186. Telegram From the Embassy in Cambodia to the Department of State 1

4556. Subject: E&E: Contingency Planning.

Embassy has begun contingency planning2 to deal with eventuality of a negative vote by the US Congress on further assistance to Cambodia.3 It has been our assumption for some time, and we see no reason to change our estimate at this time, that in the event of such a [Page 678]negative vote, morale on the GKR side would deteriorate so rapidly as to constitute a collapse.
In such a situation we would first of all want to reduce the overall number of persons for whom we would be responsible in an evacuation to the maximum extent possible by using USSAG/7 AF fixed wing aircraft or C–130 and DC–8 backhaul aircraft. We have drawn up a list of approximately 225 persons made up primarily of USG employees, American and TCN USG contract employees, and VOLAG personnel whom we would wish to include in this fixed wing evacuation just as soon as it could be arranged following receipt of news of negative action by the US Congress. When completed this operation would leave us with approximately 425 people of all categories for whose evacuation we would remain responsible.
At this point we need some guidance from the Dept as to how it would wish us to proceed from then on. One possibility would be to continue with the evacuation of the other 425 people by the same fixed wing aircraft. This would constitute an Eagle Pull evacuation using the same fixed wing aircraft involved in the first evacuation. Alternatively the second stage to evacuate the remaining 425 people could be executed with an Eagle Pull operation by helicopter. The choice would probably depend on local conditions, i.e., how the GKR and populace had reacted to the departure of the first group of 225.
For contingency planning purposes we need to have the Department’s thinking on whether it would wish us to maintain some presence in this Embassy regardless of the outcome of the congressional vote and what the makeup of such a continuing presence should be. We believe the Dept would concur in our view that a negative congressional vote combined with the evacuation of, for example, one-third of those for whom we are responsible, would be likely to precipitate a situation on the GKR side which might well necessitate the total evacuation of our people. It is next to impossible for us to predict exactly, but we believe one essential aspect of our posture at that time ought to be to have in-country as small a number of people as possible for whose evacuation we would continue to be responsible.
Request Dept pass this message to CINCPAC and USSAG.
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Box 4, Cambodia, State Department Telegrams, To SECSTATE, Nodis (3). Secret; Priority; Nodis.
  2. A memorandum from Springsteen to Scowcroft, “Contingency Planning for Cambodia,” March 8, contained an updated plan for the evacuation of U.S. personnel from Phnom Penh. (Ibid., Box 2, Cambodia, 11)
  3. Telegram 56922 to Phnom Penh, March 13, 2324Z, informed the Embassy: “Hopes for emergency assistance for Cambodia were dealt a serious blow in the House today. Foreign Affairs Committee rejected all proposed alternatives to the bill proposed by the administration—including the Hamilton subcommittee proposal—by a vote of 15 to 18, then, pursuant to Wayne Hays’ intervention, deferred a vote on the bill itself to give the Dept the opportunity to come back to the committee one more time.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)