Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume
XXVIII, Southern Africa
Washington, June 11, 1975.
- Attached is a paper discussing in a preliminary way what could be
done covertly to support a major effort to prevent a Neto takeover in Angola.
- [3½ lines not declassified]
- Please do not reproduce these papers and return them when no
- Covert action in support of an effort to prevent Neto from taking over Angola
would fall under three categories:
- Covert financial aid to Neto’s principal opponents at a level
matching that now enjoyed by Neto. (For example, [1
line not declassified] puts the Yugoslav aid to
Neto at U.S.
$1.7 million and Yugoslavia is not his chief
- Covert political action to prevent civil war in Angola
and advance a Roberto-Savimbi coalition. Neto’s best chance of
dominating Angola appears to be to push the FNLA back into the
Bakongo tribal area and then crush UNITA militarily leaving
the MPLA on top in
Luanda and other key cities. By stopping the fighting we
improve chances for an FNLA–UNITA coalition, and FNLA seems to rest on too
narrow a tribal base (the Bakongo people) to win
supremacy in Angola without a more broadly based ally
such as UNITA.
- Covert military aid to Mobutu to permit him, in the failure of
efforts to end the fighting, to arm and resupply the
FNLA and possibly
the UNITA forces from
his army’s own stocks with the assurance that the United
States Government would inconspicuously make good his
- Covert financial aid could be carried out in secrecy. Payments
to the principal leaders opposing Neto could be made directly and with the
recipients sharing an interest in secrecy. With this covert
financing [Page 252] we might
include advice on political, intelligence, financial and
logistic matters but this could be managed secretly.
- Covert political action could include secret collaboration
with Mobutu and
to try to keep them working in concert. In this connection we
might provide Mobutu
with funds to help him line up political support for his Angolan
cause in Africa, including efforts to cut down facilities
available to Neto in
Brazzaville. We could secretly seek Kaunda’s help in providing Savimbi with political advice,
especially in helping him on the African and international
stage. We could help Kaunda in his efforts to stop the flow of arms
to Angola and to encourage initiatives such as an OAU-sponsored peacekeeping force
in Angola. We could also attempt to break off some of Neto’s lieutenants and to
encourage the fragmentation of his organization. We could
inspire greater attention in the world press to the staging of
arms from the USSR through
Brazzaville and to other similar issues.
- We have considered an effort to provide “covertly” weapons,
ammunition and improved training to match further escalation in
the level of fighting. Such weapons of both U.S. and foreign
origin are at hand in current stocks in sufficient quantity to
match any likely needs in the immediate future. Similarly
communications gear and transport could be readily found.
Deliveries to the FNLA or
UNITA would require an
African intermediary through whom to stage such help. Mobutu
would no doubt do this for the FNLA and possibly the UNITA as well. In the event of air delivery from
the United States, however, security would be weak. Such an arms
flow to Angola would be quickly detected and publicized with
damage to the international standing and political prospects of
the FNLA and UNITA. Similar side effects
argue against the hiring of mercenaries or the provision of
aircraft. Unlike the earlier Congo efforts, we do not have the
umbrella of a legitimate central government asking our help.
Therefore, it seems more feasible to encourage Mobutu to use his existing
stocks which could be replaced less conspicuously by sea
- Exposure of American arms aid to the FNLA through Mobutu would tend to spoil political efforts to
get African leaders such as Kaunda, Nyerere and Gowon behind efforts to stop the
fighting. And to stop the fighting remains very much to the
advantage of Neto’s
- The attached budget figures are very tentative and based on a
force of 10,000 fighting men each for UNITA and FNLA.
These strengths are probably high for military combat action
alone, but are based on the needs expressed by both Roberto and Savimbi.
- In brief, covert financial aid and covert political action
appear feasible choices. Military aid can best be extended via
Mobutu and without
American or American-hired technical advisors if we are to keep
any degree of security and to avoid damage to efforts to keep
[Page 253] some minimum state
of peace until independence in November. And for the present at
least, breaking the peace is in the MPLA’s interest and not that of MPLA’s opponents.
TENTATIVE BUDGET—THROUGH 1975
[1½-page table not declassified]