293. Memorandum of Conversation1



  • Visit of ACM Dawee Chulasapya, Deputy Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff of Supreme Command of Thailand


  • Thailand
    • Deputy Minister of Defense—Dawee Chulasapya
    • Air Attaché—Group Captain Dakleow Susilvorn, RTAF
  • United States
    • Secretary of Defense—Robert S. McNamara
    • Assistant Secretary of Defense/ISA—John T. McNaughton
    • Ambassador to Thailand—Graham Martin
    • Assistant to Director, Far East Region/ISA—Captain J.B. Drachnik, USN
    • Desk Officer/Thailand, Department of State—Laurence Pickering
Introductory Remarks. The Secretary noted that we had resumed the bombing of NVN. Dawee indicated his pleasure and said he had been afraid we had stopped for good. Dawee said that Prime Minister Thanom sent his regards to the Secretary. He added that Thanom was a very cooperative person; very realistic.
Thai Assistance in Laos. The Secretary expressed his appreciation for the effective help given in Laos by the Thai T–28ʼs and artillery, to which Dawee responded that we would have to supply more T–28ʼs to the Thai to replace those in Laos. The Secretary believed that the return of the aircraft would occur in June or July and then added that if there were a delay we could always send more out.
Thai Counterinsurgency Efforts. The Secretary asked Dawee to tell him about Thailandʼs CI efforts in the Northeast. Dawee replied that their efforts were working very nicely. He noted they had found they would have to keep the MDU teams in place longer than was originally intended. There had been a few incidents in the NE—a few village chiefs had been killed. Nine of 15 MDUʼs were already established. There were thousands of villages in the NE and about 12 million people. Each MDU had to cover some 500 villages. They were trying to improve the land and water where the people lived; they were not forcing the people to move.

Village Radios. The Secretary wanted to know how many of the villages had radio receivers. Dawee answered that almost every village had. [Page 629] They had commercial transistor-type radios. As to transceivers, he noted that MAP had furnished him only some 400 sets; he planned for 4,000. The first 400 he had put into villages in the worst area. They worked very well. The Secretary expressed his concern that Thailand was very weak in such communications. Ambassador Martin offered that AID had now accepted the radio problem. Secretary McNamara stated that as far as he was concerned village radios were a military requirement, and he asked Mr. McNaughton to look into them and report to him.

The Secretary was advised that about 400 radios were in the FY64 program, had not been asked for until December 1964, were presently in construction and would be delivered in a couple of months. They were a commercial model and a production line had had to be started up. The Secretary noted that this was the same old story we had had with deliveries to Vietnam, and they could be shaken up. He said we would get the matter moving. He asked Dawee if he could absorb all of the 4,000 radios that he wanted within the next six months and take care of them. Dawee replied that the Thai could use all of them now. They were very good little radio sets and his people had been learning how to take care of them.

Communist Activity in South Thailand. The Secretary asked Dawee how much communist activity there was in Thailand. Dawee replied, “More than before”. He said every stranger is now reported and there seemed to be many. Ambassador Martin asked that he tell the Secretary of the new activity in the South. The Minister described the Chinese terrorist situation along the Malay border. He said they extorted money from the people. He spoke of the recently renewed agreement with Malaysia which provided a joint intelligence center at Songkhla. He said it was a very good operation so far. There were already 2 MDUʼs working there (not under his Supreme Command) and he would add two more from those under the Supreme Command. The border population was about 300,000, mixed Thai and Chinese; the total population of the five southern provinces was about 5 million. Ambassador Martin offered that Chinese teams had been infiltrated into the South. He repeated the information recently described in an intelligence report of the capture of a defector who had entered through Cambodia and was en route to the South. He noted the South was their priority area. He thought they had come by ship to Phnom Penh via the Mekong river. Dawee said that arms for these CTʼs come mostly from the coast by Chinese junk.
Project 22. The Ambassador thought Dawee would be interested in the approval of the Project 22 plan.2 The Secretary acknowledged that [Page 630] it had been approved here with minor suggested changes and was now on its way back to him via CINCPAC.

Inadequate Manning and Equipment Maintenance in Thai Armed Forces. The Secretary continued that we were disturbed at the low levels of maintenance of many of the Thai units, and at the inadequate manning of those units. He told Dawee that he should get rid of some of the ineffective ones and put the manpower into those required. Dawee replied that it wasnʼt all that easy. The problem was something like our problem with railroad firemen. The Secretary noted that we had solved the fireman problem. In a more serious mood, he then explained that Dawee had to do one of two things: either raise the men for his military or get rid of the unnecessary units. He continued that they must equate their manpower to the equipment. Dawee declared that the U.S. only supported combat units, not support units, and support units were necessary to any combat operation. We were supporting only some 80,000 of his military and there were 60,000 not supported. He said we had set up an RCT with no support units. Ambassador noted that the Thai had made a commitment to raise the Project 22 units to 80% of strength. Dawee confirmed this. The Secretary said he was pleased to hear that and in response said we would be pleased to do our part. The Secretary made the point that there were four things that had to be done. In priority order these were.

Economic improvement.
Counterinsurgency items.
Project 22 forces, an.
Development of balanced military forces.

He accepted for the U.S. a part of the responsibility for failing to make progress in these areas, but, he said, “we must set about correcting it.” He told Dawee that the Thais must move in that direction, and we would help.

The Secretary noted that the Thai Foreign Minister had made very good statements regarding our fight against communism. He noted that the security of Daweeʼs own nation was at stake. Dawee remarked that sometimes he had to press Americans to fight the communists. The Thai did not have to be urged to fight them. Ambassador Martin said that what had impressed him was that the Thai had made the offer of assist-ance to Vietnam and had paid for units to go there, by themselves. They did not come to us for help for that.

F–5 Aircraft for Thailand. Dawee then declared that he had no F–5ʼs; only F–86ʼs and T–28ʼs. The Secretary said that it wouldnʼt be F–5ʼs that saved the Northeast. Ambassador Martin said he would not (emphasized) recommend additions in the Thai air force without a change in the RTAF command.
Delivery of MAP Equipment and Stature of the Supreme Command. Martin hoped that the Secretaryʼs efforts would be pointed towards [Page 631] helping the Supreme Command, rather than the individual Thai services (referring to the matter the Ambassador had posed at an earlier date of MAP deliveries bypassing the Supreme Command). Dawee said he would appreciate help. He added that he had established a Joint Operations Center to exert proper control over service actions. The Secretary said we would tidy that up, sent for his secretary and dictated then and there a message to COMUSMACTHAI info the Ambassador Bangkok directing that he arrange immediately for all deliveries to a single representative of the Thai government.
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 70 A 3717, 333 Thailand. Secret. Drafted by Drachnik and approved by McNaughton on May 24. The meeting was held in McNamaraʼs office at the Pentagon.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 291.