96. Briefing Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Brown) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)1

SUBJECT

  • Thai SGU’s for Laos

Attached is a memorandum [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] 2 reporting the status of negotiations with the RTG concerning the SGU program. The main points to which we would call your attention are that the RTG is now committed to recruiting and assisting in the training of 14 Thai SGU’s (13 infantry and one artillery), of which two are to be primarily composed of former TKV’s. Of these 14, it is anticipated that two SGU’s (the TKV’s) will be ready for deployment to Laos in mid-December, six others will be ready in early March and the final five, including the artillery SGU, should be ready in April.

The availability timing is determined by factors of recruiting and training. A twelve week training program is planned for all except the two “TKVSGU’s who will require only a few weeks training in addition to what they have already received. Those TKV’s, we understand, are now available in sufficient number for the two battalions. In addition to these, we understand that there are about 2200 volunteers already signed up who will man the next batch of six SGU’s. So far as we know, the RTG does not yet have volunteer enlisted personnel for the last six.

Initially, there appears to have been a problem in recruitment. The RTG wisely sought to get volunteers with previous military experience and other high qualifications, but apparently were not very successful on the basis of the pay and allowance scale initially proposed. Recent negotiations in Bangkok [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]resulted in an agreement to raise subsistence and per diem allowances [Page 199]and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] the recruiting problem has been solved.

Another problem has arisen with regard to training facilities. There are now three sites in Thailand being used for SGU’s and these are adequate for the first eight battalions, but we understand could not accommodate any more. [1 line of source text not declassified] this problem can be resolved by establishing an additional training facility, and the matter is under negotiation through COMUSMACTHAI in Bangkok. A final decision on the matter is expected about the end of this month when General Surakij returns from his present visit to Australia.

The [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] memorandum does not discuss the timing question in relation to the RTA, RCT’s and Sierra Romeo now in Laos. We have been told, however, that in negotiations with the Thai it is being made clear that those forces will not be removed from Laos until the SGU’s, fully trained and equipped, are ready to replace them.

In general, the SGU training program is not split in terms of future assignments to north or south Laos. However, it is understood that the first two battalions, the TKV, will go to Champassak/Sithadone and that the highest priority for the next batch will be Sayaboury. The reason for Sayaboury’s priority is that the Thai cadre for Project Sayavong are being drawn down for the SGU program and the Thai feel that an SGU battalion should be sent in to fill the vacuum. Deployment of the rest of the SGU’s will be determined by circumstances at the time their training is completed.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 19 THAI–LAOS. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Dexter and Brown and cleared by Wilson.
  2. The [text not declassified] November 18 memorandum [text not declassified] to Kissinger, Johnson, Packard, and Moorer, is attached but not printed. It noted that on November 16 “the Royal Thai Army Commander-in-Chief General Praphat confirmed to Ambassador Unger his concurrence with the final negotiated agreement (on the Thai SGU program) with only one exception—the composition and size of the Thai artillery SGU. Praphat indicated that he was prepared to implement the SGU program as soon as he had a formal request in writing from the Lao Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma.”