MEMORANDUM TO HOLDERS
SPECIAL NATIONAL-INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE
Short-Term Prospect for Cambodia Through the Current
memorandum to holders of3 isby the director of central intelligence and concurred in by the united states intelligence board.
The following intelligence organizations participated in tho preparation of the estimate,
The Central Intelligence Agency and the lateKgence organisations ol tho Depart-mem* oi State and Detente, and the USA.
Th. Depirty Director ol Control Intelligence
The Director of laMlHgenoe and Research, Departmerit ef Stale The Director, Detente Intelligence Agency The Director, National Security Agency
The AttUtant General Manager for National Security, Atomic Energy Commission Theiirant to the Secretory of the Treasury
memorandum to holders of
the short term prospect for cambodia through the current dry4
THE SHORT TERM PROSPECT FOR CAMBODIA THROUGH THE CURRENT DRY4
The key Judgment ofas that the Phnom Penhwould survive communist military action during the current dry season, although tlie margin of survival would be very narrow. An examination of subsequent evidence leads the Intelligenceto reaffirm this judgment.
In the eight weeks since the Estimate was published, the momentum of the Khmer Communist (KC) campaign has been slow to develop, giving the government some much-needed breathing room. We believe, however, that the KC, partlyesult of renewed logistic assistance from North Vietnam, will be able to sustain heavy combat through midsummer. The level of communist activity is likely to intensify in the next few weeks. The government's ability toaj'or KC dry season offensive without the support of US air power isThe KCs ability, however, to plan and implement theheavy attacks that could lead to the government's defeat is suspect. Although the military situation has notonclusive stage, we believe the government will survivo the drywith its military forces on the defensive and KC control outside Phnom Penh extended and tightened.
key Judgment ofas that the Government of the Khmer Republic (CKR) would be able to survive Khmer Communist (KC) military action during the current dry season. The Intelligence Coin-munity agreed, however, that the uncertainties of Ihe situation were such that the odds in favor of the GKR's survival were very close. It was also concluded that the KC would avoid, at leastirect all-out attack on Phnon Penh in favorore deliberate but still maior 'strangulation" campaign. This strategy would involve the interdiction of the capital's supply lines, conventional attacks on the city's outlying defenses, and pressure against government provincial strong points in an effort to force the GKR's collapse. In the following paragraphs we re-examine theof these conclusions in the light ofover the past eight weeks.
A Slow Stan. The dry season campaign has unfolded generally along the linesby the Estimate. The KC have keptetween Phnom Penh and the seaport at Kompong Som closed almost continuously;
as also been closed since earlythereby denying the GKR access to sizable rice stocks in tbeut the KC have yet toerious effort tosupply convoys on theGKR's principal logistic lifeline for rice and POLajor KC target during last year's fighting. The KC have gained some territory on the east bank of the Mekong opposite Phnom Penh and have put heavy pressure on the capital's northwestern defenses. Their new footholds in these areas have allowed them to intensify artillery and rocket attacks on Pochcntong Airport and on Phnom Penh. They liave increased pressure against the capital's outlying defenses, but have so far failed toeneral coordinated ground offensive. This has allowed FANK to concentrate and maneuver sufficient forces to containKC attacks. Finally, most governmenl provincial strongMds have not yet faced the heavy pressure foreseen in the Estimate.
t is clear that KC deficiencies inand execution have carried over into the
'See map forrinciple LOO.
dry season and that Ibc KC have not been able to offset fully last year's heavy loss of corn bat-hardened personnel. Nonetheless, they still appear determined to try for amilitary victory this year, and themilitary forces (FANK) have not yet faced the brunt of the KC effort The KC will maintain pressure on Phnom Penh's lines of communication and can be expected toore strenuous attempt to close the Mekong. But it has become evident tbat the KC intend to direct the major part of their military effort against the four FANK divisions manning the capital's outlying defenses.is accumulating that attacks against Phnom Penh itself are being planned.ajor thrust into the heart of the city is not likely to succeed unless the KC can firsta serious defeat on FANK forces around the capital. In the meantime, the KC may keep up attacks by fire and mount small-scale raids into Phnom Penh, possibly in con-function with heavier attacks against thedefensive perimeter. We believe that government forces In and near the city with their advantages in firepower andcan contain KC forces in the Phnom Penh area.
n Improved KC Supply Situation. The most significant development of the past weeks has been Hanoi's renewed andlogistic assistance to the KC. In late December, the North Vietnamese began toons of military equipmentehicles to KC authorities in northeast Cambodia and apparently are assisting in the distribution of these supplies. So far, we have observed atons of supplies delivered to the KC. Our lack of precise information on the former KC supply situation and level of North Vietnamese assistance makes itto assess the impact of this new aid on the military balance in Cambodia. Wc do not know for certain when delivery will beor if some new friction could arise with the North Vietnamese which would delay or prevent completion of delivery. There Is evidence that agreement on the aid was reached only after hard bargaining.we believe that with their existing stocks and other sources of supply, the KC will shortly have on hand sufficient war materiel to sustain heavy combat well beyond the end of the dry season Inthocan be distributed effectively.
The KC are allocating some of the new arms and ammunition to units around Phnom Penh that have suffered from persistent supply shortages. They also plan to use some of the materiel toubstantial number cf new troops which tbey are attempting to recruit in the countryside. The KC leadership cannot count on these recruits to be reasonablyeffective until later in the dry season.
The CKK The failure of the KC totbe Mekong during the critical supply buildup period has given the GKR some much-needed breathing room. Not counting any rice stocks which may he delivered from Kompongo the capital, there should be atonth's supply of rice in governmentin Phnom Penh at the end of January. Other foodstuffs, however, will continue in short supply, and this will contribute to rapid inflation and consumer discontent in Phnom Penh. Barring destruction of storage facilities, no shortage of military POL products isfor the next two to three months,there may be some shortage of civilian supplies since one of the GKR's majorhas defaulted on its contract.
On tbe military'front, FANKsthis dry season has been spotty and defensive. The GKR's failure to meet itsgoals means that FANK must con-
tinuo to live with its manpower shortage this dry season. Moreover, FANKs ammunition supply Is critically dependent on the fontinued availability of the Mekong Rivet and Pocbcn-tong Airport. The Pboom Penh Government and lb military forces are also criticallyon the continued availability of US assistance at least at present levels.
There have been some bright spots in the GKH's military performance. Tlie Khmer Air Force has puttronger performance than anticipated In providing tactica! support. The eifective operations of tbe Cambodian Navy and tbeployment of naval infantry units along the Mekong corridor offer new hope that supply convoys will be able to make tho run to Phnom Penh without heavy losses for the remainder of the dry season. And FANK, despite its shortcomings, has demonstrated resiliencyighting force, particularly when its back is to the wall
tbe CKR. although stillappro" in better shape than at anyihr past year. Prime Ministerhasew measure ofto the government, fiis cabinet,coalition nature, is more unified thanNevertheless, the severity ofconditions in the carprtal. especiallyinflation and shortages, willcause popular unrest in Phnom Penh.
and the Partiesliusic judgments ofnremain valid. On the CKR side,been ligns of more serious Interest inRecent CKR peace feelers,have been essentially irrelevant inof KC mnaiisigcnce. The KC continueno sign of interest in moving towarddialogue with the GKIt or inor their major allies to explorepovsi bill ties. Instead, the KC leaderscommittedilitary solution. Civen the KC) improved logistic position, wethe chancesreakthrough on the negotiating front before the end of the dry season are dtrcraery slim. If tbe KC sec their military effort begouung to fail, they may reconsider tbe possibility of negotiations, but as long as FANK remains bottled up in Phnom Penh on the defensive there would probably still be little incentive for the KC to negotiate.
is no sign that the KC arefrom their allies to negotiate.provision of logistic aid for theseason campaign seems to signalb not prepared toajoron its own to bring the KC toVietnamese aims in providingesire to reaffirmKC objectives, improve relations withretain some ability to influence futureWe do not know whether theconsider their new aid enoughdramatically the military balance
CKR's prmcipal logisticbas been kept open and theeffort has been slow in gainingThese encouragingmay liave been more than offsetKCs Improved supply situation whichthem toigh levol ofbeyond the dry season. Tlie outcomein part on the KCs ability tonew war material effectively toFANK More unportant. they willto rdirninate the militaryhave so far prevented them fromwell-coordinated sustained offensivefronts.
In any event, the KC military effort will intensify in the next few weeks. Although FANK has demonstrated resiliency, its ability toustained KC dry season oflen-live without US air support is untested. But we doubt thai the KC can improve their own battlefield performance sufficiently to tip the balance in the critical sector around Phnom
Penh where FANK firepower andarc greatest. Thus, we believe FANK will make it through the dry season, hurt but unbroken. In these circumstances, however, the KC will tighten their hold on theperhaps taking one or more provincial capitals, and extending their control along main communications routes.
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