132. Memorandum From Jeanne Davis of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

SUBJECT

  • Talker for Briefing the Vice President, Friday, August 2, 9:45 a.m.

The staff suggests the following items for your briefing of the Vice President tomorrow morning:

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Indochina.]

Vietnam

Communist military strategy over the past three months has been to conduct intense but limited attacks within a relatively small geographic area, with the apparent intention of keeping ARVN off-balance and expanding areas of control. ARVN reaction to Communist attacks has generally been good, but limitations on artillery expenditures due to budgetary constraints and greatly enhanced NVA anti-aircraft capability have reduced ARVN effectiveness somewhat.

An all-out offensive is not anticipated during the remainder of 1974; however, we estimate the Communists now have sufficient supplies in the South to conduct 1972-level hostilities for over 18 months. Since the cease-fire, the North Vietnamese have infiltrated over 160,000 men, 400 tanks and 130 long-range artillery pieces, 16 SAM–2 launchers (with 6 missiles each), plus large quantities of supplies and ammunition into the South.

The cease-fire machinery remains generally frustrated and ineffective. The Communists are boycotting the Four Party Joint Military Team and the Two Party Joint Military Commission in Saigon and as a result, there is no on-going discussion of the resolution of the MIA problem. The International Commission of Control and Supervision is largely ineffective due mainly to the intransigence of the Polish and Hungarian members. The ICCS also has budgetary problems as the Communist side refused to contribute its share. We are now largely financing the ICCS.

President Thieu’s political position remains strong and is likely to remain so for the time being. The economy remains a potential source of serious trouble. Should Congress approve only the current level of [Page 535]economic aid (i.e. between $300 and $400 million) the present difficulties will deepen. (We are requesting $750 million for FY 75.)

Cambodia

The FANK has won several significant victories recently and currently has the initiative in the fighting. Intelligence sources indicate that the Communists are suffering from morale problems and supply shortages which may allow further FANK successes.

On July 9, Khmer Republic President Lon Nol publicly made an unconditional offer to begin negotiations with the other side at any time and any place. One day later, Prince Sihanouk, speaking from Peking, rejected this offer and stated that he would never talk with any of “Lon Nol’s clique.” Intelligence sources, however, indicate that the Prince is interested in talks with the United States to achieve some type of settlement, although there is a serious question about how much authority the Prince has. Khmer Communist Party leader Khieu Samphan increasingly appears to be the real overt leader of the insurgents.

A credentials fight for the Cambodian seat in the UN General Assembly is expected this fall and present estimates indicate the GRUNK have enough votes to unseat Lon Nol’s representative. We will urge all member countries to bypass the credentials issue to enable the Khmer parties to negotiate a solution and to avoid the dangerous precedent of unseating a recognized government in favor of an insurgency.

Laos

Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma’s heart attack on July 12 brought a respite to political maneuvering between the Pathet Lao and the non-Communists in the coalition government in Laos. Prior to that, the Communists had largely dominated the government and had initiated several proposals which were obviously to their advantage. The non-Communists have now organized themselves and appear better able to stand up to any new Communist parliamentary advances.

Militarily, the cease-fire is working well and no significant military engagements have been reported. However, the North Vietnamese, in blatant violation of the Lao accords, still have approximately 47,000 troops in Laos, some of which are used to protect that part of their trail system through Laos.

The Pathet Lao still refuse to release civilian pilot Emmet Kay, the only known American still in captivity in Indochina. He will probably be used as a bargaining chip to obtain U.S. concessions such as an end to U.S. aerial reconnaissance over Lao territory.

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Indochina.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1338, Unfiled Material, NSC Unfiled Material, 1974 (5). Top Secret; Sensitive.