130. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Ambassador to Thailand (Unger)1

WH 10764. Subject: Thai Force Improvements: STFD Proposals.

To follow up my visit, I want to move as rapidly as possible to obtain an acceptable force improvement package for consideration by the President. I have found mission proposals transmitted to my staff in Saigon most valuable. I would like to have Mission comments by [Page 283]Monday2 on the proposal spelled out below which represents our best synthesis of the variety of proposals available to us.

While the proposal outlined below continues to provide assistance for Thai efforts to increase RTARF readiness with respect to possible deployments [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], its principal focus is on accelerating the improvement of general RTARF capabilities.

The concept is that this proposal should be viewed by the RTG as the first of two steps in gauging U.S. assistance to support RTG efforts to improve the capabilities of its military forces. The second step would reflect decisions in the context of NSSM 99 and the performance of the Thai in meeting the conditions of the agreement proposed for negotiation now.

The proposal includes an assistance package made up of two elements:

A two year $30 million PL 480 program, $15 million per annum.
A $15 FY 1972 MASF add on.

For this combined assistance package of $45 million the RTG will agree that

  • —the baht proceeds from the PL 480 sales will be allocated in consultation with the USOM to agricultural development activities.
    No more than $10 million of PL 480 revenues will be used to undertake additional development activities.
    The remaining baht proceeds from the PL 480 sales less the $10 million for agricultural development, approximately $17 million, will be used to offset additional expenditures for improvement of Thai forces. (An initial repayment of $3 million to the USG is assumed, thus accounting for the $30 million PL 480 total.)
  • —Expenditures for pol as agreed upon in earlier negotiations and for consumables directly related to RTAF sorties [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], 60 sorties/month, which cannot be legally covered under MASF will be financed by Thai foreign exchange.
  • —Up to 300 RTAF sorties/month [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]would be flown if required.

The principal activities which will be financed from the additional baht expenditures for RTARF are

  • —1) initiation of RTA manpower augmentations above those currently budgeted for maneuver and logistics units. (Augmentation [Page 284]should include filling to 90 per cent TO&E 3 RCTs and their associated logistics support units.)
  • —2) expansion of training programs.
  • —3) increases in the level of CI operations.
  • —4) upgrading of logistics facilities.

Our support for the expanded five division force should be made clear, the PL 480 and $15 million MASF is initial assistance to help the Thai move in that direction.

The principal activities for which equipment will be financed from the $15 million MASF add on are:

  • —1) upgrading of maneuver and logistics units.
  • —2) expansion of training operations.
  • —3) increases in the level of CI operations.

Mission comments and specific program details consistent with the above proposal should be sent via this channel so as to arrive opening of business Monday, 26 July. Keeping in mind that basic objective is to improve capability of Thai forces, Mission comments on significant differences between this proposal, and Mission and Renoo’s alternatives passed to Sansom would be particularly useful.

Also await Mission views, pursuant to discussions in Saigon, on Thai para-military force development and on manpower tradeoff problems between Thai regular and SGU forces.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 410, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages 1971, Southeast Asia. Top Secret.
  2. In telegram 158, July 24, Unger “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Thai STFD force improvements proposed in WH 10764. He added that “the military activities and amount of assistance proposed will be a fair test of Thai willingness to upgrade their forces to meet security threats they now face.” (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 208, August 2, Unger discussed the SGU program in detail, and reported Thai “concern over drain on RTA manpower (especially officers and NCOs).” He noted that if the SGUs were expanded to 36 battalions as planned then there would be a further drawdown of 126 officers and 417 NCOs from the regular Thai army, however, he concluded “it does not appear that the BC (SGU) program per se has or will seriously affect the RTA.” (Ibid.)