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290. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Richard Helms, Director of Central Intelligence
  • Thomas Karamessines, Central Intelligence Agency
  • David Packard, Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Warren Nutter, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
  • Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, Acting Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • General John A. Vogt, USAF
  • Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
  • Marshall Green, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Dennis J. Doolin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (East Asia and Pacific Affairs)
  • Colonel Richard T. Kennedy, NSC Staff

SUBJECT

  • Meeting of WSAG Principals on Cambodia

Johnson: I was asked by House members this morning whether a select committee to visit Saigon and Cambodia would be okay. They have in mind a group of 10–12 members.

[All agree this is a good idea.]2

Kissinger: Are U.S. forces participating?

Moorer: No, but we have advisors on the South Vietnamese boats.

Johnson: What about the rules of engagement?

Packard: The GVN has agreed to our rules.

[Page 967]

Johnson: To 103/49 or just to 104?

Moorer: Only to 104.

Johnson: Is MACV changing its announcement?

Moorer: I will check on this.

Johnson: Has the execute message gone?

Moorer: It is in the Secretary of Defense's office.

Johnson: I discussed this on the Hill this morning. There were many questions.

Packard: The plan says there should be no U.S. ships in Cambodian waters. U.S. ships will be only in international waters. South Vietnamese ships only will be in Cambodian waters, but they will have U.S. advisors.

Johnson: We have to stop Ky's statements on a blockade.

Kissinger: We have to assume that decisions agreed at the WSAG must be carried out. If anyone objects, I will take it to the President.

What about the Takeo plan? Do we have a proposal with a recommendation?

Nutter: It's with the Secretary of Defense now.

Moorer: It was sent to the Secretary on the 12th.

Kissinger [to Packard]: Can you get this over today?

Packard: The Secretary of Defense wants to know the Secretary of State's view.

Johnson: The Secretary [of State] has been briefed. He says okay but it must relate to the sanctuaries in Public Relations. It is not to support Cambodian forces.

Kissinger: Dave [Packard] and Alex [Johnson], you should pro duce a carefully worded PR statement. We will get a formal proposal?

Packard and Johnson: Yes.

Kissinger: When will we have the guidance cable on ARVN?

Johnson: We haven't finished it.

Helms: We told Bunker he should get his views in.

Johnson: I answered on the Hill today that cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia and between Cambodia and South Vietnam is growing and helpful. No one on the Hill thought this was a bad idea. Did the President say to the Armed Services Committees that South Vietnamese forces would be coming out?

Kissinger: I did not hear him say this. He wants more flexibility for the South Vietnamese than for us in Cambodia; certainly he is in favor of shallow penetrations by the South Vietnamese and to keep the South Vietnamese poised as a deterrent to an attack on Phnom Penh.

Green: Are the Market Times actions in Cambodia or in international waters?

[Page 968]

Moorer: Only surveillance is in international waters.

Green: We won't stop to board third-country shipping?

Moorer: No, we will not.

Johnson: I want a copy of the rules of engagement.

Moorer: I will provide it.

Kissinger: The Khmer in Thailand.

[There was a long discussion of Khmer characteristics.]

Karamessines: There is a new development. The Cambodians and Thai have met. There is full approval of the plan, but it must be a joint Thai, Cambodian and U.S. operation. There should be two regiments, but not known as Khmer Serei. One regiment would be pure Cambodian, from Cambodia. One regiment would be purely Thai—some Khmer but not all. Training would be in Thailand. The operation would be covert. The Thai regiment is to be paid by the U.S. as in Laos. The Cambodian regiment is to be paid by the U.S. while training but by the Cambodian Army after their training.

Kissinger: The difference is on the Thai regiment. They want us to pay in Cambodia.

Johnson: This is out of the question.

Kissinger: I agree.

Packard: The training and equipment are service funded.

Kissinger: Is there no way to pay in Cambodia?

Karamessines: Have worked out with DOD payment for the Khmer Krom.

Packard: Can the Khmer Krom proposal be kept covert?

Helms: Yes.

Packard: Can we have the Thai units paid in the same way through the Cambodians?

Karamessines: The Thai won't agree.

Packard: This is the only way.

Green: Why can't the Thai pay themselves once?

Helms: Why don't we go back to the Thai and get them to finance some?

Johnson: I agree we should.

Kissinger: We should say we go along with the first regiment if they do the second. We will give them the equipment.

Johnson: What arguments do we use as to why it is not the same as Laos? Will they ask us to pay directly to them and then they pass it on? Don't use the U.S. political problem argument. Don't we have to keep this consistent with the pay of the Khmer Krom in Cambodia? I fully support the idea of equipment and training but they should pay their regiment.

[Page 969]

Helms: We can handle the pay of the second regiment the same as for the Khmer Krom.

[All agree that we will go back to the Thai and tell them to pay for their own regiments. We will pay for the training.]

Karamessines: Two 1,000-man packs will move to Saigon today. They will deliver one to Phnom Penh on the 15th and one on the 16th.

Kissinger: How about the T–28 munitions?

Moorer: We can provide that from our stocks.

Johnson: Will they still use GVN aircraft?

Nutter: That will cost $2.3 million.

Johnson: We don't have to deliver it all at once.

Moorer: Send it as they need it.

Johnson: Lon Nol is asking for refuge for his family.

Vogt: There is a report that he is concerned about assassination groups.

Johnson: We will deliver the arms as needed.

Moorer: The problem of the T–28s is maintenance. The best way to solve it is contract maintenance rather than more planes.

Johnson: Can we get Thai maintenance help to Phnom Penh?

Nutter: Or take the planes to Thailand?

Kissinger: Thai maintenance people could help quickly.

Johnson: We should go out with messages to get the Thai involved.

Moorer: We will draft it and send it over to State.

[All agree this is the best move now.]

Kissinger: How about giving or selling them more aircraft?

Moorer: It is better not to do it now.

[All agree we should concentrate now on maintenance and not give more planes now.]

Vogt: There is nothing yet on VNAF support.

Kissinger: What about the uniforms?

Nutter: They are all set to go but the legal problem should be resolved.

Kissinger: Let's do it now.

Thai air support for Laos. I see no pressure now.

[All agree. Green has a telegram draft, working with DOD.]

Johnson: On the legal issue, we need someone from here to work with State legal people today.

Packard: Shouldn't we move on the excess stocks now?

Johnson: Yes, the excess program will be finished by the Fulbright amendments.

[Page 970]

Nutter: We will do everything we can to cover what has been done out of excess.

Moorer: The strike on Cambodia and the Laos border goes tonight.

Johnson: We will tell Lon Nol at the same time we tell him about the 701 operation tonight.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–114, WSAG Minutes, Originals, 1969–1970. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. All brackets in the source text.
  3. In a separate summary of conclusions the following decisions were noted: “1. House members' suggestion that a select committee of 10–12 members visit Saigon and Cambodia would be a good idea. 2. The President's views were summarized. He wanted more flexibility for South Vietnamese than for us in Cambodia. He was in favor of shallow penetrations by the South Vietnamese poised as a deterrent to an attack on Phnom Penh. 3. We would tell the Thai to pay for their own regiments. We would pay for the training. 4. We should concentrate on maintenance of the T28s in Phnom Penh rather than send more planes. We should draft a message requesting Thai maintenance help.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–074, WSAG Meeting, Cambodia, 5/13/70)