431. Memorandum for President Johnson1


  • U.S. Covert Support for Congolese Government on Lake Tanganyika

On 13 August 1964, the 303 Committee approved a large scale program for covert support to [name not declassified] and selected Congolese leaders for the restoration of order in the Congo.

Although the rebels have not been able to establish any cohesion or permanent country-wide appeal, the ability of the Tshombe regime to reestablish stability in areas many miles away from Leopoldville is negligible. Main population centers have been captured and garrisoned but outlying areas remain chaotic and filled with marauding bands.

In recent weeks, rebel concentrations in the Fizi-Baraka area (see map)2 have given grave concern to the State Department. These rebels are being supplied across Lake Tanganyika by Russians and/or Chinese, and the rebel units are well armed and undergoing extensive training by Cuban guerrillas.

The CIA has made a beginning in interdicting this support by the establishment of several boats based in Albertville to harass this supply route. Because of the size of the lake (40 miles wide, 300 miles long) it has been determined that a more substantial pocket Coast Guard is necessary. The 303 Committee approved on 23 September 65 the purchase, transport by air, and armament and manning of six additional boats (two swifts and four seacraft) at a cost of [dollar amount not declassified]. The only available nucleus of reliable covert boat operators is presently [less than 1 line not declassified]. It is planned to eventually replace them with Europeans. Mercenary adventurers and various Congolese tried thus far have proved disastrous as to discipline and ability to carry out their missions, to say nothing of maintaining the equipment.

Thus far, the pocket fleet has forced the rebels and their supporters to operate at night. The addition of radar to the new boats will make rebel runs more difficult, although intelligence reports indicate the Russians are supplying the rebels with power launches of their own (see picture). Diplomatic efforts to dissuade Tanzania from helping the rebels have not proved successful to date.

Peter Jessup
  1. Source: National Security Council, Intelligence Files, Congo 1960–1965. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. None of the attachments is printed.