385. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Discussion with Governor Harriman—14 January 1965

Following the Special Group CI Meeting, I met with Governor Harriman to discuss U.S. policy objectives in the Congo.

At the CI meeting I had read [less than 1 line not declassified]2 noting particularly the agenda items 3a. through d., all of which were directed against the United States and indicated a fear of an attack on East African states by the Congolese. Harriman stated that in his discussions with representatives of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya that a very great concern had been expressed that if the Congo situation was cleaned up by large numbers of South African mercenaries under Tshombe, they would continue on into the East African states as means of disrupting them and thus stop the southward trend of the independent Black African movement. They predict that the South African mercenaries would be heavily supported by the Portuguese and would not be manageable by Tshombe. It is this attitude which Governor Harriman feels represents a real and sincere fear that influences the anti-Tshombe attitude in many African states, particularly the East African states.

I reported to Harriman the Rebels had received 39 plane loads of matériel from the North and had established three training and training-holding centers in Southern Sudan and were moving arms by motor trucks from the Sudan into the Congo. I stated several convoys had been intercepted, one involving 18 trucks had been destroyed and some apparently had turned around under orders from the Sudan Government, but nevertheless, the Rebels were being supplied and we expected this to continue. Furthermore, Chinese arms had come into the Burundi via Dar es Salaam, but these had been impounded by orders of the King of Burundi, and as far as we know had not reached the Congo.

I stated there is no evidence of Malian, Algerian or Egyptian “mercenaries” operating in the Congo with the Rebels. There are unconfirmed reports of Algerian and Ghanaian fighters in Brazzaville, but this had not been confirmed. Also reports of Chinese and Soviet arms in Brazzaville, but these also had not been confirmed.

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Referring to the U.S. policy objectives I expressed no disagreement with the objectives stated in the attached paper of 13 January,3 except to emphasize that there is no alternative to Tshombe in the Congo and therefore Tshombe must win.

I then reviewed the 13 January comments on some aspects of the U.S. policy, emphasizing each one of the points made in the attached paper.4 Harriman questioned me concerning the number of mercenaries and Mr. Karamessines responded by stating that in an itemized list as of 10 days ago, there were some 220 South Rhodesian, South African types, 200 Belgian and other Europeans and en route now are 60 Belgian and other European types with possibly 90 additional, making a total of 150.

The following points were agreed upon:

1. There is no alternative to Tshombe and we must help him to win.

2. It would be in our interest to increase the number of Belgian and European mercenaries and phase out the South Africans.

3. Attempts should be made to have Tshombe give assurances concerning the integrity of East African states and also express his hope that he could dispense with South African mercenaries at the earliest practical time.

Note: In this connection Harriman disagreed with our position that “African opinion opposes White mercenaries from any source,” stating that certain African leaders, including Nyrere had told him that they would not oppose European mercenaries, indeed they would not oppose United States military, but they would oppose South Africans.

4. Belgium must be kept in the forefront and every possible pressure must be placed on Spaak to assist Tshombe. In this connection Harriman felt that Tshombe either was en route to Brussels or would depart Leopoldville in the immediate future to consult with Spaak.

5. Harriman explained a meeting was planned with Bottomley and Thompson of the British Foreign Office to deal with the East African states problem. [4 lines not declassified]

6. Harriman favored recruitment of additional European mercenaries and European pilots. He does not favor the use of [less than 1 line not declassified] mercenaries and feels the [less than 1 line not declassified] pilots are so closely identified with the United States, that they invite the same criticism as though we had American pilots.

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7. Harriman spoke of demobilization of several thousand of the French Senegalese Army and raised the question as to whether some of them could not be recruited as mercenaries. He admitted this would create problems for Tshombe.

8. Harriman believes that Tshombe should make every gesture to mollify the criticism and proposed such things as a letter from Kasavubu to the Emperor, rapprochement between Tshombe and Holden Roberto, holding the elections as scheduled, and a few other things but none of which would alter Tshombe’s position as Head of Government or include Rebel leaders in his government. Harriman was most positive that we could not advocate courses of action by Tshombe which would weaken him and strengthen the Rebels. Harriman is very strong on this point but apparently is having some difficulty within the Department.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, DCI/McCone Files, Job 80B01285A, Box 2, DCI (McCone) Memos for the Record, 01 Jan.–28 Feb. 65. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by McCone.
  2. Not found.
  3. Attached but not printed is a paper entitled “U.S. Policy Objectives in the Congo.” No drafting information is indicated on the paper.
  4. Attached but not printed is a paper entitled “Comments on Some Aspects of Current U.S. Tactical Policy Objectives in the Congo.” The attachment states that the comments represent a consensus of an OCI, ONE, and DDP/AF Working Group.