351. Memorandum From Samuel H. Belk of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0


  • Angola

With only one more meeting of the Angola task force1 presently scheduled, the Defense Department has submitted a Military Annex which invalidates a large portion of the work already done. The major problem the task force now has before it is to define clearly the difference between the view of the State Department and the Defense Department with respect to the Azores base.

State feels strongly that we must maintain our posture as a champion of self-determination in Africa as set forth in our position on the [Page 546] Angolan problem in the UN. They see the continuance of this policy as absolutely necessary if the U.S. is to have good relations with the Afro-Asian and many other Free World states. They feel that the U.S. and its allies must press Portugal strongly to undertake adequate reforms in its African territories now. They believe quite correctly that the time may come when, because of this policy, the Portuguese may withdraw from NATO and/or demand that the U.S. evacuate the Azores base. State’s view is that if and when this situation arises, the U.S. must be prepared to abandon the base and/or see Portugal withdraw from NATO in the interest of larger and more important considerations.

According to the Military Annex, Defense is concerned lest “precipitant and overly aggressive implementation of the policy produce reactions on the part of Portugal and, possibly, Spain which would result in an unacceptable reduction of U.S. capabilities to support required military missions to Berlin, Western Europe, and the Middle East and Africa.” The Military Annex states further:

“It is the view of the DOD that retention of U.S. military facilities in the Azores and Spain is vital to our ability to execute required military missions under wartime and emergency conditions. Accordingly, courses of action which would gravely jeopardize retention of the Azores and bases in Spain would be unacceptable from a military point of view for the foreseeable future.”

In the present draft of the task force paper, the extent of the DOD’s belief in this view is reflected in a caveat over all the recommendations for action which states, “Keeping in mind the sensitivity of base rights problems and our NATO relationships and their essentiality to U.S. national security, we will, where appropriate” take certain actions.

Faced with this dilemma, Governor Williams is meeting tomorrow with Chester Bowles, Alexis Johnson, Foy Kohler, and others to map future strategy. Following that meeting, Williams now has in mind meeting with you or Walt and, finally, he plans to have a meeting with his counterparts in Defense. All these meetings notwithstanding, I do not believe he will get Defense to alter its view at this stage.

Williams does not plan to see the President at this time. Since the President may have to spend considerable time on this problem later, you may wish to forego discussing the subject with him at this time.2

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Angola, 1/61-6/61. Secret.
  2. The Presidential Task Force on Portuguese Territories in Africa, consisting of representatives from the White House, the Departments of State and the Treasury, the Bureau of the Budget, the CIA, the ICA, and the USIA, was formed to review the situation in Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea. The Task Force, which was chaired by Assistant Secretary Williams, held its first meeting on June 15. Copies of its final report, July 12, and additional documentation are ibid., Angola, Presidential Task Force on Portuguese Territories, and Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 70 D 265, NSC Standing Group.
  3. NSAM No. 60, “U.S. Actions in Relation to Portuguese Territories in Africa,” July 18, in which President Kennedy approved recommendations for action based on the Task Force report, is scheduled for publication in the Portugal compilation in volume XII.