55. Letter From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Thai Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman 1

Dear Mr. Foreign Minister:

My colleagues and I have had an opportunity to study your letter of March 22.

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You can rest assured that we are deeply concerned about recent developments in Laos and we appreciate the Thai wish to accede to the Royal Lao Government’s appeal by dispatching an infantry battalion and possibly other units as well if future needs should dictate. We fully recognize the danger that Communist advances in Laos could ultimately pose to the security of Thailand which is, of course, a matter of highest importance to the United States. It is for this reason that we have recently taken the air actions of which I informed you yesterday as well as other steps designed to bring home to Hanoi the seriousness of our view of its actions.

Nevertheless, we are not convinced that the proposed deployment of Thai troops additional to those now serving in Laos with the Sierra Romeo artillery battery would be effective at this time. It is our current assessment that the fate of Long Tieng is not likely to be decided by introduction of such additional ground troops. Perhaps the best move that could be made at this time would be for you to assemble these battalions into an RCT at an advanced base (i.e., Udorn) and see that it is trained and readied against the contingency of further moves the North Vietnamese may make.

In expressing this judgment, I do not wish to imply in any way that, from a military viewpoint, Thai contributions to the Laos struggle have not been or will not continue to be extremely valuable. The Thai artillery battery now at Long Tieng has, according to our reports, been performing extremely well and may be given a large part of the credit for the fact that that outpost is still in Lao Government hands. We are also conscious that your Government’s contributions, through your advisors in Laos, have been most important in improving the capability of the Lao Government forces. Our decision with respect to the proposed additional deployment of infantry is based upon our judgment that at this time, the risks and costs of this move would not be justified by the prospects of military success.

The President hopes that our two Governments will continue to maintain the closest contact with each other and with the Royal Lao Government on developments in Laos and on possible military and political means to stabilize the situation.

With warm regards,

Sincerely,

Henry A. Kissinger 2
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 102, Country Files—Far East, Thanat (Foreign Minister), [2 of 2]. Secret. In a March 24 memorandum to the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kissinger noted that his message to Thanat had been drafted by the Department of State and had “been approved and slightly modified by the President. It was dispatched via the same channel that Foreign Minister Thanat’s message was sent to me.” Attached but not printed.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.