2. See U.S. Covert Actions and Counter-Insurgency Programs on pp. XXXV–XLI for general information on the evolution of the Special Group for Counter-Insurgency.
  3. Apparent reference to Johnsonʼs approval of Joint U.S.-Thai military planning on June 22, 1964.