183. Letter From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs (Kitchen) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Sloan)1

Dear Frank:

I am writing in response to your letter of November 1, 1963 regarding the proposed MATS Survey Flight to Africa.2

Replies are now in from the twenty posts queried on this subject. They are almost uniformly opposed to instituting regular MATS flights or even making a preliminary route survey at this time.

Our missions generally believed that little need currently exists for such a service, and that present transportation services are adequate. Thus, the introduction of military flights and attendant support personnel would strain local facilities and be viewed with suspicion by many countries as conflicting with their policies of non-alignment. Radical elements would point to this as a form of Western “NATO and neocolonialist penetration.” Most replies indicated that the introduction of regular MATS flights would increase Soviet Bloc pressure for landing rights and would prejudice the case for U.S. commercial airlines attempting to secure landing rights.

It was also believed that there would be resentment among local airlines, which would consider MATS to be unfair competition. In addition, some posts indicated that the French would be annoyed at any increase in U.S. military operations in areas in which they have traditionally played the major military role.

In light of recent developments in East Africa, I am quite willing to review this matter, should that be indicated. However, a check with the African Bureau has confirmed that in view of the overwhelmingly strong opposition from the field, we believe that the proposal for the survey should be dropped, at least for the foreseeable future.


Jeff Kitchen
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 68 A 306, 373.5 Africa. Secret.
  2. Not printed.