367. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Warnke) to Secretary of Defense McNamara1

SUBJECT

  • Negotiations for Additional Thai Deployments to Vietnam

This morning we received in ISA the attached cable2 in which Ambassador Unger presents the official Thai reactions to our deployment [Page 815]support proposals and asks for various Washington decisions and authorizations by Monday3 morning, Bangkok time. Marshall Dawee has agreed to table at a Thai cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday any U.S. decisions on the Thai response. Ambassador Unger believes that if he receives favorable consideration of his recommendations by Monday, there is a good chance he can persuade Dawee to support these positions and that there is a real possibility of a favorable decision by the Thai cabinet on Tuesday, with a public announcement on Wednesday.

There is a tactical question as to whether or not we should immediately reply to the Thai if we decide not to respond favorably to some of their proposals as modified by Ambassador Unger. There might be merit in letting them wait for a week so that they will know we have given their proposal real consideration but have real problems with them. However, I recommend that we respond immediately to Ambassador Unger, if possible, and that we leave this tactical decision to him.

Ambassador Unger raises the following points for decision. His arguments and recommendations are marked in red on the cable and should be read in conjunction with the discussion below.

1. Size of Force.

I would accede to Thai decision to stick to their original proposal to increase their army forces in Vietnam to 10,600 troops. You may wish to consider checking with the President before addressing this question.

  • Agree to increase to 10,6004
  • Insist that we are interested in considering only an additional 10,000

2. Force Composition.

The support unit dominated Thai force structure proposal, which would cost an estimated $35 million to equip (versus an estimated $20 million for the U.S. proposed structure), would provide little combat utility to MACV. I agree with Ambassador Unger that we should not try to conclude this agreement now. However, I believe we should inform Ambassador Unger that we are not undertaking to equip and support the Thai structure and that we will back MACV in insisting on a balanced force (i.e., roughly half the force to be combat infantry).

  • Approve above course of action5
  • Other
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3. Rotational Training.

This is the full unit rotation versus partial unit versus individual training base argument. The “traditional” Thai pattern is for full unit rotation, which would require a full set of equipment for training.

I agree with Unger that we should not attempt to settle this now. However, I think we also should inform Unger that we are not prepared to support a replacement training base larger than roughly half the forces they have in Vietnam. This is the concept proposed by MACTHAI and upon which were based the training cost figures prepared by him and submitted to you (Tab A).

  • Approve above course of action6
  • Other

4. Training Facilities.

There is no acceptable reason why existing facilities at Pranburi (built in part with $7 million of MAP funds and currently under-utilized) should not be upgraded as necessary for the training of Vietnam deployments. The RTA is clearly using Vietnam as an excuse for creating a new base. The estimated $3 million construction figure was included in costs earlier submitted to you.

I recommend that you back the Ambassadorʼs conviction that we say no to new facilities but agree to no fallback position now.

  • Approve above course of action6
  • Other

5. Hawk Deployment.

This is apparently as big a psychological issue with the Thai government as it is a matter of principle with us. It is just possible that a deal with the Thai could fall apart on this issue.

There are three separate ingredients which can be varied to form a position. Ambassador Ungerʼs three alternatives cover only part of the spectrum.

a.

Battery vs. battalion

A battery consists of 2 launchers with 36 missiles and had an original acquisition cost of about $3.5 million. Four batteries constitute a battalion, and as some elements, like radar, are not multiplied by the number of batteries, original acquisition costs were about $12 million.

There are 17 Hawk batteries in the CONUS contingency reserve; four of these are tentatively earmarked for deployment to defend U.S. units in Thailand.

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An important issue here is follow-on costs. It would cost about $1.7 million per year (mostly equipment maintenance and replacement) to maintain a battery. It would cost about $4.8 million per year to maintain a battalion. Further, in about FY 70 the U.S.-owned Hawks probably will be modernized. Third-country owners will then have to modernize their batteries (at about $7.6 million) or support their share of the reduced maintenance replacement parts production line, which will increase the annual battery maintenance costs to anywhere from $1.5 to $12 million per year depending on how many countries retain the old system.

A battery has almost no military utility. A single battalion around Bangkok has some military justification but the long range bomber attack threat against Bangkok is so slight that it is difficult to justify this expenditure (and not at all possible on military grounds while USAF units are in Thailand).

  • Stick to proposal for battery
  • Agree to provide battalion
  • Agree to provide battery and offer sale of remainder of battalion7
  • Other

b.

U.S. Manning

It would take about 2 years to train the Thai to man Hawk units. It would require 155 U.S. personnel and cost about $700,000 per year to provide U.S. manning for a battery and 525 U.S. personnel and $2 million per year for a battalion. It would be about 6 months before construction was completed and Hawk units were ready for manning.

  • Agree to U.S. manning
  • No U.S. manning8

c.

Costs

Almost all of the construction costs (which total about $500,000 for a battery and $2 million for a battalion) would be from local currency. Some maintenance costs will be local currency but most are equipment parts and replacement which we have agreed to finance out of MAP.9

6. Vietnam Deployment Associated RTG Budget Costs.

There is no troop pay in the new $11–12 million annual figure. This is an expansion of the $2.2 million estimate of types of costs which the Thai [Page 818]had borne for the first deployment but which we would be expected to bear for the second deployment under the “no additional budget burden” formula.

I recommend that we repeat our commitment to bear all reasonable and necessary costs other than base pay associated with recruiting, training, maintaining and rotation of the additional Thai deployment to Vietnam but that we tell Ambassador Unger that the categories and amounts of such costs must be approved here (as is the case with the Korean “net additional costs”).

  • Approve10
  • Other

7. Additional MAP.

This really boils down to what we are prepared to pay for these forces. I am not convinced that the near term Thai performance in their internal security role will be significantly affected by raising again the level of the Thai MAP. Provisions of consumables for units on CI duty would be useful, but this could be accomplished through diversions within agreed levels.

I am struck by the fact that were it not for our shifting the Thai MAP to the Services they would now be faced with a 20–40% reduction from the original $60 million level. Accordingly, I would adopt d. below.

Alternatives:

a.
Agree to Thai $13 million now in FY 68 and FY 69
b.
(Unger #1) No more in FY 68, agree to “Study needs” in FY 69 with $10 million additional limit
c.
(Unger #2) Agree to $5 million in FY 68 and $10 million in FY 69
d.
No more in FY 68, no agreement to raise planning level in FY 69 but will as always keep Thai requirements under review11
e.
Other.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, Secretary of Defense Files: FRC 72 A 2468, Thailand 370. Secret.
  2. Telegram 5177 from Bangkok, October 27, attached but not printed.
  3. October 30.
  4. McNamara initialed his approval on October 30 subject to the following handwritten note: “accept range in hand from 11,000 to 12,800.”
  5. McNamara initialed his approval.
  6. McNamara initialed his approval.
  7. McNamara initialed his approval.
  8. Warnke hand wrote the following note: I recommend we agree to provide a battery only, but to sell the remainder of a battalion (3# below). McNamara initialed his approval of that option.
  9. Warnke hand wrote the following note: “I recommend we not agree to U.S. manning.” McNamara initialed his approval of that option.
  10. Warnke hand wrote the following note: “You earlier ruled that the Thai would bear all local currency costs. McNamara initialed his reaffirmation of this decision.
  11. McNamara initialed his approval.
  12. McNamara initialed his approval of this option.