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Within the period of 1954-1975 (the Vietnam War or Second Indochina War), the Thai Government allowed the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) to fund and manage the modernization of Royal Thai Air Force airbases. In an unsigned agreement these airbases were to be operated by the United States Air Force for the specific purpose of attacking North Vietnam with some 500 airplanes. These bases were supplied by a similarly constructed Naval Base near the deep-water port of Sattahip 12 37' 42" N, 100 55' 29" E. Many American military specialists were assigned to JUSMAG-THAI in Bangkok. As many as 45,000 US Military personnel were stationed in Thailand.

History - 1960s[]

During the 1960s Thailand experienced one of the most rapid growth rates among developing countries—more than 10% per year in GNP, and about 8% per year in real output. The First National Economic Development Plan (1961-1966) was successfully implemented. US grant economic assistance totals about $500 million through the end of 1970. Direct military assistance totaled another $800 million for the same period; continuing at the rate of $25 and $55 million per year. According to US government statistics, between 1950 and 1987 the US provided Thailand with more than US$2 billion in military assistance.

The vast nature of this enterprise enriched Thailand at every level of society, enabling a jump in indigenous heavy construction, communications, transportation, and defense. The following categories are found in United States Government Accountability Office catalog summaries: Locomotives, Aeronautical Ground Services, Bangkok-Saraburi Highway, Southern Roads, Development Loans, Technical Support, Civil Police, Village Radios, Agricultural Development, Rural Health, Potable Water, Malaria Eradication, Rural Elecrification, Chiangmai Medical School.

Additionally there was the construction of 315 km (196 mi) of all-weather roads located in the North and North-East, requiring 138 bridges and culverts, costing $11 million ($174,000 for maintenance equipment; requiring the training of 199 (36 mechanics, 6 supply specialists, 97 equipment operators, 60 drivers)).

End of War[]

The end of the war resulted in all US personnel and equipment being removed by 1976 by Thai request. The Royal Thai Air Force found it too costly to operate any but Khorat and Takhli, but so far, the runways of the others may still be usable. These 3000 meter runways are visible from space on Google Earth.

Summary of US Aid[]

The following data is taken from what appears to be a working paper summary of the United States Operations Mission (USOM) in Thailand dated 1968, found at the Cornell University Library "Pamphlet HC Thailand 370" 3-1924-007-619-574.

AID (Agency for International Development) Assistance Through FY 1968 (millions of dollars)

  • Grants 431; Loans 64; Regional 34: Total 529
  • Staff: 460 Americans, 660 Thai
  • Training: 6300 Thais sent abroad 1951-68 for study in the fields of: Agriculture 1490, Education 1341, Health 969, Public Administration 824, Civil Police 435, Community Development 501, Transportation 287, Industry 202, Labor 28, Mekong & Pa Mong Projects 16, General 218.

Development Indicators Taiwan vs Thailand: GNP 234/141, Per Capita Electric Power 680/58, Literacy Rate 72/70, Inhabitants per physician 1500/7300, Roads per 1000 square miles 590/40, Population Density 1010/170,

Thai Gross National Product (GNP) in constant 1965 millions of dollars: 1961/2925, 1962/3082, 1963/3386, 1964/3590, 1965/3907, 1966/4339, 1967/4551

See also[]


  • JSTOR: Asian Survey: Vol 13,No. 5 (May, 1973) pp. 441–457 United States Military Spending and the Economy of Thailand, George J. Viksnins

External links[]

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