SNIE 63-2-54 THE EFFECTS OF CERTAIN POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENTS ON THE MILITARY SECUR

Created: 6/9/1954

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SECRET

COPY HO. 1

ASSISTANT DIRECTOEdOSR

SPECIAL

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

THE EFFECTS OF CERTAIN POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENTS ON THE MILITARY SECURITY AND POLITICAL STABILITY OF LAOS AND CAMBODIA4

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The Intelligence Advisory Committee concurred in this estimateune IM. The Ate and FBI abstained, the subfect being outside ol their jurisdiction.

The tolloielng member organisations ol the Intelligence

Advisory Committee participated Ttth the Central

licence Agency tn the preparation ol this estimate:

tr.iciuger.ee organisations ot the Departments ol State, the Army, the Kacy. the Air Force, and The Joint Stag.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

SECRET"

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THE EFFECTS OF CERTAIN POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENTS ON THE MILITARY SECURITY AND POLITICAL STABILITY OF LAOS AND CAMBODIA4

THE PROBLEM

To examine the present military security and political stability of Laos andand to estimate the eflect which certain possible developments might have upon their security and stability'

CONCLUSIONS

Minh forces are operating in Laos and Cambodia, but do not currentlyan imminent threat to the existence of the native governments. However,o only because the security of Laos and Cambodia is supported by French regular forces and extensive French assistance to the native forces.

Communism has thus far made little progress In either Laos or Cambodia. Nevertheless, both countries areto Communist pressures because of their military weakness and uncertain political stability.

Substantial Communist militaryin Vietnam would probably lead to an early collapse or disintegration of authority in Laos and Cambodia unless outside assistance or security guarantees assured their protection.

egotiated settlement placed the Communistsosition which would enable them eventually, but not immc-

various contingencies considered heroinsupplied to the intelligenceasis for this estimate.

diateiy, to dominate Vietnam, thedanger to Laos and Cambodia would be less and the Laotian and Cambodian Governments could probably maintain control for some time.

f,esultegotiatedwith the Communists covering all of Indochina. French and Viet Minhunits were actually withdrawn from Imos and Cambodia {leaving Viet Minh irregular forces still operating in thoseative forces could probably preserve for some time approximately the present degree of security and stability in Cambodiaertain minimumand stability in Laos, provided French cadres and the present scale and nature of French material aid remained available to the native armies. However, such an agreement with the Communists would be extremely difficult, if notto implement and police, and in these circumstances the native armies could probably not for long successfully resist the Vict Minh without increased outside support.

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utside support took the formecurity system involving multinational guarantees for the security of Laos and Cambodia and could be implemented in time, that would probably permit Laos and Cambodia to maintain their security. We believe that the requirements ofecurity system would be: (a) adequate MDAP-lype aid; (b) effective protective forces appropriately located in the area; and (c) assurance of assistance in the event of internal subversion as well as external attack. The success of the above measures, in the long run, would alsothe maintenance and developmentolitical and psychologicalwhich would motivate thepeoples against Communism.

/ Laos and Cambodia werethe will of the non-Communist remnants to maintain their independence would greatly decrease, and their ability to do so would be weakened because of the new establishment in those countries of strong and legalized CommunistUnder such circumstancesnothing but military occupation of those countries would assure theirfreedom from Communist control

DISCUSSION

THE PRESENT SITUATION IN LAOS

AND CAMBODIA Military Security

B. Vict Minh forces are operating In tans and Cambodia, but do not currently present an imminent threat to the existence of the unlive governments, However, this: bi po onlythe security of Laos and Cambodia is supported by French regular forces andFrench assistance to the native forces.

iet Minh regular troops in Laos areto regular Viet Minh divisions and are Vietnamese invaders, not Laotians. Vict Minh regional forces, scattered throughout Laos, are predominantly Vietnamese, but includeas well. These regional troops have effectively conducted guerrilla-type operations at company level and arc considered equal in effectiveness to companies of the LaotianArmy. They could be easily organized Into larger units,onsequent increase

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ARMED FORCE STRENGTHS IN LAOS

M :HH!

Regulars

Attached Mllltla TuUI..

A. French Expeditionary Corpsintegrated Laotian troops)

of whom ulre known to be Laotiani

all LaoUan)

iii.Cimi

Ifjej

Array Rr clonals

National auardS and OUicr Senumilitaxy

Total

Grando*

Laotian Nnuonal0

6iO0

0

in their capabilities. There are no known armed lion-Communist dissident forces in Laos.

The defense of Laos has dependedon French Exjicdlllonary forces. For military reasons, the French may at any lime reduce or increase the present strength ofunits in that country. If such strength Is reduced substantiallyaos would be seriously exposed to Viet Minhor subversion.

The Laotian National Army,s organized Into six infantryseven light Infantry battalions, and one parachute battalion. The combatof the Armyhole is only fair.

It is Inadequately trained and lacksnalive officers and NCOs. TheNational Guard is poorly trained and equipped.

he Laotian military establishmentalmost entirely on outside support. France (and, indirectly, the US) furnishes all equipment and almost all the necessary funds. The French train, advise, and tactically direct the Laotian forces. All French Expeditionary and Laotian National Army troops in the country are under Frenchrench officers and NCO's serve In the Laotian National Army, and French officers occupy most field grade positions.

FORCE STRENGTHS IN CAMBODIA ASUNE

Viet Minh

Regulars

Attached Militia Totals

A. French Expeditionary Corp inn Integrated OtmbodJaa

0 intanlry;

ervice, vim all Otubodlant)

All

G.5Q0

Royal Army Regional and Militia National Guard Semimilttary

Total

Grand Totals Cambodia

B. Cambodian Royal0

0

Two Vict Minh regular battalions, organicict Minh division, are now in northeast Cambodia. These troops are Vietnamesewho entered Cambodia inn addition, small units of Vict Minh regulars, regional troops, und militia arc scattered throughout Cambodia. The combatof these regional and militia forces is generally only fair, but those cast of the Mekong River will probably be raisedigher standard of organization and training before the end

There are also in Cambodia severalarmed non-Communist dissidents, who are followers of the nationalist leader, Son Ngoc Thanh.

The Cambodian Royal Army,s organized into ten regular infantry, one parachute, and three light infantry Cambodian armed forces are heavily

dependent on the French for finance,training, and advice, though less so than is the CMS in Laos- However, theGovernment exercises much greater command responsibilities Uum does the Lao tjan Government. French officers and NCO's, who formerly served in the Royal Army, arc at present in the process of being withdrawn. The Cambodian King has full administrative control over all Royal forces, and operational command west of the Mekong River.

Cambodian Royal Army isequipped and trained, but lias adeficiencies, chief among which are aadequate numbers of trained officersa low standard of discipline andIn the officer corps, and andefensive-mindedness. In time,of the Royal Army mayesult of the efforts ofTioulong. recently appointed byas Defense Minister, Chief of Staff,of the armed forces.

Political Stability

The political situation in both Laos and Cambodia is uncertain, but at present isquiet. In Cambodia, the royalis held in high regard by the people, who have traditionally accepted monarchlaland the King is personally popular. Moreover, Cambodiaigh degree of cultural, ethnic, and religious homogeneity. In Laos, the population is largely apolitical. In neither country is there any appreciable economic or social unrest. In bothraditionoverning elite subordinate to the throne attracts most educated Laotians and Cambodians to government service.

Communism has thus far made little progress In either Laos or Cambodia. The Viet Minh is unpopular in both countriesits members are Vietnamese, who are heartily ilixllked by both the Laotians and tlie Cambodians. Communist-sponsored "freend "independence forces" in Laos and Cambodia arc viewed ax parts of the Viet Minh and thus have evoked little support in those countries. Communist politicalis believed to be minimal outside those

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areas firmly occupied by Viet Minh forces. The "nationalist" appeal ol the Communists, which has been relatively successful inhas been blunted in Laos by the general political inertness of the country, and inby the vigorous nationalist efforts of the King.

The Cambodian Government derivesdomestic support from the fact that it Is anti-French. The Laotian Government, on the other hand, is outwardly pro-French, but this policy does not adversely affect the government's domestic strength.

However, both Laos and Cambodia arcto Communist pressures, chieflyof their military weakness. Moreover, In times of crisis their political leadership is often unpredictable, especially ln Cambodia. There hasidespread tendency in both countries to regard the war against the Vict Minh as being "someone else'sn addition, the Communists may be able at any time to take advantage of the fact that in Laos, and especially in Cambodia, there are rival cliques presently contending for political power.

A source of weakness in Cambodia is the existence of non-Communist dissidence. The principal dissident is Son Ngoc Thanh, who is believed to be essentially an independentA premier of Cambodia under the Japanese during World War n, Thanh istoatent political following throughout the country, particularly among students, intellectual groups, and younger army officers who see in him the embodiment of Cambodian independence aspirations. Thanh's political influence has been sapped in recent months by the nationalist efforts of the King, but is still far greater than tlie small size of his present armed following would suggest, Cambodia's political stability would be greatly enhanced if he should rally to the government, but his future behavior cannot be predicted and it is conceivable that he might join forces with the Viet Minh. In addition Lo Thanh, thereumber ofdissident leaders who have rallied to tlie King, but who continue to enjoy warlord-like "autonomous" powers in certain regions of

Cambodia. These people are essentiallywhose future loyally cannot be

are no significantgroups in Laos. However.now resident in Thailand, is ato the Laotian throne and has atreported to beoup d'etat.

II. THE EFFECT OF CERTAIN POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENTS ON THE SECURITY AND STABILITY OF IAOS AND CAMBODIA ;'

The future security and stability of Laos and Cambodia will almost certainly beby outside developments. The fate of these kingdoms will be largely fixed, not by their own efforts, butumber offactors, chief among which are(a) the trend of developments in(b) the scale and nature of outside assistance given the governments of Laos and Cambodia; and (c) the nature and strength of Viet Minh military and political pressures against those countries.

Developments In Vietnam will have aneffectim andtrong non-Communist position in Vietnam would tend to assure military security and political stability. However, if key areas of Vietnam fell to the Communists, pressure on Laos and Cambodia would be greatlyThe military capabilities of these countries are so slight that they would almost certainly request outside aid to defendIf such aid were not inunediately sup-piled, Laos would be quickly overrun, or its government would seek accommodation with the Communists. Cambodia might hold out longer, but in the end it too would be forced to surrender or accommodate. If asettlement placed the Communistsosition which would enable them eventually, but not immediately, to dominate Vietnam, the immediate danger to Laos and Cambodia would be less and the Laotian and Cambodian Governments could probably maintain control for some time.

If,esultegotiated agreement with tlie Communists covering all ofFrench and Viet Minh regular units were actually withdrawn from Laos and(leaving Viet Minh Irregular forces still operating in thoseative forces could probably preserve for some timethe present degree of security andin Cambodiaertain minimum security and stability in Iaos, provided French cadres and the present scale and nature of French material aid remained available to the native armies. However, such an agreement with the Communists would be extremelyif not impossible, to implement and police, and in these circumstances the native armies could probably not for longresist the Viet Minh without increased outside support.

Under the adverse alternatives discussed in the two preceding paragraphs,cale larger lhan the French could provide would be required to assure alevel of security and stability in those countries. If such additional support were not quickly forthcoming, the resistance of Laos and Cambodia to Communism would collapse.

If outside support took the formecurity system Involving multinational guar* antees for the security of Laos and Cambodia and could be Implemented in time, that would probably permit Laos and Cambodia totheir security, despite rising pressures from the Communists in Vietnam and agrowing degree of internal Communist unrest in both countries. We believe that the requirements ofecurity system would be: (a) adequate MDAP-type aid; (b) effective protective forces appropriately located In the area; and (c) assurance of assistance in the event of internal subversion as well as external attack. The success of the above measures, in the long run, would also require theand developmentolitical and psychological atmosphere which wouldthe indigenous peoples against

f Laos and Cambodia were partitioned, the will of the non-Communist remnants to maintain their independence would greatly decrease, and their ability to do so would be weakened because of the new establishment in those countries of strong and legalized Communist positions. Under suchprobably nothing but militaryof those countries would assure their continued freedom from Communist control.

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