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

57958. Ref: Kinshasa 4945,2 4992.3

1. Have seriously considered your suggestion that C–130s positioned Ascension Island be brought forward now to Kinshasa for possible evacuation needs and as clear indication to mercenaries of US support for GDRC.

2. With great reluctance we unable respond favorably your suggestion at this time for following reasons:

a) Sudden appearance two more aircraft in Kinshasa without thorough and adequate briefing key members of Congress could arouse additional antipathy here. We reluctant to give out sensitive information about possible mercenary activity from Angola.

b) C–130s not most suitable aircraft for mass evacuation although they ideal for gathering US citizens from interior. More useful C–141s or commercial counterparts would require decision to evacuate.

c) If mercenary invasion from Angola to be successful we suspect it will be so rapid that full evacuation may be impossible.

d) We doubt, without adequate publicity, which we do not wish see generated, that word would get to mercenaries rapidly.

e) C–130s might be called forward on “resupply” mission but their withdrawal after two or three days might nullify effect you wish create.

3. We willing of course reconsider if further info becomes available which would indicate that C–130s presence in Kinshasa necessary.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Schaufele, cleared by Brown and Palmer, and approved by Katzenbach.
  2. In telegram 4945 from Kinshasa, October 16, McBride stated that in the event of a mercenary attack on Kinshasa, its entire white population would be in danger. He pointed out that the best way to avoid a potential disaster would be to deter any projected mercenary invasion, and noted that one way to do this might be the return to Kinshasa of the two C–130s at Ascension. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 4992 from Kinshasa, October 18, the Ambassador reported that he had just seen CINCSTRIKE’s proposal to withdraw one C–130 from Ascension and, referring to the views he had expressed in telegram 4945, said he did not believe that this was an appropriate time to reduce the number of aircraft at Ascension. (Ibid.)