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

17942. Kinshasa 602 (Notal).2

1. If Mobutu does discuss with you idea of requesting African nations supply troops to replace 6th Commandos, you should not respond negatively but should discourage any idea US can finance such arrangements or take on transport of forces involved.

2. We do not think here that Tunisians or Ethiopians would respond favorably and we have no intention acting as intermediary for Mobutu with these governments. Bourguiba seems disenchanted with Sub-Saharan Africa and it is doubtful he would be willing send Tunisian forces to area where problems—from his point of view—are so intractable. Ethiopia likely to be equally negative and refer Mobutu to OAU. Comments Addis and Tunis would be appreciated.

3. We are not prepared undertake financing or support for African units. As you point out, logistic and supply problems would be most difficult. Obligation for airlift forces, which would probably involve continuous use of aircraft for resupply and replacement, is one we cannot assume particularly at time such heavy demands already placed on available resources.

4. We have no suggestions where else Mobutu might turn for African forces. While his relations with East African countries have considerably improved, see no prospect of his obtaining troops from any of them. In general believe we should limit ourselves to discouraging any hope for US assistance and avoid advising re possible African sources of assistance.

5. Realize above will put you in somewhat awkward position vis-à-vis Mobutu but agree with you that it is a little late to seek African troops and possibilities any real assistance from African sources dim.

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6. Also foresee problems with Belgians on this subject, especially if final outcome is dismissal Belgian mercenaries and maintenance French. Assume you will inform Bihin if, in fact, Mobutu returns to question.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Brown; cleared by Moffat, Strong, Ambassador to Ethiopia Edward M. Korry, Colonel Kennedy, McElhiney, Cashin, Root, AFNE Country Director Matthew J. Looram, Judd, and Colonel Alba of the Joint Staff; and approved by Trimble. Repeated to Brussels, Paris, London, Addis Ababa, Tunis, and CINCSTRIKE.
  2. On July 23, the Katanga gendarmes and elements of the mercenary 6th Commandos rebelled in Kisangani and seized parts of the town. In telegram 602 from Kinshasa, July 23, Godley reported that a deeply distressed Mobutu told him that he had to get rid of the mercenaries, particularly Belgian nationals, and was thinking of replacing them with African troops who could do garrison but not combat duty. Mobutu asked what the U.S. Government thought of his seeking African troops, what troops did it believe he should use, and if it would contribute toward the cost. (Ibid.)