149. Memorandum From William Stearman of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger 1


  • Joint Chiefs of Staff Assessment on Cambodia

Attached at Tab A is an assessment on Cambodia completed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on August 28, 1974.2

The assessment, which covers the period from the present through the end of FY 75, concludes inter alia that:

  • —A military stalemate has been achieved with neither side capable of defeating the other.
  • —The Communists have greater tactical mobility and motivation, but this is offset by FANK firepower.
  • Lon Nol is the only leader capable of exerting the necessary leadership on the Phnom Penh side.
  • —U.S. economic and military aid is essential to survival.

The assessment sees the U.S. as having three policy options vis-à-vis Cambodia: (1) increase our aid; (2) gradually decrease assistance; and (3) maintain assistance at proposed levels.

The JCS recommends that the United States Government continue to provide support at levels requested for FY 75, while simultaneously undertaking an intensive diplomatic campaign to effect a cease-fire and a negotiated settlement.

We concur in the basic conclusions and recommendations of the JCS assessment, though we are skeptical whether an intense diplomatic effort to start negotiations would bear fruit until the other side becomes convinced it cannot break the present military stalemate.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Box 2, Cambodia (2). Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Smyser concurred.
  2. JCSM–362–74, “Cambodia Assessment,” August 28, attached but not printed.