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

SUBJECT

  • National Intelligence Estimate on Cambodia

The intelligence community has just completed an update of the National Intelligence Estimate on the “Prospects for Cambodia Through August 1975” (Tab A).2

The key points of the Estimate are as follows:

  • —The military situation in Cambodia is critical.
  • —The Khmer Communists (KC) have embarked on an ambitious dry season campaign aimed at closing the Mekong River.
  • —For the first time, the Cambodian Government (GKR) faces the threat of collapse from economic factors because food stocks will cover consumption only through mid-March if convoys do not make it up the Mekong.
  • —The KC will be unable to interdict the Mekong continuously, but delays and shipping losses will continue to be such that the “heavy” airlift now scheduled—600 tons per day—will be required to supply the GKR minimum ammunitions needs for at least the next few weeks.
  • —The Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of State believe that this heavy airlift will be required until the rainy season widens the Mekong in July or August.
  • —The Defense Intelligence Agency and the intelligence representatives of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force regard this judgment as overly pessimistic. They believe that the GKR will order extraordinary measures to regain security along the Mekong and that some essential convoys will get through.
  • —In either case, the risks to aircraft and crews will be substantial since Pochentong airport would become even more of a priority target for the KC.
  • —Aside from this immediate supply problem, the GKR’s ability to get through the whole of the dry season ending in August depends on its receipt of supplemental U.S. military and economic aid.
  • —If no additional aid is forthcoming, the military situation will deteriorate rapidly, starting in late March or early April at the latest. The economic situation will also steadily worsen. In such a situation, pressures against the GKR for a settlement, even on KC terms, could become overwhelming.
  • —If the GKR receives additional aid in this fiscal year, it should be able to get through to the end of the dry season. But this situation would offer little prospect of the GKR regaining the overall initiative and would allow the KC to further consolidate their control over most of the country.
  • —War-weariness is widespread in Cambodia and increasing numbers of Cambodians are coming to the belief that there is no relief in sight.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Box 2, Cambodia (9). Secret. Sent for information. According to the attached correspondence profile, Kissinger noted the memorandum on April 8.
  2. NIE 57–1–75, “Prospects for Cambodia Through August 1975,” February 13, attached but not printed. For the full text of the estimate, see the CD ROM supplement to National Intelligence Council, Estimative Products on Vietnam, 1948–1975 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005).