226. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • The Congo

There are several somewhat favorable developments that have improved the security situation of the Congo and the morale in Leopoldville:

1)The arrival of four C–130’s and 3 helicopters with a platoon of U.S. airborne infantry; the imminent arrival of five B–26’s for long-range reconnaissance and strafing to strengthen Congolese army limited air capability; the presence of Governor Williams as indicative of high level U.S. interest.

2)The development of a military program by Belgian Colonel Van der Walle (now before Spaak for approval) (a) for introduction of 50 additional Belgian officers to assist in direction of military action and additional Belgian military personnel for logistic support and (b) the reactivation [Page 331] of Katanga gendarmes, with European military technicians, to be integrated into and to strengthen the ANC. With these additional forces, it is expected that an offensive to recover areas lost to rebels can be initiated in about six weeks.

3)The Military position has improved.

(a) Bukavu has held out due to tenacious defense by ANC. (In this, Col. Dodd’s presence has played a key role.) Local Kabare Bashi and Ngweshi Nyaugezi tribesmen have remained loyal and have taken an active part in the fighting. This appears to be a dividend of Tshombe’s recent visit. Two T–28’s have broken up rebel advances.

(b) The recapture of Baudoinville. The city was found to be in a shambles by looting. GOC with our assistance has sent substantial quantities of civilian emergency supplies.

(c) The recapture of a number of other points in northern Katanga by a column moving up from military base Kamina.

4)Governor Williams has established better communication with Tshombe and other Congolese leaders. At long last the government has appealed for African troops from the governments of Liberia, Senegal, Malagasy and Ethiopia, in addition to an earlier request to Nigeria. Mr. Tshombe has also written the Secretary General of the United Nations requesting he use his personal influence with Burundi and Congo (Brazzaville) to bring these countries “to cease action seriously injurious to the population of my country.” He has also written to the Secretary General of the Organization for United Africa requesting African solidarity and support. These steps should be helpful in achieving our objective of Africanizing the Congo’s problems, but Tshombe’s unpopularity with African leaders may still cause difficulties. Although Ethiopia and Nigeria are the only ones of these countries which could send as much as a battalion, the other countries might send token forces or in other ways support the GOC in its efforts to withstand rebel uprisings. Our missions in the above-mentioned countries have been instructed to support Tshombe’s requests.

5)The Belgian businessmen are reconsidering their plan for evacuation of dependents.

It should be recognized, however, that the situation, although less critical, is still fragile and might rapidly deteriorate again by adverse development such as the assassination of one of the key political personalities or the fall of additional significant cities. The Mulele rebels in Kwilu are active again, threatening the provincial capital Kikwit. The situation in Luluabourg is tense due to rebel activity in the immediate neighborhood.

The report of arrival of three Ilyushin planes in Stanleyville is disturbing but it has not yet been confirmed. They may be Ghanaian rather than Soviet.

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P.S. Tshombe asked Governor Williams on Saturday for immediate despatch of three U.S. parachute battalions in order to retake Stanleyville and other important rebel-held cities. This request was bluntly turned down. This was probably an important factor in influencing Tshombe to take subsequent steps to appeal to African countries for support, as well as to UN and OAU.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Congo, Vol. IV. Secret.