376. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara1



  • Congo Cease Fire

1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have noted that certain political actions are being discussed in attempting to improve the situation in the Congo. These actions are intended to encourage constructive actions by many nations, including the Congo, and to explore the possibilities of an effective cease-fire agreement.

2. The Joint Chiefs of Staff agree that political solutions to the Congo problem are needed to supplement security operations, and that constructive efforts to bring about a cessation of hostilities could be advantageous. They are concerned, however, that implementation of a cease-fire could provide the environment for a substantial military advantage accruing to communist inspired and supported forces and thus could preclude attainment of favorable political objectives. Specifically, they do not agree with that portion of a draft United Nations resolution which calls for withdrawal of the mercenaries. Rebel forces will gain an immediate advantage if the cease-fire requires such withdrawal, the withdrawal of US aircraft, or decreases other Western support of the Congolese Government. This advantage will be compounded if radical African states are enabled to continue furnishing arms and advisors to the rebels. Under these circumstances, the United States would eventually be faced with a choice between acceptance of a communist supported victory or extensive US military involvement.

3. It should also be recognized that a cease-fire agreement could be construed as according legitimacy and recognition to the rebels. Further, experiences in Laos, Vietnam, and Yemen give evidence of communist and radical tactics of utilizing cease-fire agreements to their advantage.

4. The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that political negotiations will have the best chance for success if they are conducted against a back-ground of military advantage in the Congo. Specifically, they believe that the Congo military situation should be characterized by:

a. Congolese Army control of principal cities, towns, and communications points now held.

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b. Continued strengthening of the Congolese forces with the required mercenaries, military matériel, and air support, both tactical and airlift.

c. A demonstrable ability to make rebel resupply by communist aligned countries costly and ineffective and to deal effectively with any rebel counterattack.

5. A CINCSTRIKE/USCINCMEAFSA appraisal of the Congo situation is currently being considered and will be the subject of separate action by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Meanwhile, they recommend that the Secretary of State be advised of their concern that a cease-fire in the Congo could result in a net advantage to rebel forces unless:

a. The military base of the Tshombe government continues to be strengthened.

b. Appropriate military force is available to enforce cessation of any serious rebellious activity in the Congo.

c. The effective interdiction of arms traffic to the rebels and the denial of rebel safe-havens is assured.

d. Effective nonradical inspection machinery is established in the Congo and surrounding countries.

e. The political strategy has the concurrence in advance of the Belgian and Congolese Governments.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Earle G. Wheeler 2
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, JCS Files, 9111 (22 Dec. 64). Secret.
  2. Printed from a copy that indicates General Wheeler signed the original.