127. Memorandum for the Record1


  • 40 Committee Meeting, 13 September 1975, 9:00 a.m.

Members Present: Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry A. Kissinger; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Joseph Sisco; Director of Central Intelligence William E. Colby.

Substitute Members Present: Lt. General H. M. Fish, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security Assistance, vice Deputy Secretary of Defense Clements; Lt. General W. Y. Smith, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, vice JCS Chairman General Brown.

Also Present: Director of INR William Hyland; Deputy Director of CIA William Nelson; Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Lt. General Brent Scowcroft; Ambassador Sheldon Vance; Director of the Office of Central African Affairs Walter L. Cutler; Chief, African Division, CIA James M. Potts; and NSC Senior Staff Officer for Africa Harold Horan.

Angola and Cabinda

Kissinger (to Colby): Will you give us a briefing?

Colby: (Briefed.)2

Kissinger: I notice in your paper that you say the effect of our arms shipments has not been fully felt.3 Considering that the ship only arrived yesterday, that sounds like a cautious statement.

Colby: Well, there have been air shipments.

Kissinger: You’re not going to get caught out on a limb with that.

Colby: (Referring to chart) This shows where Soviets are sending in more.

Kissinger: Where does it say that?

Colby: (Pointing) Here.

Potts: We have reports that Soviet shipments continue to arrive.

Kissinger: Is that true?

Potts: We’ve had reports.

[Page 306]

Horan: We’ve had reports recently about the Soviets sending tanks, and that may be confused with armored cars.

Potts: This information is from our own reports.

Colby: (Referring to chart) This shows the political developments.

Kissinger: How are you doing with world opinion?

Colby: Well, we’ve not been hacked hard, yet.

Kissinger: Is that because the MPLA can’t read? What do the colors mean?

Colby: Nothing.

Scowcroft: Henry, in case you didn’t know, those are all different colors.

Colby: We have several policy questions.

Kissinger: Before we get to those, let me ask: Will our arms shipments make any difference?

Colby: The main function is to replace arms that Mobutu has already issued.

Potts: Yes. Some of it will go directly to Angola.

Fish: But American arms are not to be transferred into Angola. The shipment will really be to help Mobutu.

Kissinger: Let’s not delay.

Colby: We do not intend to.

Fish: Your paper says you will not send American arms into Angola.

Nelson: Let’s make a distinction there. We have sent some American arms into Angola. We are drawing a line between recent stuff and World War II-type items.

Kissinger: What are we saying—that the Soviets can send arms in, but we can’t?

Colby: We have a problem with Congress and the public.

Kissinger: But Congress has been informed.

Colby: Confidentially, but if this was exposed . . .

Kissinger: What does “expose” mean?

Colby: Publicly—if it became public knowledge that we were sending American arms in.

Kissinger: And what would that do?

Colby: There would be a great uproar about CIA getting involved in a war.

Kissinger: There could be an uproar about CIA not doing anything to block the Communist takeover of an African nation.

Colby: What we’d like to do is to send arms.

[Page 307]

Smith: But the question is, can they use them?

Colby: We’ve got to give them training. We’ll get money in there so they can get the necessary training. [less than 1 line not declassified]

Kissinger: American training—that’s what bothers me. Can’t we get other nationalities?

Colby: Savimbi doesn’t want Portuguese, but he would accept Americans.

Kissinger: Can’t we get other Europeans?

Nelson: There has been some talk about sending in South Africans.

Kissinger: I’m worried about U.S. training involvement, what with the specter of Vietnam. I am not worried about American arms.

Potts: [1 line not declassified]

Kissinger: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Potts: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Sisco: Send in black Brazilians.

Kissinger: Why not white?

Sisco: I said black purposely.

Kissinger: I know you did, and I said why not white?

Nelson: We really haven’t looked.

Kissinger: I think we can get away with American weapons. That doesn’t bother me. I fail to see the rationale that Soviets can but we can’t—that we have no moral right to respond to the Soviet intrusion in Angola.

Cutler: Well, this could adversely affect our other programs we are trying to get through the Congress, including the aid package.

Fish: If someone raises hell, they could argue that we should stop all aid to Zaire because they transshipped American arms.

Scowcroft: Well, this isn’t MAP material.

Fish: They won’t make that distinction.

Sisco: There’s a very simple issue here. We are supporting Mobutu who is intervening in a war, publicly. As our role becomes more exposed, how far are we going to go? I’d like to hear from Bill (Colby) what’s going to happen next—in the next three or four weeks.

Colby: There’s no good news. Zaire is going to become more involved . . .

Kissinger: The Americans’masochism is beyond all help. The Soviets gave maximum aid and turned a minor movement into a dominant one. Angola’s neighbors see this and see that the Soviets can do this, but the U.S. can’t. Then to say that Mobutu is intervening . . .

Colby: I think the major force with which we have to work is the UNITA.

[Page 308]

Kissinger: Which group we back is a different issue. What I’m asking is why the U.S. should be so afraid of what we tell Congress.

Colby: We have done this; we’ve told them and have been well received, generally.

Kissinger: We may reach some point where we think it is hopeless and throw in the towel.

Sisco: Yes. I don’t think we’ve reached that point yet.

Kissinger: We can defend material aid, but I don’t want to put in American trainers. Can’t we do it with others?

Colby: Yes.

Potts: But we can’t do it as well.

Kissinger: I’m in favor of sending in American weapons if they need them. That we can defend. But we’ve got to get it in; we can’t dole the stuff out. We’ve got to decide if they can make it or not.

Colby: A problem is money. We’ve got enough now, but it will soon be a problem.

Kissinger: How can we get more?

Colby: I’ve asked Congress for more, but unless we get more we will soon be out. I’ve asked for [dollar amount not declassified] more.

Fish: Adjusting the MAP might help. We have [dollar amount not declassified] and I sent you a note suggesting raising that to [dollar amount not declassified] This would help.

Colby: That would help.

Fish: I’m concerned with what’s on the ship—[less than 1 line not declassified]

Scowcroft: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Kissinger: Has anyone estimated what it will take to stabilize the issue?

Hyland: They are not losing because of lack of equipment.

Fish: Training is the problem.

Colby: Yes.

Fish: They broke and ran when they were attacked by rockets. Training would have had them in trenches and they would have been okay. The troops went into shock and ran.

Kissinger: How many troops involved?

Potts: There were about 1200 and another 500 in reserve.

Kissinger: If they can’t stand up against a small group . . .

Hyland: The people who ran were not Savimbi’s people.

Fish: It all goes back to training—that would help.

Kissinger: Had they training?

[Page 309]

Potts: Yes, and Portuguese advisors.

Colby: Most troops are shaky when they first get shot at.

Hyland: The FNLA accept Portuguese trainers.

Kissinger: Are the Portuguese any good as trainers? I once reviewed a Portuguese honor guard and if those guys could beat anyone . . .

Fish: Well, we go back to black Brazilians.

Potts: No. [1½ lines not declassified] It would take time.

Kissinger: No difference if they are black or white. My concern is if we don’t have people who are trained, how can they handle the weapons? If we send in Americans there will be the cry that we are starting another Vietnam, and I’ve been on the Hill all week explaining that we are not doing that in the Middle East.

Colby: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Kissinger: I would, too—if we could stand the heat.

Nelson: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Kissinger: I don’t want to hear about it.

Nelson: I just wanted to be sure you were aware of it.

Colby: Let’s summarize—we’ll send American weapons, if necessary; train UNITA in Zaire; try to get non-American trainers in Angola . . .

Smith: Americans training in Zaire, but not Angola?

Colby: Yes.

Smith: I think we ought to avoid U.S. trainers there. To the extent we engage in training there I think we ought to use non-Americans.

Colby: I would prefer no restrictions on training in Zaire. [1 line not declassified]

Smith: I could take that better than training.

Kissinger: I’ll take your views to report to the President. Or you can submit a paper if you wish. I would prefer to keep paper to a minimum.

Colby: Yes, so would I.

Smith: No, that’s all right. I’ve said what I want to say and wanted to be sure you understand my position.

Kissinger (to Colby): What about Mobutu?

Colby: He has sent in troops and may send more. We can encourage that or tell him to keep his hands off. [1 line not declassified]

Kissinger: I saw a report this morning that said Mobutu and Roberto were cooperating. Cabinda is less of a priority. Why does he want to do it now?

Colby: He feels he needs a victory.

[Page 310]

Smith: He’s right there.

Sisco: If he moved into Cabinda now there is a danger that he would be overextending. Second, African leaders look with quiet acquiescence on his moves into Angola, but Cabinda would be a different matter.

Vance: There is the problem of the reactions of Roberto and UNITA—they would not like this.

Potts: A Cabindan liberation force might get licked. It shouldn’t go in if it is not going to win. I think that should be our best argument with Mobutu and then we help him organize and train the force.

Kissinger: Cabinda has a lower priority than Angola. But, it would be better to take it than to let it go to the MPLA.

Cutler: He can’t do much about the MPLA in Angola, so he’d like to take Cabinda, and hope to create a buffer zone in northern Angola.

Hyland: Mobutu could take Cabinda anytime he wanted.

Kissinger: Then we don’t resist.

Vance: He is under pressure for oil, and he can’t get credits.

Colby: He needs the railroad, too, but that’s in the south.

Hyland: Controlled by the MPLA.

Colby: Let me summarize what we’ve said and see if you agree. Don’t encourage him to go into Cabinda with his own troops. If the situation in Angola gets worse, then we won’t stand in his way.

Smith: Let’s give the Cabindans training. If that’s going to determine whether they can win or not, let’s do it now.

Colby: We can give arms and training to the Cabindans.

Kissinger: That’s right.

Sisco: Now?

Colby: Yes.

Sisco: Aren’t his hands full?

Colby: What’s why he wants to take over Cabinda now, before MPLA gets too strong.

Vance: If he does it will help divide Roberto and Savimbi, and affect our strength in Angola.

Hyland: It hasn’t yet, and Mobutu has told Roberto that henceforth their efforts in Cabinda will be joint. He means to take over Cabinda but not to annex it to Zaire.

Kissinger: I want to get something straight here. What is our strength in Angola?

Potts: The fear is that this move would divide Roberto and Savimbi and they would not work together.

[Page 311]

Hyland: There’s an advantage if Savimbi stays in alliance with Roberto. The Portuguese want cooperation with the MPLA so they can walk away. Unless Savimbi sees some hope he will have no option but to cooperate with the MPLA.

Kissinger: What does that mean—a takeover by the Communists?

Hyland: Whenever that point is reached Mobutu will take over Cabinda.

Kissinger: How many MPLA troops are in Cabinda?

Fish: 2500.

Potts: There’s a militia of 1500.

Colby: There’s also the danger that the Congo might move if Mobutu moves.

Kissinger: What does that mean?

Colby: I don’t know.

Kissinger: Well, this could be a blow to the U.S., Cabinda’s loss on top of the loss of Angola. If Angola is going down the drain, then Mobutu should take Cabinda. The question is should we arm and train Cabinda forces?

Fish: Why not?

Cutler: But lose the cooperation of UNITA/Roberto.

Hyland: If we don’t help Mobutu on Cabinda—something that is close to his heart—but spend [dollar amount not declassified] on Angola, he is going to wonder what kind of friends we are.

Kissinger: Let’s arm and train Cabinda forces and see if we can get something going.

Smith: Can he handle both?

Hyland: He can take Cabinda anytime.

Kissinger: But not so nakedly. Start a commotion first. As long as nothing happens why should Savimbi object? If Savimbi joins the front, he turns against us. If we don’t help Cabinda, what can we do?

Colby: Support Cabindan efforts against the MPLA.

Kissinger: We’re not sending them in, but training a standby capability.

Colby: We need to stop a MPLA takeover. We can straighten things out after we stop the MPLA.

Kissinger: I don’t think revolutionary war is our specialty.

Sisco: What is?

Hyland: Nuclear.

Sisco: I hope.

Scowcroft: Intragovernmental.

Colby: You need time; you can’t do it quickly.

[Page 312]

Hyland: But by November we have to do something.

Kissinger: We’ve blown it, basically.

Hyland: A military victory would help.

Kissinger: We need to get something now. If we wait until November then it will be too late. The UN will move in.

Colby: If Savimbi could take these ports (points to map). Then we would get the railroads.

Kissinger: Can he do it?

Colby: I don’t know. But that’s what we ought to be doing.

Fish: If we were to do that in six weeks we would have to send in lots of arms.

Colby: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Kissinger: I’ll raise that with the President tomorrow.

Colby: Things are not good in the north, but if we could get Savimbi to show something . . .

Sisco: The odds are very strongly against it.

Colby: We might approach the Chinese and ask them to increase their support.

Kissinger: We look like pitiful characters. Angola is about as far away from the Soviets as they can get, so we go to the Chinese who are also about as far away from China as they can get—all because we can’t do anything. If this was 1960, you’d win it.

Colby: Yes, no problem. Because we have to tip-toe through the tulips with Congress—that stops us.

Kissinger: At this point we must do all we can.

Colby: We can arm 1,000 Cabindans, train them and get them ready to act in Cabinda while holding off Zaire troops for now.

Sisco: When they are needed, let us know—come back to us.

Colby: Not use Zaire troops in Cabinda for the time being.

Smith: Agree.

Colby: In the south, give our full support including U.S. weapons, if necessary.

Kissinger: Right. Don’t dole them out, waiting for a signed chit from a soldier that he has only a few bullets left.

Colby: Not too parsimonious with U.S. arms. Savimbi’s request for trainers . . .

Kissinger: I think I know the President’s answer—you’d better look elsewhere for trainers.

Colby: More trainers, training in Zaire.

Hyland: [less than 1 line not declassified]

[Page 313]

Fish: And leadership—command.

Colby: Yes.

Fish: You’ve got to have leaders to go in with the troops.

Colby: Yes.

Kissinger: Get French trainers.

Colby: Yes. I know. I’m aware of that.

Kissinger: Okay. What would it take to win?

Colby: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Kissinger: In six weeks?

Colby: No.

Fish: To hold until 11 November?

Kissinger: We’ve got to win.

Sisco: Holding is losing.

Colby: If Savimbi showed some strength it would help things politically.

Hyland: It is probably too late to bring this up, but we ought to consider what cooperation we could get from the Portuguese.

Kissinger: I can fight one of my bureaus, but I can’t fight two at the same time. Six weeks ago I said we would help the Portuguese get their people out of Angola if we could get some help from them on Angola. I was in the Middle East but the cables I saw on this were mush, and we never talked to Portugal in terms of what we wanted done in Angola.

Sisco: Carlucci did.

Colby: Let’s wait a few days and talk to the new government. Ask their help.

Kissinger: Let’s go back fast on this.

Hyland: As soon as they get a new government, go back.

Sisco: It’s too early now.

Colby: You could talk to Antunes now.

Hyland: They just want out.

Kissinger: Have we ever given them any idea what we’re after? What did we tell them?

Hyland: They know we don’t want to help the MPLA.

Kissinger: But they might think we just don’t give a damn.

Sisco: Carlucci has specific instructions about our aims. He went as far as he could go.

Scowcroft: When I got back from Vail there was a cable to be released, and I would not release it until I was sure we did tell them, and I was assured that it was done.

Sisco: I’m not sure this is the time.

[Page 314]

Kissinger: Tell them what we want.

Colby: You can talk now to Antunes and Soares.

Hyland: Put pressure on them.

Kissinger: Okay.

Colby: Fine.

Kissinger: Get a cable to Carlucci to have a talk before he comes back.4

Sisco: They don’t have a government.

Kissinger: Talk to Antunes. Tell them what we want in Angola and ask what Portugal is doing.

  1. Source: National Security Council, Ford Administration Intelligence Files, 40 Committee Meetings. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. Briefing is not attached.
  3. Not found.
  4. See Document 128.