(The link gives access to the documents #168 - #179 in full)
Look for document #171 below
171. Letter From Secretary of Defense McNamara to Secretary of State Rusk/1/
Washington, December 29, 1965.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 32-1 CAMB-VIET S. Top Secret.
In light of the United States Intelligence Board (USIB) findings (USIB Study, D-24.7/4 of 28 Oct 65, subject: Infiltration
and Logistics--South Vietnam),/2/ the Joint Chief's of Staff have expressed their views for future U.S. policy and actions
to cope with support being given the Viet Cong through Cambodia. Their report to me, JCSM 812-65 of 12 Nov 65,/3/ was made
available to Assistant Secretary of State William Bundy on 16 November 1965 to enable prompt consideration by State and Defense
staffs of the proposed courses of action which are briefly stated as follows:
Courses of Action E and F.
I do not propose a policy decision at this time for conducting paramilitary operations and low level aerial reconnaissance
into Cambodia, but believe we should plan to be ready for such operations. As indicated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, these
are effective methods of supplementing other intelligence means. For example, the initial experience with Shining Brass/7/
reconnaissance/intelligence teams suggests that the selective introduction of highly trained military personnel in cross-border
operations could be effective in obtaining reliable information on infiltration activity leading to more effective harassment
and interdiction of supply routes.
/7/Shining Brass was the code name for U.S.-led South Vietnamese intelligence probes of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the Laos
panhandle. See Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, volume XXVIII, for extensive documentation on it and its successor operations.
Since it is only prudent to be prepared for launching cross-border and/or low level aerial reconnaissance, I have informed
the Joint Chiefs of Staff that, if the problem with Cambodia grows, consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis to
undertaking such actions.
THE NEXT DOCUMENT #172 INTRODUCES THE KHMER SEREI - WHICH YOU NOW KNOW AS THE GROUP
THE CIA WAS WORKING WITH IN CHERRY - The bold areas are from me and are not in the original as bolded - I just want to point
out a chain here
172. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Thailand/1/
Washington, December 29, 1965, 9:36 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23-8 THAI. Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Trueheart, cleared by Bundy,
and approved by Rusk. Also sent to Saigon as telegram 1831.
1085. For Ambassador Lodge and Ambassador Martin from the Secretary. Ref: A. Deptel 1026 to Bangkok; 1708 to Saigon./2/
B. FTB 9478./3/
/2/In telegram 1026 to Bangkok, also sent to Saigon as 1708, December 27, the Department expressed concern about Thai and
South Vietnamese support for the Khmer Serei. (Ibid., POL 23-8 CAMB)
/3/Not further identified.
1. I am most concerned that, notwithstanding approaches which have been made to GVN and RTG, Vietnamese and Thai authorities
continue to provide active support to Khmer Serei action against Cambodia and that a major acceleration of this activity is
2. Ambassador Martin should see Prime Minister soonest (and General Praphat as well, if he considers this desirable)/4/
to inform him that we have incontrovertible evidence of activity of Thai officials described above and to request that he
take immediate action to terminate any form of RTG support for Khmer Serei. He should use such arguments as he believes best
designed to bring about this result but Thanom should be left in no doubt that it is the firm view of the United States Government
that Khmer Serei operation will in no way contribute to our broad objectives in Southeast Asia and can only bring discredit
on the United States as well as Thailand and South Viet Nam./5/
/4/According to telegram 1275 from Bangkok, December
30, on the basis of Department telegram 1026 and prior to receipt of telegram 1085, Martin saw Praphat and expressed concern
over Thai support of the Khmer Serei. Praphat downplayed Thailand's role and claimed it was mostly "passive supporting South
Vietnamese initiated and financed operations." (Department of State, Central Files, POL 23-8 THAI)
/5/In telegram 1088 to Bangkok, December 30, Rusk asked Martin also to see Thanom so as to leave no possibility of doubt
in Thai minds about the seriousness of U.S. concern in the matter and to make the record completely clear. Rusk stated that
he realized "that the Vietnamese are at least equally to blame in this affair and no effort should be spared to bring them
to terminate support for the Khmer Serei." (Ibid.)
3. Ambassador Lodge should follow up earlier approach and take similar line with Ky, but in view Saigon's 2166/6/ this
may be deferred until approach to Thanom has been confirmed.
/6/In telegram 2166 from Saigon, December 28, Lodge reported on representations he made with Ky about South Vietnamese
support for the Khmer Serei. (Ibid.)
4. Following these approaches, I would appreciate your views as to what further action, if any, is required to bring a
stop to this affair./7/
/7/Lodge reported in telegram 2338 from Saigon, December 31, that should he raise the issue again with Ky, the Vietnamese
Prime Minister would ask for a clear view of the U.S. position in Viet Cong use of Cambodia as a sanctuary. Lodge stated that
he had "gone as far as I can go on the basis of treating the Khmer Serei as a totally isolated and separate event." (Ibid.)
The next comes in document 175 with highlighted material - we are now in early 1966
175. Memorandum From James C. Thomson, Jr., to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs
Washington, January 5, 1966.
/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Cambodia, Vol. V, Memos, 10/65-9/67. Secret.
Although I understand that State as a whole remains very leery of resurrecting any Cambodia conference proposal, Allen
Whiting/2/ suggests that we over here might want to consider such a move.
/2/The Director of the Office on Research and Analysis for the Far East, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department
The circumstances have altered considerably since Sihanouk's turn-down of the previous conference proposal. Cambodia is
more gravely threatened than ever before--by a pincer movement with MACV on Cambodia's eastern frontier and the Thai/GVN-supported
Khmer Serei on the western frontier. Sihanouk is properly scared. It would be far less likely for him to shoot down the proposal
under the present circumstances.
Our interests here are two-fold and clear: first and more narrowly, to get the Thai and GVN to call off their dogs--an
effort in which we have been so far markedly unsuccessful; but second and more important, to get the right people to a conference
where the long-sought corridor conversations can finally take place.
In short, there is more reason than ever for a Cambodia conference, both in terms of the heightened threat to Cambodia's
security and in terms of our intensified quest for negotiations.
So why not add this item to our current push? (Get the British and Soviets to take the initiative summoning such a conference.)
The next is still early 1966 - Evidence is mounting that VC are using Cambodia - yet
they still say no to use of Khmer Serei
176. Letter From Acting Secretary of State Ball to Secretary of Defense McNamara/1/
Washington, January 17, 1966.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CAMB. Top Secret. Drafted by Ewing and John M. Kane of SEA on January
I have given careful consideration to the problem of Viet Cong use of Cambodia to support its forces in South Vietnam and,
in particular, the Joint Chiefs of Staff views on future U.S. actions regarding Cambodia outlined in your letter of December
29./2/ I agree with your conclusion that, unless there is a sudden and significant increase in the use of Cambodian territory
by the PAVN/Viet Cong or in logistical support obtained in Cambodia, a gradual and cautious response by the U.S. Government
and by certain other friendly governments is appropriate and desirable.
The following are my thoughts on the Courses of Action proposed by the Joint Chiefs and commented upon in your letter:
Course of Action A--The need to expand and intensify the overall intelligence collection program for Cambodia is amply
demonstrated by the paucity of hard evidence on the extent and significance of PAVN/Viet Cong use of Cambodian territory and
by the differences in interpretation of available information within the intelligence community which have arisen in the course
of interagency discussions of the Joint Chiefs' proposals. I concur in and am forwarding your letter of December 29 to Admiral
Raborn,/3/ requesting that he ask USIB to re-examine all possible assets to determine additional programs which might be developed
to enhance our intelligence capability. I note, however, that among the activities which the Joint Chiefs envisage as being
included in a stepped-up intelligence collection program are covert ground cross border intelligence incursions by small teams
into Cambodian territory. In any proposal for this type of activity, I would wish to make certain that full consideration
is given to the political problems it may raise, particularly should there be any question of the use of Vietnamese or "Khmer
/3/See footnote 4, Document 171.
Courses of Action B and C--I recognize the importance of political and psychological pressure on the Cambodian Government
to inhibit Viet Cong use of Cambodian territory, including enlisting support in this effort by other friendly governments.
We have already undertaken various actions to this effect, most recently in our December 21 press statement,/4/ and have had
recent consultations with Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, India and France. We will continue to explore ways which
can be effective in persuading Sihanouk that Cambodia's best interests lie in preventing, to the best of his ability, Viet
Cong use of Cambodian territory. However, as you are no doubt aware, a principal drawback to our efforts in this respect has
been the lack of convincing evidence that use of Cambodian territory, in fact, constitutes a really significant factor for
PAVN/Viet Cong operations in South Vietnam or that there has been collusion by the Cambodian Government in such use as has
taken place. An aspect of this problem is that the Cambodian Government does not have the capability to control its borders
with South Vietnam to the extent of preventing any use at all of its territory by the Viet Cong.
/4/See footnote 2, Document 169.
Course D through Course I--I agree fully with your views on these proposed courses of action and have no further comment
on them at this time.
In conclusion I should like to point out that unsatisfactory as the present situation in Cambodia is from the U.S. point
of view, it would be far worse, it seems to me, if Cambodia were pushed into active belligerency against South Vietnam and
against U.S. armed forces or if control authority there were to collapse into civil strife and virtual anarchy as a consequence
of border incidents and pressures from such elements as the Khmer Serei movement. Should either of these conditions occur,
the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces would have a far greater opportunity than they now enjoy to use Cambodian territory
for base areas, for refuge, for training, for supply and for infiltration of men and supplies into South Vietnam. In our various
calculations as to how to deal with our existing difficulties in Cambodia, I believe that these are dangers which we must
always keep in mind.
George W. Ball/5/
/5/Printed from a copy that indicates Ball signed the original.
Will cut off here and go to next part to keep these, as I said, to managable levels