107. Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1

SUBJECT

  • Cambodia

PARTICIPANTS

  • Chairman
  • Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • William Porter
  • Arthur Hummel
  • Defense
  • William Clements
  • Robert Hill
  • V/Adm. Ray Peet
  • JCS
  • Adm. John P. Weinel
  • CIA
  • William Nelson
  • George Carver
  • NSC
  • General Brent Scowcroft
  • Richard Kennedy
  • William Stearman
  • James Barnum

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS

It was agreed that:

  • —we would request Congressional authority (under the Defense Procurement Authorization Act) to draw on DOD stocks under the MASF authority;2
  • —that Defense would prepare a memorandum asking for White House support on the above;3
  • —intelligence flights over Laos would continue at the 1–14 September level until there is evidence of North Vietnamese withdrawals.

Mr. Kissinger: Would you like to brief us? (to Mr. Nelson)

Mr. Nelson: Briefed from the attached text.4

Mr. Kissinger: (Referring to a statement in the briefing that the performance of government ground, naval, and air elements at Kompong [Page 429]Cham should have some tonic effect on military and civilian morale) Do you think FANK resistance was helped because of the rainy season?

Mr. Clements: No! FANK did a damn good job up there. I’d like to . . .

Mr. Carver: I think the rains are having an ancillary effect, but FANK did a good job. Kompong Cham was a real plus for FANK.

Mr. Kissinger: Bill (to Mr. Clements), what was it you wanted to say?

Mr. Clements: Bob (Mr. Hill) and I just got back from there, as you know. Dennis Doolin was with us too. One of the first things we did was to visit with (General) Vogt at his headquarters. Our reports show that FANK morale picked up at Kompong Cham. Government troops fought well, better than any of us around this table thought they could. Communist casualties were high; government casualties relatively low. There’s only one thing that Vogt can fault them on; they just can’t get with this conscription thing. They want to start at the age of twenty-five. It’s a hell of an issue there, and we’ve got to get them to dip down into the lower ages. Vogt also said that the Thais are willing to help out more on training. They’re going to stress the 60 to 90-day training cycle—particularly artillery training. Their artillery is terrible. Some of Vogt’s men had to physically go in and get some 155s out of the warehouse. They didn’t even know where they were. When they were finally located, they had no sights. The ramrods were in another place. This (FANK) organization needs more artillery. They’re in terrible shape there. But, FANK came out of there (Kompong Cham) with a sense of confidence and needed optimism that they heretofore have not shown. Let me make one final point. They (FANK) have come around, and I credit John Vogt and his command. They have done far more than they get credit for. They’re flying in there daily briefing them on what’s going on.

Mr. Kissinger: They’re doing a good job, no?

Mr. Clements: You’re damn right. They’re doing an outstanding job, particularly on tactical intelligence. In my opinion, the only reason Phnom Penh and the government has survived is because of this.

Mr. Kissinger: We better not get you on another trip until after my confirmation.5 You’re too optimistic.

Adm. Weinel: Are we sure he’s absolutely within his right going into Cambodia?

[Page 430]

Mr. Clements: John Vogt) is sure he’s acting within the letter of the law.

Mr. Kissinger: I know the WSAG makes decisions but it’s no out for internal defense matters.

Adm. Weinel: I guess they get around it by calling it temporary duty. The significant thing lately is not the insurgent problem, but that the government is running out of ammunition.

Mr. Clements: That’s the number one issue. They’re shooting up $500,000 to $750,000 worth of the stuff a day. At that rate, they will be running out by the end of October. The problem, as I see it, is how—what strategy to use on Congress.

Adm. Weinel: A supplemental appropriation is the only way, right?

Gen. Scowcroft: Senator Stennis told Schlesinger that the best way would be to declare excess stocks.

Mr. Clements: Brent, you can’t do it that way.

Adm. Weinel: By declaring from excess stocks, you’ll get only five percent of what is required. It’s just not a winner.

Mr. Porter: Can’t we use the stuff in other Southeast Asian countries, like Taiwan or Korea?

Adm. Weinel: But are we in the right to do it that way?

Mr. Porter: It seems to me that we ought to ask for the supplemental appropriation or shake what we need out of those other countries.

Mr. Kissinger: It is absurd that we find ourselves in the position of having cut off the bombing, and then cutting off their ammunition as well. That would be a disgrace, and we can’t let it happen.

Mr. Clements: We have to address the problem and make an all out effort to get it through Congress.

Adm. Peet: We’ve picked up some support in the Foreign Relations Committee.

Adm. Weinel: We’ve got to get that $150 million authorization or they will be out of ammunition by 1 November. We don’t have time to monkey around on this thing.

Mr. Kissinger: As I see it, we have two choices: get it through a supplemental appropriation, or from Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam and pay them back.

Adm. Peet: But if Congress doesn’t act by 1 October we’ll be in trouble. We could try for special authorization to draw down DOD stocks. This would release about $150 million.

Mr. Kissinger: Will they (Congress) approve that?

Mr. Kennedy: It will be hard, but we can make it.

Mr. Kissinger: It will be the end of September soon. What can the White House do to help?

[Page 431]

Adm. Peet: Timmons has held it up.

Mr. Kissinger: (To General Scowcroft) Get Timmons to get this thing off the blocks. Why is the excess route no good?

Adm. Peet: Number one, it’s illegal, and number two, it’s a very small amount.

Mr. Clements: I think we ought to put the responsibility where it belongs—on Congress.

Mr. Kissinger: We need the ammunition, and we don’t have time to play games.

Mr. Clements: If we put it right, I think they (Congress) will buy it.

Mr. Kissinger: Do you need White House support?

Mr. Clements: Yes.

Mr. Kissinger: Give us a memo tomorrow, and we’ll send it up. Do you agree, Dick?

Mr. Kennedy: Absolutely! I told Korologos Tuesday6 we needed to push this.

Mr. Kissinger: Any problems coming in the General Assembly? I want to be able to supply satisfactory answers while I’m up there.

Mr. Hummel: The first thing up is the vote in the credentials committee. We figure it will divide 5 to 4 on our side. Most of the Southeast Asia countries have indicated their support for the GKR.

Mr. Kissinger: I didn’t think we had a chance with the Chinese intervening.

Mr. Hummel: The Chinese won’t be asked to join.

Mr. Kissinger: Is this a Chinese scheme to bring peace? There will have to be a reaction.

Mr. Hummel: Yes.

Mr. Clements: I have two quick things: Number one, reconnaissance in Laos.

Adm. Weinel: The question is not how much, but what kind.

Mr. Carver: We’ve already cut back, the question is, do we go back to the 1–14 September levels?

Mr. Clements: We’re already doing SR–71 flights and a few drones. U–2’s are not involved, are they?

Mr. Carver: The only authority we have is Buffalo Hunter drones. There are some SR–71 flights along the periphery.

[Page 432]

Mr. Kissinger: The President has said that he wants intelligence flights over Laos to continue at the 1 to 14 September level until we have evidence of North Vietnamese troop withdrawals.

General Scowcroft: Defense has been told about this.

Mr. Kissinger: Defense is not carrying out orders.

Mr. Clements: This is not true. We are maintaining flights at the September levels.

Mr. Kissinger: I want them to do what they were doing the first two weeks of September. We’ll cut down only when we are sure North Vietnamese troops are withdrawing.

Mr. Clements: I agree with you one-hundred percent.

Mr. Kissinger: The US is not going to carry out an agreement without compliance from the other side.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Vietnam.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–116, WSAG Meeting Minutes, Originals, 1973. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. Schlesinger requested congressional authority in a letter to Senator Stennis, September 27. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–78–001, Viet 091.3, 1973)
  3. Not found.
  4. Nelson’s briefing, “Cambodia,” September 20, attached but not printed.
  5. The President nominated Kissinger to be Secretary of State on August 22. The confirmation hearings began on September 7 and continued until September 21.
  6. September 18.