Atomic Energy Files, Lot 57 D 688

Paper Prepared in the Office of the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State (Arneson)1

top secret

Summary re Status of Efforts To Improve Security of the Belgian Congo

i. evaluations and recommendations

Evolving from the study initiated late last summer by the Department of Defense, two sets of evaluations and recommendations regarding [Page 740] the security of the Congo have been formulated, one by our Joint Chiefs of Staff and the other by the Belgo-American Commission on Congo Defense.

A. U.S. Joint Chiefs Report

The Joint Chiefs of Staff based their study on pertinent material submitted by our Embassy over the last two years and on the reports of General Handy and of the Belgo-American Commission. These reports, in turn, took into consideration the observations of the members of a joint Belgo-American survey team that was in the Congo studying defense problems during the late fall and early winter.

1) Evaluations

a) Inference that enemy attack on the Congo from land or sea is not regarded as a serious probability;

b) Specific conclusion that an air attack on the area, while not impossible, does not appear to be a dangerous threat owing to the distances involved. Some risk of such an attack would have to be accepted since the construction and maintenance of a defense system capable of thwarting an air attack does not appear feasible;

c) Greatest danger lies in a large-scale uprising of the natives of the area, or dissatisfaction among the natives employed at the mines to the extent that uranium production would be seriously disrupted;

d) Possibility exists of Western Europe being overrun by the Soviets and a collaborationist Belgian Government being established which would attempt to cut off the United States from Congo uranium. Study is being made of necessity under such circumstances of seizing critical areas in the Congo by force.

2) Recommendations

a) The Belgian Government should be requested to increase the defensive capabilities of the mining area against internal disorders and external attacks by providing additional troops and strengthening intelligence forces.

b) The Belgian Government, and any other appropriate governments the State Department felt were involved, should be urged to take all steps necessary to ensure that at least one of the routes for shipping ore from the mining area to a port is available at all times.

c) The Belgian Government should be requested to initiate immediate measures to maintain high morale among the Congo natives and to counteract Communist activities in the area.

d) The Director of CIA, as soon as practicable, should initiate plans and preparations for covert counter-sabotage to improve the military security of the Belgian Congo and particularly that of the Shinkolobwe Mine.

[Page 741]

B. Belgo-American Commission Report

1) Evaluations

a) Unanimous agreement that from a general strategic point of view, the Shinkolobwe Mine is of capital importance to the free world, and that it is the responsibility of Belgium and its colony to take all necessary measures for its security.

b) That, insofar as internal danger is concerned, the Congo Force Publique in its present state is able to cope with such danger.

c) With reference to aerial, airborne and naval attack, the Force Publique in its present state is not able to meet such attacks.

2) Recommendations

In view of the capital importance of the Shinkolobwe Mine for the free world, the Belgian Government should be asked:

To request the responsible inter-allied strategic bodies (NATO) to give an appreciation of the probabilities of enemy attack.
To take the following immediate steps:
Reinforce the security dispositions in the Katanga;
Establish an adequate military airfield at Jadotville;
Procure personnel, armament and matériel necessary for placing Congo defense forces in a posture conforming to the proposals of the Committee of Experts;
Establish a liaison mission of Belgian metropolitan forces near the Governor-General, while awaiting the creation of a unified command;
Undertake concrete and detailed study of the anti-aircraft defense of the Katanga and the defense of the Lower River (Congo).
Take in future such other measures as may be necessary in consequence of the reply resulting from a) above and the further work of the Commission.

ii. action taken

A. United States

1 Our Brussels Embassy was requested to approach the Belgian Foreign Minister on the basis of recommendations a) through c) of the Joint Chiefs to determine what action the Belgians had taken or might be planning to take which would meet these recommendations. In connection with c), it was agreed that the Belgians are already taking measures to maintain high native morale and anything said to them on this score should be in recognition of this fact and its value as a means of combatting Communism in the Congo.

2. We have informed the Belgians:

We regard the Belgian-proposed appraisal by NATO of threats to the security of the Congo as inadvisable;
The Defense Department considers that an air attack, while possible, is not a serious threat and, therefore, the construction at Jadotville of an airfield is not a required measure at this time, although [Page 742] Defense views any improvements of airfield facilities in the Congo as desirable;
The Defense Department is willing to consider extending a reasonable amount of aid beyond what the Belgians can provide in order to augment Congo defenses, but such assistance would be outside MDAP.

3. A revised list of Belgian equipment requirements for the defense of the Congo was screened by the American Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Brussels, in the light of the Handy and Belgo-American Commission Reports, the Defense Department recommendations, equipment on hand in Belgium and in the Congo, and Belgian capabilities to supply appropriate and adequate equipment, and has been submitted via the Joint American Military Advisory Group (JAMAG) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for consideration. JAM AG has been informed that the Joint Chiefs have agreed in principle to the provision of modest assistance to Belgium to increase the security of the Belgian Congo in recommendations on this matter in accordance with the procedure just outlined.

4. Steps are being taken to station a controlled American source in the Congo to meet recommendation d) of the Defense report.

B. Belgium

1 The Ministry of Colonies is studying the question of increasing civilian and military intelligence forces.

2. A new battalion of native troops has been created to guard the hydro-electric plant and Shinkolobwe mine, and the sending of additional European troops to the Congo is under consideration.

3. An anti-aircraft study for the Congo is being made.

4. The Chief of the General Staff of the Belgian Navy is studying the defense of the Lower River (Congo) in consultation with the French and the Portuguese,

5. The National Defense Ministry has agreed to station an additional transport squadron in the Congo.

6. The Kamina Airbase construction is progressing satisfactorily.

7. The question of a unified command is under study.

  1. copies of this paper were transmitted to Ambassador Murphy in Brussels, to the Department of Defense, and to the United States Atomic Energy Commission.