63. Editorial Note

The Chief of Staff of the Cambodian Army (FANK), General Srey Saman, arrived in Bangkok on May 11, 1970, to discuss the Thai proposal to train ethnic Khmers in Thailand to fight for the Lon Nol government against the Communists in Cambodia. This followed South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) and U.S. incursions into Cambodia to hit Communist supply centers and routes.

The Thai planned to form two regiments of 1,826 men each, according to an undated Central Intelligence Agency memorandum from Richard Helms to Henry Kissinger, U. Alexis Johnson, David Packard, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle G. Wheeler. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–074, WSAG Meeting, Cambodia, 5/12/70)

Further details of the Thai-Cambodian meetings emerged a short time later. A memorandum from Karamessines to Kissinger, Johnson, Packard, and Wheeler, dated May 13, noted that Cambodian General Srey, meeting with General Chairatana Intuputi, Commandant of the Thai Armed Forces Security Center, and with Prime Minister Thanom, General Praphet, and Air Marshal Dawee, gave full approval to the Thai proposal, but with a number of provisos, including that the “undertaking should be a joint Thai-Cambodian-U.S. operation with U.S. representatives to be invited to participate fully in formalizing the plans,” that the “operation is to be accomplished covertly,” and that the “Thai regiment would be paid in a similar manner to the Thai troops in Laos.” (Ibid.)

The Thai-Cambodian proposal was discussed in the Washington Special Actions Group Meeting on May 13, with Karamessines noting the above-mentioned aspects of the plan, as well as some additional aspects, such as the training of the two regiments in Thailand. He described the proposed pay arrangements last. Kissinger noted that the “difference is on the Thai regiment. They want us to pay in Cambodia.”U. Alexis Johnson responded that this was “out of the question,” and Kissinger agreed. Packard noted that the “training and equipment are service funded.” After a discussion of various pay scenarios, the following notation was made in the minutes: “[All agree that we will go back to the Thai and tell them to pay for their own regiments. We will pay for the training.]” (Ibid., Box H–114, WSAG Minutes, Originals, 1969–1970)

In backchannel message 405 to Bangkok, May 14, Johnson advised Unger that he could inform the Thai Government “that in principle we would be prepared to help with supplies and equipment requested of the Thais by the Cambodians either by directly turning over to the Thais U.S. stocks available in the area or elsewhere, or replacing material provided by the Thais from our own stocks.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 561, Country Files, Far East, Thailand, Vol. III)