Withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Thailand:

Ways to Improve Future Withdrawal Operations

LCD-77-446: Published: Nov 1, 1977. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 1977.

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Because of changing conditions in Southeast Asia, the Royal Thailand Government asked the United States to withdraw its combat forces from Thailand. At that time, March 1975, 27,000 military personnel were authorized for six bases and other facilities throughout the country. The phasedown resulted in U.S. force levels being reduced to less than 250 as of July 20, 1976.

Agreements authorizing U.S. military force presence and construction of facilities were minimal. One of the objectives of the phasedown was to maintain the best possible relations with Thailand, which controlled the bases and the transportation facilities used by U.S. forces. This objective was to be achieved in part by leaving operable facilities and by withdrawing only those items for which a valid U.S. need existed. At five of the Royal Thailand Air Force bases major items transferred were valued at over $12.6 million, and secondary items transferred were valued at over $19 million. These items were excess to U.S. requirements and could not be economically removed. Over $204 million (acquisition value) in real property improvements was left at these five bases. Some of the communications equipment left in Thailand was not excess to U.S. needs. However, the Thai Government needs these items. Components of the communications system not excess to U.S. needs were left at no cost to Thailand under a 3-year bailment agreement; Thailand, in turn, will provide the United States communications services to their country at no cost. Thailand agreed to purchase ammunition left in the country over a 3-year period.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: To effectively apply some of the lessons learned from the Thailand withdrawal and prior withdrawals, the Secretary of Defense should direct that definite criteria for the peacetime withdrawal of U.S. forces from foreign countries be established. These criteria should include policies and procedures for scaled as well as complete withdrawals. In negotiating future basing agreements, the Secretary of Defense, in cooperation with the Secretary of State, should include provisions for protecting U.S. investments, either through their return or appropriate compensation, and for moving retrograde material without hindrance. A single manager responsible for coordinating retrograde operations should be designated, and, at each closing base, there should be a retrograde team under a retrograde manager with knowledge of overall Defense requirements. This team should be given authority to immediately retrograde or dispose of assets.

    Agency Affected:


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