137. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State 1
Bangkok, September 17, 1971, 0300Z.
12650. Subject: Counterinsurgency: Communist Insurgent Threat in Thailand and the RTG Response.
- At a meeting with Prime Minister Thanom, General Praphat, and Marshal Dawee on 14 September, I took the occasion to comment on the growing insurgent threat in selected areas of Thailand in order to press for a more vigorous Thai counterinsurgency response.
- [4 lines of source text not declassified] This briefing was translated by them into Thai and, we have subsequently learned, read with care by the Prime Minister who instructed that it be given broader distribution to key officials of the Royal Thai Government (RTG). The thrust of the briefing was to call RTG attention to the expanding covert village infra-structure which the CPT has built in the Phuphan Mountain area in the northeast, particularly in the Nakae District of Nakhon Phanom. Though our intelligence in the north is less detailed than in the northeast, attention was also given to the growing numbers of insurgents and more sophisticated weaponry in the north and the expanded activity on the part of the CPT cadre working out of the high-land into lowland Thai villages.
- After noting that since my return I had reviewed developments in the insurgency situation during my absence, I commented on this rather discouraging picture—discouraging to the extent that the situation in these areas has continued to deteriorate during the past year. Recently, the CPT has been able to organize its covert village infra-structure in the northeast to foment at least 8 demonstrations against government officials—demonstrations clearly organized to press Communist interests and not the normal needs of the villagers. At least in this area, the Communists have the capability to manipulate public opinion and stir up the villagers against the government’s counterinsurgency efforts. It is a dangerous new feature of the insurgency.
- I observed that the progress which the CPT has made serves to highlight the need for a more intensive and aggressive RTG response. For one thing, greater cooperation on the part of civil, military, and police forces is urgently required. A number of instances were cited where differences among these various elements had prevented or weakened an effective RTG response. In other cases, there have been problems of [Page 300]inadequate support and attention from Bangkok resulting in district and province level positions being left unfilled, delays in making budgeted funds for counterinsurgency operations available, etc. a more concerted police effort is needed in some of the most critical areas. Many military patrol, reconnaissance and hunter-capture operations are effective while they last but are not run on a sustained basis. This gives the insurgents an opportunity to regroup and restore their access to the village population.
- I emphasized that one of the reasons for the new AAT program is to provide additional assistance to the RTG to intensify their counterinsurgency operations. We realize the RTG is making every effort within its own budget to respond to this growing threat and we hope that additional assistance provided in the AAT proposal, by relieving budgetary pressure in other sectors, will enable it to do more than it would otherwise be able to do within present RTG budget limitations.
- The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for the intelligence exchanged and for our interest, advice, and support in the entire range of counterinsurgency programs and operations. The RTG is trying, he said, to get the various elements of the government working together more closely, and he cited as an example the recent seminar of governors of the insurgency-infested provinces held in Bangkok under CSOC sponsorship with military, police, and dola participation. Every effort is being made to increase the budget for counterinsurgency operations. Dawee said that in 1970, 600 million baht was allocated for these operations; 650 million in 1971; and for 1972, despite the many cuts made elsewhere, over 800 million baht is budgeted for counterinsurgency. General Praphat said that the military intends to run more operations such as Operation Phalad in the north and that these will be prolonged, not so limited in time as was Phalad. Apparently, the RTA is now planning such an operation in Petchabun for which funds are being sought from lower priority requirements. Also, more intensive reconnaissance and hunter-capture operations are planned for Nakhon Phanom.
- I expressed my satisfaction and interest in this evidence of increased activity and again asked that in their review of our AAT program, they look for other opportunities for striking hard against the Communists in ways that are not possible within their present budget. The Prime Minister closed with a strong statement of appreciation for the critically important assistance provided by the U.S. Government, noting that the Thais cannot now handle the problem without material aid from us. Praphat echoed this with a statement reflecting his recognition that a more powerful thrust is needed against the internal Communist threat.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23 THAI. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Vientiane, Saigon, and Phnom Penh.↩