Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Memorandum by Mr. Edmund A. Gullion to the Under Secretary of State (Lovett)

top secret

This is to suggest that, after checking with Secretary Forrestal, you say to Spaak sometime during his current visit that we are gratified to see that the problem of the defense of the Congo in wartime has been receiving renewed attention by his government. In view of the importance of uranium supplies to us, we are naturally interested. Sometime in the future we might like to have our military men talk with his about the requirements of Congo defense although we have no definite plans at this time.

The following is for your background information:

When Ambassador Kirk1 last conferred with General Eisenhower2 the latter did not seem aware of any special Congo planning by the War Department. Doubtless there are such plans but they were not then in the forefront of the Chief of Staff’s mind.

The Staff talks would be entirely without commitment on anyone’s part, but it is obvious that the Congo is a prime objective of airborne [Page 704] operations in wartime, and that we are not necessarily in the most advantageous position in this respect. Arrangements for counter-intelligence and counter-sabotage might also be discussed.

It seems to me that such talks should be held whether or not we move to a closer relationship to the Western European union.3 As the latter ripens, more formal staff plans with the Belgians might be brought into relation to it. Of course, the British also have a great stake in the Congo and have defense installations somewhat nearer than our own. Presumably we should coordinate any further action with them.

As you may be aware, circumstances for such talks are more auspicious now than previously. In the near future the Western European Ambassadors, including our own, will visit the Congo on Belgian invitation; the Belgians have announced that they are improving their defense preparations in view of the probable installation of the Government in the Congo in the case of hostilities; Field Marshal Montgomery4 has visited the Congo.

Spaak’s attitude on the general question of USA-European relations has been such as to indicate that he would be receptive to an approach about the Congo. Of course, due regard would have to be given to Belgian sensitivity on the Colonial question.5

Edmund A. Gullion
  1. Alan G. Kirk, United States Ambassador in Belgium.
  2. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chief of Staff, United States, Army, November 1945–Fehruary 1948; President of Columbia University.
  3. For documentation on discussions leading to the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, see vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.
  4. Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
  5. The following marginal notation appears on the source text: “Amb. Kirk informed—he is to make initial soundings on forthcoming trip to Congo.” In telegram 1222, June 14, however, Kirk reported that Edgar E. B. Sengier, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union Minière du Haut-Katanga, had advised him not to visit the Congo uranium mines due to the likelihood that undesirable publicity and unfortunate precedents would be created. Concurring in this opinion and believing that a visit to Leopoldville only would not justify his absence from Brussels, the Ambassador stated that he was discontinuing his plan to go to the Congo. (855a.6359/6–1448)