106. Memorandum From the Director of Central Intelligence (Colby) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Coup Possibilities in Cambodia
In the past week there have been two reports on the views and comments of Major General Sosthene Fernandez, Commander-in-Chief, Cambodian Armed Forces (FANK), and Brigadier General Dien Del, Commanding Officer, FANK Second Division, concerning the possibility of a military coup in Phnom Penh. This is not the first time these two senior military officers have raised the possibility of a coup. In the past they have been critical of the existing leadership during periods of significant military/political pressure on themselves and the GKR. In order to provide additional information on this subject, the CIA Station Chief in Phnom Penh was requested to prepare an appraisal of the possibility of a coup. You will find his report, dated 10 September 1973, as an attachment to this memorandum.2
We are in basic agreement with this appraisal. It does not appear that a coup is imminent, however, it will be necessary to continue to monitor the activities of the senior military commanders and to be aware of the degree of their frustration. It has been our impression that selected Cambodian military leaders, in particular Major General Sosthene Fernandez, have been taking soundings as to the U.S. Government’s willingness to back a coup. However, General Sosthene and the others have been repeatedly told in categorical terms that the U.S. does not and would not foster any coup efforts, and that FANK must address itself to the military situation which requires its full and undivided attention. Although General Sosthene and the others are very much aware of the U.S. position, this does not preclude the possibility that, if the Cambodian military leaders are faced with significant deterioration on the military, political or economic front, they might undertake a coup without the U.S. Government’s blessing.
W. E. Colby3
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, NIC Files, Job 80–M01066A, Box 12, Cambodia, July–December 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. A copy of this memorandum was sent to Hummel.
  2. CIA memorandum, “Coup Possibilities in Cambodia,” undated, attached but not printed.
  3. Printed from a copy with this stamped signature and an indication that Colby signed the original.