207. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Congo1

223. 1. As result of Harriman/Spaak discussions, Belgians and we have agreed that the only realistic course is to develop as rapidly as [Page 297] possible a gendarme force led by military technicians (mercenaries). Belgians have agreed to supply arms, helmets and boots. US will provide vehicles, communications and air support as needed and not available locally.

2. You are authorized immediately to inform Tshombe USG will support the development of a 3000 man force. As first order of business the immediate objective is to have an effective force of up to 500 men in being prepared for operation within seven days.

In this connection you are authorized to take whatever steps are necessary in collaboration with Belgians (i.e. Van der Walle, Logiest) to achieve this objective. Funds for this purpose will be provided through the use of counterpart funds (see AID septel).2 Problem of foreign exchange for special purposes being dealt with through other channels, as are special recruitment questions. You are authorized to use whatever locally available US matériel you control to equip and support this force (i.e. diversion of matériel from AID programs as well as military).

Obviously a force which can accomplish this objective will require military technician leadership, must be amenable to American and Belgian military advice, and not subject to control or veto by Mobutu. If additional guidance, authority or matériel needed to support your efforts this program please advise soonest.

3. Beyond immediate action to create this first component, planning must be done urgently toward eventual force of 3–4000. You should consult with Belgians, particularly Van der Walle, to determine availability human and matériel resources and how these resources will be organized and used as new force, consulting Congolese as necessary for information. (Struelens’ explanation of Tshombe’s plan left strong impression that it nothing more than general idea of what he would like to have, and did not have benefit of careful thought on organization or use). As a result your consultation we would also like to get a clearer picture of what matériel requirements could be met out of stocks in the Congo, and what new equipment would be needed.

4. In preparation for discussions, Embassy will want to consider following matters:

A. Chain of Command

Should new force be: (a) connected to the ANC or existing gendarmes; (b) separately assigned to control of Defense Committee; or (c) under control of Minister of Interior.

While we want to avoid problem with Mobutu, believe it important he not be able to control or frustrate this force. (Devlin may have [Page 298] some ideas on how he can be kept happy because we want to avoid his active opposition.)

It seems to us also that new force should not be attached directly to Tshombe for the simple reason that he already has too much to do and would not be in position to make decisions even if he were readily accessible. Munongo therefore would seem logical candidate, as Minister of Interior. However, Embassy should consider other alternatives.

B. Organization of the Force

Unit organization of new force will depend in large measure on the operational concepts under which it will operate and the resources readily available. In developing first component (para 2) as well as follow-on units, consideration should be given to “attack unit” composed entirely of military technicians to form cutting edge. In addition to combat units, consideration should be given to development of logistical support system, manned by Belgian or military technicians. Thought should also be given to development of logistical base (possibly Kamina).

C. Concept of Operations

Consideration should be given to:

(a) How units would be organized and used to capture rebel strong points;

(b) How strong points, when captured, will be held; and

(c) How new force would work with ANC and forces from other African countries. Consideration should also be given to follow-up measures to be taken in areas freed from rebel control. From experience in Baudoinville, building materials in addition to consumer goods and such things as medicines should be brought into the area immediately, with special attention paid to tribal chiefs to obtain their loyalty to central government.

4. Aside from para 2 program would appreciate soonest country team’s views on foregoing together with whatever other substantive matters it considers would be helpful to raise with Belgians and Congolese.3

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Drafted on August 9 by O’Sullivan and Lang; cleared by Tasca, Lang, Brubeck, and Colonel Gall in DOD; and approved by Harriman. Repeated to Brussels and CINCSTRIKE for POLAD.
  2. Not identified.
  3. In telegram 450 from Leopoldville, August 10, Godley reported that he discussed telegram 223 with de Kerchove and other Belgian officials, who agreed that the first discussion with Tshombe should be mainly focused on the first subparagraph of paragraph 2, the development of a 3,000-man force. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO) Telegram CX–181 from Leopoldville, August 11, reported that Tshombe, Mobutu, and their Belgian military advisers agreed that the separate force proposed in telegram 223 was impractical because it would require too expensive a logistic system as well as establishment of a headquarters for which qualified personnel could not be spared. (Ibid.)