NATIONAL SECURITY ACTION MEMORANDUM NO. 157, "Presidential Meeting on Laos, May 24, 1962," 29 May 1962

Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 2, pp. 672-673

May 29, 1962


TO: The Secretary of State
The Secretary of Defense
The Director of Central Intelligence
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

SUBJECT: Presidential Meeting on Laos, May 24, 1962

The President has approved the following Record of Actions for the subject meetings:

At the meeting on the situation in Laos held in the Cabinet Room at 4:30 p.m. today, the President requested contingency planning in the event of a breakdown of the cease fire in Laos for action in two major areas:

(a) the investing and holding by Thai forces with U.S. backup of Sayabouri Province (being that portion of northern Laos to the west of the Mekong River); and
(b) the holding and recapture of the panhandle of Laos from Thakhek to the southern frontier with Thai, Vietnamese or U.S. forces.

In connection with the above contingency plans, the President desired an estimate of the military value of the Mekong River in Sayabouri Province as a defensive barrier in relation to the cost of taking and holding it.

The President also asked that the above planning be undertaken unilaterally by the United States without discussion at this time with the Thais or the Lao. The President also indicated that he contemplated keeping U.S. forces in Thailand during the period of the 3-Prince negotiations and the early days of the government of national union, i.e. as long as they serve a necessary purpose.

The President observed that a cable would have to go in answer to Bangkok's 1844.

McGeorge Bundy

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