119. Memorandum From the Chief of Station in Leopoldville to the Deputy Director for Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Helms)1


  • Comments on Overt U.S. Policy toward the Congo

1. This memorandum responds to the Deputy Director/Plans’ request for comments on Subject. The short and long-term problems are treated separately.

2. Short-term Problem

A. Discussion: Although the Congo is beset with many pressing problems, the issue of reintegrating Katanga Province is emotionally foremost and takes precedence over all others in the minds of virtually all Congolese politicians. Prime Minister Adoula came to office nearly a year ago with a mandate to solve the Katanga problem as his primary task. A UNOC military operation in September 1961 and Congolese National Army (CNA) efforts in October and November failed in this purpose; UNOC’s “Round Two” in December was inconclusive. Since then, beginning with the Kitona meeting, Adoula and Tshombe have held a series of negotiations leading to no agreement; these broke off in late June 1962. With each failure of solution, left extremists have been emboldened to take action against Adoula, and the right extreme (Tshombe’s Conakat Party) have become more convinced that Adoula’s fall would secure Katangan independence. Left and right are currently coalescing in a mutual effort to topple the moderate Adoula government. Ambassador Gullion and other Embassy officers believe Adoula’s sands are running out; Adoula has written to President Kennedy that his government may fall in the next few weeks.2 As U.S. policy is tied to support of the Adoula government and to Katangan reintegration, this policy faces imminent failure unless urgent consideration is given to new approaches to the Congo problem.

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B. Recommendations: The U.S. should continue to back the U.N. and, if there is a Security Council meeting, should strive for a resolution which it can back. (AF Comment: This is being done through urgent consultations with the U.K., Belgium, France, and the U.N. Secretariat.) However, in an effort to insure U.N. success in an early solution of the Congo problem, the U.S. must take a more active role in U.N. planning and program implementation. (AF Comment: State is in almost daily contact with U Thant, Bunch, and UNOC Chief Robert Gardiner.) Specifically the U.S. might consider the following:

(1) Urge Belgium, Canada and possibly others to provide the CNA with technical assistance and necessary hardware, possibly under a U.N. umbrella. (AF Comment: This has been done. Canada demurred. Belgian offers have been made but Congolese are reluctant to accept them until after the Katanga situation is resolved.)

(2) Provide General Mobutu with up to six technical advisors to assist in training and organizing the CNA. The U.S. could also furnish the CNA with transport, commo equipment, rations, armored vehicles, training aids, transport aircraft, medical supplies and medical personnel. (AF Comment: An overall recommendation is currently being staffed through JCS preparatory to submission for State concurrence.)

(3) Back the GOC in its desire to install tax collection units in or near Elisabethville. As this could easily lead to “Round Three” in Katanga, the U.S. must be prepared to accept the consequences. Neither the UNOC Command nor U.S. military believe UNOC is capable of a rapid, decisive military campaign in Katanga. If military reinforcements cannot be found elsewhere, Tshombe should be advised privately that the U.S. will assign troops to UNOC unless Katanga comes to terms with the GOC and submits to U.N. decisions. I well recognize the implications of such a step and its probable unacceptability for domestic political reasons, but if we do not throw our full weight into the balance now, we may be forced to accept less palatable decisions soon. (AF Comment: Such a move would also cause a serious split with the U.K.)

(4) Prior to such a step, Adoula should announce a program for allocation of powers between the Central and Provincial governments, based on federal principles of the U.S. Constitution. He should also submit a constitution to Parliament within three months, state he would support a 50–50 distribution of Katanga revenues, and promise Tshombe and other Conakat leaders positions in the GOC. (AF Comment: All these steps have now been taken.)3

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(5) The U.S. should make it known that it is prepared to offer economic aid to all of the Congo, including Katanga, as soon as reintegration is accomplished.

(6) Economic pressures on Katanga should be explored, although it is recognized that levers for such pressures on Tshombe have limitations. (AF Comment: U.S. is urgently consulting with Belgium, France, and U.K. on this subject, exploring unilateral approaches, and giving much press publicity to this effort.)

(7) The U.S. must be prepared to continue relatively large covert expenditures to shore up Adoula and other moderate leaders during the next few months. Without such aid in the past, the moderates would almost certainly have already lost control. Although only a stop-gap effort, I am convinced that there is no alternative, as a long-range political action program cannot be implemented as long as key leaders are concentrating all attention on Katanga. Also, Leopoldville Station lacks sufficient staff/contract personnel to implement and direct a comprehensive action program of the type submitted to Headquarters last October. (AF Comment: Adequate funds are available under Project [cryptonym not declassified]; Headquarters has addressed itself urgently to the personnel problem for almost ten months with inadequate results.)

3. Long-term Problem

A. Discussion: Prior to independence, it was recognized that Congo would need considerable foreign aid. But the mutiny of the CNA caused the U.S. to channel all aid (with minor exceptions) through the U.N. As a result, Agency covert action has furnished the U.S. with its only instrument for unilateral action in the Congo. The Agency’s actions have been relatively successful; we can claim major credit for Lumumba’s overthrow, the success of the Mobutu coup, and for Adoula’s nomination and the survival of his government to date. Had the U.S. been able to exploit Agency-created opportunities through overt military, technical or economic aid programs (or had UNOC met its responsibilities effectively), U.S. policy would not now be hanging in the balance. In addition to Katanga, the GOC faces the following major long-term problems:

(1) The CNA: The 1960 CNA mutiny has never been fully contained. CNA lacks a trained cadre and adequate supplies. The U.N. has done nothing to resolve this problem and will not do so as long as officers unfriendly to the CNA are in charge of U.N. military efforts in the Congo. (AF Comment: Some three months ago, the U.N. offered a military training team and sent it to Leopoldville, but General Mobutu seems to have remained convinced that the CNA is quite all right as it is. The U.N. training team finally left, lacking employment. As noted above, DOD has this problem under urgent consideration.)

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(2) Administrative Breakdown: Few GOC officials have the training or ability to carry out government decisions effectively. UNOC technical advisors assigned to various GOC ministries are too few in number and many are not competent. (AF Comment: Contributing to administrative confusion is the running fight between U.N. technicians and Belgians hired by the GOC.)

(3) Unemployment: With the departure of many Belgian employers in July 1960 and the gradual breakdown of government administration, unemployment rose to 52% of the male labor force in Leopoldville by May 1961; it is probably even higher now, and may be higher still in provincial cities. A problem of tremendous political import, neither the GOC nor the U.N. has been able to take effective measures. (AF Comment: Although relief and stop-gap measures can and should be taken, the problem basically depends upon getting the economy moving again. AID is slowly working out a plan to get transport moving, in the belief that the problem is distribution rather than production per se.)

B. Recommendations: The U.S. Government should recognize that the policy of channeling all efforts through the U.N. is not the reason for Soviet difficulties in launching a program in the Congo, and that unilateral U.S. aid to the Congo under a U.N. umbrella would not be objectionable to the Afro-Asians if it contributed to reducing the Katanga secession and restoring order to the Congo. Therefore, the U.S. should, with other friendly governments undertake the following steps, with tacit U.N. concurrence.

(1) Provide training outside of the Congo for selected CNA officers. Until effective cadres control the CNA, it will not be an effective force or a support for moderate political elements. (AF Comment: As noted above, DOD is looking into CNA training. Belgium is willing to undertake additional military training, but the GOC has not accepted recent offers.)

(2) Provide a small number of military technicians for training of officers and men in the Congo.

(3) Provide military equipment to replace material destroyed or in disrepair. (AF Comment: DOD is willing to recommend this as soon as it has assurances that CNA personnel can use and maintain it.)

(4) Provide public works administrators and technicians to supplement UNOC personnel. (AF Comment: This is a complicated problem. Administrators and technicians are now furnished by both the U.N. and Belgium, plus the fairly large number of Belgians employed by the GOC. Each group has a different approach to the problems at hand, and none gets along with the other. U.S. policy, which makes sense to AF, is that such assistance ultimately be provided by the Belgian Government, [Page 171] eliminating UNOC personnel and the cadre of old Belgian colons kept on by the GOC. Belgium is generally agreeable to this.)

(5) Provide additional funds to support a public works program. (AF Comment: AID has programmed for this.)

(6) Provide technical assistance to the GOC in an effort to make the moderate government more efficient and more effective. (AF Comment: Here, too, one hits the problem of the entrenched Belgian colon now employed by the GOC and jealously guarding what he considers the last bastion of Belgian influence; also, there is evidence that the GOC does not desire foreign technical assistance in this area.)

4. Summary

A. The Adoula government is in political difficulties. Its fall might spell failure of U.S. policy in the Congo. Should it survive, both it and the U.S. must be content with only partial successes unless U.S. policy is changed to permit overt unilateral assistance in key areas. Lacking such a change, the GOC must continue to depend upon the compromise-prone and inefficient UNOC which is subject to influences not always favorable to the U.S. and which no longer has the full confidence of the GOC.

B. The GOC recognizes its need for outside aid in solving its problems. Lacking such aid in the form of a strong, unilateral ally, and lacking solid and effective programs on which to base actions, they believe their regime may well fall and be replaced by the sort of extremist-nationalist regime which has appeared elsewhere in Africa. This would destroy the strategic advantage the U.S. enjoys in the Congo today. The moderate leaders around Adoula do not understand, therefore, why the U.S. withholds unilateral assistance.

C. Should the Congo fall into the hands of extremists, which is likely unless the moderates provide effective solutions, neighboring areas such as Angola, Congo (Brazzaville), the Central African Republic, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Rhodesias would become vulnerable to Bloc penetration through subversive penetration from the Congo. Also, political leaders in these countries, observing the failure of the West to support friendly governments, might be expected to seek accommodation with the Bloc and with internal extremist elements.

Lawrence Devlin
Chief of Station
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 78–02888R, DDO/ISS Files, Box 1, Folder 6. Secret. The memorandum was sent though Chief of the Africa Division Bronson Tweedy. It was transmitted under cover of an August 10 memorandum from Tweedy to Bissell stating that the attached memorandum was a condensed version of a paper prepared by the Chief of Station during his recent stay at Headquarters and was responsive to Bissell’s request that his comments on this subject be submitted in writing. Tweedy noted that since the Chief of Station, like any Station Chief in the field, was not always able to remain fully aware of the planning of other U.S. agencies, the AF Division had inserted a number of comments intended to clarify or update certain of his statements.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, volume XX, Congo Crisis, Document 264.
  3. For text of the July 28 communiqué issued by the Congolese Government outlining the principles for a federal constitution, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, pp. 877–878.