103. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Embassy in France 1
Bangkok, January 5, 1971, 1233Z.
130. Paris For SecDef. Subj: Thai Assistance to Cambodia. Ref: Bangkok 125.2
- Thailand’s long-standing security concerns have been compounded by Communist aggression in Cambodia. However, initial Thai receptivity to sweeping requests for assistance from Lon Nol was tempered not only by reserved response by U.S. concerning support, but [Page 211]also by serious assessment of their priorities and capabilities in light of existing troop commitments in Vietnam and Laos and requirements to meet mounting insurgency problems at home. Moreover, after it became evident that RTA ground combat presence would raise number of touchy issues (including command and control), Cambodians indicated to Thai that there was no immediate requirement for their troops and Cambodians also limited that airforce operations, thus reducing number of sorties RTAF could fly in support of Cambodia.
- In response Washington directives to discuss with Thai measures to meet dry season emergency in Cambodia, we and Thai costed out their contingency plan for western Cambodia (Chakri Plan). We have recommended to Washington our moving ahead at this time only with package of readiness measures drawn from Chakri Plan for: RTAF operations of 900 sorties per month; preparing five regiments for combat; command and control; and activating reserve division. Total one-time costs of these packages would be about $36 million to achieve readiness; continuing O&M and personnel costs to maintain readiness would be $1.6 million per month. We would not intend to finance personnel costs of these packages and Thai have agreed in principle to assume them. One-time personnel costs are $2.66 million and continuing personnel costs are $1.8 million per month.
- While consideration has been given to deploying Black Leopard units returning from RVN to Cambodia, if requested by Cambodia, this is not practicable since Black Leopards cease to exist as units shortly after returning to Thailand; about 40 percent of the personnel are volunteers for Vietnam and under the law must be released from active duty in accordance with their contracts; the other 60 percent (RTA regulars) normally return to their former units, and are badly needed there to bring forces up to acceptable strength levels.
- Pending an answer from Washington on our recommendation (see para 2 above), we have not resumed dialogue on readiness measures with Thai. We expect Thai will take occasion of SecDef visit to inquire into status of project (which was undertaken at our initiative) and U.S. views on Thai assistance to Cambodia. Thai may also raise questions about U.S. support if in fact deployment to Cambodia should be required. This would include our help with logistics and air support as well as with greatly expanded costs for material in actual combat conditions.