142. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Visit of US Ambassador to Cambodia John G. Dean with Secretary of Defense Schlesinger (U)

PARTICIPANTS

  • Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger
  • US Ambassador to Cambodia John G. Dean
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA) Amos Jordan
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Erich von Marbod
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense ISA/EAPA Morton Abramowitz
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense ISA/SA MG Howard Fish
  • Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense MG John Wickham
  • Assistant for Cambodia (ISA) Col Harry Ching
1.
(S) Funding for FY75. Ambassador Dean opened the discussions with the statement his main concern for Cambodia at this time was for funding in FY75. He cited the fact that the military situation had stabilized and to maintain that stability it was projected several months ago that $362.5 million would be necessary. However, with inflationary costs, an additional $180 million is now required to meet rising costs. On returning to Washington he has become aware of Senate intentions to limit the level of assistance for Cambodia to $347 million with a total military assistance ceiling of $200 million within that amount. Ambassador Dean stated that although the Cambodians have done well, including holding the enemy at bay and retaking the provincial capital of Oudong, they are limited in what they can accomplish without adequate funds. In conversations with Congressional acquaintances since his return, Ambassador Dean stated the outlook in Congress for Cambodia looked gloomy. A prevalent feeling appeared to be that Congress would use sharp reductions in assistance in order to force a reassessment of US policy in Cambodia. He stated that the proposed ceiling was a strangle hold on the program and everything should be done to eliminate it. With it, there was no flexibility in the program. Without it, the possibility of a supplemental appropriation was feasible. With regard to Economic Assistance (Indochina Postwar Reconstruction—$70 million; P. L. 480—$77 million) Ambassador Dean [Page 555]again voiced concern. A P.L. 480 total of $77 million is far below actual anticipated needs, expected to be around $150 million. An example of growing concern was the fact that rice surpluses from the Northwest, originally expected to be 40,000 metric tons are now estimated to be down anywhere from 15 metric tons to no surplus at all.
2.
(S–Sen) Support from Neighboring Countries. Ambassador Dean reflected briefly on the manner in which support has been begrudgingly provided by US personnel in Bangkok. If the actions he was implementing in Cambodia were a part of US policy, then the support which comes from Thailand should be willingly offered. He commented that support from Saigon was good.
3.
(S) Ambassador Dean was asked what actions would be taken if funds were available. He replied that continuation of the current strategy is not the answer. Doing more of the same, doing it faster or more efficiently will not insure a solution, because time is not on the side of the GKR. Six months from now the problem will be worse; and in nine months it will be even worse. Furthermore the mood of the country and Congress strengthens this view. The solution lies in Washington and not elsewhere. There needs to be a refocusing on Cambodia. Ambassador Dean said he was heartened by the statement of President Ford on the seeking of an early negotiated settlement in Cambodia.2 His presence here will hopefully act as a lightning rod, drawing needed attention to Cambodia.
4.
(S) SecDef offered Ambassador Dean his assurance the DOD fully supports the Cambodia program by stating we are on his side and will try to get the funds Cambodia needs. Ambassador Dean concluded his visit with a brief private meeting with SecDef.
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–78–0011, Cambodia 000.1–299, 1974. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting was held in the office of the Secretary of Defense. Prepared by Ching; approved by Jordan. Dean was in the United States for consultations.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 136.