486. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Minutes of the Meeting of the 303 Committee, 4 November 1966


  • Mr. Rostow, Ambassador Thompson, Mr. Vance, and Mr. Helms
  • Ambassador Godley and Mr. John Waller were also present
[Page 712]

1. Congo—Air and Maritime Program

a. The long-standing desire to turn over the U.S.-operated Congolese Air Force and pocket Navy to the host government came under discussion on Friday, 4 November. Tabled were two papers from the DOD, one from CIA, and two draft cables from State Department to Kinshasa.

b. Without a paragraph by paragraph overhaul, it was abundantly clear that the Committee was in agreement that a turnover be effected with all convenient speed but with minimum sacrifice to efficiency and order.

c. All agreed that the key to the question was to find an airline executive or experienced operations officer to manage the air force for Mobutu. The candidates, of course, would have to be satisfactory to Mobutu. It was also agreed that a non-American would be preferable and that CIA would undertake the “talent scouting.”

d. Declining to be bound by any deadlines, the Committee principals pointed out that with the Congolese penchant for failing to meet payrolls, the Agency might be some time in getting out from under. The pocket Navy was believed to present a somewhat less complicated problem in transfer.

e. Following the meeting, State drafted four Roger channel cables to Kinshasa (Nos. 81702, 81703, 81709, and 81710)2 offering general guidance on the intent of the Committee. The Executive Secretary believes that these messages contain an umbrella of accurate guidance under which the parties concerned can proceed to search for solutions.

f. It was further agreed that the steps envisaged would, when necessary, be discussed in confidence with both the Belgian and Italian governments.

(References: Minutes of 303 Committee meetings held on 28 October 1965, Item 3; 17 February 1966, Item 1; 28 March 1966, Item 1; 22 April 1966, Item 9; 9 June 1966, Item 2; 8 July 1966, Item 4; and 5 August 1966, Item 8.)3

[Omitted here is discussion of another subject.]

Peter Jessup
  1. Source: National Security Council, Intelligence Files, 303 Committee, Minutes 1966. Secret; Eyes Only.Prepared on November 10.
  2. None found.
  3. For text or summaries of the minutes for the first six meetings, see footnote 2 to Document 440, Document 464, Document 467 and footnote 3 thereto, footnote 3 to Document 472, and Document 473. The minutes for the August 5 meeting are in National Security Council, Intelligence Files, 303 Committee, Minutes 1966.