159. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Belgium1

1037. Please deliver following letter from Secretary to Spaak:

Begin verbatim text.

My dear Mr. Minister:

I am increasingly concerned about the prospect of widespread chaos in the Congo which is likely to face us a few months from now when the UN Force must leave. Even as matters now stand, it can hardly be said that the Central Government exercises effective control much beyond the major population centers. The recent insurgency in Kwilu Province,2 organized by a Congolese trained in Communist China, is I fear but a sample of what we may have to confront.

I know Ambassador MacArthur has spoken to you about this matter several times and I know that I do not need to rehearse the argument [Page 223] that fundamental cause of instability in the Congo is the lack of a trained and disciplined army. I am mindful of the efforts that you have personally been making to expedite Belgian participation in the retraining efforts and I am aware of many of the difficulties that you have faced in getting officers to the Congo. However, the prospect of a debacle in the Congo putting us back to the days of 1960 is terrible to contemplate.

From where I sit, trying to look at our various responsibilities for free world defense in several parts of the globe, I am impressed both with the potential dangers of communist breakthrough in the Congo and with the special responsibility which Belgium, because of its historical affiliation with the Congo, has to shore up that particular front. With your unique knowledge of and vast investment in the Congo, in manpower, in industry, and in relevant experience, this particular part of the free world defense effort should rest primarily, I believe, with your Government. I think it would not be too much to say that this is the most important security task which Belgium can assume in the common interest.

We share with you a vital interest in stability in the Congo and we are prepared to consider any further step you may think useful for us to take to that end.

For one reason or another, in the three and one-half difficult years since Congolese independence, the ANC has not become a force capable of supporting an effective government and dealing with an internal security problem of great scope and complexity. Retraining the ANC for this task will require, in our best judgement, a substantial increase in your training program in the immediate future. In particular, we would hope to see a substantial number of Belgian officers placed in forward units at least down to the battalion level. I therefore hope you will find it possible to redouble your efforts and intensify the good work you are already doing.3 End verbatim text.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL THE CONGO. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Buffum; cleared by Cleveland, EUR/WE Deputy Director Hugh G. Appling, AFC Deputy Director Alan W. Ford, Harriman, and Tyler; and approved by Secretary Rusk. Repeated to USUN and Leopoldville.
  2. On January 21, Congolese President Joseph Kasavubu declared a state of emergency in Kwilu Province, where rebellious tribesmen had seized control of one-third of the territory.
  3. In telegram 1182 from Brussels, February 15, Ambassador MacArthur reported that Foreign Minister Spaak told him that the Belgian Cabinet had agreed to respond affirmatively to a Congolese request that 100 Belgian officers be sent urgently to the Congo. Spaak wanted to assure the Secretary that Belgium was keenly aware of its responsibilities and would do everything it could to speed up effective ANC training. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO)