160. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1


  • Training of the Congolese Army (ANC)

There will be a serious security situation in the Congo following the withdrawal of United Nations forces at the end of June 1964, given the size of the country and existence of a variety of actual and potential insurgencies and secessions. The current insurgency in Kwilu province, led by a Congolese long associated with both the Soviets and Chinese, underscores the gravity of the problem. The poorly trained and ill-disciplined Congolese army (ANC) is incapable of coping with that problem and is often a source of disorder itself.

The UN forces in the Congo are greatly reduced in number but still contribute substantially to stability in the two critical urban areas, Leopoldville and Elisabethville. Retention of the UN forces beyond July 1 does not appear feasible since it would require a special session of the General Assembly which would raise the difficult problems of Chinese representation and of applying Article 19 to the USSR. Moreover, the Secretary General and a substantial number of delegations would oppose a continuation of UNOC. In any event, an extension of UNOC would not solve the basic problems because the UN is not engaged in dealing with present insurgency in Kwilu province and is not engaged in training the ANC.

The training problem therefore has to be faced now. While we will continue to look to Belgium to assume primary responsibility for ANC training, we have (with Belgian concurrence) also encouraged other countries to participate. In addition to Belgian plans for training the ANC, Israel and Italy have also undertaken to provide some training to paracommando units and the air force. However, the training programs of these three countries have barely begun. We are doing everything possible to encourage them to accelerate their programs and, in particular, we are encouraging the Belgians to expand their program to include operational unit training and placement of Belgian officers in line units. However, it now seems unlikely that training programs of [Page 225] those three countries will bear fruit in time both to take on the growing counterinsurgency job and (after June) to provide an effective substitute for the UN forces in maintaining some minimum security in Leopoldville, Katanga, and a few other population centers.

In order to help meet the immediate security problem, the United States could supply tactical mobile training teams (MTTs) in order to provide some training to three battalions and appropriate support units in the two important urban areas of Leopoldville and Elisabethville. The use of these teams would not of course guarantee internal security but they would make an important contribution to the training of a limited number of strategically located units. They would represent an added United States role since our efforts have heretofore been confined to supplying equipment and training incidental to the use of that equipment. However, if tactical MTTs were introduced their job would be clearly limited in time and scope and would be designed to supplement and not supplant the training programs of Belgium.

Naturally, the United States tactical MTTs could not be introduced in the Congo without the agreement of the Congolese Government. Because of the weak position of that Government, its fear of an adverse political reaction to the introduction of tactical MTTs, and its lack of appreciation of the seriousness of the problem it faces, there will be substantial difficulties in getting its concurrence and in making appropriate arrangements for the introduction of the teams. In addition, because of Belgium’s primary responsibility for ANC training, such a step should not be taken without full prior consultations with the Belgian Government. Neither Ambassador Gullion nor Ambassador-designate Godley see any satisfactory alternative method of dealing with the immediate problem and both agree that such consultation should be undertaken immediately. Since preparation for the introduction of such teams will consume approximately sixty days, it seems equally important that the Department of Defense begin immediately to make preparations for the introduction of tactical MTTs at the earliest possible time. Once consultation with Belgian and Congolese Governments has begun, we will keep the UN Secretary General and the British Government informed.

The scope of the additional United States training effort that is suggested is outlined in the contingency plan (enclosed)2 which was prepared by the Department of Defense. It calls for the use of 17 technical and tactical MTTs utilizing 105 men, to be phased into the Congo for varying periods of time (12–20 weeks). This plan is in addition to approximately 7 technical MTTs (33 men) that had already been programmed [Page 226] for training in the use and maintenance of equipment that the United States is supplying to the ANC. The number and location of American military personnel present in the Congo will, therefore, vary from time to time.


It is recommended that you authorize the Department of State immediately to undertake consultations with the Governments of Belgium and of the Congo with respect to the introduction of a limited number of tactical mobile training teams for the purposes outlined above. This consultation would be conducted on the basis that such teams would be assigned to the Congo on a temporary basis and with a mission clearly limited in scope to the provision of some training to three ANC battalions and appropriate headquarters and support units in Leopoldville and Elisabethville. These consultations would also proceed on the basis that the scope and duration of the activities of such United States teams would be correspondingly reduced or adjusted to the extent that effective additional assistance becomes available from other sources.

It is also recommended that the Department of Defense be authorized immediately to commence preparations for an expansion of the United States effort in accordance with the enclosed contingency plan.3

Dean Rusk4
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 1–1 THE CONGO. Confidential. Drafted by Ford on February 13 and cleared by Tyler, Appling, Williams, Colonel Gall in DOD, and Cleveland. A typed note on the original reads: “Approved by White House–Bundy for President 2/20/64. Action Approval sent to AF for action 2/22/64. Follow up action required. Miss Moor and Mr. Mills notified. (WAH)”
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. On February 20, McGeorge Bundy sent Rusk a memorandum stating that the President had approved his recommendation for consultations with the Belgians and the Congolese regarding the use of U.S. mobile training teams (MTTs) in the Congo. Bundy said that the President had asked him to emphasize his own view that time was running out, that July 1 was not far away, and that he felt strongly that “we should either persuade the Belgians to do this job, or find diplomatically effective ways of doing it ourselves.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 1–1 THE CONGO)
  4. Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.