161. Letter From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman) to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Vance)1

Dear Cy:

The internal security problem in the Congo continues to give us the greatest concern. Apart from the question of training the Congolese Army (ANC) which still remains of the utmost importance in terms of our policy goals in the Congo, we are also faced with an insurrection in Kwilu Province which poses a most serious threat to the overall security problem.

Our Embassy in Leopoldville, together with Colonel William Dodds, the specialist on counter-guerilla warfare detailed to the Congo by CINCSTRIKE, believes that if the Kwilu rebellion is not rolled back before the departure of the UN troops at the end of June, when the ANC must accept sole responsibility for internal security in the Congo, there is serious danger that it will act as a catalyst for other similar insurgencies elsewhere in the Congo. Should this happen, and there is a substantial danger that it will, it would be a matter of grave concern to us, for there is little probability that the untrained ANC would be able to contain another insurrection so long as the Kwilu rebellion remains unchecked.

Accordingly, the Embassy has recommended strongly that we take steps to roll back the Kwilu insurrection now. The Embassy believes that the only possibility of the ANC accomplishing this fairly quickly lies in providing it with some additional equipment and transport capacity. The Embassy has recommended a list of equipment which includes inter alia, helicopters, light aircraft, and vehicles for immediate use in Kwilu. (The list is detailed in Leopoldville’s cables 1580 and 1754 to the Department.)2

The Department of State fully shares the Embassy’s views of the imperative necessity of ending the insurrection in Kwilu before the departure of the UN forces in June. We, therefore, urge the Department of Defense to develop as a matter of very high priority a program for the supply of such equipment as may be necessary to do the job in Kwilu. In so doing, we are aware that funds within the FY 1964 MAP program for the Congo will generally not be adequate for this purpose because of important commitments to train the ANC. We are therefore exploring [Page 228] other finance possibilities and request that the Department of Defense will join us on an urgent basis in locating whatever funds may eventually become necessary.


W. Averell Harriman
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 69 A 7425, Congo 353. Confidential. A stamped notation on the letter reads: “Mr. Vance has seen.”
  2. Dated February 16 and March 6, respectively. (Both in National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO)