344. Report of the Thai Working Group to the East Asia and Pacific Interdepartmental Regional Group1


This report is submitted at this time in order to provide the Interdepartmental Regional Group with the maximum of factual and evaluatory material prior to the Groupʼs meeting with Ambassador Graham Martin, presently scheduled for Thursday, April 27, 1967.2 In preparing it, the Group considered the Missionʼs recent reports of the Thai insurgency problem (Bangkok telegrams 13375 and 13376 of April 16, 1967, and Airgram A–879, April 10, 1967),3 which were circulated to the Group on April 24, and other Mission reporting.

The Insurgency

Evolution of Communist Strategy

When he met with the Special Group CI in January 1965,4 Ambassador Martin noted the increased terrorism and assassination of Thai officials in the Northeast at that time; the establishment of a National Front Organization; Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Yiʼs statement to the French Ambassador in Peking that insurgency might break out in Thailand in 1965; and the increased Communist propaganda effort. These, he said, were indicators of “preliminary preparation for an all-out subversive movement in Thailand.”

Subsequent events proved that this was indeed the case. At that time, as Chen Yiʼs statement showed, the Communists sensed impending victory in Vietnam. They were moving to create, from what they hoped would be safehavens in Vietnam and Laos, a “war of national liberation” in Thailand.

The Presidentʼs decision to use American air and ground forces to check the deterioration in Vietnam upset this timetable. Thailand, recognizing that the outcome of the Vietnam struggle is vital to its security, [Page 765] gave the U.S. access to its bases. Our Vietnam strategy has required extensive and increasing use of Thai bases since February 1965.

In the late fall of 1965, both Communist propaganda and intelligence reports indicated a shift in their strategy toward Thailand with a much greater emphasis on terrorism and the creation of other outward manifestations of insurgency, with the greatest emphasis placed on the Lao border area of the Northeast. The decision to make this shift seemed clearly to have been made outside of Thailand, in Peking and Hanoi.

At that time, our assessment of the goals of this strategy, which risked longer-run possibilities of establishing a strong revolutionary base to achieve shorter-term objectives, was as follows: To apply pressure on the Thai Government to induce it to change its policy of close alliance with the United States; to shake U.S. faith in the stability of its ally; to develop a capability of striking at U.S. military installations in Thailand; and to protect the flank of the infiltration route through Laos and to provide an alternative route if necessary. In retrospect, we should have recognized this latter point more clearly than we did, i.e., that the Communists saw this Northeast border area not just in terms of their objectives in Thailand but as an area vital to their objectives in Vietnam.

Their principal weapon has been terrorism and armed propaganda. They have focussed great attention on recruitment of manpower and the establishment of village-based supporting structures. They have formed up in small armed groups in the mountainous, lightly populated areas, moving periodically into villages on the fringes of these areas. Their aim has been to break the links between the Thai Government and these remote but strategic areas and to replace the Governmentʼs authority with their own.

Present Situation

There has been a slow growth in the numbers of armed insurgents in the Northeast. Latest estimates put the figure at about 1300. Probably 25% of them have had guerrilla warfare training in North Vietnam.

Tables and graphs showing certain key statistics relating to the insurgency are attached.5 The key indicators of terrorist activity, i.e., assassinations, ambushes, and incidents of armed propaganda, show no major trends since the last Working Group report was submitted (September 2, 1966). Mr. deSilva appraised this level trend as indicating that the insurgent movement is encountering difficulty in its efforts to recruit or impress an adequate (and necessary) base of collaborators in the populated areas on the fringes of the base areas. He notes other intelligence bears out this view and also the appraisal that the insurgents are concentrating their efforts to consolidate their present organizations, to recruit [Page 766] more manpower, and to create the necessary village-based structures. He concludes that when an insurgent movement has not shown marked gains in resources or impact, this on balance seems favorable. He notes, however, that this does not equate with success, it simply gives further opportunity to persevere with the programs and doctrine which can bring success.


The outlook then is for continued Communist pressures, the effect of which will depend on Thai Government countermeasures and developments in the region outside of Thailand. The latter are unlikely to bring significant relief unless truly cataclysmic in nature. Communist Chinaʼs problems appear to have resulted in some falling off in the quality of the propaganda emanating from the “Voice of the Thai People”, a clandestine radio station located near Kunming. There are so far no more notable effects, however. The increasing pressures on the Viet Cong in South Vietnam and along the standard infiltration routes could well result in more Communist focus on the Lao border areas of Northeast Thailand rather than less.

We would thus expect continued intensive Communist pressures in the Northeast, with lower-level efforts at recruitment and training of cadre and some terrorism in the mid-South, North, and other parts of the country. The remnant CTs in the Malaysian border area will continue to be a problem, but are likely to continue their separation from the Communist effort in other parts of Thailand.

Thai Government Countermeasures

In its report of September 2, 1966,6 the Working Group outlined the strengths of the Thai Government and society, the inadequacies in the traditional patterns which had not seemed critical before but which seriously impeded the counterinsurgency effort, and the progress made, especially after the more intensive Communist effort beginning in late 1965, toward correcting these inadequacies. The following up-dates that report without repeating the material contained in it.

Administration and Coordination of Thai Counterinsurgency Effort

The 09–10 Plan—The CSOC/CPM structure described in the earlier report has continued its evolution, showing considerable capacity to adapt its operations in light of experience gained. Its major achievement to date is the integrated 09–10 (i.e. 1966–67) security operation, which was launched on January 15, 1967 with the aim of denying population and resources to insurgents on a continuing basis in eleven key areas in [Page 767] seven CPM provinces selected on the basis of carefully collected intelligence. There are now security forces in position in some 180 villages around the target areas, and civil activities aimed at cementing the allegiance of the village people are underway.

The forces involved include for each village a 12–16 man team made up of Volunteer Defense Corps (villagers) reinforced by Provincial Police (in one province by Army). These in turn are backed up by a strike unit in each target area, usually an infantry platoon but in some cases a Border Patrol Police platoon or a Special Forces Commando unit. In one particularly bad area in Nakhon Phanom Province, a battalion of the 13th RCT (Udorn) has been deployed to provide both the village security and strike forces. Part of its mission will be to organize, train and equip local volunteers.

The pressure which this operation has brought to bear on the terrorists has resulted in a rise in encounters between Thai Government forces and the terrorists and an increase in the intensity of violence. Reports indicate that Communist patterns have been disrupted, especially in two key districts in Nong Khai and Sakhon Nakhon. Incidents of armed propaganda and harassment of security forces have declined in the target area but have increased in adjacent areas. This probably represents a net gain in that it requires the Communists to establish a new infrastructure, but it will also require the Government to extend continuing protection to new areas without again exposing existing 09–10 villages.

There have naturally been weaknesses in the 09–10 operation. Planning on the civil side was at first weak, so that the focus was too much on the insurgent rather than on the villager whose allegiance must be won. Our Mission directed a major effort at this problem and a considerable shift of focus was achieved although, not unexpectedly, the results in individual provinces vary with the quality and energy of the local officials involved.

In exposing this weakness on the civil planning side, the operation has brought a new focus of attention on the need to involve the old-line civilian functional ministries more deeply in the national counterinsurgency effort. But the greatest gain is in the shift away from the old pattern of large-scale, one-time sweeps through infected areas toward the provision of continuous benign government presence and protection.

The Accelerated Rural Development Program—To an increasing degree, the improvements in provincial administration and coordination are taking shape around the ARD. The emphasis on counterinsurgency needs noted in the previous Working Group report has continued, especially the emphasis on service tracks and pioneer roads to reach more villages. Improved planning and coordination of CD, health, agricultural and educational activities is receiving increased emphasis. As noted above, integration of security and developmental activities is at present [Page 768] in large part a function of the individual governors, although a more systematic approach is being pressed by our Mission through ARD programming and planning.

Thai Police

The gains reported in the last Working Group report have been consolidated and extended. The scheduled 6250-man increase in the police by June 1967 will be exceeded by a wide margin at the present rate of training. Of 250 township police stations agreed to, 97 have been completed, 87 are under construction, and contracts have been awarded for the rest. It is the Working Groupʼs view that the rapid completion of these stations and consideration of the further expansion of the program in the most threatened areas of the Northeast should be a first-priority matter.


The Joint Security Centers described in our previous report continue to contribute in a major way to the development, coordination and exploitation of intelligence. Since the previous report was written, a new JSC has been established at Chieng Mai to cover the northern provinces. The Thai are showing greatly increased appreciation that access to intelligence on insurgent activities requires good relations with the people of the villages. This is reflected particularly in programs such as the Border Patrol Police Civic Action Program among hill tribes and in other remote areas and in the Peoplesʼ Assistance Teams and Census Aspiration groups.

Modern interrogation techniques have been adopted and have greatly increased the yield from captives and defectors.

With a great assist from ARPA field unitʼs work with the Thai, modern scientific devices are being brought to bear on problems of detection and interdiction, including the difficult problem of Mekong River patrol.

Armed Forces

The contribution of Royal Thai Army units to the 09–10 Plan has been discussed above. Inclusive of units involved in that Plan two infantry battalions and five infantry companies have been deployed in the field in the CPM area during the period since the last Working Group report. In addition are the Special Forces Teams, the Airborne Company, and the RTAF helicopters regularly assigned to CPM-1.

RTA manning levels rose from 62% to 68% between September 30, 1966 and January 31, 1967, with MAP-supported forces showing a rise from 68% to 74.7% during the same period. Key Project 22 units were near or above the 80% level.

General Praphat has given tacit agreement to greater involvement of Royal Thai Army Forces, under CSOC control, in the task of bringing physical security to more of the villages of critical areas of the Northeast.

[Page 769]


The provision of additional helicopter lift capability, including pilot and maintenance training, to the armed forces and police remains a matter of the highest priority.

The withdrawal of all U.S. helicopter support for counterinsurgency operations on January 31 of this year had a seriously adverse effect on the ability of the government to respond to the needs of the situation, particularly as it came in the midst of the initiation of 09–10 Plan operations. The Royal Thai Air Force has performed creditably in its attempt to fill the gap, although the bulk of its force is still newly trained.

At present, sixteen helicopters have been deployed to the Northeast. They have flown the gamut of counterinsurgency missions since taking over, including limited night operations. During March 1967 the RTAF flew their H–34s at 28.6 hours per month rate, although only 42 of the 50 they now have were operable. This is an all time high. The five helicopters deployed to CPM-1 at Sakhon Nakhon achieved a utilization rate of over 54 hours per helicopter during February.

Psychological Operations

In addition to the Mobile Information Teams which have become a standard part of the provincial government operations in Thailand, a much greater emphasis on psychological operations is evident. Anti-Red China propaganda is being given heavy play; Vietnamese and Chinese language materials are beginning to be used; the Hanoi-trained Communist insurgents have been effectively exploited; a platoon of the Royal Thai Army Psy Ops Company has been attached to the CSOC, greatly increasing its leaflet and small poster production capability; extensive use is being made of tactical leaflet and airborne loudspeaker techniques; and a “white paper” is under preparation to describe the RTG struggle against Communist infiltration.

Political Development

In addition to the Accelerated Rural Development program, which is directed toward increasing the capacity of provincial governors to plan and execute local development projects, two efforts, the Developing Democracy and Village Leader Training programs, attempt to strengthen governmental institutions at the local level.

Essentially, the Developing Democracy Program is a systematic effort of the Thai Government to train members of councils in selected townships and, upon completion of the five-day training period, to furnish the council with a grant of funds to be used in carrying out rural development activity. Composed of the township chief, headmen and elected representatives of villages within the jurisdiction of the township, a doctor, and a teacher, the township council may achieve juristic [Page 770] status with limited power to levy and disburse taxes. Members of Councils in 61 townships were trained in 1966, the first year of the program, and coverage will be expanded in 1967 to 192 new townships.

The Village Leader Training Program provides similar training to members of the “village committee,” an institution which serves as the focal point for discussion and, hopefully, solution of problems in villages located in areas where a Thai Community Development Department is working. Members of the village committee are the headman, the school-teacher, and between five and nine representatives elected by the villages. If problems identified by the committee cannot be dealt with by the villagers themselves, a request for assistance may be made to the provincial governorʼs office, which has money set aside especially for these requests. Both the Developing Democracy Program and the Village Leader Training Program contain the seeds of ultimate self-government at the local level. In the short run they contribute to the flow of meaningful communication between the government and its rural citizens.

These activities supplement efforts of the Thai Government to increase its effectiveness and responsiveness at the district level by the training of officers at the District Officer Academy.

Village Security

In our previous report, the Working Group noted the launching of pilot projects in this field looking to the establishment of a simple program for an auxiliary to the civil police drawn from the villages. These projects (Volunteer Defense Corps, Village Security Organization, Peoplesʼ Assistance Teams) have gone through many vicissitudes in the ensuing six months. General Praphat has now agreed to the formation of a committee on village security which will develop out of the three pilot programs a unified concept for their operation, strengthen their relationship with the police, and accelerate their recruitment, training and deployment.

U.S. Supporting Role

The programs described are and must continue to be Thai programs. Our contribution of material and technical assistance and training must always be marginal to the total effort—but it remains nonetheless critical to its success.

Our effort has a vital catalytic role, and it gives us a degree of influence over the shape and direction of programs which could mean the difference between success and failure in some cases.


With the shift in Communist strategy in late 1964 and 1965 and the accelerated Thai Government response came an accompanying increase in our AID support to Thailand. From a $12 million total grant program [Page 771] in FY 64 the grant program increased to $19 million in FY 65 and jumped to $43 million in FY 66. Present demands have increased further, with the Mission seeking a total of roughly $50 million for FY 67. Virtually all of the increases are in support of security-related programs.

Of the $36.3 million SA program requested for FY 67, $17 million is for civil police and $14 million for the Accelerated Rural Development program. Current fund availabilities limit the SA program approvals to $25.3 million for the present. AID/W is attempting to secure additional funds to meet the Missionʼs program. The FY 67 TC program, which is approximately $13.2 million, includes a number of activities which bear on the insurgency in the Northeast.

The Missionʼs FY 68 program calls for $49.1 million in grants, including $33.4 million SA.

MAP and U.S. Military Training Assistance

The level for FY 67 and 68 is set at $60 million, and the Thai have been informed of both.

The item content will emphasize to the maximum the counterinsurgency mission, although development of Thai forces toward Project 22 capabilities will also be given a high priority. The latter reflects the continuing Thai concern with potential threats to its security along the Lao border. Evidences of instability or increased Communist activity in Laos are the cause of immediate deep concern in Bangkok. The Thai continue to maintain artillery forces in the Plaine des Jarres area and to supply pilots and aircraft to the Lao Air Force. It has become increasingly clear that when the time comes to reach a settlement of the Vietnam crisis that the Thai will do everything possible to bring about a focus of attention on the Lao situation at the same time to assure that their security is not sacrificed in that direction. All this results in a high degree of continued interest on their part in the joint planning known as Project 22 to meet possible limited conventional threats in the Mekong Valley, and the development of their conventional forces required to permit them to fill the roles under these plans.

The Mission is presently engaged in the development of a five-year program covering the years 69–72. This program involves an effective $60 million level for each year, but in FY 70 there would be a $10 million sales program as part of the $60 million total, and in FY 71 and 72 a $20 million sales component. Thus the Thai budget would be picking up an increasing share of the foreign exchange costs (in addition to all local costs) while maintaining the full momentum of modernization of their forces.

Company D First Special Forces Group, U.S. Army, continued implementing CI training assistance programs for RTAF Special Forces and Thai National Police elements.

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The RTA Infantry company CI training program by joint US/RTA Special Forces teams is continuing satisfactorily at Trang, Pak Chong, and Sakhon Nakhon. Six companies have completed the ten-week program, three companies are in the final operational phases, and two companies are in the initial training phases. Eight more companies are scheduled into this training.

A new program is being developed which will provide CI training for an additional 34 rifle companies during the period April–September 1967 in an abbreviated three-week course. Company D is providing assistance, also, in development of the training for the RTA volunteer regiment to South Vietnam.

There are five 606th Air Commando Squadron training teams operating, one at each of the RTAF Tactical Composite Squadrons at Kokethien, Chieng Mai, Ubon, Udorn and with the Transport Squadron at Don Muang. These teams are providing advice and training in CI techniques and tactics.

U.S. Navy Seabees are advising and assisting the Thai Border Patrol Police Construction Teams in the hill tribe areas with the principal objective of winning villager support for the RTG. The Seabees also provide medical aid to the remote villages to foster cooperation of the people with the RTG. This program holds much promise for success in the future.

The Ninth Logistical Command U.S. Army is providing on-the-job training in nineteen subjects for 488 trainees programmed over a 1-year period.

The U.S. Armed Forces have provided a catalytic role in advising and assisting the Thai Government activities in counterinsurgency and have strengthened the relationship between the Thai forces and the local populace in the remote areas.


Our information programs and capabilities were expanded during the year to reach primary audiences in especially sensitive areas of the Northeast and South with messages on the security and development of Thailand and on the dangers of Communist subversion. In the past year we opened an additional three branch posts, each staffed with an American USIS officer and Thai assistants, giving USIS Thailand eleven outlets throughout the country plus the headquarters in Bangkok. Just last week USIA authorized USIS Thailand to open still another three branches as soon as Bangkok believes the time is propitious; the resources have been set aside by Washington and the personnel to staff the branches are available almost immediately. VOAʼs Project TEAK which will be on the air by Christmas will provide the Thai with a capability to broadcast a stronger signal to their own people and as part of the TEAK agreement, USIA is [Page 773] providing a separate 100 KW transmitter to the Thai Government to reach Northern hill tribes in their own dialects.

Coordination of U.S. Effort

The Mission has continued to focus attention on this field. The assignment of Mr. deSilva, at the request of Ambassador Martin, to what came to be the position of Special Assistant/Counter Insurgency was noted in our previous report. It appears that the position has made progress toward better coordination on the U.S. side, and through its liaison with the CSOC, a more adequate communication with the Thai on counterinsurgency matters.

In Washington, the Working Group has met monthly since its establishment by the Interdepartmental Regional Group to review the Missionʼs periodic reporting on the situation and programs and to assure coordination of the backstopping effort. We will continue this practice, reporting to the IRG every six months or as the situation requires.


Communist pressures on Thailand will continue and may well increase. The Thai response has been encouraging. They have come a long way toward recognizing the need to provide continuous security at the village level and to win the villagersʼ positive support and allegiance. The U.S. Mission deserves considerable credit for this fact.

The achievement of these goals will require continued concentration of Thai Government effort. At the present level of support of the insurgency by Peking and Hanoi, the Thai will not need direct U.S. involvement, although our continued assistance will be required. Success of the effort is critical to U.S. interests in Asia. We will need great flexibility in programming in order to meet possible shifts in Communist strategy and to support new programs developed from experience such as that gained in the implementation of the 09–10 Plan. Priority for the Thai counterinsurgency programs and related activities should continue to be given, but after Vietnam in allocating assets of men, money and materiel, as directed by the Special Group (CI) on January 25, 1966.

For the Thai Working Group:
Laurence G. Pickering
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–1 THAI. Secret. This report was passed to the Australian and New Zealand Governments on May 13. In an attached memorandum to Rusk suggesting this action, also May 13, Bundy noted that, “This was regarded by all IRG members and by Ambassador Martin as a good report.” Bundy noted that by providing an “unaltered document originally designed for our internal use” the United States would be demonstrating its openness to the Australians and New Zealanders.
  2. No record of this meeting has been found.
  3. None printed. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–7 THAI and POL 23–1 THAI)
  4. See Document 286.
  5. Attached, but not printed.
  6. Not found.