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

1391. Punch plus US-concurrence sent through military channels to Dragon Rouge 1900Z November 23 for 0400Z November 24. You should in concert with Belgians assure VDW is informed soonest and GDRC at latest possible moment assuring maximum security.

Other points:

1. While recognizing limitations on how much control we can exercise, you should try to minimize press access to Stan until Dragon Rouge completed and DR forces withdrawn.

2. Both we and Spaak feel strongly that there must be some Congolese brought out to Leo in DR evacuation and rely on you to accomplish.

3. No US personnel or planes except Dragon Rouge to enter Stan till city secured by VDW.

4. We emphasize again our posture is humanitarian evacuation not military collaboration with GDRC.

5. There is concern here to assure that VDW has given thought and is taking action to attempt block remaining northeast escape routes out of Stan to prevent removal hostages.

6. Since DR and VDW assault will inevitably be linked and front page news, VDW must be impressed with necessity highest degree discipline and behavior his forces in order US and Belgium not incur additional liabilities GDRC military excesses.2

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Top Secret; Flash; Exdis. Drafted by Brubeck, cleared by Harriman, and approved by Palmer. Repeated to Brussels, CINCSTRIKE, CINCEUR, DOD, and CIA.
  2. In telegram 2085 from Leopoldville, November 23, Godley reported that he and De Kerchove had informed Tshombe, who said this would save many European and Congolese lives. Tshombe agreed to make a radio statement in the morning once the drop was confirmed. (Ibid.) Telegram 1397 to Leopoldville, November 23, instructed Godley that he and De Kerchove should act to ensure the coordination of the VDW and Dragon Rouge operations, but not allow their public position to reflect any such coordination, since Dragon Rouge should appear to be a strictly humanitarian operation. The Ambassador was also instructed to ensure that the Congolese Government’s letters to the U.S. and Belgian Governments authorizing Dragon Rouge were published as soon as the drop was confirmed. (Ibid.)