285. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Cambodia 1

070781. Ref: State 055340.2

For the guidance of yourself and such key members of your staff as you may desire, the purpose of this message is to give you in somewhat more detail the thinking here with respect to our objectives and role in Cambodia. As stated in our first message on this general subject (reftel Notal), we have seen our problem as essentially one of navigating between providing enough support and reassurance to the GOC so that it will have the morale and determination, as well as enhance its capability, to cope with the enemy; while at the same time not leaving the GOC with any misleading or false expectations as to the amounts and types of assistance that we are likely to provide. We entirely approve the way in which you have navigated between these shoals in your relations with the GOC, and you will have seen that we have sought to apply the same principles in our actions here.
We continue to draw the distinction set forth in the President’s April 30 address between expanding the war into Cambodia and the [Page 952] actions we are taking to clean out the major VC/NVA sanctuaries in the Cambodian-Vietnamese border in defense of Americans in Viet-Nam and the Vietnamization program in SVN, even though it continues to be our hope that these actions will help relieve VC/NVA pressures on the Cambodian forces and thus indirectly support the GOC. The President has announced his intention to withdraw American forces as quickly as the operations against the sanctuary areas have achieved their objectives, which is primarily the destruction of supplies and facilities. As you know, the Congress has been assured that these operations will not extend deeper into Cambodia than sanctuary areas or up to about 21 miles and that it is expected that all of the forces will have been withdrawn to SVN in about six to eight weeks, or roughly by July 1. While these limits apply to a lesser degree to GVN forces, we would not like to see the GVN in a deep, substantial or prolonged extension of hostilities into Cambodia and would find it difficult to support if it did.
We will continue to supply small arms, ammunition and similar equipment to the GOC. We are looking into ways in which we can be helpful with T–28/A–1 aircraft and uniforms which Cambodia needs. We have enabled the Khmer Krom to come to Phnom Penh to assist the FANK. We are taking steps to facilitate the exchange of information between ourselves and the FANK. Additionally, we are working hard behind the scenes to urge other Asian countries to render material assistance to Cambodia, and it is our expectation that some will be prepared to act in limited ways quite promptly after the Djakarta conference.
In all these actions we want carefully to avoid getting ourselves into any “advisory” role vis-à-vis the FANK or the GOC with the responsibilities that would flow therefrom. It is also important to keep down the size of the mission to avoid the impression that we are “taking over” and committing our prestige within Cambodia in a major way. We do not wish to form anything in nature of a MAAG or AID office and wish to handle assistance and liaison needs within existing framework of mission with minimum increases in staff and with help of TDY personnel or liaison visits when necessary.
Within the foregoing guidelines, we want to continue to do all possible to maintain the morale and determination of the GOC. At the same time we believe it will be in the best interests of the GOC and the U.S. to discourage unrealistic expectations or requests. In addition to material assistance coming from ourselves and the GVN, we feel that the GOC should not underestimate the value of the initiative being taken by the Indonesians for the Djakarta conference. Moral pressure cannot be ignored, even by the other side, and Cambodia has a powerful moral case.
We will welcome any thoughts or comments that you may have with respect to the foregoing.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 CAMB/KHMER. Top Secret; Nodis; Khmer; Priority. Repeated to Saigon, MACV, and CINCPAC. Drafted on May 8 by Green and Johnson; cleared with Kissinger, in draft with Rogers, and in substance with Laird; and approved by Johnson.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 230.