314. Memorandum From William H. Brubeck of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Stanleyville Hostage Problem

The mercenary (Van der Walle) column that took Kindu last week is preparing for final attack on Stanleyville in two to three weeks. Meanwhile the situation of foreigners in Stanleyville (five official and 20 unofficial Americans, 6–800 Europeans) is increasingly precarious. All Belgians and Americans are now under house arrest and labeled “prisoners of war.” At any time during these next several weeks, as the situation in Stanleyville deteriorates, the rebel “Jeunesse” may get out of control and start killing Europeans. The danger will be particularly [Page 458] acute at the actual time of Van der Walle’s attack on Stanleyville (at Kindu last week 80 Europeans were nearly killed by rebels when Van der Walle took the town).

In talks on Sunday2 to meet this problem, Spaak and Harriman arrived at the following tentative agreement (Spaak asks great secrecy because this is politically very touchy in Belgium):

1. Belgian paratroop force (probably company size) should be on standby alert in Brussels with a corresponding US C–130 transport force on alert in Europe ready to go into Stanleyville on a few hours notice and seize the town long enough to evacuate by air all Europeans. Belgians will obtain pro forma request for evacuation mission from Congo Government.

2. Spaak will tomorrow (Tuesday) attempt to secure Cabinet approval for this project. We will then send a single, high ranking military officer in civilian clothes to Brussels to work out air transport requirements with the Belgians and then implement (probably half a dozen C–130s at most, for troop transport and evacuation). This to be handled on strictest need-to-know basis.


1. That the President approve this project with the specific understanding that any actual use of the force would require decision by both governments in the particular case.

2. That Secretary McNamara designate a responsible official in Defense with whom Harriman can deal in making arrangements, to get maximum security.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Congo, Vol. VI. Top Secret; Sensitive Handling.
  2. November 8; see Document 313.