95. Letter From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Ambassador to Thailand (Unger)1

Dear Len:

You will recall that when I was in Bangkok you suggested that it would be helpful for me to write you to give you the benefit of the President’s thinking on issues of concern to you. In this light, I am passing on the President’s interest in doing everything that we can to assure that third-country assistance to Cambodia is made available. He has issued specific directives concerning Thai air and ground actions in Cambodia if the need should arise.

  • First, the President wants everything possible to be done prior to the end of the rainy season to mobilize our own and third-country assistance [Page 197] to Cambodia to enable that country to survive an anticipated intensification in North Vietnamese attacks after the rains. He communicated this personally to senior officials of the Government in a meeting last June.
  • Second, the President has now directed that contingency plans be prepared for employment of Thai air and ground forces in the event of an NVA/VC offensive in Cambodia when the dry season begins. These might include: (a) the stationing of Thai forces along the Thai-Cambodia border in preparation for deployment in Cambodia, (b) use of Thai air support in Cambodia up to 900 sorties per month, to include areas beyond the present 30 kilometer zone agreed to by the Cambodians, (c) use of the Black Leopard units redeployed from South Vietnam as appropriate, and (d) provision of U.S. funding and matériel support for the Thai deployments including the use, as appropriate, of trade-off economic programs. These plans are to be completed and submitted to the Washington Special Actions Group for review no later than November 5.
  • Third, the President has further directed that the United States Ambassadors in Bangkok and Phnom Penh be instructed that the development of contingency plans to match our own by the Governments of Thailand and Cambodia be given their high priority attention.

I have the impression that we may have misled you in some of the cables which we sent to you by giving you a welter of technical details which obscured the imperative nature of the President’s concerns. I want to assure you that he considers the situation in Cambodia to be extremely urgent, and wants all of us concerned to bend every effort to see that the assistance which Cambodia may need shortly on an emergency basis will be provided. This of course requires full understanding on the part of our Thai and Cambodian allies as to our thinking and as to the kinds of support which we are prepared to offer. There should be nothing left undone either by them or by us which actions on our part could have avoided.

Warm regards,

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Country Files, Box 563, Far East, Thailand, Vol. V. Top Secret; Sensitive. An attached October 22 memorandum from Holdridge and Kennedy to Kissinger reads: “Following the WSAG meeting on October 16 you asked that a letter be drafted from you to Ambassador Unger to make it clear to him what the situation is here with respect to the emergency employment of Thai air and ground forces in Cambodia. A draft letter for your signature is at Tab A.” The approval line of the memorandum is checked next to a recommendation that reads: “That you approve transmittal of this letter by back-channel message to Bangkok.” A notation on the memorandum in Kissinger’s handwriting reads: “urgent for dispatch.” A notation at the end of the memorandum reads: “Dispatched. Rec’d in Bangkok 10:15 on the 27th.”