208. Telegram From the Station in the Congo to the Central Intelligence Agency1

2343 (In 47324). [McCone], [Helms] and [Fields] from [former COS] and [Identity 1].

1. In past few days security and military situation has deteriorated seriously. Rebel capture Stan has given rebels and persons favoring their cause great psychological fillip. This extremely important asset for the rebels, more important than an additional BN, for the bandwagon effect plays even greater role in Congolese politics than in more sophisticated nations. Also, fall of Stan when added to considerable rebel successes Kivu, Maniema, some areas Katanga and Kasai and fact many other areas appear open to subversion has depressed GOC leaders and supporters. Although spirits of leaders fluctuate, a sense of pessimism and defeatism prevails. It stems from recent rebel successes and fact most leaders realize ANC is a weak reed, if indeed not a broken reed, on which to rest the internal security of the Congo.

2. As reported previously, rebel activists already working in Leo, and presumably in other areas not under rebel control, endeavoring to exploit rebel successes by fanning flames of discontent of people and army (based on high unemployment rate, dissatisfaction with incompetent and venal leaders, tribal enmities, etc) and to weaken their will to fight. GOC expects these agitators, some of whom have been trained abroad, to step up their activities and to resort to violent tactics. In 60 Gizenga, Mulele and some others who now CNL leaders did not hesitate to try assassinate opponents; thus such tactics are again expected. Should this come to pass, and should even three or four key GOC leaders be assassinated, it could result in rebel victory, for there are only a few leaders available with capacity and courage to oppose rebel objectives.

3. Leaders such as Nendaka, Bomboko, Mobutu, Kithima, Bolikango and Ndele have stated at one time or another in last few days that they expect security situation continue deteriorate. Specifically, Nendaka and Bomboko, both of whom have been fairly reliable interpretors of the feelings of the people and who have proved their personal courage many times in past few years, fear ANC will collapse under rebel pressure, take easy way out by joining rebels and that Leo will fall from within through subversion and internal disorder. (Interestingly [Page 300] enough Nendaka has sent his family to Europe for “school registration” and Bomboko plans do same with his family. Also Adoula has requested [US Embassy] to pass message to his family in Rome that he hopes to join them 15 Aug.)

4. The ANC is in poor shape. Only a few units have had the courage of capacity to oppose effectively the rebels. Main problems of the army are lack of leadership, discipline, knowhow and motivation. This point driven home to [Identity 1] and other [US Embassy] personnel in Lisala and Bumba during aborted attempt rescue Stan [Identity 2] personnel. They found state of ANC morale precarious and rebel fever beginning seize the area. Troops were restive, surly and near rebellion. Lisala troops appeared dominated by some noncoms and purposeful agitators. Also presence of about three hundred soldiers at Bumba who escaped from Stan creates potentially explosive situation. The virus could easily spread to the limited number of ANC troops remaining in the western Congo and set stage for a domino-like collapse of the army similar to that which occurred in 60. Seriousness of situation can be recognized when one realizes that only troops in Equateur and Leopoldville provinces which now stand immediately between rebel forces in Stan and those in Leo are the fourth gendarmerie BN (whose contingents in Lisala do not instill confidence), one company at Bolobo and disorganized remnants of the Stan garrison. While other organized troops might be flown in, such step would weaken ANC positions other areas.

5. One alternative which being suggested from all sides is encadrement of ANC with mercenaries or officers on loan. However, this assumes that morale of troops is such that they willing and able fight under proper leadership. Many here doubt time exists for imported officers raise troop morale and reinstill discipline and will to fight. One possibility to which some GOC leaders cling is use of Katangan gendarmes (Katgens). Many Katgens available, and if sufficient arms and other supplies could be provided along with proper encadrement, they might be able save the situation. Recognize many believe this would be most palatable solution of various alternatives explored recently. However we and local ODYOKE military doubt Katgens offer rapid short term solution. View fact many of Katgens have been demobilized since Dec 62, they would probably need considerable training before they could be whipped into shape and unfortunate fact that during Katanga secession they did not prove better than average ANC troops (believe mercenaries responsible for majority Katgen victories), cannot help wonder whether this solution can be achieved fast enough and whether it offers a sufficient margin of security, one on which ODYOKE is prepared consciously to base its Congo (and perhaps African) policy.

6. During 8 Aug meeting Cols Williams (Chief COMISH) and Dodds expressed their personal views that the introduction of additional [Page 301] mercenaries does not offer a sufficiently sure margin of security. Also they doubt additional hardware would, alone, do the job, for if the Congo is to remain a national entity the GOC must regain and occupy the vast territories over which it has lost control. These officers concluded that, to obtain a sufficient margin of safety to permit the GOC to encadre troops, either Katgens or ANC, it would be necessary to station at least one non-African battalion in Leo. They specifically mentioned non-African troops, for they doubted African troops would be prepared intervene directly, in local security problems. Station not qualified militarily to pass judgement on these views, but on the basis of intel available, it shares view that intervention of foreign troops probably would be required to insure Leo held long enough to train and encadre units needed to defeat rebels and occupy lost areas. These views shared by many Station contacts (Kithima, Bolikango and CDA executive committee). Nendaka, Bomboko specifically favor foreign intervention, for they look upon it as only way of disarming rebels, ANC, of securing some semblance of peace in the country and of providing a respite during which GOC could create and train an entirely new army. They convinced this step will be necessary, for even if by a miracle the ANC resolved the current rebellion, peace and order cannot be guaranteed in the Congo until current rabble which passes for an army is reorganized and retrained.

7. One problem of awaiting the encadrement of Katgens is that, per above, it will take time and thus might allow Commies or extremist African states time to recognize rebels. Thus, such military policy could conceivably allow outside powers who oppose Leo govt to supply arms and/or “volunteers” to rebels.

8. Should use of mercenaries and Katgens fail turn tide, foresee Commie field day in the Congo. Although doubt more than a few rebel leaders motivated by Commie ideas and thus trained agents of influence, most rebel leaders have come under some degree of Commie influence. If Commies worked fast enough, they might be able to exploit rebel govt for Commie ends, just as Bloc tried do immediately after independence in July and Aug 60. However, unless Commie civil and military technicians were able to move in behind the rebels, suspect rebel victory would in very short time result in struggle for power between various leaders, factions and tribal groups now closely allied under CNL flag. While an outstanding leader might come to fore and build a monolithic state, one which at very best would be less than friendly and at worst would be actively hostile to ODYOKE interests, believe chances much greater that chaos and anarchy would be the result. Together with many other local observers, suspect Congo would gradually splinter under pressures of personal ambition and tribal rivalries into numerous semi-autonomous states, some of which might [Page 302] obtain actual or defacto independence. One such state might be Katanga, but to retain its independence, it would probably have to align itself with South Africa, Southern Rhodesia and Portugal. Obviously, such a state would provide Commies, not to mention more extremist African states, with a ready-made opportunity for intervention. Similarly, many of the states which might develop would not be viable and thus would make easy targets for subversion. In short, Congo would become the sick man of Africa. Commie toe holds in petty Congo states would provide bases for subversion ops into many east, central and west African countries, most if not all of which are ripe for subversion.

9. If neither ODYOKE nor other Western states prepared send troops to Congo, believe ODYOKE must face the other alternative, i.e., the almost certain collapse of the central govt and establishment of a regime controlled by rebels. Recognize Belgians believe it possible come to terms with rebels but per above we consider this fallacious thinking. Although recognize few, if any, rebels actual Communists, continue believe their control of govt would open the way to Communist penetration of Congo and possibly undermine ODYOKE’s African policy.

10. While recognize KUBARK is not and should not become involved policy decisions, we have prepared this cable to provide HQS with Station appreciation of the intelligence factors. Also recognize some of this message based on speculation. However, this speculation represents a consensus of many local observers, including such Station contacts as Nendaka, Bomboko, Ndele and, partially, of Adoula and Mobutu. Thus we believe it incumbent upon us to submit these views through KUBARK channels to assist HQS in interpreting the many intel items which Station has submitted on the current crisis and to stress urgency which we attach to current crisis.

11. Discussed above informally with [Godley] who states he finds “nothing with which to quarrel” in the preceding message. He specifically requested this message be passed [Harriman] and requested that some of these views be included in a joint COMISH/KUBARK assessment which being sent ODACID 10 Aug.

12. If it decided not to pass this message to [Harriman] pls advise Leop in order that we may advise [Godley].

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 78–00435R, DDO/ISS Files, Box 1, Folder 1, [cryptonym not declassified] Development & Plans. Secret; Rybat; Immediate. Received at 1315Z.