90. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Thailand (Unger) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)1


  • Bangkok 149, 18 September 1970
  • 1. We received a cable this morning from [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Bangkok discussing preliminary negotiations with the Thais on the conversion of the Thai Khmer regiment and the formation of SGU’s. Ambassador Unger asked that this information be [Page 183]passed to Under Secretary Johnson, Assistant Secretary Green, and Ambassador Swank. Following is the text of the cable:
  • “2. At ceremony on morning of 18 September, Ambassador Unger raised general subject of what to do now in Laos with Surakij and Praphat in which climate established for working level exploration to see what might be done. Ambassador emphasized that Washington has not agreed any specific plan.
  • “3. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] followed up in working skull session with Surakij on afternoon 18 September. Following are results of this meeting, all of which subject to specific agreement between Ambassador Unger and General Praphat that these arrangements are desirable after some more working level negotiation.
  • “4. General Surakij agreed our understanding of the principle of ‘one pay scale’ for Laos and said it could be at the SGU rate. He accepted the desirability of an eventual 13 Thai SGU’s to include Long Tieng replacements. He had some reservations that Thais might not be able to recruit and train 13 in end of year timeframe, but he did not raise this as an objection. Finally, he agreed in principle that the 13 could be used ‘anywhere’ in Laos after consultation; and he endorsed the current [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] pattern of operation, agreeing that the arrangements for command and control of the Thai regulars currently at Long Tieng are not really satisfactory.
  • “5. Surakij’s problems grew out of the conversion of the TKV regiment to three SGU’s. First, he had in mind that agreement with the Cambodians that these troops would be held in some sort of ready reserve in case the call came from Phnom Penh. Second, he saw problems with morale inherent in the conversion which he would prefer to avoid.
  • “6. Surakij expressed desire to have first Thai SGU deployment put in Champassak, Sithandone, and Sayaboury. He went on, however, that the units would not be irrevocably tied to these locations. First, these areas would be considered rotational; and second, if no NVA/Pathet Lao presence established, units would be moved to areas where needed.
  • “7. Wish reiterate that all of above is exploratory with both sides carefully repeating that no decisions have been made and in particular Washington has not given approval for any specifics.” (End of Message)
  • “8. This information was passed [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] at Phnom Penh for delivery to Ambassador Swank in the field.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 410, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages—1970, Southeast Asia. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. An attached September 21 memorandum to Kissinger requested that this and other messages to Johnson and Green also be forwarded to Kissinger.