464. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Minutes of the Meeting of the 303 Committee, 17 February 1966


  • Mr. Bundy, Ambassador Johnson, Mr. Vance, and Mr. Richard Helms
  • Mr. Glenn Fields and Mr. Lawrence Devlin were present for Item 1
  • Colonel Ralph D. Steakley, Lt. Cdr. Donald Forbes, and Lt. William McCall were present for Item 3

1. Congo—Request for Approval to Continue [cryptonym not declassified] Maritime, Air and Covert Funding Operations.

a. On the request for approval to continue [cryptonym not declassified] maritime, air and covert funding operations in the Congo,2 Mr. Bundy pointed out that the proposal hardly represented compliance with the committee’s expressed wish that a substantial reduction be made. The new request represented only a half million dollar slash from the earlier high rate of expenditure [dollar amount not declassified].

b. Mr. Glenn Fields and Mr. Lawrence Devlin, CAS Chief in Leopoldville, took pains to point out that a reduction would result in a sizable cutback of missions, fewer aircraft spare parts, and no resupply after attrition. They further felt that the rebels, though somewhat more somnolent in their recent behaviour, had still not been eradicated, that Mobutu’s ground troops just won’t move without air support, and that any withdrawal of support at this time would seriously jeopardize Mobutu’s fragile resolve. They emphasized that they would be glad to off-load this heavy paramilitary burden but there were absolutely no [Page 681] takers. They warned of a possible collapse of central government authority and a rapid Balkanization of the country with the only profiteers being neighbouring countries and communist opportunism and adventures.

c. Mr. Bundy responded that higher authority took a most negative attitude toward open-end drains on USG funding without hard-nosed efforts to make recipients tighten their own belts. He stated the 303 Committee had decided earlier to reduce, and this proposal seemed to be taking the line of least resistance via perennial handout. The committee agreed that for the next 60 days funds could be expended in proportionate allotments from existing budget levels, but in March a plan should be presented—the air portion was emphasized—with a substantial slash from the proposed [less than 1 line not declassified] million to no higher than [less than 1 line not declassified] with the full intention of slashing the latter figure in half again for the last part of the year.

d. The issue was decided less on analysis of the murky Congo situation and more on the basis that the proposal did not follow earlier 303 directives, the language of which was as follows: “The committee asked for quarterly reviews and a consistent effort to modify and cut back wherever possible.” (Minutes of 29 October 1965, Item 3.b.).3

[Omitted here is discussion of other subjects.]

Peter Jessup
  1. Source: National Security Council, Intelligence Files, 303 Committee, Minutes 1966. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared on February 21.
  2. Document 462.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 440.