The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate:
The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense, and the NSA.
Dr. Edward W. Proctor, for the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
Hr. George C. Denney,or the Director of Intelligence
and Research, Department of State Lt. Gen. Donald V. Bennett, the Director, Defense
Intelligence Agency Vice Adm. Noel Gayler, the Director, National Security Agency
Dr. Charles H. Reichardt, for the Assistant General Manager, Atomic Energy Commission and Mr. Leon F. Schwartz, for the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.
SITUATION OF THE LON NOL
SITUATION OF THE COMMUNISTS IN
View of the Cambodian
III. SUMMARY AND
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
SUBJECT: : THE OUTLOOK FOR CAMBODIA
Evidence on many aspects of the Cambodian situation is fragmentary and subject to conflicting interpretations. This is true with respect both to the situation within Cambodia and to communist intentions concerning it. Hence* this Estimate devotes more attention than is usual to identifying areas of particular uncertainty and to assessing alternative explanations. The principal conclusions of this Estimate are stated in Section III.
1. In the four months since Sihanouk's ouster,the communists have overrun half of Cambodia, taken or threatenedf itsrovincial capitals, and interdictedor varying periods --
all road and rail links to the capital, Phnom Penh. In the countryside, VC/fJVA forces generally continue to move at will, attacking towns and villages In the south and converting the north Into an extension of the Laos corridorase for "peoples' war" throughout the country and in South Vietnam as well.
2. This being the situation, survival of the Lon Nol government will depend heavily on the extent of foreign assistance as well as on the will and ability of the people and their leaders to organize themselves for effective military resistance to the conrnunists; on the unity and morale of the country in the face of hardship, destruction, and death; and on the reaction to the divisive political appeals issued in Sihanouk's name. But of equal or greater importance are the capabilities and intentions of the Vietnamese communists; the extent to which they can bring pressures to bear on the Lon Nol government and the degree to which they are willing to allocate available resources to such an effort.
1. THE SITUATION OF THE LON NOL GOVERNMENT
A. Military Strengths and Weaknesses
3- Manpower. Prior to Sihanouk's removal the Cambodian Armed Forces (FANK) totaled0 men, almost all In the army. Their main role was thativic action and Internal security force; their chief military role was to cope with minor border transgressions and scattered insurgent bands. The army lacked qualified officers, was poorly trained (despite French efforts) and had low morale. Although its fighting units had some new communist equipment, their overall combat effectiveness was low.
4. In their frantic expansion since March, the FANK have more than tripled in size and now numberen. Almost all of this increase has been in the army. The Infantry, inhas grown from someattalions totaling0 menattalions withen (as ofuly). Some of these battalions exist only on paper, however, and it appears that less than half of the units have had any real preparation for battle. The rapid expansion of the anny has been accomplished mainly by recruiting raw young volunteers, but reserves and retirees have also been called up
and provincial guard personnel mobilized. Since VC/HVA attacks began in earnest tn early April, Cambodian youth have been flocking to enlist in tho army and in various auxiliary security forces; they apparently come from all parts of the country and all walks of life, and their morale seems high.
5. The government's ability to use the available manpower is limitedumber of factors. One of the most serious has been the generally poor state of training of the regular forces prior to March. The French Missionambodiaeasonably good job of assisting inumber of junior officers and NCOs; in most cases, however, these men were not used effectively. Moreover, the Cambodian Government never permitted the French to conduct unit training. Basic training conducted by the Cambodians themselves was perfunctory and seldom went beyond absolute essentials; most troops for example, firedew rounds from their weapons during their entire military career. Unit training was virtuallythe men being assigned to garrison chores and civic action projects rather than to military exercises. There are indications that training deteriorated even further in theof the conmunist attacks; in some Instances, recruits receiveday of military instruction before being shipped
to the "front." The situation now appears to be improving; there is an effort toull six weeks of training at the unit level for all recruits
6. Logiatice- Before the recent, rapid expansion of the army, most Cambodian infantry battalions were reasonably well equipped with communist-supplied weapons. Newly-formed units are being equipped from existing stocks of Chinese, US, Soviet, French, and other foreign weapons, as well as light weapons recently supplied by the US and captured communist weapons provided by South Vietnam. Yet many of the weapons in stock are inoperable, and many of the new units are inadequately equipped. Moreover, the heterogeneous nature of the arsenal has created an extremely difficult supply problem Ammunition reserves have been rapidly depleted, primarily to supply newly-forraed units rather than in combat. Weapons losses to the conrnunists have not been as great as Initially thought, although some ammunition was left behind by troops evacuated from outposts in the north and northeast; ategional arms and ammunition depot containing an unknown quantity of ordnance was abandonedr-' Thereerious shortage of communications equipment throughout the armyeneral lack of trucks and other vehicles; even unfforms are in short supply.
li All hho Vttapona a'- 'he ordnanae depot at Kemponynd possibly at Untek were trvaovated before VC/NVA troops attacked 'h*oe tovns.
Kffsotiveneaa. As right be expected,of Cambodian forces so far has generally beenis due in part to the generally low professionaltheir officers and rtCOs Most of the small number ofsuccesses havo been the result of timely alliedon the ground or in the air. Patriotic zeal aloneinsufficient to cope with experienced VC/PIVA units or
even roving communist bands. According to official FANK reports, Cambodian Army casualties fromarch0 totaledissing,esertions These figures are roughly consistent with our own Information which indicates that someANK battalions have either been overrun or dissolved since March. Cambodian military planning is poor and operations are further hampered by inadequate tactical intelligence and communications, and by general inexperience in combat situations
the picture may not be entirely bleak. Theresome degree of improvement over the months amongengaged, particularly with regard toand unit coordination. Cambodian forces haveincreased ability and determination in defending fixed
positions (Kompong Thorn) and in attacks on cormiunist-held positions (Kirirom). Given enough time* the Cambodians probably could become good soldiers- It is clear, however,engthy period of training and rc-oquipping would be necessary before very many Cambodian units couldnit-for-unit basis for the VC/NVA forces operating in the country.
9- Foreign Assistance.. Obviously, at this stage, Lon Noi's army is counting heavily on allied assistancencluding fighting forces, materiel, and air support. The withdrawal of US ground forces from Cambodia onuneajor disappointment to Phnom Penh- The Cambodians clearly have reservations about relying on their traditional enemies, the Vietnamese, for assistance; they have been angered by the behavior of some ARVN unitsastern Cambodia and they also wonder if ARVN troops wouldfrom Cambodian soil once the communist danger had passed. It is possible that these feelings could increase to the point where theyerious hindrance to collaboration between the two countries.
10. For Lhe present, however, Lon Noi seems relieved that ARVN has setajor combat base at .'Jeak Luang at the junction of the Mekong andSaigon-Svay Rieng-Phnomnd is prepared to keep open those vital supply links from South
Vietnam. He is also reassured by President Thieu's agreement to move troops as necessary deep into Cambodia's eastern border regions and to respond militarily to any major communist assault on important towns in the Phnom Penh region, including any attack on the capital itself. South Vietnamese air is also available for Cambodian defense to the extent deemed appropriate by Saigon; and the South Vietnamese Navy intends to maintain its surveillance of Cambodian coastal waters Finally, Saigon has agreed to provide facilities for the training of0 Cambodian recruits on an annual basis, as well as numbers of FANK officers and NCOs.
ARVN will probably not, however, undertake significant defensive responsibilities in areas remote from South Vietnam's borders; Its capabilities for action in Cambodia are not unlimited, and Its actions outside South Vietnam are subject to US-imposed restrictions. Most important, President Thieu appears sensitive to the dangers of overcommitting his forces in Cambodia at the expense of internal security and pacification in South Vietnam.
With regard to ground defense in western Cambodia, therefore, Lon Noi has been anxiously soliciting Thai involvement. Despite enthusiasm among some Thai leaders for ambitious military
operations in Cambodia, Bangkok has been slow and cautious in extending actual commitments. The Thai are providing some tactical air support from bases in Thailand to FANK units in western Cambodia. Thai border security detachments are patrolling in adjacent Cambodian frontier zones and occasionally have engaged coniminist units. (The Thai have also occupied the coveted Preah Vihear Temple on Cair-bodian soil.) Bangkok hasumber of small river patrol craft to Cambodia and will provide more. There have been shipments of other types of military materiel in small quantities. Finally, the Tha1 are recruiting two regiments from their ethnic Khmerambodian) population and have scheduled them for deployment to Cambodia in the fall.
13, Beyond this, the Thai have been constrained by opposition at home andore importanty uncertainty over the availability of US financial support to any Thai military enterprise in Cambodia. If such support is not forthcoming, it seems probable that any commitment of regular Thai troops to Cambodia will be relatively small and limited to defense of areas contiguous to Thailand.
the lon noi government has beensupport, no other nation is likely to sendcambodiahe foreseeable future. south korean ardorbecause of us unwillingness to pay the bills as it has
in south vietnam. there was never any possibility that any other nation might dispatch troopsewncluding australia indonesia, and nationalist chinaay provide some military materiel. sustained us air attacks on communist supply lines and troop concentrations should be of considerable value to the lon noi forces. and cambodia counts on extensive material assistance from the us.
b. the political situation
tujjnwnt. when they took control afterthe new cambodian leaders moved quickly toposition. the cabinet and both houses of thecontinued to display the same unity and supportminister lon noi and his deputy, sirlk matak, thatthroughout the months leading up to sihanouk's ouster. administrative figures whose allegiance was questionable
were removed from their posts for the most part, provincial governors, ambassadors, and the bureaucracy fell into line.
16. as communist military and psychological pressures have increased,cks have begun to appear in the facade of unity. in the main, these result from the resentment of civilian politicians over their lack of influence in the present government, there are also personal criticisms of the two top leaders and stones of rivalries between them. so far, these frictions do not appear to be serious. lon nol has responded constructively to most criticisms and recommendations; for example, he has eased pressures from young intellectuals by bringing them into responsible government positions- lon nolik matak appear to work together well and to complement each other. in general, lon nol runs military affairs and sirik matak the political sector, although thereome evidence that both are now spending so much time on military matters that other problems receive 'nsufficient attention from them he have had one rcpo't that the two hold differing views regarding the possibility o' some kind of deal with either the communists or sihanouk lhat sink matak would be more inclined than lon nol toompromise settlement of the conflict.
The possibility of such an arrangement does, of course, exist- The poetical unity that followed Sihanouk's ouster and the sense of nationalism (with strong anti-Vietnamese overtones) that was artfully used by Lon Noi and Strik Hatak in their bid for power could weaken over time If the military situation does not soon Improve,xample, ton NaTs support might begin to dissipate and his policies come under open attack.
ihere is no way of knowing whether Lon Noi and Sirik Hatak have the fortitude and the inner resources to meethallenge While they have surmounted many difficult problems, thereisquietinghe continuing optimismordering on wishful thinking that the two leaders have displayed in private talks They seem to believe that the Cambodian Army will be able to take the offensive in the relatively near future; and they seem unprepared for the possibilityong war. If their leadership should falter, tho attitudes of Cambodia's Army and the urban elite would be critical.
An*) lhe real power behind the Cambodianis the army Despite some grumbling, it has remainedLon Noi through the trying period since Sihanouk's removal and
if this situation persists it is difficult touccessful effort by any group In Phnom Penh to overthrow the government.
we have little basis for Judging the depth ofamong individual officers to Lon Nol; nor do weabout political attitudes within the armyhole. be prudent to assume that there are military elementsare pro-Sihanouk, others who are probably disturbed bythat now beset Cambodia and hold Lon Nol accountable,
and some who are simply concerned over their personal interests and safety. At the same time, the rapid expansion of the army has brought increased authority and opportunity to the officer corps, reinforcing longstanding personal bonds to Lon Nol. And there is, notrong and genuine sense of nationalist commitment to the government in the face of the foreign threat. On balance, we think the army's loyalty will hold up so long as thereeasonable prospect for continued foreign assistance and for the survivaliable non-communist regime in Cambodia.
Mita and the Youth. For years, members ofbureaucratic, economic and political eliteabout Sihanouk's policies of economic nationalization
and his accommodations with the Vietnamese communists, while continuing to serve him. Although the Lonatak regime has made little progress toward fulfilling its promises to rid the country of Korth Vietnamese, to eradicate corruption, and toepublic, major political components are muting their dissatisfaction in view of the military threat posed by the communists. For example, elements within the National Assembly complain about the lack of progress in implementing reforms and appear increasingly dissatisfied with the minor role theIs allowing it to play, but they have confined their reactions to verbal criticisms. The majority of students and young intellectuals, another key group, although they were at the center of left-wing sentiment in the past, also see the present government as an Improvement over the past and as the only viable alternative in present circumstances. esult, at least for the present, the students continue to constitute an element of support for the new regime.
22. Thi- Buddhists. Buddhism is an influential force in Cambodian life, particularly in the countryside where the temple is the center of social life and the interpreter of most news. For the most part, Cambodian monks have been
apolitical, unlike those in some other Asian countries. But theyritical leadershipentury agoambodian revolt against the Vietnamese and some elements actively opposed the French as part of the post-World War II movement for Cambodian independence. The regime recognizes the political importance of the monks and has made efforts to gain their support. In the villages, however, the monks have been slow in responding to government requests to rally the peasants.ecent tactic, the government has sought to portray the wartruggle between Buddhism and the atheistic communists of North Vietnam, Such efforts may be having some success; Lhe government now claims that monks in some areas are providing information about VC/NVA movements and activities.
23. Th' t'oaeantry. The Cambodian peasantry has no serious problems of land tenancy and its village-oriented way of life has changed little over the centuries. Although governmental authority extends down through the provincial and district capitals into the villages, actual contact with the bureaucracy at local levels is infrequent. And the social and political aspirations of the governing group in Phnom Penh have generally had little in common with those of the villagers. Conservative
and religious in their outlook, the peasantry has traditionally had great respect for royalty and affection for Sihanouk,road base of support for his leadership. They have been the slowest to demonstrate approval of the new regime. In large part, this may be due to the traditional apathy of the peasants toward events in the capital.
ny, government leaders have venturedareas since the coup, and there is some questiongovernment services are being provided in thethe government appears to have abandoned mostand withdrawn back to the major towns. Virtually no
reliable information is available to indicate the developing attitudes of the peasantry or the depth of its conmitment, when made, to either side of the struggle. The government recognizes that more has to be done to establish closer ties with the peasantry and is beginning to develop programs aimed at gaining the loyalty of the rural population and counteracting communist organizational activities
Khners. The introduction of comparativelyethnic Cambodian troops from South Vietnamhe so-called
Khmer Kromhasew factor into the political equation in Phnom Penh. Although they have thus far accepted
their military mission, the political character of their
parent organizations-^may foreshadow political ambitions on the part of Khmer Krom leaders. Lon Ho] has dealt with the Khmer Krom through his brother Lon Non, an indication that he understands their political importance. He has also engaged in gingerly bargaining with Son Ngoc Thanhthe Khmer Serei leaderin an effort to limit Thanh's future political role while gaining the assistance his recruits can provide. In the fragile consensus which has so far characterized the Lon Nol regime, men like Son Ngoc Thanh with the backing of the Khmer Krom could emerge as political factors of some importance.
2/ TtWBc are ihe Khmer du Kampuchea Krom (KKK or "Whitend the Khmer Serei. Theemi-bandit group, oao initially supported by Sihanoukeans of maintaining contaat with Khmer and ttor.tagnard elements in South Vietnam and harassing the GVN. The Khmer Serei, an anti-Sihanouk group ted by Son Sgoa Thanh, hasoff and onenjoyed South Vietnamese and Thai support. Neither group played any significant role in Cambodia ahile Sihanouk was in power.
C. The Economic Situation
rising tempo of the war has confronted thewith critical economic problems. Defense costs,have skyrocketed, while wartime destruction andgreatly reduced governmental revenues and the availabilityexchange. Some basic consumer necessities are inin the urban areas, and manufacturinguch as It isbeen slowed almostalt. Disruptions tofrom communist interdiction of lines of communication
and commandeering of civilian trucks by the Cambodian military have contributed heavily to the severe constriction of domestic and foreign trade. Moreover,illion people or more have been uprooted from their homes, causing serious labor shortages in many regions. In particular, the repatriation of ethnic Vietnamese has removed many skilled workers from the economy.
the other hand, the Cambodian peasant andis still in tolerable shape. There is no shortageHce, sugar, vegetables, and meat are relativelyshould continue so for some months. If severe transport
disruptions continue, however, the urban population, especially those in Phnom Penh who are largely dependent on earnings from trade and industry, will have an increasingly difficult time. As shortages and inflation develop, the urban middle class, which provides the nucleus of Lon Hoi's political support, could become increasingly disenchanted.
28. The loss of hard currency export earnings will cause problems for the government, especially because of the impact on the urban middle class, who are highly dependent on imported consumer goods. Estimated earnings from the three major exportsrice, rubber, and cornare downost rubber processing facilities have been destroyed and no
hese products normally account for aboutercent of
Cambodia's foreign exchange earnings. Rice exports0
will probably ba less Uian halfone (valued at
illion) originally projected; rubber exports 'till probably
be leas than one-third0 tons (valued at about US
illion) originally projected; and corn exports, derived
largely frcm lha war-torn southeastern provinces, will be
further production is expected this year. It will probably take atear to put facilities back in service once security is established. Moreover, many mature trees have been damaged and their replacement would take much longer. Planting of the rainy season crop of rice and corn has been disrupted by hostilities and the displacement of rural population, and this mayignificant decline this year in the production of both. he temples at Angkorhich had been growing rapidlyource of foreign exchange for Cambodia, has been all but wiped out. Despite this generally bleak foreign exchange picture, reserves on hand total aboutillion and are probably sufficient to sustain necessary imports into
29. elated problem is in the realm of government operating expenditures. While revenues have been reducedrickle, expenses have soared, particularly in the defense sector. The government is already in arrears on its military (and civilian) payroll. Government expenditures this year will be considerably in excess of the6 million budgeted;eficit of0 million seems likely. The Cambodian Government will probably be forced increasingly to
resort to the printing press. With supplies of imported and
domestic goods reduced, an expansion of the money supply will
almost certainlyajor inflation, unless foreign
financial assistance is made avallable.-
30- So far, however, there are few firm corrritments for any substantial foreign aid. The Frenchommitment inefore Sihanouk's ouster,illion loan; it is being implemented, but with many strings attached. Cambodian officials have high hopes for substantial aid from Japan, but so far the Japanese have provided2 million grant for refugee relief. Miscellaneous commitments from Australia, Hew Zealand, and Denmark totalew million dollars. Aid from communist countries, once an important element in the Cambodian economic picture, has now been cut off.
ne of the met significant indioatcrs of Cambodia's financial difficulties has been the rapid depreciation of the riel. Businessmen, especially Vietnamese and Chinese elements, have been exchanging large riel balances for hard currencies; consequently, the rx-el, which traded ato UShortly afterear ago, has been quoted as high as ISO to OSn recent weeks. The riel is officially exchangedate ofo
II. THt SITUATION OF THL COMMUNISTS IN CAMBODIA A. Military Capabilities
Aoailable Forots. According to the latest order of battle estimates based on newly-captured documents, there probably were, inC/NVA troops operating in the Cambodian/South Vietnamese border region, almost all of them in Cambodia. Aboutercent of these forces are believed to have been in administrative unitsprimarily concerned with operating and protecting the various communist command, logistic, and intelligence functions in thendercent in combat units. Virtually all of these troops were deployed deeper into Cambodia at some time over the past few months, though many did not move any further than necessary to avoid confrontations with US and ARVN forces. Indeed, all available evidence Indicates that fewer0 combat troops havo been involved in the deeper deployments and wide-ranging attacks against Cambodian towns and cities.
Precise determinations of communist deployments are difficult to
the extent that we can
it appears that communist operations in the northeast were largely the work of one regiment; and that elements of this same regiment, augmented by an undetermined number of troops from southern Laos and some Cambodian recruits, were responsible for the initial communist thrust across northern Cambodia as far west as Siem Reap. As far as we can determine, all the attacks south and southwest of Phnom Penh (in the area of Takeo, Angtassom, Kompong Speu, and Kirirom) were the work of roughly the equivalent of two regiments.
33. In sum,
the communists have ranged over much of Cambodia with what
appears toelatively small combat force. Thus, if Hanoi should decide to increase the weight of its attacks against the Lon Hoi government, it already has additional combat troops in nearby border areas and would not necessarily have to await reinforcements from North Vietnam. Nevertheless, many of these forces are needed to defend supply caches still remaining in the old border base areas, to guard against attacks on supply routes through Laos, and to support the struggle in South Vietnam. Thus, Hanoi mightonsiderable
reinforcement from North Vietnam was desirable before making an all-out effort to topple the Lon Hoi regimen effort which might provoke substantial allied opposition on the ground and in the dir.
34. At the moment, it is difficult to see how the communists could effecteinforcementf they feel they need 1tbefore the end of the year. 0 infiltrators scheduled to reach COSVN during the Hay-July period were only sufficient, together with local recruiting, to balance losses suffered by communist units in Cambodia during Uie May/June allied Incursions. And the scheduled arrivals in August and September In the COSVN area number only% almost certainly insufficient to cover continuing attrition. To be sure, the communists could, with considerable difficulty, move substantial numbers of troops through the Laos panhandlehe midst of the monsoon (July-October). Even so, it would be two or three months before they would be ready for operations in Cambodia.
Factors. At this point there is stillabout the communist supply situation in part becausenot know the extent of supply caches before the allied In the Cambodianew theater ofcommunist forces, it seems likely that their system forof suppliestill rudimentary. Thoughto support the relatively light combat of the pastit is probably not as secure and effective as Hanoibefore embarking on any large-scale or sustained combat. forces no longer have assured sanctuaries south of thetheir former supply route through Sihanoukvllleo longer Aside from supplies, there is also the problem of evacuatingfor wounded. And,he absenceriendly population and
a well-developed infrastructure, the communists in Cambodia could be forced to employ large numbers of combat troopsupport role. The peculiarities ofthe Cambodian situation could require many other modifications of the efficient supply procedures developed in South Vietnam and Laos over the years.
Capabilities. The communists, true toof "peoples'reonsiderable effortover the rural population. The north and northeastwhich the government has virtually abandoned to communist
control, contain relatively few people. The population of the four
provinces in the Hanoi-controlled northeast, for example, totals
lessr onlyercent of/
million people. However, the conrnunists are active in many heavily populated areas of the south as well.
to the population is only part of the The communist movement in Cambodia has always been weaksufferedhe past from its identification with alienhave no good estimate of the number of Khmer communists, but at
the time of Sihanouk's overthrow there probably were no moreew hundred in Battambang Province in the for west andn the eastern regions. These Khmer communists will probably have the role of fronting for the Vietnamese in the effort now underway toommunist-controlled infrastructure in the Cambodian countryside.
name probably remains something of an assetVietnamese communists in their efforts to rally the rural populace.
oal of the population in three of the prcoinoeoStung Treng, Hatanakiri, and Mondolkiriie Lao or Khmer Loeu, not ethnic Caniyjdian.
At the same time, his Involvement with the Chinese and Vietnamese corrr.unistsarticularly the latteras hurt him in Cambodia. It won over to the new regime many among the elite, the students, and the army who were fence-sitters when Lon Noi first took over. Moreover, although Sihanouk probably has the sympathies of many peasants and some of the Buddhist monks, there is no political apparatus available to him in Cambodia except that which Hanoi can develop.
39. Whatever the current extent of Sihanouk's appeal, the job ofiable coirrnunlst infrastructure in Cambodia will not be easy. The Vietnamese are racially, culturally, and linguistically distinct from the Khmer, and they must overcome the burden of longstanding Khmer animosity toward all Vietnamese. But the Vietnamese communists are superb organizers, and they know how to use terrorism to get what they cannot obtain The Information available on their recruitment effort is meager, and what we do getixed and confused picture. In some areas, particularly those long subject to communist influence, entire villages are apparently collaborating, and local recruits are being rapidly If superficially trained for military and administrative
tasks, llsewhere, while thereood deal of coercion, the coimunists have apparently not yet resorted to large-scale terrorism. On past form, particularly in Laos, it seems likely that they will succeed in winning the active loyalty of some peasantsommunist-dominated Khmer resistance front and the passive acquiescence of many more to the presence of such an organization in areas where communist forces predominate.
40. Another potential asset for Hanoi in Cambodia is the community ofietnamese. This community didizable Vietnamese communist apparatus,Rear Services Group" in Phnom Penh which supported the war effort in South Vietnam. But the recent evacuation of closethnic Vietnamese to South Vietnam has reduced the potential for exploitation of this group In Cambodia.
B. Hanoi's View of the Cambodian Situation
Hanoi has given no firm clues as to how it views the situation arising from recent developments in Cambodia. There have been some publicew private statements, whichlittle more than that the communists are neither panicked nor elated by events. There has been some military action which was to be expected, such as that to restructure the supply system, and some which would not necessarily have been expected, such as operations westward as far as Siem Reap and Angkor. These give some small basis for judging Hanoi's attitude, but the following paragraphs actually present no more than some of the pros and cons which, from our own view of the situation, must have occasioned debate or concern among the comranists.
The overthrow of Sihanouk, the adoptiontrong anticommunist line by the Lon Nol government, and the allied incursions into Camhodiaituation which had been highly advantageous to Hanoits campaign to take over South Vietnam. And, while communist forces in Cambodia have weathered the May-June phase of allied operations and continue to extend their presence into large portions of the country, Hanoi can scarcely
assume that its troubles are over. It has recognized its problems with statements to the effect that new difficulties and increased demands will have to be met in supporting the Indochina-wide struggle
The obvious immediate problem was to restore and secure as far as possible the channels of supply and infiltration into South Vietnam. Communist forces advanced westward to the Mekong (and beyond) in order to open up alternate routes, and their recent advances in southern Laos areelated move. Pathet Lao approaches to Souvanna Phouma since mid-June may also reflect, at least in part, Hanoi's concern regarding possible allied ground incursions into the Laos corridor. In any event, the immunity from attack formerly enjoyed by supply routes (and sanctuaries) in Canbodit an end. For the time being at least, the route through Slhanoukville is wholly closed to the communists.
Experience of past years indicates that the communists will be able tolow of supplies and manpower to southern South Vietnam and Cambodia. This is not to say that they will
have all the material they need for any operation they mayand still less that their logistic operations will be without severe difficulties and setbacks. Such difficulties and setbacks
will of course play an important part in Hanoi's estimate of what it can accomplish, and within what time, and at what cost. All the evidence suggests, however, that the communist leadership is still committedong struggle, carried on primarily by small-scale military actions over extensive areas, and thattruggle will not be rendered infeasible by material or manpower shortages.
As respects Cambodia itself, from one point of view Hanoi may perceive tempting opportunities. It has always been clear that its ultimate abjective was to control, or at least to establish hegemony over that country. Hanoi-inspired insurgency beganmall scale in Cambodiaut progress was slow, at least until Sihanouk's ouster in March of this year. Now, with 5ihanouk in the communist camp and half of Cambodian territory in communist hands, prospectsapid advance toward the ultimate objective might seem to be greatly enhanced.
In any effort to gain control of Cambodia, however, the communists would lack some of the advantages they have enjoyed in South Vietnam: ell-established and extensive logistic system;
a political base and infrastructure deeply rooted among the people;
laim to legitimacy deriving from identification with nationalist aspirations. Moreover, they cannot be certain of how far the US and its allies may go in attempting to preserve an anticommunist regime in Phnom Penh. Hanoi's fears must have been diminished by the extent of US domestic opposition and by the limitations that the US Government has placed upon its military commitment in Cambodia. Nevertheless, if Hanoi plans to persist in efforts to undermine the Lon Nol government, it must weigh the costs of deploying additional resourcesparticularly manpowero deal with anticipated US and ARVN air attacks, plus ARVN (and possibly Thai) ground attacks- It must also consider that the opposition offered by Cambodian government forces may grow stronger as allied arms become available and allied training programs are carried out.
47. In the wider context of the whole Indochina conflict, Hanoi may also see both advantages and disadvantages in the extension of the area of fighting into Cambodia. On the one hand, itiversion of communist resources into new territory, into protecting and maintaining more lines of communication, probably against increased air attacks, and into organizational and propaganda effortsargely unsympathetic people. Yet
it may also give opportunity to tie down South Vietnamese (and possibly Thai) forces in Cambodia without excessive cost or risk and to divert Saigon's attention from the more important struggle in its own country. It may conceivably lead to frictions between the US and its allies over the necessity and tho means of keeping the Lon Noi regime in power.
Hanoi has above all to judge the effect ofsituation upon the will of the US to prosecute theit has never doubted the superior physical andof the US; its hopes have lain in its ability tothe USrolonged politico-military contest carriedto the principles of revolutionary struggle. Itbeen impressed by the considerable public outcryCambodian adventure which occurred in the US, and mayIts Importance. But it must recognize that the contest
in Indochina will continue for some time.
C. Courses of Action
full range of communist intentionsambodiato judge. Hanoi clearly intends,inimum, to retain
supply and infiltration channels into South Vietnam. But the evidence strongly indicates that its objectives extend beyond this. Communist units have been on the outskirts of Siem Reap,iles west of the Vietnamese border, for over two months; and Hanoi's attacks in the southerly areas have created serious insecurity almost everywhere and virtually wrecked the national economy. Meanwhile, communist forces and their agents have been working assiduously wherever possible tohmer resistance movement. These developments, and Hanoi's public statements, indicate that the communists have set their sights on theof the Lon Nol government and its replacementegime which would be responsive to their wishes.
At this point, therefore, the main issue in Hanoi's view is almost certainly one of method and timing: Whether to seek Lon Nol's destruction by early and direct military pressure on Phnom Penh, orore prolonged and measured campaign of military, political, and psychological pressures designed to undermine the government's position in stages.
Thereumber of factors that might incline Hanoi toapid military victory in Cambodia. The communists
might believe that the quick removal of the anticommunist leadership in Phnom Penh wouldimely political-psychological triumph of major proportions, one which would further weaken support in the US for the war in South Vietnam. They might be concerned to finish off Lon Noi before substantial numbers of South Vietnamese, Thai or other Asian troops (with US air support) could be marshalled against themor before Cambodian government forces could be made effective They might also be pessimistic about their prospects for building an effective Khmer insurgent movement, evenatter of years, and therefore think it more practicable toneutralist" regime in Phnom Penh as soon as possible. And Hanoi might also hopeilitary push on the Cambodian capital would tempt ARVN to overextend its forces, thus opening the way for communist gains in South Vietnam itself. The force of these considerations would be increased if Hanoi perceived signs of collapse by the FANK or signs of serious political instability in Phnom Penh.
52. At the present time, there are arguments of at least equal weight against Hanoi'sapid military solution in Cambodia. With ARVN at the ready,ould probablyajorof VC/NVA forces within Cambodia, which might lessen the communist threat to southern South Vietnam. It would also draw
heavily on available VC/NVA supplies, probably to the detriment of units in southern South Vietnam already known to be subject to rationing of munitions. In any case, Hanoi could not be sure that its campaign, including an assault on Phnom Penh, would be The monsoon rains present an important obstacle at this time to any major offensive in central Cambodia; the low-lying plains around Phnom Penh are particularly subject to widespread Inundation. There would almost certainly be resistance by the Cambodiansand, more important, Hanoi would expect that ARVN units with US air support would be available to the defense. At best, the military costs of taking the capital and nearby major towns would probably be high; and Hanoi might be concerned over the loss of prestigeajor assault failed.
53. Hanoi may also see the advantages of an early overthrow of the Lon Nol regime as dubious. evelopment would not automatically end the fighting in Cambodia and reduce communistrequirements there; indeed, the possible need for defense of occupied towns mightarger military burden. The allies could hardly be expected to cease attacks on supply lines in the east, or even in other parts of tho country, or toontinuing naval blockade, nor would FANK necessarily give up the struggle.
important, probably, would be the problem ofreliable successor government. In this connection, Hanoi might
be reluctant to bring the unpredictable Sihanouk back to the scene. It would first have to assess his popular appeal and his willingness, under the circumstances, to act in accord with communist wishes. In any event, unless Hanoi were able to base its control of Cambodiaell-organized Indigenous communist movement, the North Vietnamese would have to assume the main burden of running the country.
alternativeajor military campaign is, ofattempt to erode Lon Nol's position over time by somemilitary, psychological, and political means. The currentcommunist military attacks, for example, could be designedand demoralize the inadequate military force at thethe government; to create serious insecurity in theisolate the populace from the central government; and tonational economy. Hanoi may be bent on making it clear tothe Lon Nol government is weak and Ineffective, incapableeven its major towns, and utterly dependent on In this context, Phnom Penh itself might beby communist forces. Through such tactics, and
accompanying propaganda, Hanoi could hope to discourage the faint of heart among Cambodians and to encourage political opposition to Lon flol. It might hope, in this case, to encourage the formationegime prepared to accept the communist presence in Cambodia. Meanwhile, in pursuance of this course of action, Hanoi could be expanding its indigenous Insurgent force for the longer pull in Cambodia, and strengthening its grip on the strategic northeastern quadrant of the country. It could be achieving these objectives in accordance with classic communist doctrines and at relatively low cost or risk.
56. This alternative, as we describe it, clearlyontinuation of communist operations and pressuresambodia at levels approximating those of the past several months. There would, of course, be lulls and peaks in military pressures as forces were rested and resupplied, or diverted to support operationsouth Vietnam; but the effort to build an Indigenous insurgent movement would continueteady pace behind the screen of maneuvering VC/NVA military units. Even if this course were followed, the communists would retain the option of an all-out military assault on the Lon Noi governmentt any time.
III. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
57. The main points that emerge from the foregoing discussion may be summarized in these propositions:
its numerous shortcomings andLon Nol government is still generally united and inheart. It has the support of the army, the urban elite,the moment at least, the students. The peasantry appearbut certainly there has been no large-scale flocking
to the communist cause.
Cambodian Army has with some exceptionsagainst communist forces. Its morale is still generallyit presently is manifestly incapable of resisting anythingsmall-scale attacks,engthy period of training willbefore it will be an effective fighting force.
military defense of Cambodia is put upgreatly upon assistance from ARVN ground and air forcesUS air support, and (insofar as time is available) onoutside help in equipping and training the Cambodianregular forces are unlikely to engage in combat operations
except in areas adjacent to their own borders. No other countries are likely to send combat forces to Cambodia, or provide moremall amount of economic or material assistance.
d. Hanoi's forces have caused the Cambodian Government to give up much of the north and the entire northeast areas of the country, and are operating with disruptive effect in the south and southeast. This signifies that communist objectives are not limited to the maintenance of supply lines from Laos through Cambodia into South Vietnam, but almost certainly include the collapse of the Lon Nol regime. Yet itotow rapidly or with what weight of effort Hanoi intends to pursue this aim.
58. We are reasonably confident that the Lon Nol government, with continued allied support, has enough strength andto withstand likely communist military and political pressures during the current rainy season. Once the rainy season is over, however, sometime in October or November, the prospect opens uptronger communist military offensive, possibly against Phnom Penh Itself, to get rid of the ton No' government rapidly. For theand political reasons discussed innd II above, we doubt that Hanoi would thinkourse of actton worth the cost
and risk. If this were the only threat lo the government's survival, we would judge that Its chances nt "ar-ting0 and1 were good.
59. But tfi:-out attack not the only c'Tumstancchich the Cambodian Government night fa'i- Hanoi wli assuredly continue and perhaps increase *ts in'lita'7 pressures andal activities within the country. We doubt, that either ton Noi or his adherents have yet faced up to the prospectong and difficult struggle. Once itome in upon ihem that death and destruction inflicted by both side? are Hkely to be the order of the day for months or years, and that Cambodians will have to do much of their own fighting, against very heavy odds, the moodhnom Penh could turn to depression and despau. In such circumstances, theleadership might seek an accommoridtion with the communists or it might be cha'lenged by other nor-rommunist elements bent on such an accommodation, or centra', authority might Simply dissolve asheaders left the country for refuge abroad.
60. Fven in view of These considerations, we th>nk the chances are somewhat, better than even that ionovernment willH be in existence at the end The fact that it
has survived the major upheavals and disasters of past months suggests that it probably has sufficient stamina and publicto see itew more months, and perhaps longer. By year's end, however, its situation is highly unlikely to be improved in any basic way. Thus, the end of the year will not mark any decisive moment of the struggle; the critical period may come in the early monthsOriginal document.