SNIE 57-1-74/THE SHORT-TERM PROSPECT FOR CAMBODIA THROUGH AUGUST 1974

Created: 4/11/1974

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SPECIAL

NATIONAL :

INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

-Tho Short-Term Prospect for Cambodia _ -Through4

this estimate is issued by the director of central intelligence.

the united states intelligence board concurs, except as noted in the text, as follows:

The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of Ihe estimate:

The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of theof State and Defense, and the National Security Agency.

Concurring:

Tho Deputy Director of Central Intelligence representing the Central Intelligenco Agency

The Director of Inielligence and Research representing the Deportment of State The Director, Defense Intelligence Agency The Director, Notional Security Agcr,cy

The Assistant General Monoger (or National Security representing the Alomic Energy Commission

The Special Assistant to tho Secretary of the Treasury representing the Department of Ihe Treasury

Abstaining:

Tho Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the subject being outside of his jurisdiction.

ALSO PARTICIPATING:

The Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of lhe Army

The Director of Naval Intelligence, Deportment of the Navy

The Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Department of the Air Force

EJ

3ecbei

THE SHORT-TERM PROSPECT FOR CAMBODIA

THROUGH4

The fighting since early February has shown that the Khmer(KC) currently lack the military muscle and skill to bring down the Cambodian Government (GKR) during this campaign season (through the end ofontinuation of the present level of US military and economictandoff is the most likelythe KC unable to gain their objective ofdefeating the GKR, but with the GKR equally unable to do much more than react to KC military initiatives.

At this time, the KC leaders still appear wedded to the notionilitary solution. Rut if their dry season campaign ends in athe KC may be more inclined to consider negotiations and would be more susceptible to external pressures toward such an end. Even if ihe KC doore flexible position, however, they are not likely to drop their refusal to deal with the present leaders in Phnom Penh.

I. BACKGROUND

L Inissued December, we concluded that thr GKR would survive the communist dry season military campaign, although il wouldvery closeemorandum lo Holders onoted that renewed Northlogistic assistance had generallysupplyesonstraint on the level of KG mililary activity and that Uie communists were then lienl onecisive victory Mir. diy season by defeating the four FANK divisions defending Phnom Penh. Nevertheless, wo believed that the KC lacked tlte ability lo plan and Implement coordinated heavy attacks tli.it would lead to the GKR's defeat, and we estimated that the Phnom Penh government would survive tltc dty seasonvery narrowhe CKR would, however, remain on the defensive militarily, and KC control outside the capital would be extended and liglitencd. Wc foresaw little chance of movementegotiated settlement before the end of the dry season, and possibly only then if the KC saw their military effort beginning to faiL

his KNlitnat. Likesresh look al tlie situation in Cambodia in light ofover the last ten weeks or so. It assesses the GKR's prospect* for survival through August, when the current fighting season will end, and tlie chancesegotiatedafter that time.

II. THE MILITARY DIMENSION

he KC Campaign. Our previousthat tbe KCnable toecisive victory in the Phnom Penh area this dry season still apiwars valid. Rut the communist failure has not resulted from any lack of effort. TTirouglwul January and much of February, KG combat units In the Phnom Penhtheir height totalingonly exerted heavy pressure on the capital and its environs but kept all key land lines of communication to the city closed. Northwest of Phnom Penh, for example, several KC Itattalions managed to seize position* only six kilometers fromAirfield,ital link in the flow of US military and economic aid to tbe beleaguered Phnom Penh government. South and southeast of the capital. KG forces sought to roll up FANK units in the Prelc Thnaot River area and in the Massacorridor.

The most dramatic communist actions, however, were the January and February shcllings of Phnom Penh from positions south of the city. Relying primarily on captured US lOoinin howitzers, the KC onegan laying down intense fire on Uie capital's southwestern suburbs. Although there were numerous other artillery attacks, tho mosttook place onhen moreeople were killed or wounded and0 were made homeless. The effect of the shelling was militarilybul it induced widespread uneasiness throughout tlie capital. Such uneasiness,was dissipated when the KC were unableeep up the shcllings. FANK subsequently forced the communists to withdraw their howitzers beyond range of the capital.

Tlie intensity of communist pressure in the Phnom Penh area has .subsidedsince early February, primarily because KC combat units have taken extremely heavy casualties and have become battle weary; local supply shortages caused by distributionhave alsoactor. For the most part, government forces are still reacting to local communist initiatives. Dut northwest of the capital near Pochcntong Airfield and along the Prck Thnaot River to the south,forces have eliminated communist salients.

Why llie KC Effort Faltered. Even though they were slow to get their campaign started, the KC evidently believed they had good grounds in optingilitary solution in Cambodia this dry season. US combat airkey factor in GKR survival in tlteno longer available, andin the government's military capabilities and performance, if not known first-hand, were widely advertised. There is no evidence that the communists downgraded theof US military und economic assistance to the CKR. But for reasons which are not entirely clear, tliey did notajor effort to close the Mekong. Tliey may have thought their chances ofelatively quick victory In the immediate Phnom Penh area made such an effort unnecessary.

he KC also underestimated their own military deficiencies, especially in such critical areas as planning, coordinating and executing attacks. They probably also misjudged their requirements for adequately trained combat replacements. They have consistently found themselves short of munitions. Thesein large part explain their failure toecisive victory so far this dry season. They also badly underestimated the GKR's military resiliency.

S. The results of these continuing KChaw shown up more and more on the battlefield as the dry season hasFor example, by mid- to late-January, several weeks after the KC kicked off their offensive against Phnom Penh, theof the KC command-and-contro!in coordinating military operations had allowed tho GKR to deploy lis ground forces and use its air force and navy to optimum advantage. Hence, FANK wai able to inflict heavy casualties on (though not eliminate) communist units operating around Pochcntong Airfield during the first three weeks ofand then redeploy forces toC thrust along the Prck Thnaot River.

lthough such governmentwere largely reactive, and by no means eliminated the threat to Phnom Penh, their impact was such that the KCpecial meeting of their Phnom Penh areato draw up fresh plans to knock out FANK units. The new KC timetable calledenewed offensive in lute February, but

government forces employed their superior firepower and irrobility to launch successful preemptive operations. The KC probably losthird of the original combat force they had in tin- Phnotn Penh area at the beginning nf their dry season offensive; tlicy have not been able to replace all these losses.esult, their hopes to provoke tho collapse or capitulation of the Phnom Penhby military action any time soon haveonsidcrablc setback.

t for lhe CKR. The CKR would not have survived the communist drive against Phnom Penh without the continued receipt of US military and economic assistance,munitions, rice, and POL, Moreover, it is problematical whether the CKR would have survived if the US had not continually urged it to take the necessary military,and political measures that haveit touccessful defense of Phnom Penh, Nonetheless, the fact that the CKR did survive thend probably most important) round in the KC dry seasonshould have some beneficial long-term effects.

f prime importance is the confidence the CKR has gained in knowing that even in the absence of direct US military intervention, FANK has been able to defend the capital and keep the Mekong open. In turn, this has not only prompted FANK to become more aggressive in some areas but has reduced defeatism in government circles. (Conversely, the KC have eiperienecd difficulties inenthusiasm among their own forces for aggressive combatn addition, substantial numbers of peoplo have taken advantage of FANK forays into tlieto move to government-controlledtotal since the first of the year now amounts tnlthough this development is primarily the result ofcommunist administration, it doesthe type of gains Phnom Penh can make if FANK exploits the thinncd-outpresence in the countryside.

the negative side, the CKRthe defensive, and this situation isto change soon. Thus far, FANKthe Phnom Penh area have beento reoccupy positions fromcarry on defensive warfare. Andforces in many other areasarrison mentalitybeen content to inakc only sliallowinto the countryside.an forceto be the key element in theseasonbeenfrom front to front to counteras ihey arose, it has notwith the strong offensive punchenvisioned. Moreover, thebeen unable thus far to move thein Battambang Province over RoutePhnom Penh. It has also been unableopenroad to the country'sat Kompong Som.

Now Through Aufftii. Allwe believe that the CKRthe most intense attack thecapable of mounting during theseason (Decemberin the Phnom Penh area and that,high levels of US military'aid. it will emerge from thisits already shrunken territorialintact. It is possible that the KCre-equip, and reinforce theirto conduct another major pushPenh's defenses, but the GKRlikely to succeed again in holding them off.

forces in the capital area have lost

a great, deal ol heart. |

Even though

renewed North Vietnamese military aid ha* enabled tlie KC to support present levels of combat through the dry season and beyond, such problems as command-and-control and maintaining adequate combat personnel strength in the Phnom Penh area will not be readily overcome, at least over the short term. Tlicse problems have been compounded by the ability of the GKR to move men, supplies, and firepower within the perimeter defenses of Phnom Penh and to direct artillery fire and air strikes on KG concentrations.

he KC arc now more aware of their shortcomings and, for at least the next month or two, have apparently opted to maintain low to moderate military pressure against Phnom Penh, while keeping its land lines ofclosed and stressing attacks against government enclaves elsewhere in thehift of emphasis to provincial capitals has recently been manifest by the fierce attacks in tho Oudongcity fell on Marchand by the increased pressure against Katnpot.

Moreover, additional battlefield

authorities arc being formed in northernKomiwng Thorn and Slcm Reapprobably in part to tighten communist control in the aflermath of the highly visible FANK raids into territory adjacent to these provincial capitals. Iti our view, the KC have changed their strategy in an effort to recoup some of their losses and possiblysychological victory by seizing an additional provincial capital or two.

verall, we do not expect increased KC activity in areas remote from Phnom Penh to produce any militarily decisive gains. KC fighting forces in such regions are not only stretched extremely thin, but their combat effectiveness is highly suspect. And anyKC redeployments from the capital to beef up their forces in tho countryside would permit the GKR to take advantage of its greater mobility to counter KC actions. Wo cannot, however, rule out KC gains achieved through surprise attack oresult of GKR military incompetence orcould have important psychological impact. Even so, the GKR's superior firepower and mobility will probably hold communist gains to modest levels for the rest of the current fighting season.

sum, wc expect to sec littlea stand off develop between thethe KC through the end ofhaving been largely unable to gaindry season objectives but withable to do little more than react towherever they appear.Ihe overall FANK performance hasthat the outlook for the GKR isit was four months ago.

iii. the political dimension

Viability. The political situationPenh remains relatively calm,leaders have managed to preserveunity and stability. The fact thatgets along better with Lon Nolhis predecessors has contributed tominister's encouraging politicalThanks largelyng Boret'sbetween civil and militaryimproved considerably. Long Boretbeen primarily responsible forsquabbling within his cabinet,has helped to keep student-teacherbounds.

Although the GKR has kept the lid on political pressures, it has not demonstrated much success in resolving its most pressing domestic problems. For example, its effort toew troops for the armed forces has lieen impeded repeatedly hy bureaucratic sluggishness and by the reluctance of local officials in Phnom Penh and in the provinces to be associated with the politically unpopular conscription campaign. It lias taken the GKR four months longer than originally scheduled to fulfillmanmust be increased to make up for dry season losses to date. Consequently, many of the newto benot be available to flesh out understrengtbArmy units in the Phnom Penh region until the end of the current dry season.

The GKR's military manpower problem is overshadowed by those related to thewar-ravaged economy. Chronic inflation poses the greatest immediate threat to internal stability. Prices in Phnom Penh haveiu the pastonths. Efforts toatisfactory income distribution program have been liampered by the large number of relatively unproductive refugees and hy the decline in real wages of most salaried workers. Moreover, corruption and maladroit leadership in both military and civilian circles area ease in point is the GKR rattierwhich is used not so much to produce ralliers as it is to enrich the officials running it.

Thanks to US efforts, the GKR hasstocks of rice and petroleum for short-term needs. Rice stocks in Phnom Penh now standwo months' reserve. Another three-weeks' supply is at Koinpong Som. and could be brought up the Mekong to the capital iftays closed. In addition, an estimated two months' supply nf rice from theharvest in Rattambang will bethe GKR canay to ship it to Phnom Penh.

Mekong River convoys have maintained adequate supplies of both civilian and military petroleum products. Civilian stocks arcfor at least three weeks and military stocks are almost enough for three months. Efforts to bring in enough POI. and other essential commodities to see Phnom Penh through the next few months will depend on keeping the Mekong open and obtainingbunker fuel for cargo vessels operating out of Saigon.

On the military side, FANK has asupply of ammunition despite anIn consumption toay (up from lessastnce again, ammunition problems have been avoided primarily because the KG have not interdicted resupply convoys coming up the Mekong or prevented cargo aircraft from using Phnom Penh's airport.

Negotiations. The GKR knows thatnow offer the best way out of the imbroglio in Cambodia. While building up its own military strength and trying to set its political house in order, the government's approach has basically been designed only to keep the KG fromecisive militaryBeyond this, the GKRoherent strategy. In effect, the GKR's hope has been that, if the KC can be kept at bay, they will ultimately despair ofilitary victory, thereby leading them to start the process of workingealistic negotiated end to the fighting.

At tliis time, however, prospects for an early end to the fighting are not bright KC propagandists continue to rejectany political dealings withn

Noi government. Moreover, there is evidence that the KC are reaffirming their toughTlie Note KC official in Paris stated privately in mid-March that the KC had begun an intensive campaign to informict nam-style cease-fire and settlement would he unacceptable inHe also maintained that there could be no "third force" solution for Cambodia. More recently, KC "defense minister* Khieu Samphan emphasized during his visits to Hanoi and Peking that the only solution to the Cambodian problem was fur the US to end its aggression and end all forms of support to Phnom Penh. He asserted that this would enable the Cambodians to settle their own affairs.

ut just as developments appear to havehift in KC battlefieldhe insurgent leadership may be confronted with increasing difficulties in maintaining their commitmentilitary solution. The KC nowore protracted and uncertain struggle than they apparently envisioned at the beginning of the dry season. KC intercepts indicatepirit of "pacifism" has infected some insurgent units. According to amember of the Khmer Communist Party who rallied lo the government earlier this year, leading KCa regional partyeast of tlie Mekong River wero unhappy with the refusal of party leaders loom-promise solution.

actionalism hashronicfor the insurgency, but we have as yet seen no indication that the highest level of tlie KC leadership is divided over basicnor any sign that this leadership isto lose control over significantof the insurgent rank and file. If, how-over, the KCs dry season offensive produces no significant gains, mounting internalcould oblige KC leaders to review their overall position on negotiations.

ne sign thateappraisal may already be underway, in at least some quarters of tbe insurgent movement, was provided by the resumption in mid-March of Sihanouks public advocacy of talks between hisand the US. His "primeenn Xouth, has privately repeated this theme, warning that If the US does not agree the fighting will go on indefinitely. Pennwho clearly wanted his remarks relayed tostressed that aof the war will serve to improve the KCs political power at the expense of "moderates" like himself and Sihanouk.

The demand for direct talks withthetandard feature ofineambodian settlement until early lastwhen tbe possibilityS bombing halt becamend the KC appeared to be convinced that military victory was in sight. It is not known whether the in-country KC leadership supiwrt* Sihanouks revival of this theme. At Ihii point the KC may reason that there is little to lose ina dialogue with the US. Khieu Samphan, however, made no reference to this theme while in Hanoi or Peking. There is no indication that the KC leadership, or for that matter Sihanouk himself, is nowtoenuine compromise settlement with tlie cabling government and political leadership in Phnom Penh.

In the absenceilitary solution in Cambodia,ossible that the KCs allies might become more willing and able to work for an end to the fighting. In March, the senior KC official fn Paris expressed eon-

cein over "indications" that certain "great powers" were waiting until the end of the dry season to exert pressureegotiated settlement. In the past, however, the KC have demonstrated considerable ability to resist the advice of their friends. Up to now the KC have been llie major impediment to negotiations and it seems clear tliat the decision oncontinues to rest with an independent-minded Communist leadership in Cambodia.

lthough Moscow and Peking havefavorably disposedegotiated settlement in Cambodia, there are limits to their ability to influence events as long as the KC arc determined to pressilitary solution. Of the KC's allies, the Northarc still the ones who appear able to bring the most effective pressure to bear on the KC to negotiate, but Hanoi's equities in Cambodia are not easily sorted out. North Vietnam has little to gain by making aneffort to force Cambodianaction that would further damage its relations and diminish its leverageC movement that might eventually come to power without tbe backing of Hanoi. On the contrary. North Vietnamese leadersassured Khieu Samphan that Hanoi could be counted on to render full support to the KC. Tbey also indicated that they would notarty lo any efforts to pressure the KC into negotiating.

In fact, however, Hanoi may well have mixed feelingslear-cut KC victory that would put its fractious und increasingly self-centered proteges in power in Phnom Penh, although the North Vietnamese would obviously be unhappy if the KC lost out to thend if Hanoi's own freedom of action in Cambodia along Ihe South Vietnamese border were jeopardized. The Northprobably rest easiest when KCis focused on the struggle with the CKR and when KC dependence onCommunist material support is most acutely felt. This serves to keep withinbounds the frictions between KC and Vietnamese Communist forces operating in southern and eastern border areas. Hanoi thus seems to have little interest in dropping its relatively conservative approach to the Cambodian problem in order toore activeas regards

In sum, the KC are facing somedecisions regarding their future course of action in Cambodia. If their dry season campaign produces no significant gains and endstandoff, KC leaders may be more inclined to consider negotiations and would be more vulnerable to external pressure for negotiations. But even if they doore flexible political position, they are not likely to drop their refusal to deal with the present leaders in Phnom Penh.

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