190. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Congo1

1271. Joint State-Defense message. Re: Use of USAF aircraft within the Congo. Dept and DOD believe emergency which arose in Katanga early December has terminated and ONUC operations in Congo have stabilized. In view of this situation, steps should now be taken to limit USAF intra-Congo lift to bona fide emergency situations. Therefore, we plan undertake phasing down of aircraft available for missions flown in intra-Congo lift without publicity and without formal termination of ONUC Assist 254.2 This phasing down should be preceded by an understanding [Page 362] with UN that now that recent emergency is over, it should rely primarily on its own or contract aircraft for internal Congo airlift. However, US will retain capability to respond rapidly to UN requests for intra-Congo lift for bona fide emergencies. Practically speaking, USAF aircraft available in Léopoldville and vicinity could be put on intra-Congo lift in such emergency. So long as US continues to provide airlift into the Congo, the operation would be based on Léopoldville as the normal terminal.

Resumption of internal lift will be determined in Washington based on following criteria: (1) political considerations; (2) established urgency of lift; (3) military security and flight safety factors (on this point provisions of paragraph 3 JCS 15593 apply); (4) UN demonstrated incapcity to provide its own airlift.

In this connection we believe UN should not only attempt to improve its own airlift capability but also should undertake the development of improved flight safety and traffic control capability.

Special intra-Congo airlifts of humanitarian, political, or emergency nature would be made by USAF for specific purposes where US interests clearly are served. In each such case, airlift would be initiated only after specific requests by UN and approved through established channels. In considering ONUC requests for intra-Congo airlift, Embassy Léopoldville and USUN will make every effort determine in advance whether in fact ONUC can or cannot undertake requested missions with its own or contract aircraft. Each ONUC request when forwarded should explain ONUC incapability to undertake the lift.


You should reach understanding with UN on above. Explain to UN that we are not terminating intra-Congo lift but we do desire phase-down and to reduce US participation to emergency and other special category operations. In this connection,you should impress upon UN necessity for more effective utilization of own or contract aircraft to meet requirements and necessity for improvement of security and flight safety factors at primary fields within the Congo.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 332.70G/1–1662. Confidential. Drafted by Colonel M.J.L. Greene, of the Office of International Security Affairs, Department of Defense; cleared by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Haydn Williams, Deputy Politico-Military Adviser in the Bureau of African Affairs Lynford Lardner, and Buffum; and approved by Wallner. Also sent to USUN and USCINCEUR.
  2. Reference is to a U.N. request dated September 20, 1961, for assistance with internal airlifts within the Congo; the text was transmitted in despatch 368 from USUN, October 3. (Ibid., 332.70G/10–361) It was a formal confirmation of a request made earlier by Secretary-General Hammarskjöld; see Document 117. US/ONUC/254 was one of a series of U.N. requests for assistance for the Congo operation which were transmitted to the Department of State by despatch and are in Department of State, Central File 332.70G.
  3. See footnote 1, Document 117. Paragraph 3 reads as follows: “US retains command of aircraft. To provide reasonable assurance of security of US aircraft and crews, security measures will be coordinated locally between USCINCEUR rep Congo, US Ambassador and the UN Congo with the UN endeavoring to guarantee security. Flights would not be made unless the USCINCEUR rep Congo is satisfied that flights can be made without undue risk.”