182. Memorandum From the Joint Strategic Survey Council to the Joint Chiefs of Staff1

JCS 2262/145


1. The situation in the Congo is deteriorating rapidly, and both the public news and the intelligence reports indicate that the central government has little, if any, control over the course of events. The UN forces, except for some Nigerian troops, have left the country. The Congolese National Army is an almost useless instrument.

2. There are clear signs that the Communists are exploiting the growing chaos. The Committee of National Liberation has had financial aid and guidance from both the Soviets and the Chinese; there are Chinese and Czech agents along the Burundi border in the east; and Mulele, the leader of the revolt in Kwilu, was trained by the Communists in China.

3. Some moves are underway to promote bilateral arrangements by which the incumbent Congo government would receive troop assistance from other countries. It is not yet clear whether such efforts will be fruitful.

4. The consistent US policy has been to support a Congolese government of coalition moderates and attempt to enforce control by UN-supported military efforts. In four years of UN presence, no Congolese government, either under Premier Adoula or his predecessor, has been successful in establishing order.

5. The Council suggests that the situation is now so unpromising that the basic US policy should be reconsidered. It is further suggested that, since the “moderate coalition” concept has failed, the time has come to back a strong leader who is opposed to the Communists. The only man who now meets this description is Tshombe, and if we are to accept the reality that the moderate coalition concept has failed, it would seem that we have little choice but to support Tshombe if we are to improve the political situation. Only if this political situation is stabilized is there any hope that military force (native or other) could be effective in establishing order under a government which would be either neutral or pro-Western rather than Communist.

6. It is perhaps an over-simplification to say that Tshombe is a creature of the Union Minière and of the Belgians, but it is fairly safe to say that he would be “on our side” if we were to help him. Certainly he is a [Page 260] strong leader in Katanga; he does command some loyalties among other Congolese in addition to control of his own gendarmerie; and the chances are that he could establish control and order in Katanga initially, and, from this base, eventual control of the rest of the country. Tshombe could be supported either as a member of, or a replacement for, the present government.

7. There are many facets to a proposal to back Tshombe, not the least of which would be the reluctance of the State Department to support a man who was closely associated with the former Belgian colonialism. But, if we do nothing, we will soon watch the Republic of the Congo disintegrate and then emerge as a Communist-controlled entity. Radical changes are needed if this is to be forestalled, and radical changes in our favor will not be achieved through the Organization of African Unity. The answer lies in a different direction.

8. a. The best solution would be to have President Kasavubu appoint Tshombe as Premier. If this were to happen, the United States should give strong and overt political support to Tshombe as the legal government.

b. If this overt solution does not come about, we should covertly support Tshombe, [2½ lines not declassified].

c. The chances of success under Tshombe, one way or the other, appear to be considerably brighter than those under the present course of events.

9. It is, therefore, recommended that the Joint Chiefs of Staff express their concern over the present course of events in the Congo both to the Secretary of Defense and at the next State–JCS meeting, and that, in these conversations, they explore:

a. The apparent failure of the present US policy of supporting the broadly-based moderate-coalition type of government;

b. The prospects of success if Tshombe were to be installed as the head of a strong central government, or covertly supported to replace the present government; and

c. The problems of rendering support through the Belgians.

10. It is further recommended that:

a. This paper NOT be forwarded to commanders of unified or specified commands.

b. This paper NOT be forwarded to US officers assigned to NATO activities.

c. This paper NOT be forwarded to the Chairman, US Delegation, United Nations Military Staff Committee.2

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 218, JCS Files, 9111 (25 June 64). Secret.
  2. Attached is a July 8 note signed by Assistant Secretary E.A. Davidson stating that the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered JCS 2262/145 on July 8 and agreed to “Note” it.