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

179. For Harriman from the Secretary. Following has President’s full support. You should make clear to Spaak the interest in this program at highest levels of US Government and our hope that Belgians will be able to participate fully.

Interdepartmental working group spent two to three hours with Struelens. Struelens presented copy of Ndele memo to Tshombe dated July 18 estimating partial cost of four thousand man force. Details of package developed in separate cable.

Tshombe plan based initial four thousand man force rolling back rebels beginning Baudoinville, Albertville, etc. and ending up with Stanleyville. In meantime Bukavu must be stiffened and held, and so also Kamina.

Struelens presentation indicated plan not thought out in any detail concerning either organization or use of force. Also some hint Tshombe having difficulties obtaining mercenaries.

Propose you explore following general plan with Spaak:

1. U.S. and Belgium give commitment in principle to creation of mercenary officered gendarmerie force, as only alternative to continued disintegration of security situation, with tentative force level of four thousand gendarmes and two hundred white officers. We recognize and are prepared to share political responsibility this course with GOB and GOC.

2. Immediate objective is at earliest possible time to provide equipment and funds to establish pilot group of about 500 men to meet most urgent security needs in next several weeks.

3. Belgian and American Ambassadors with experts in Leo should develop detailed plan for creation, organization, and use of force and equipment with immediate priority on mounting 500 man force.

4. Points you should particularly explore with Spaak:

  • A. Belgian acceptance of general plan;
  • B. Belgian help on mercenary problem including recruitment of Belgians;
  • C. What would be Belgian matériel and financial contribution (Belgian supply of arms and ammunition is essential);
  • D. Belgian personnel for staff and logistics and technical services such as maintenance;
  • E. Belgian consent for Belgian flying crews to operate in rebel held territory.

For Leopoldville:

Request comments ASAP on above plan. Appreciate also views on political steps desirable to make such a force politically more defensible, e.g. broadening of government by inclusion of Adoula and others. Objective is to have sufficient information on Belgian position and sufficient Embassy guidance to permit detailed consideration in Department by end week.2

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Flash, Exdis. Drafted by Williams; cleared by Lang, Brubeck, and Appling; and approved by Secretary Rusk. Also sent to Leopoldville as telegram 187 and repeated to CINCMEAFSA.
  2. In telegram 191 from Brussels, August 7, Harriman informed Rusk that his message had arrived following the conclusion of extensive talks with Spaak, but noted that practically all of its points had been covered, although in a somewhat different context. (Ibid.)