The Pentagon Papers
Gravel Edition
Volume 1
Document 9, Summary of Existing Policy on Indochina for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 25 July 1950, pp. 373-4

Note: The Papers identifies the source as the "Consultants Meeting," p. 348.


25 July 1950

1. Existing Policy

a. U.S. Policy with respect to Indo-China as approved by the President on 24 April 1950 concludes that:

(1) Indo-China is a key area of Southeast Asia and is under immediate threat.
(2) The neighboring countries of Thailand and Burma could be expected to fall under Communist domination if Indo-China were controlled by a Communist-dominated government. The balance of Southeast Asia would then be in grave hazard.
(3) Accordingly, the Departments of State and Defense should prepare as a matter of priority a program of all practicable measures designed to protect United States security interests in Indo-China.

b. On 10 April 1950 the JCS concurred in the above conclusions and recommended early implementation of military aid programs for Indo-China, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Burma. Such aid programs to be closely controlled and be integrated with political and economic programs.

c. On 7 July 1950 the JCS (J.C.S. 1924/14) approved the following in their review of NSC 73.

If the Chinese Communists provide overt military assistance to Southeast Asian Communist elements, the United States should prevail upon the British to reverse their proffers of recognition to Communist China and to provide such military assistance as is practicable to assist the Burmese and/or the French in resisting Chinese Communist aggression. In addition:

a. If overt military assistance is provided the Viet Minh forces of Indo-China, the United States should increase its MDAP assistance to the French and urge the French to continue an active defense, with the United States giving consideration to the provision of air and naval assistance.

b. The United States should ask the United Nations to call upon member nations to make forces available to resist the Chinese Communist aggression.

Chinese Communist military moves against Southeast Asia states in the near future are possible and in such an event the U.S. should be prepared to provide military assistance short of actual participation of U.S. Armed Forces at this time.

d. On 14 July the JSPC submitted a report (J.C.S. 1924/20-Not yet approved) for consideration by the JCS which included the following with reference to Southeast Asia:

The French military position in Indo-China has continued to improve. . . . No unusual Chinese Communist or Vietminh activities have occurred since the Korean invasion. While the entire East Asia situation is potentially explosive there are no present indications that the situation will be immediately worsened unless the Korean situation further deteriorates. With respect to Burma, Thailand, and Malaya, internal subversive moves will probably remain the chief threats to the established governments. Chinese Communists would probably move against these countries only if first successful in Indo-China....

e. Southeast Asia

(1) In the event of Chinese Communist moves against Indo-China or Burma, U.S. military equipment and supplies would be required on an increased scale and U.S. naval and air forces might be called upon to assist the French in Indo-China. It is unlikely that U.S. forces would be employed in Burma. This is considered to be an area of British responsibility.

(2) If Indo-China, Burma and Thailand were to fall under Communist domination, British forces in Malaya should be augmented. Except for possible naval support, it is unlikely that U.S. armed forces would be employed in Malaya since this is an area of British responsibility.

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