76. Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1

SUBJECT

  • Support for Cambodia

PARTICIPATION

  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • CIA
  • State
  • Mr. Richard Helms
  • Ambassador Johnson
  • Mr. Thomas Karamessines
  • Mr. Moore
  • Mr. Nelson
  • Mr. Tom Pickering
  • JCS
  • NSC Staff
  • Admiral Thomas Moorer
  • Col. Richard Kennedy
  • General Vogt
  • Mr. John Holdridge
  • Defense
  • Mr. Nutter
  • Admiral Flanagan

SUMMARY OF DECISIONS

[Omitted here is discussion on Cambodia.]

Turning to funding, Dr. Kissinger first brought up Thai activities with respect to Cambodia. It emerged that Senator Russell did not want CIA to finance Thai activities in Cambodia, and that Senator Stennis on the other hand believed that CIA rather than Defense should finance these activities. On the equipment costs for the Thai/Khmer regiment [Page 155]($1.2 million) following a discussion of alternatives including Cambodian MAP, CIA funds, Thai MASF, or PL–480 trade-offs, the decision favored using prior-year Thai MASF, but with the possibility of using some Cambodian MAP. Action was assigned to Mr. Nutter .

In addressing the question of Thai operations in Western Cambodia, it was agreed that RTAF operations took precedence over providing the initial equipment for an RCT . The initial equipment costs for the RCT seemed highly loaded. The funding route of using prior-year Thai MASF, with replacement of run-downs via PL–480 funds used to make purchases from U.S. military sales was agreed upon. This would be used first to support a sortie rate by the RTAF of 900 per month. Ambassador Unger would be asked to discuss this with the Thai, and also to review with them the requirements for the RCT. This cable should reflect the urgency of the need for Thai air support. In the course of this discussion it was brought out that there was no economic justification of a PL–480 program for Thailand, but that there was no choice other than to go for a PL–480 program up to $20 million2 as a source of funds for trade-offs.

The issue of Thai training for 15,000 Cambodian troops was raised, with several members questioning the effectiveness of such training. It was generally accepted that all training should be carried out in South Vietnam, where the job could be done more effectively, more quickly, and more cheaply. However, Admiral Moorer would be asked to look into a comparison of South Vietnam versus Thailand for training Cambodians, to include an estimate of the training times required.

The question of pay and allowances for the Khmer Krom and the Thai/Khmer units was addressed, with the alternatives being Defense funds, AID supporting assistance, the AID contingency funds, or CIA funds. The decision was made to rely on Defense funds for the 1st quarter of FY 71 and AID supporting assistance used later, subject to the views of the Secretary of Defense. (This was based on the assumption that an increase in the AID appropriation for general supporting assistance would not get through Congress at this time; Mr. Nutter, however, quoted Secretary Laird as believing that the issue should be carried to the Hill now.) A Defense switchback would be required to pay separation allowances of $1.7 million for the Thai/Khmer and Mr. Nutter agreed to talk to Mr. Packard on this. The size of the Cambodian MAP was considered. The [Page 156]consensus was to go for a Presidential Decision calling for a $40 million Cambodian program to be drawn from other programs, and to ask for a supplemental later when Congressional response might be better. The $40 million was estimated as being sufficient to carry through January or February 1971. Admiral Moorer felt that this sum was insufficient.

The meeting agreed to consider the retention of Thai forces in Laos at the next session. Agreement was noted on providing SAR operations in Cambodia for the RTAF, and on providing communications jeeps to Cambodia for use in air-to-ground control.

[Omitted here are the minutes of the meeting.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–114, WSAG Minutes, Originals, 1969 and 1970. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. Telegram 110878 to Bangkok, July 10, proposed a PL–480 program made up of tobacco, cotton, and wheat, as well as other aid programs. The telegram stated that “it may be desirable to provide some additional assistance to Thailand in recognition of Thai support of common effort to maintain Cambodian independence.” It added that it was “important, however, that no impression be given to RTG or others that the U.S. would be providing such additional assistance on any kind of matching basis with the Thai contributions.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, AID (US) 10 THAI)