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CIA director William Colby told House members that he was pessimistic about the ability of the Cambodian government to survive even if it receives more U.S. military aid. Assistant Secretary of State, Philip Habib, has said that he could not guarantee that the $222 million would produce a negotiated settlement. Even Senate Minority Leader, Hugh Scott (R-Pa.), feels that the United States should get the refugees out which would "lead to some change of leadership at the top, some sort of transition government." Lon Nol, although his remarks were originally misinterpreted, has made it clear that he does not intend to resign. Members of his own party are urging him to step down, but he will not do so. In this situation, what can the United States do?
The best solution, it seems to me, is to fly to safety Lon Nol and his supporters who are considered "collaborationists" by the Khmer Rouge. If this is done, there will be no occasion for a "bloodbath" such as the Administration predicts. We must remember that this is a civil war in which brother fights brother, largely at the original instigation of a foreign power-the United States. So let us rescue those to whom we feel a commitment, and leave the others to settle their affairs in peace. Sooner or later, this must happen in any case, and 100,000 lives may be saved by having it happen now.
The very weapons and ammunition that we airlift to Lon Nol are being captured and used by the Khmer Rouge against those we are supposed to help. Thus, in effect, we are arming both sides to continue the killing.
Negotiations for surrender and replacement of the Lon Nol regime are now the only possible kind of negotiations. Secretary Kissinger should turn his talents to this area. Friendly and neutral countries should be asked to help open negotiating channels for a cease fire.
Then, I urge orderly distribution of the food and medical supplies that we all agree are needed. This must be done through international organizations, because Lon Nol is diverting from the people to the army, the food we are sending him. I cannot express the shock I felt upon seeing starving mothers and children, and then learning that they did not get the food we supposedly sent to them. This must not be allowed to happen.
Given a hopeless situation, let us not respond blindly or stubbornly. Let us not force Asians to continue killing each other to maintain our false pride. We have not "lost" Cambodia-we never had Cambodia. Let us help its tormented people to rebuild their shattered lives.
Mr. HAMILTON. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Abzug. Mr. Flynt, I am going to look to you as the chairman of the delegation for the next witness. The next witness, as you are indicating, will be Congressman Murtha from Pennsylvania.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN P. MURTHA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. MURTHA. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I want to very briefly outline the military situation because Pete McCloskey and I dealt almost solely with the military situation.
As you may know, I was in South Vietnam on the ground with the Marines for a year, so the military situation is the only thing that I looked at. Now we were only in Cambodia for 71% to 8 hours and certainly I am no expert on Cambodia and the political implications and problems. You are much more of an expert than I am.
Bill Chappell and I went down to the division commander and he briefed us entirely on the situation as he saw it. We then went down to a brigade commander who had fought against the North Vietnamese in South Vietnam. He told us that he didn't feel that the military situation was as bad as it had been pictured by the news media and that he had fought against the North Vietnamese; the North Vietnamese were much more well trained, better integrated, better organized, and the Khmer Rouge were entirely a different type of enemy.
SITUATION ON MEKONG RIVER
Now of course there is no question that the Mekong Delta has been choked off in two points, the airfield was under fire. As a matter of fact, a half hour after we landed, two rockets landed on the airfield. While I was inspecting the air services themselves, two rockets fell between 200 and 300 yards from the position where I was standing. So if the airfield were choked off as the Mekong River is from a military standpoint, I don't see how Cambodia could survive.
An interesting point. I questioned one of the newspaper reporters on my way over to Cambodia and I asked him his assessment of the military situation. He said, "I told the world that they were going to fall 2 weeks after we quit the bombing, and they are going to fall." Now of course it has been 2 years since we quit the bombing but some of the reporting I think may have been distorted.
TALKING TO TROOPS
I went down to a firing battery and I talked to the troops that were at this firing battery. They seemed to have high morale. They are certainly not the well-disciplined troops I have seen in the American forces or any other forces but they do have a high morale. Rep. McCloskey will go into some detail about the advantages and disadvantages and what he thinks might happen there. In my opinion the situation has been stabilized but if we were to cut off aid there is no question in my mind what would happen-they would run out of ammunition very shortly. There is from 5 to 15 days of supply on the ground and they would consequently be overrun.
During the briefings they pointed out that there were serious atrocities every time the Khmer Rouge who were trained in Hanoi came into the area, and of course we saw evidence. They showed us the Chinese and the North Vietnamese weapons that were being used in the war and there was no question where the support was coming from. They showed us in detail what happened in the atrocities that had been perpetrated in the areas that were overrun by the Khmer Rouge. It is a very vicious, barbaric war and I think impressed all of us with the tremendous barbarity and the viciousness of the two sides.
QUESTION OF FUTURE
Whether they could hold out or not, I certainly am not able to tell you. Whether they could continue the fighting, I cannot tell you. I can only say that in the situation as we saw it there was higher morale than I would anticipate. For instance, the children were standing around the firing battery-and this is a very interesting situation. I have never seen happier kids. I think even American kids in the United States would not be as friendly as these children were. It was a very disconcerting thing to me that here was a city beleaguered, under siege, and yet the people seem to be of a much higher morale than has been reported.
It reminds me of a story a marine was telling me when he was in Khesan in 1968. He was reading a report to the other fellows in the area. Khesan was surrounded and reporters were comparing it to
Dien Bien Phu. This marine was telling the other men, "I am glad I wasn't there," and of course he was on the ground.
So there has been, I think, some distortion of the facts about what is going on. There is no question there is not enough food but there is a will to carry on the battle. They have a discipline and they were fairly well trained, all the troops that I saw. The artillery battery, in comparing them with our forces, I certainly say they had an adequate training and they had morale to the point where if they were given the ammunition they could carry on.
SOME DETERMINATION EXISTS
In the short time I was there my impression was, in talking to the firing battery, brigade commander and division commander and watching the troops in action, that they had the determination if they were given the aid to carry on. There is no question in my mind that if we cut off the aid they would run out of ammunition between 15 to 30 days, that they would be overrun and that there would be substantial atrocities.
Mr. HAMILTON. Thank you very much, Congressman Murtha.
I might say to my colleagues it is my intention to complete the testimony of the other witnesses before we turn to questions by the members of the subcommittee and members of the full committee.
Mr. Flynt, who is our next witness?
Mr. FLYNT. Mr. McCloskey.
Mr. HAMILTON. Congressman McCloskey, we are glad to have you with us today and we look forward to hearing your remarks.
STATEMENT OF HON. PAUL N. McCLOSKEY, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. MCCLOSKEY. Mr. Chairman, I am in general agreement with what Congressman Fraser said to this subcommittee and I would have to concur first in Congressman Murtha's comment that none of us became experts on Cambodia in the 7 hours that we were privileged to spend there.
I would like to break my testimony into essentially four areas: First, the description of the history of the situation as we understood it from the Embassy there; second, the military confrontation, the statistics, the basis for the administration's demands; third, the refugee situation and our recommendations there which I believe to be unanimous on the part of all eight of us; and finally, some specific observation of facts that we observed or specific things that were related to us that might guide the subcommittee.
ANY COMMITMENT HAS GUILT FACTOR
First of all, any sense of commitment that we feel might be characterized I think more as a guilt factor. As the committee knows in 1969 when President Nixon took office, Cambodia-a nation of 7 million people had preserved its neutrality with respect to the Vietnam conflict although the five easterly provinces of Cambodia, which were thinly populated, were being used as the terminus of the Ho Chi Minh
Trail coming down from North Vietnam and Laos and were used as a means of building up a support base and pressure against the delta and the third military region around Saigon in South Vietnam. In addition, the Cambodian seaport south of Phnom Penh was used as the basis for supplies brought in by ship to support the North Vietnamese and Vietcong fighting in the southerly part of South Vietnam.
Shortly after President Nixon took office he commenced the secret bombing-we believe this occurred in either late January or February of 1969 of Cambodia in particularly these five provinces which were being used for support and supply. Then in March of 1970 the Sihanouk government fell apparently, the best we can determine, with no push from the CIA or any other U.S. suggestion. In any event the Lon Nol government was formed in March of 1970 and we chose on April 30, to invade those five easterly provinces.
CONSEQUENCES OF 1970 INVASION
What we did by that invasion was to push the North Vietnamese out into Cambodia proper and the more populated areas of Cambodia and then we took a number of Cambodians into South Vietnam and trained them to fight against the North Vietnamese which were using this part of Cambodia as a base and supply route. Now apparently the North Vietnamese also took between 5,000 and 6,000 Cambodians north to Hanoi and trained them and upon their return they have been the nucleus of the Khmer Rouge.
At the present time the situation was described to us as follows: Of the 7 million people in Cambodia, roughly 10 percent have been killed and roughly somewhere over half have become refugees. That is, 700,000 dead and of the remaining people about two-thirds of the population have fled or retreated into various government enclaves which are population centers around Cambodia with over 2 million people situated within the Phnom Penh perimeter.
The military situation is that the Khmer Rouge are estimated by our people to range between 50,000 and 88,000 people maximum of whom perhaps 50,000 maximum could be characterized as combat troops. On the friendly side the Cambodian Government is estimated to have roughly 195,000 people capable of waging military resistance but in the Phnom Penh perimeter the statistics are that there are an estimated 30,000 troops maximum surrounding Phnom Penh and perhaps 25,000 Cambodian government troops in the perimeter defending it.
STAYING POWER EXISTS
I would concur with what Congressman Murtha said that the two units that I visited, which were separate from the two units that he did, indicated a staying power and a capacity that was perhaps higher than we were led to expect of the Cambodian military. Bearing in mind the numbers in that perimeter facing each other-30,000 enemy, perhaps 25,000 friendly-there were more young men of military age walking around the streets of Phnom Penh than there are serving in the armed services. It is an almost unreal atmosphere of this civilian quiet in the city, both government and the population, and the really
vicious war that is going on around the perimeter. Let me cite the casualty figures to you as indicative of the nature of this fighting.
The Cambodians have estimated that in the 2 months since the dry season started January and February, that they have had 2,000 killed in action and 8,000 wounded in action and of those wounded in action a pretty good rule of thumb is that half have returned to duty within a very short time and about half are disabled for a considerable length of time and 674 missing in action.
So out of a force of 10,000-2,000 killed, 8,000 wounded and 674 missing those are fairly substantial casualties. At the rate of the ammunition expenditure, which is almost incredible for the number of people engaged, they have been using roughly 450 tons of ammunition a day in Cambodia and that is with roughly 50,000 combat troops on both sides while in South Vietnam they are using only 600 tons a month with 3,000 troops engaged head to head in a war that is a very serious war.
So around Phnom Penh then with the casualties roughly a third of the forces that are engaged on the friendly side and an estimate on the opposing side of double the killed and wounded, you have had in the first 2 months of the dry season offensive at least a third of both sides becoming casualties. This is why if the rainy season starts June 1 and the Mekong floods by July 15 or August 1 that combat has to run down, no fighting force can sustain those kinds of casualties permanently and still remain a fighting force.
On the ammunition expenditures—and I want to move to this point because this is the basis for the administration's request. There is a difference of opinion perhaps in the delegation as to what would be appropriate to preserve that perimeter. We were given figures by the American military team there that they recommended commencing January 1 that the Cambodians use roughly 289 tons per day of ammunition to defend against the Khmer Rouge attack and that was broken down to 233 tons of ground ammunition and 56 tons of air ammunition. That is a total of 289 tons per day.
The figures the Embassy provided us, however, is that they are using an average of 450 tons per day and the administration request for $222 million in supplemental military assistance through June 30 was based on the administration's feeling that they should be entitled to have 600 tons a day for the balance of the dry season.
The discussions that Congressman Chappell and I had with the Defense Department led us to the conclusion-and I use these figures as my personal view-that if we provided for 75 days 450 tons of ammunition a day, this is their current consumption rate, that it would cost roughly $84 million worth of ammunition in the mix that they are using. The Defense Department would estimate an additional $19.6 million for handling and transportation and that is based on the airlift.