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340. Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1

SUBJECT

  • Support for Cambodia

participation

  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • CIA
  • Mr. Richard Helms
  • Mr. Thomas Karamessines
  • Mr. Nelson
  • JCS
  • Admiral Thomas Moorer
  • General Vogt
  • Defense
  • Mr. Nutter
  • Admiral Flanagan
  • State
  • Ambassador Johnson
  • Mr. Moore
  • Mr. Tom Pickering
  • NSC Staff
  • Col. Richard Kennedy
  • Mr. John Holdridge

SUMMARY OF DECISIONS

Dr. Kissinger spoke first on several matters related to military aid to Cambodia before turning to the funding question. On paramilitary operations in South Laos and Northeastern Cambodia, Admiral Moorer said that a JCS plan had been developed which had been sent to MACV and CINCPAC for comments.2 Dr. Kissinger called for an end to the study process by the following week so that a decision could be reached, and called on State and Defense to coordinate on this.

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Admiral Moorer described a JCS communications report or plan which proposed installation of a multi-channel scatterwave tropospheric system for use by the U.S. mission in Phnom Penh to communicate externally with Bangkok and Saigon. This was essential to deal with the communications load. Installation would be by 34 U.S. military personnel, with operation later by civilians. In addition, provision of U.S. spare parts or replacements for existing Cambodian equipment was called for in the report. These costs were estimated at $1.2 million. Dr. Kissinger directed that the figure for Cambodian MAP to be given to the President should include such communications equipment as a top priority matter. He requested that the JCS communications plan for the scatterwave system be circulated to all those present so that it could be taken up at the next WSAG meeting; everyone should reflect on the political implications of the U.S. military personnel to install the system. (He suggested that these might commute from Saigon by air, and at night.)

Turning to funding, Dr. Kissinger first brought up Thai activities with respect to Cambodia. It emerged that Senator Russell did not want CIA to finance Thai activities in Cambodia, and that Senator Stennis on the other hand believed that CIA rather than Defense should finance these activities. On the equipment costs for the Thai/Khmer regiment ($1.2 million) following a discussion of alternatives including Cambodian MAP, CIA funds, Thai MASF, or PL–480 trade-offs, the decision favored using prior-year Thai MASF, but with the possibility of using some Cambodian MAP. Action was assigned to Mr. Nutter.

In addressing the question of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] operations in Western Cambodia, it was agreed that RTAF operations took precedence over providing the initial equipment for an RCT . The initial equipment costs for the RCT seemed highly loaded. The funding route of using prior-year Thai MASF, with replacement of run-downs via PL–480 funds used to make purchases from U.S. military sale was agreed upon. This would be used first to support a sortie rate by the RTAF of 900 per month. Ambassador Unger would be asked to discuss this with the Thai, and also to review with them the requirements for the RCT. This cable should reflect the urgency of the need for Thai air support. In the course of this discussion it was brought out that there was no economic justification of a PL–480 program for Thailand, but that there was no choice other than to go for a PL–480 program up to $20 million as a source of funds for trade-offs.

The issue of Thai training for 15,000 Cambodian troops was raised, with several members questioning the effectiveness of such training. It was generally accepted that all training should be carried out in South Vietnam, where the job could be done more effectively, more quickly, and more cheaply. However Admiral Moorer would be asked to look into a comparison of South Vietnam versus Thailand for training Cambodians, to include an estimate of the training times required.

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The question of pay and allowances for the Khmer Krom and the Thai/Khmer units was addressed, with the alternatives being Defense funds, AID supporting assistance, the AID contingency funds, or CIA funds. The decision was made to rely on Defense funds for the 1st quarter of FY 71 and AID supporting assistance used later, subject to the views of the Secretary of Defense. (This was based on the assumption that an increase in the AID appropriation for general supporting assistance would not get through Congress at this time; Mr. Nutter, however, quoted Secretary Laird as believing that the issue should be carried to the Hill now.) A Defense switchback would be required to pay separation allowances of $1.7 million for the Thai/Khmer and Mr. Nutter agreed to talk to Mr. Packard on this. The size of the Cambodian MAP was considered. The consensus was to go for a Presidential Decision calling for a $40 million Cambodian program to be drawn from other programs and to ask for a supplemental later when Congressional response might be better. The $40 million was estimated as being sufficient to carry through January or February 1971. Admiral Moorer felt that this sum was insufficient.

The meeting agreed to consider the retention of Thai forces in Laos at the next session. Agreement was noted on providing SAR operations in Cambodia for the RTAF, and on providing communications jeeps to Cambodia for use in air-to-ground control.

[Omitted here are the 10-page minutes of the meeting.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–114, WSAG Meeting Minutes, Originals, 1970, 7/17/70. Top Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. JCS telegram Tango 34 to CINCPAC and COMUSMACV, July 3, the cable and a summary of it are ibid., Box H–78, WSAG Meeting, 7/10/70.