124. Editorial Note

In an October 27, 1962, telegram to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Station in Leopoldville proposed that the U.S. Government covertly arrange to provide the Government of the Congo with the services of five pilots. The proposal was submitted in response to a Department of State telegram indicating that the Department was searching for a crash action program which the U.S. Government could take prior to the November 5 meeting of parliament to shore up Prime Minister Adoula’s position. The Congolese Government had five Harvard trainer aircraft and four transport aircraft but no pilots, the Station noted. If pilots could be made available to the Congolese Government prior to November 5 it would give Adoula a psychological and political lift out of all the proportion to the military value of the aircraft. The proposal was discussed at a meeting of CIA and Department of State representatives on October 29. CIA informed the Department that the most readily available pilots were refugee [less than 1 line not declassified] In an October 29 memorandum, Joseph W. Scott of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research briefed Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs McGhee George on the proposal and recommended that he approve the Department’s concurrence in its implementation. (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Congo, Sept. 1962–Dec. 1963)

The Department informed CIA of its concurrence in an October 31 memorandum and added that its understanding was that CIA would handle the matter in such a way that only Adoula and Joseph Mobutu would know of the U.S. Government’s role. (Ibid.) On November 2 the CIA notified State that it was proceeding with implementation on an urgent basis, but indicated that although CIA would make every effort to confine knowledge of the U.S. role to Adoula and Mobutu, there could be no assurances that they would not inform other Congolese. (Ibid.)

Three and a half weeks later, in a November 26 memorandum, Scott informed U. Alexis Johnson, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, that the Congolese Government now desired to use the pilots for reconnaissance and combat missions in North Katanga. Scott indicated, however, that according to the Agency there were urgent problems of personnel and supply augmentation which must be met before the pilots and the Congolese Government aircraft would have the capability to fly missions outside the immediate area of Leopoldville. In view of the possible financial magnitude of a program giving the Congolese Air Force a combat capability and the possibility that Department of Defense equipment and funds might be required, it appeared to Scott that the proposal should go the Special Group. Johnson [Page 177] approved his recommendation that he ask CIA to prepare a proposal for the Special Group’s consideration. (Ibid.)