The Department of State to the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee 56

American Policy With Respect to Thailand

The Problem

1. Should the Joint Chiefs of Staff be requested to authorize increased OSS action in Thailand?57

Facts Bearing on the Problem

2. The American Consul at Colombo58 has advised the Department (Colombo’s no. 73 of March 2259) that reports from within Thailand indicate that the present situation there is of the utmost urgency; that any action to be taken in regard to Thailand cannot await diplomatic negotiations [between the United States and Great Britain];60 that the American position could be seriously affected if the impression were given the Thai that all possible assistance was not being rendered by the United States; that the United Nations’ position in the Orient could be greatly strengthened if Thailand were able to resist the Japanese with force of arms [supplied by the United Nations];60 and that, therefore, it might be desirable to authorize independent OSS action or to ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff to urge the Combined Chiefs of Staff to direct immediate OSS action under the SEAC.

3. A subsequent telegram from Colombo (no. 75, of March 2359) stated that loss of OSS separate identity in SEAC might jeopardize the present favorable American position in connection with the Thai Regent’s group.

4. OSS reports which have been made available to the Department indicate that the Thai resistance movement has been well organized and is steadily increasing its activities; that this movement has been of substantial assistance to the OSS which believes it can increase the scope and effectiveness of its operations through the medium of the [Page 1261] Thai resistance movement; that at a recent secret meeting of the Thai Cabinet it was decided that Thai forces would fight if the Japanese took action in Thailand similar to that taken recently in Indochina; that Thai forces with available equipment and resources would be able to hold out against the Japanese for a month; and that with antitank guns and other light equipment dropped to them by air they could hold out for a longer period.

5. The Department delivered a note to the British Embassy on March 16 suggesting that the British, Chinese and American Governments agree to the establishment of a Free Thai Liberation Committee abroad at this time as an initial step to encourage a Free Thai resistance movement. It was also stated in the note that Chiang Kaishek had expressed his willingness to the American Ambassador at Chungking to support such a committee with its venue at Washington.


6. It is the policy of this Government to assist Thailand to reestablish itself as an independent and sovereign nation. This Government has attempted through diplomatic channels to persuade the British to harmonize their policy toward Thailand with our own and as indicated in paragraph 5 recently suggested to the British that they agree to the establishment of a Free Thai Liberation Committee. Although no official answer has been received from the British Foreign Office to the Department’s suggestion an unofficial and informal expression of views by an official of the British Foreign Office implies that in all probability the British will not support the idea of the establishment of a Free Thai Liberation Committee abroad and that they are unlikely to agree to the measures we desire to take with respect to Thailand. The failure of the Free Thai to secure any representation abroad and the failure of the British to modify their policy toward Thailand which at present is based on the concept that Thailand is an enemy might well discourage the Free Thai within Thailand and affect the American position there unfavorably. On the military front an important American contribution to the Free Thai in their opposition to the Japanese is being made by the OSS. It seems, therefore, that one point at which American assistance and good will can be demonstrated to the Thai is through the OSS.


7. It may be, therefore, that American goodwill toward Thailand and our desire to be of assistance can only be manifested for the present through the activities of the OSS. Consequently we favor not only a continuation of such activities but an increase in their scope to the extent compatible with military plans. We are of the opinion that the extension of increased aid to the Thai will not only encourage [Page 1262] Thai resistance to the Japanese but will give substantial support to the political objectives of this Government with respect to Thailand: We feel, however, that such assistance should be given only on the basis of a clear understanding on the part of the Regent and of the Free Thai that it would carry no American commitments to provide military assistance as distinguished from incidental supplies necessary for OSS operations. Thus, there would not be involved diversion to Thailand of supplies needed for operation in the Pacific against Japan.


8. It is, therefore, deemed desirable to request the Joint Chiefs of Staff to authorize the OSS, within the limitation imposed by American military plans and strategy, to increase its activities in Thailand, extended under SEAC or independently, in such a manner as to provide as soon as practicable maximum American assistance to the Free Thai resistance movement.

  1. Memorandum transmitted to the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee on March 28.
  2. In a memorandum of March 24 to the Secretary of State, the Director of the Office of Strategic Services (Donovan) requested guidance and instructions as to whether the OSS should extend its operations in Thailand, beyond those concerning intelligence, by supplying the Thai Army and other resistance forces with arms, ammunition, and other supplies and sending personnel to Thailand to help organize and train Thai resistance forces (740.0011 PW/3–2445). The OSS memorandum was not received in time to be considered in the preparation of the Department memorandum of March 26 but was submitted to SWNCC for consideration along with the Department memorandum.
  3. Richard D. Gatewood, Vice Consul at Colombo.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Brackets appear in the original.
  6. Brackets appear in the original.
  7. Not printed.