33. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

174. Department greatly interested in recent reports from Paris and certain African posts which appear confirm French intention make significant withdrawal its military forces in Sub-Sahara Africa. Previous reporting also indicates French may be rethinking and modifying their economic aid policies in Africa and elsewhere. Conceivably actions could create dangerous vacuum that could be exploited by Bloc to grave detriment whole Western position.

Modalities of troop withdrawals will have important bearing on effect they have on African countries concerned, i.e. numbers and types of units withdrawn, timing, and whether seconded officers and training units remain with local forces. Withdrawal French forces has serious political implications in terms of internal security and political stability of present regimes. It will also have a distinct economic impact quite apart from any possible changes in nature and level of economic aid.

FYI. View limited US resources available for overseas aid we naturally concerned by likely increase in appeals for US assistance from Francophone states if France makes drastic cuts. We have no desire replace France or undermine French relations with its former territories. We do think however clarification of French intentions necessary to permit consideration of ways in which impact of military withdrawal could be cushioned. End FYI.

Unless objection perceived you are requested discuss question proposed troop withdrawals with FonMin, eliciting clarification French plans in view of the common concern for the continued political and economic stability in important area affected.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, France, Vol. 3. Confidential. Drafted in AF, cleared in WE and AF, and approved by Harriman.
  2. Telegram 282 from Paris, July 16, reported on French plans. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 1 AFR-FR)