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

317. Joint State–Defense–USIA message. Public Affairs Policy Guidance.

1. We are disturbed by press here publishing statements today attributed to Leopoldville to effect that US paratroopers will ride “shot gun” on the H–34 helicopters and that these aircraft may be used to support the ANC. Fact that helicopters included in equipment being sent Congo had not up to that point been made public. There is no present thought here of expanding mission of plane guards beyond that established in CINCSTRIKE order covering deployment of four C–130’s to Congo.

2. Press and public opinion suspicious and restive that US is undertaking “creeping” commitment in Congo where every move enlarges area US responsibility and draws US closer into expanding role, comparable to that in Vietnam, in Congo military and security situation.

3. We wish to make it perfectly clear that the military personnel which accompanied the C–130s are for the sole purpose of providing ground security for C–130s deployed to the Congo. They are not intended to provide security or to accompany helicopters in any mission which the helicopters might attempt. Departures from foregoing such as to provide guards for helicopter mission contemplated in which the security of helicopters is in doubt will not be flown without JCS approval on a case by case basis.

4. We recognize that Leopoldville is small village and that able aggressive press corps there capable of finding out most US moves. However Embassy and country team should avoid premature disclosure of US moves and contingency plans.

5. Embassy and country team should particularly avoid any comments on what other governments particularly Belgium and African countries are, or may be, planning to do.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by O’Sullivan; cleared by Colonel Gall, Lewis in USIA, Greenfield, Fine, and Tasca; and approved by Harriman. Also sent to USUN, JCS, and CINCSTRIKE for POLAD.