363. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Warnke) to Secretary of Defense McNamara 1
- Additional Thai Troops for Vietnam
At Tab A is Embassy Bangkok response2 to the Washington position (Tab B)3 regarding Thai “requirements” relating to a decision to send additional troops to South Vietnam.[Page 804]
Ambassador Unger seeks Washington decisions on the points detailed below. He has asked for a DOD representative to come to Bangkok as soon as possible to discuss the implementation of these decisions and, in particular, to discuss the ground rules for the joint force requirement study with the Thai. I have asked Dick Steadman to undertake this, and he is prepared to leave this weekend. Ambassador Unger hopes to be able to present our position to the Thai by 16 October, and he is striving for a decision and a Thai announcement by the end of October.
Following are the Embassy Bangkok recommendations regarding US commitments in connection with a Thai decision to train and deploy up to 10,800 men to Vietnam.
- That we agree to full support (with overseas allowances at the Korean rate), except base pay and allowances, for the training and operating costs of Thai forces deployed to Vietnam. You have already agreed to this, and we will endeavor to see that the “no cost to Thai budget beyond base pay and allowances” concept is followed without permitting the introduction of unwarranted frills.
That the Thai be informed that the FY68 MAP will be increased from $60 to $75 million and that the FY69 MAP will be a minimum of $75 million.
This proposal is designed to give the Thai concrete evidence of our intention to improve their at home capabilities while avoiding time-consuming haggling over specific items or their “Replacement sets of equipment” concept to make up for manpower losses resulting from troop deployments to Vietnam. The Embassy believes this approach would save time while preserving the option to tailor these programs in the manner which makes the most military sense.
I do not believe that the current equipment status of Thai forces requires programs of this size to provide them a military capability to deal with their internal security problem. However, I do believe that programs of these amounts could be structured to provide material which would be useful in improving the RTARF capability to meet an expanded internal security threat or a limited conventional threat provided the Thai are prepared to fund the required manpower and operating costs to maintain and utilize this equipment. Such MAP programs would concentrate on improving the training, basic equipment, and mobility of Thai forces and on developing the framework of a logistic support system within the Thai Army. Items which the Embassy/JUSMAG feel must be included in the programs for “political” reasons will be identified as such and presented to Washington for a decision.
If expediting a Thai decision and announcement is important, I recommend that you approve an increase in the Thai MAP from $60 to $75 [Page 805] million in FY68 and agree to $75 million as a planning figure for FY69 (not a minimum figure as proposed by Embassy).4
That we not now make a specific hard decision regarding the helicopter force structure issue but that we instead address it along with the joint force structure study. The Embassy points to the need for more total rotor lift in Thailand, the rapidly improving RTAF performance of its CH–34ʼs, the Thai decision (by Praphat) that the RTA must have an organic helicopter capability as factors which weigh against making a firm decision now.
The Embassy and JUSMAG are clearly concerned about the possible problems relating to an organic RTA lift, but they are sensitive to the Thai internal problems and seek to avoid our becoming set in concrete on the issue. I feel we should be tough on this and insist that the Thai command and control and maintenance organization be capable of achieving maximum possible utilization of all military helicopters in Thailand. This might include arrangements where the RTA has an organic wing serviced by the RTAF and operating under a command system which makes it responsive to all requirements.
I recommend reserving the final decision on this issue and that Dick Steadman be instructed to be firm in principle and to insist that a Thai/ US agreed plan be submitted here before any commitments are made to the Thai.5
- That we agree to construct a site for a Hawk battery in the Bangkok vicinity, to deploy this battery when the site is ready (about 6 months), to provide US manning (@ 25 officers and 200 enlisted men) for the battery until the Thai are trained to assume full responsibility (@ 2 years), and to pay for equipment and technical service required to keep the battery operationally ready.
The approximate costs of this formulation would be:
- Construction (all costs) $0.8 millio.
- CONUS training for Thai (2 yrs) $1.8 millio.
- US personnel for 18 months $1.5 millio.
- Annual equipment and technical service maintenance (all costs)—$1.7 millio.
Our original formulation was that we would train the Thai to use and maintain a Hawk battery, that we would provide them with a battery when they were prepared to run it, that we would provide equipment necessary to construct and maintain the battery, but that all baht costs involved in construction and maintenance would be borne by Thai.[Page 806]
A Hawk battery around Bangkok cannot now be justified on military grounds and, in a post-Vietnam environment, the utility is so marginal that even then its deployment must be viewed as essentially a political-psychological decision.
The Embassy seems to be firm in its belief that the Thai will insist on Hawks and that it will be difficult to persuade them to accept a battery rather than a battalion of four batteries (the original Embassy proposal).
At a minimum, we must attempt to buck up the Embassy in its determination to argue this issue with the Thai. As a compromise, we might persuade the Thai that their psychological problems would be solved by announcing publicly that the US has agreed to deploy Hawks to Thailand at such time as the RTG determines they are needed, while agreeing not to ask for them.
Yet in the end, a decision must be made as to what we are prepared to do if the Thai will not buy this idea.
The alternatives are:
- Refuse to provide a battery under any conditions.
- Provide a battery if Thai will fund operating costs and training as an FMS (—- $2.6 million in both the first and second years and $1.7 million in each succeeding year).
- Provide a battery, construction and maintenance equipment and CONUS training—Thai provide all baht costs. Deploy battery when Thai are trained.6
- Same as 3, except deploy as soon as construction completed, man initially with mixed US-Thai teams.
- Embassy formulation. US provides battery, all construction and maintenance costs and CONUS training under MAP. Battery deployed when construction completed, man initially with US/Thai team.
I recommend alternative 4 as the maximum fallback. It burdens the Thai with all baht costs associated with the deployment and thus makes them pay for their decision to deploy rather than announce an ability to deploy.
The Embassy cable also deals with the makeup of the possible additional Thai deployment and they come down hard on seeking to maximize the combat elements in the deployment plan. We certainly will support this position.
- Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 72 A 2468, Thailand 370. Secret.↩
- Telegram 4163 from Bangkok, October 5, attached but not printed.↩
- Telegram 47003 to Bangkok, September 30, attached but not printed.↩
- McNamara approved with the following handwritten note: “subject to association with a net increase of 10,000 men.”↩
- McNamara initialed his approval.↩
- McNamara initialed his approval of this option.↩