A fact-finding group of United States congressmen met President Ford and senior Cabinet members on Wednesday (5 March) to present their recommendations for--or against--continuation of U.
WASHINGTON GV & SV PAN President Ford seated at table with fact-finding team (SILENT) (5 shots)
PHNOM PENH GV Government troops in trucks, jeeps and APCs
SV & GV Infantry on move (3 shots)
GV & SV Young civilians sitting on street, riding motorcycles (4 shots)
SV & MV Wounded and dead being carried from road with troops in attendance
GV & SV Lon Nol's car arrives, Lon Nol out of car (3 shots)
"As the communist rice-season offensive continues government troops are hard-pressed. Recently they've lost several important positions--they seem to be on the verge of losing several others.
"Some places have been left thinly defended to provide reinforcements for key areas--the airport perimeter for example. The American airlift seems to be providing enough ammunition for the time being but casualties have been high. Many units are at less than fifty per cent of their former strength. Some five-hundred-men battalions have less than a hundred men left.
"In the cities it's obvious that attempts to increase the draft of eligible young people have failed. These youths--mostly from wealthy families or those with government influence--still live almost as if the war didn't exist. At least one American congressman during the recent fact-finding trip here was obviously disturbed by this.
"Rockets continue to hit Phnom Penh, killing and wounded civilians and badly affecting the morale of the people. This market was hit twice within several days. Both times there were casualties.
"Marshal Lon Nol continues to head the Government but most people here agree that he's completely out of touch with the situation. Criticism of the Marshal and his regime is now more open. He's called 'The Mystic' and 'The One-Armed Bandit'. He's said several times that he will step down if that would help bring an end to the war."
Initials BB/2200 NC/DW/BB/2225
Part of this film is serviced with an English commentary by NBC newsman Jack Reynolds which is for use.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A fact-finding group of United States congressmen met President Ford and senior Cabinet members on Wednesday (5 March) to present their recommendations for--or against--continuation of U.S. aid to the Khmer Republic and South Vietnam.
The congressmen told the President that if there is not sufficient aid given to the Khmer Government, the perimeter around Phnom Pehn will fold and there will be a bloodbath in the city.
Meanwhile, in the city, the situation is becoming desperate. Government forces have lost several important positions and look like losing more. Rocket attacks on the city are increasing, the death toll rising in proportion to the number of attacks.
Many Government units are operating at half strength or less because casualties have been so high. As the Government of Marshal Lon Nol seems to get more and more out of touch with the situation it appears that all American aid could do--if provided--would be to hold the perimeter until the monsoon allows the people of Phnom Penh to escape.