65. Letter From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Packard)1

Dear Dave:

I understand2 that in response to Secretary Laird’s February 19 memorandum to the Joint Chiefs of Staff,3 a copy of which has been shown to me, the Joint Chiefs have provided the Department of Defense with their recommendations regarding the possible withdrawal from Thailand during fiscal year 1971 of some 10,000 U.S. military personnel, broken down into two packages of roughly 5,000 personnel each. As was noted in the SecDef memorandum, the problem is a complex one with important political implications that must be fully considered, particularly because of the likelihood of base closures and significant force readjustments.

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Because U.S. troop withdrawals are of most serious concern to the Royal Thai Government, it is important that the foreign policy implications be fully taken into account. In addition, we must be mindful of the necessity in any planning we do, to provide adequate time for genuine consultations with the Royal Thai Government (anticipated to take about 60 days minimum) on any U.S. troop withdrawals we may desire to undertake. Some of the questions which will undoubtedly arise during discussions with the Thai are outlined in the attachment. With these in mind, I suggest we ask our staffs to review together the troop withdrawal proposals so that foreign policy problems can be resolved prior to consultations with the Royal Thai Government.4


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Under Secretary Johnson Chronology Files: Lot 96 D 695, Box 11, May 1970. Top Secret. Drafted by Hicks (EA/TB) and Colonel Arthur Hanket (PM/ISP). A notation in Johnson’s handwriting reads: “P.S. There is also an aspect on this I want to discuss directly with you. UAJ.”
  2. Green and Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs Ronald I. Spiers informed Johnson in a May 18 memorandum that they “had been made aware informally” that Laird had directed the JCS to begin planning a 10,000 man troop reduction in Thailand; attached but not printed.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Attached but not printed is a list of questions that were likely to arise during consultations with the Thai Government. Most of them dealt with rationalizing a 45 percent reduction in Thai-based air resources in the face of increased North Vietnamese activity in northern Laos and Cambodia, the projected reduction in the sortie rate in those areas, and compensating for that “loss of firepower which is required to deter, delay, or defeat in NVN/Pathet Lao advance into critical areas of Laos.”