332. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Enemy Weapons Losses in Cambodia

You recently asked on what CIA based its assessment that we had captured a relatively small number of weapons in Cambodia in comparison to amounts believed to have been in the enemy’s stockpiles. Attached at Tab A2 is a CIA report explaining the stockpile derivation [Page 1083] and giving specific estimates of the numbers of individual and crew-served weapons. Estimated enemy requirements are based on a number of factors, including consumption resulting from wear, requirements to re-equip local forces with more modern weapons, and losses to allied forces. Although there is considerable uncertainty, CIA believes that the weapons captured thus far in Cambodia are approximately the following percentages of the stockpiles.

Stockpiles Weapons Captured in Cambodia Low Estimate High Estimate Percent Captured
Total tons 161 565 950 17%–29%
Individual #’s 20,0333 70,000 117,750 17%–29%
Crew-served #’s 2,359 9,120 15,330 15%–26%

An assumption that the above estimate is valid raises several questions:

  • —Why have only seventeen to twenty-nine percent of the enemy’s weapons been found after six weeks of operations?
  • —Why is this indicator of progress not consistent with other categories of captured equipment?

Estimates of food (63%–107%) and ammunition (71%–119%) captured are fairly close to each other and would appear to be more reasonable based on the amount of territory covered and level of effort of operations in Cambodia. A possible explanation is that the enemy put priority on and was successful in moving weapons out of the stockpiles prior to allied attacks. The enemy may have used a number of these weapons to arm its rear service units; considered weapons essential, both psychologically and militarily, to developing cadres throughout Cambodia; and reasoned that the weapons were the most valuable, difficult to replace, and most easily extracted items within the stockpiles. On the other hand, it seems more likely that the many uncertainties in the weapons stockpile calculations contributed to an over-estimate.

CIA is continuing to analyze this problem and to refine their calculations. I will provide you with the results as soon as they are available.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 510, Country Files, Far East, Cambodia, Vol. VIII, 20 June 1970–20 July 1970. Secret. A notation on the first page of the memorandum reads: “The President has seen.”
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. Some of the weapons recently captured by ARVN may have belonged originally to the Cambodian Government rather than coming from enemy sanctuaries. [Footnote in the source text.]