158. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara1



  • Retraining of the Congolese National Army (C)

1. Reference is made to a memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA), I–17477/63, dated 11 January 1964, subject as above,2 which requested the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “concerning modification of the Military Assistance Program including training which the United States could undertake to assist the Congolese National Army in meeting the possible unstable situation which may exist in a relatively short period of time following the departure of the UN Force in June 1964.” The memorandum also informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff that “it is anticipated that the Department of State will request the Department of Defense to take on a portion of the operational training of the Congolese Armed Forces.”

2. Attached as the Appendix3 is a plan to provide individual and unit training for selected units in the Leopoldville and Elisabethville areas, if required. The proposed plan is contingent upon a political decision requiring its implementation. It is proposed to finance the plan within the FY 1964–1965 Military Assistance Program dollar ceilings programmed for the Congo. However, the delivery of some programmed matériel would have to be deferred. If the plan is to be initiated in the Congo by 1 May 1964, the political decision should be made by 1 March 1964. CINCSTRIKE/USCINCMEAFSA will recommend to the Office of the Director of Military Assistance, OASD(ISA), priorities for the deferral of matériel, if this plan is approved for implementation.

3. The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that, given a political requirement to preserve a pro-Western regime in the Congo (Leopoldville), the retraining of the Congolese National Army (ANC) into a disciplined force responsive to legitimate authority and loyal to the established government continues to be an urgent military task. However, the retraining effort is only one approach to the problem of instability in the Congo (Leopoldville) and is related to US attempts to achieve objectives in the economic and political spheres. Training, by itself, will not insure that the pro-Western Congolese will remain in power. The [Page 221] military effort can only be an instrument to aid in the achievement of economic and political goals. This training effort should in no way imply that the United States will commit its forces to military or paramilitary operations in the maintenance of internal security in the country. Further, the Joint Chiefs of Staff view with concern the possibilities that action on the part of the United States to undertake to increase its role in retraining of the ANC might prove counterproductive for reasons enumerated below. They therefore offer the following additional views:

a. The task of retraining should be undertaken by the Belgians and Italians on the basis of policy and planning to date. Diplomatic and political efforts at high level should be intensified by the United States to persuade the Belgians and Italians to initiate, prior to 1 March 1964, an effective retraining program.

b. While the United States should avoid identification with the Israeli retraining program in the Congo (Leopoldville), discreet efforts should be undertaken to contribute to the effectiveness of the Israeli program, as may be appropriate.

c. The UN Secretary General (UNSYG) should be urged to require the present UN Forces in the Congo (UNOC) to reduce lawless activities in coordination with and in anticipation of the turnover of responsibility for internal security to the ANC and, in the meantime, to contribute in any way feasible to the increased effectiveness of the ANC.

d. The United States should not itself undertake direct operational training of the ANC pending:

(1) Further evidence, including a determination at the appropriate political level, that it is demanded by US national interests.

(2) Approval by the appropriate Congolese authorities of training programs at small unit levels as recommended by the United States.

(3) Mutually acceptable coordination with the appropriate Belgian authorities.

(4) Consideration of its impact on other African nations.

(5) Consideration of the possibility that direct participation by the United States might contribute to further internal instability, if exploited sufficiently by communist and other political elements in opposition to the Congolese Government.

e. In the event political considerations require the United States to undertake a portion of the operational training, the United States should offer to train, in priority, a battalion plus supporting units in the Leopoldville area and two battalions plus supporting units in the Elisabethville (Katanga) area, utilizing small Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) plus command and staff personnel to control and coordinate the entire US effort. MTTs would be phased in on a schedule designed to keep the number of US personnel in the country at a minimum.

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f. The commitment of these training teams might prove insufficient to maintain a pro-Western regime in power in the light of the history of the Congo (Leopoldville) and the factors now contributing to instability.

4. The commitment of US operational forces as distinct from training forces is beyond the scope of this paper and has not been considered in the formulation of the attached retraining plan.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Curtis E. LeMay4
Acting Chairman
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Congo, Vol. I, 11/63–6/64. Secret.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.