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

5811. Subject: E & E Planning. Ref: A. Phnom Penh 4556; B. State 057526; C. State 064003; D. Phnom Penh 5176; E. State 67109.2

To adopt military format, believe it would be helpful to recapitulate essential points in exchanges we have had with Department in messages referenced above. Ref A recommended that in the event of a negative vote by the U.S. Congress on further assistance to Cambodia, we act promptly to reduce overall number of persons for whose evacuation we are responsible by moving out approximately 225 persons by fixed wing assets immediately. This recommendation was based on assumption that such a negative vote would cause morale on the GKR side to deteriorate so rapidly as to constitute a collapse and that an Eagle Pull extraction would then become necessary.
Ref B rejected this recommendation and instructed me to inform Lon Nol, following a decisive congressional vote against supplementary assistance, that the U.S. Mission will continue to function normally to administer the ongoing aid shipments and that we have no present plans to evacuate official Americans. In an FYI section this message noted that the mood in Phnom Penh after an aid cut-off may not permit us to hold to this posture on evacuation for very long, but that I should not order any evacuation without receiving final authorization from Washington except in extremis (meaning a situation where American lives are in immediate danger and I am unable to contact Washington).
Ref C asked my views for planning purposes on feasibility of beginning to reduce further the number of people included in evacuation plan, without detracting from our operations and without arousing or contributing to GKR concern, especially in absence of definitive action by the Congress.
Ref D expressed the view that we were receiving conflicting signals from the Department on E&E planning. I pointed out that we [Page 712]had already made reductions of people included in our evacuation plan, that we could make further reductions in the persons over whom we have control (employees and VOLAG personnel) without detracting unduly from our operations, but if we did so it would arouse GKR concern and would degrade the posture of unflinching support and steadfastness that the Mission was under instructions from Washington to project. I also noted that the largest groups for which we are responsible are either not under our control or are groups whose size we can only estimate (VIP’s and Khmer employees of the USG).
Ref E stated that there are no conflicting signals because we were only being asked for our views.
I believe conditions have changed significantly since the above exchanges so that we need to take another look at this whole question. The following are new factors to be considered:
The U.S. Congress may simply fail to act on the administration’s request, so that there may be no “definitive” congressional vote against further assistance to Cambodia. Even a favorable vote may provide too little and too late.

The assistance pipeline is running dry. Today we have about a ten-day supply of rice in-country. As for ammunition, the following projections are extracted from a message prepared yesterday by MEDTC (200500Z Mar 75) which I am having repeated to the Department:

  • April 6—Ammo stocks at depots in-country will decline to an average of 15 days of supply (6,000 short tons).
  • April 11—All airdrops to enclaves must terminate due to lack of funds for further aerial delivery equipment.
  • April 20—Expanded bird air delivery of MAP supplies will terminate owing to lack of funds.
  • April 25—Ammo stocks on hand in Cambodia will reach zero rpt zero balance.

MEDTC estimates that FANK’s will to fight could collapse between April 6 and 17. By the former date it will become apparent to FANK that ammo deliveries are not keeping pace with depot issues. By the latter date zero balances in certain critical lines will occur. MEDTC comments that FANK can reasonably be expected to crack well before the shelves are completely bare.

Pochentong may be interdicted at any time. FANK his failed to retake Toul Leap, the KC have broken through the North Dike defense line and could bring Pochentong within mortar range shortly. That would mean the end of the airlift.
The Neak Loeung-Banam enclave may fall any day now. This event would release perhaps as many as 8,000 KC troops to move north to attack the southern and southeastern perimeters of Phnom Penh, [Page 713]which are only lightly defended. FANK has no reserves to strengthen such a threatened area of the perimeter.
The Khmers are watching developments in South Vietnam, and many see a similar fate awaiting them. Both our military and SRF personnel who have close contact with Khmers are reporting an increasing level of anti-American sentiment. GKR and FANK morale may collapse even before or in the absence of negative action by the U.S. Congress.
I believe we need to reconsider our E&E posture. Ref B was written at a time when it was believed that the congressional decision would come when there were supplies still in the pipeline to be delivered and that we had the capability of delivering them. In light of our present circumstances, I wish to make two recommendations for the Department’s consideration:
That we begin now to move out of country selectively a small number but steady flow of personnel included in our evacuation plan with whose services we can dispense, for example, some of the TCN’s who work on ammunition logistics. There would be a calculated risk that this movement would have an adverse effect on Khmer morale, but I would hope it would not have a major impact. Our overall presence would still be very large and highly visible. We can of course do nothing about reducing the numbers in categories over which we have no control.
That we again give consideration to moving out some two hundred or more persons by fixed wing assets as the first step of an evacuation (as proposed in Ref A) on the assumption that we have been authorized to proceed with Eagle Pull. That means that once Eagle Pull has been authorized, the largest contingent possible would use fixed wing assets, taking advantage of surprise element. The balance would be extracted by helicopter. Obviously this scenario assumes availability of Pochentong airport. Securing of airport by U.S. military would not be required for this initial movement.
Request that this message be repeated to CINCPAC and COMUSSAG, as this re-examination of our situation grew out of discussions we had with Admiral Gayler and LtG Burns when they visited here March 29.
  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 (6). Secret; Priority; Nodis.
  2. Telegram 57526 to Phnom Penh, March 14, is ibid., From SECSTATE, Nodis (2). Telegram 4556 from Phnom Penh, March 13, is printed as Document 186. Telegram 64003 to Phnom Penh, March 21; telegram 5176 from Phnom Penh, March 21; and telegram 67019 to Phnom Penh, March 25, are in the National Archives, RG 59, State Archiving System.