108. Memorandum1


  • Angola
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 longer needed.


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 backer.)
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 FNLAUNITA 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 losses.
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 Kaunda individually 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 shipment.
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 opponents.
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.


[1½-page table not declassified]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 102, Geopolitical File, Angola Chronological File. Secret; Sensitive; No Foreign Dissem.