Learn about the beta

327. Editorial Note

No minutes have been found for the Washington Special Actions Group meeting of June 17, 1970. The June 17 briefing memorandum for the meeting from John Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to Assistant to the President Henry Kissinger, indicated that the issues for consideration were those discussed at the last few meetings: review of positive steps taken to aid Cambodia with military assistance, intelligence and diplomatic support, radio transmitters for Cambodia, costs of U.S. assistance to Cambodia, shape of the Cambodian Military Assistance Program for fiscal year 1971, and the Green Triangle situation. Holdridge suggested that Kissinger ask a series of questions to determine what had been done in these areas and to encourage the relevant departments and agencies to do more. Check marks next to most of the questions suggest that Kissinger asked many of these questions at the meeting. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–075, WSAG Meeting, Cambodia, 6/17/70)

Prior to the meeting at 8:25 a.m. on June 17, Nixon called Kissinger and issued a series of orders: “I think one of the first projects for your group [the WSAG] is to get that town on the Sihanoukville Road opened. You know the one I mean? Tell them to get the whole South Vietnamese army, bomb them, everything. Tell them to get off their butts and get going and I want a report in two hours.” The President hung up without a response from Kissinger. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 363, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File) At 8:35 a.m. Kissinger called Packard to tell him that “The President just read the newspaper… that there are 1500 troops in Kompong Speu and 5000 on the outside. He said that anyone who says they can't find targets there now should look for another job.” Packard replied: “Well then maybe we should look for another job.” Kissinger continued: “He [the President] wants the road opened if it takes the whole South Vietnamese Army and he wants a report in two hours, not of what can't be done, but of what can be done.” Packard explained: “The problem is that they are holed up in the town. We got it surrounded. But the trouble with air strikes—the enemy's in the middle of the town—we could bomb it but it would destroy the town.” Kissinger said not to do that: “My job is to transmit orders, but also to make some sense of them.” He asked if Packard could provide a report in 2 hours. Packard said he would try. (Ibid.)