483. Memorandum for Director of Central Intelligence Helms1


  • Status Report—Air Program in the Congo

1. Operational Summary: The attached memorandum2 informs the 303 Committee of the establishment of a State–Defense–CIA working group to draw up plans for the phase-out of the [less than 1 line not declassified] air program from the Congo, and sets forth the major factors to be considered. Following oral instructions from the Department of State for an early phase-out, the Ambassador at Kinshasa has recommended that the program end by 15 February 1967. This date cannot be met if a condition of the phase-out is to be prior establishment by the GDRC of an adequate replacement program.

2. Previous 303 Committee Approvals: On 17 February 1966, the 303 Committee requested that [less than 1 line not declassified] air program in the Congo be substantially reduced. On 28 March 1966, the Committee reconsidered its decision pending the results of a study by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On 8 July, the Committee agreed to await the results of impending talks between the U.S. Ambassador at Kinshasa and President [Page 708] Mobutu before reaching a decision on the future of the air program.

3. Cover and Personnel: Pilots in the air program are ostensibly on direct hire to the GDRC. The T–28’s and B–26K’s are MAP loan to the GDRC. The [less than 1 line not declassified] aircraft maintenance company [less than 1 line not declassified] under contract to the GDRC. [less than 1 line not declassified].

4. Coordination: The attached memorandum has been brought to the attention of the Bureau of African Affairs, Department of State.

5. Security: The widespread knowledge that the United States Government is responsible for the tactical air program presents a continuing potential for embarrassment.

6. Cost: The program is currently operating at an annual cost of about [dollar amount not declassified]. The cost of the phase-out will depend on the findings of the working group.


Chief, Africa Division3


_________________________ ____

Deputy Director for Plans Date

Release of the attached item to the members of the 303 Committee is authorized:


Director of Central Intelligence



  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 82–00450R, DDO/AF, AF/DIV Historical Files, Box 6, 40 Committee, Congo (K), 1965-. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. Attached to the original is an October 10 memorandum for the 303 Committee, “Status Report—Air Program in the Congo.”
  3. The original is printed from a copy of the memorandum that is unsigned.