CambodiaIn Cambodia we pursued the policy of the previous administration until North Vietnamese actions after Prince Sihanouk was deposed made this impossible.
In the previous chapter on Vietnam I briefly recalled the background and results of the allied sweeps against the Communist sanctuaries which were so vital to Vietnamization. With the operations concluded, our policy for Cambodia took shape as follows:
- No U.S. ground combat personnel in the country, and no U.S. advisers with Cambodian units.
- Air missions against enemy supplies and personnel that pose a potential threat to South Vietnam or seek to establish base areas relevant to Vietnam.
- Military assistance to the Cambodian government in amounts and types suitable for their army.
- Encourage other countries of the region to give diplomatic assistance.
- Encourage and support the efforts of third countries who wish to furnish troops or material.
The loss of the use of Sihanoukville, as well as the base areas, was a serious setback for Hanoi. For many years almost all North Vietnamese supplies for military regions III and IV in South Vietnam passed through the port. Accordingly, during the latter part of 1970 the North Vietnamese stepped up their efforts to reestablish sanctuaries and their attacks on the Cambodian government. They sought either to reopen their supply lines to southern South Vietnam or to install by force a government in Phnom Penh that would accomplish the same purpose. They failed to do either, but they posed significant threats.
To deny them renewed use of these assets, we helped the Cambodians defend themselves and we supported South Vietnam's operations. substantially greater military and economic assistance was needed to support the Cambodian army, which was growing from some 40,000 to over 200,000 in a very short period of time. The quarter billion dollars that Congress appropriated as part of the foreign assistance supplemental recognized that Cambodia was facing outright aggression, that it was doing everything possible on its own and that our assistance was appropriate for its self-defense and to aid Vietnamization and our withdrawals from South Vietnam.
This past year there were also encouraging signs of regional cooperation:
The South Vietnamese, at Cambodia's request, continued to sweep the sanctuary areas, conduct ground operations in support of Cambodian forces and provide air and logistic support and training.
Other Asian countries, such as Thailand, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the Republic of China, supplied various forms of assistance.
Eleven Asian nations met on their own initiative at Djakarta last spring and sought through diplomatic means to preserve Cambodia's neutrality and independence.
Cambodia is, in short, a concrete illustration of Nixon Doctrine principles: assumption of primary responsibility for its own defense; help from regional friends; our support through military and economic assistance.
The objective of all our activities related to Cambodia remains constant: to bar the re-establishment of secure Communist base areas that could jeopardize allied forces in Vietnam. Together with the South Vietnamese we are trying to prevent the enemy from building up their capabilities for major offensives. Our aim is to destroy their supplies and disrupt their planning for assaults on allied forces in South Vietnam. Communist movements may require fluctuations in the level of our air activities as well as our increased material assistance. They will not deflect us from our overall course of phased withdrawal from Indochina.