139. Memorandum for the Record1


  • 40 Committee Meeting, 21 November 1975, 12:00 Noon

Members Present: Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Brent Scowcroft; Deputy Secretary of Defense William P. Clements; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Joseph Sisco; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General George Brown; Director of Central Intelligence William E. Colby.

Also Present: Lt. General W. Y. Smith, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Lt. General Vernon Walters, Deputy Director of CIA; and Mr. William Nelson, Deputy Director for Operations, CIA, were present for the entire meeting. Ambassador Roger Kirk, Deputy Director of INR, was present for Items 1–3. Mr. Edward W. Mulcahy, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, African Affairs; Mr. Walter L. Cutler, Director, Office of Central African Affairs; Mr. James M. Potts, Chief, African Division, CIA; and Mr. Hal Horan, NSC Senior Staff Officer for Africa, were present for Item 1. Mr. Robert Barbour, Country Director, Mr. William Wells, Chief, Europe Division, CIA; and Mr. Denis Clift, NSC Senior Staff Officer for Europe, were present for Items 2 and 3.

Scowcroft: I’m sorry I was delayed. It was Congressman Pike again. As you probably know, he’s after the 10 years of our 40 Committee records. These records vary—some are minutes of what went on at a meeting, while others simply record a decision. We’ll have to trim down what was decided without getting into details of how we arrived at that decision.

Well, Bill.


Colby: (Briefed on situation in Angola.)2

Scowcroft: Then we really don’t know if MIGs have been delivered.

Colby: That’s right—we don’t know for sure.

Clements: Is that figure of 3,000 Cubans a hard figure?

[Page 347]

Colby: Yes, pretty hard. The Cubans are becoming the mercenaries of the Communist world. (Continued briefing.)

Now, our paper offers three options—One, mainly diplomatic; two, supporting the South Africans; and three, substantial increments of hardware.3 Joe (Sisco) may want to brief on diplomatic initiatives.

Scowcroft: These are not mutually exclusive.

Sisco: I agree. We do not see the diplomatic alternative as a viable one. We were seeking stabilization of the military situation; we did not expect our covert action efforts to result in a military victory. There’s no doubt that we need to step up our efforts. We’ve taken two steps. One is a note we’ve drafted to go to the Soviets.4 The main thrust is that it is costly to both sides, and it would be in everybody’s interest to reach a settlement. The second item is that we’ve sent a message to see if the OAU could get involved.5 But obviously this effort will be of no pressure on the Soviets unless the military activities are stabilized.

Colby: [1½ lines not declassified]

Scowcroft: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Colby: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Scowcroft: [2½ lines not declassified]

Potts: [1 line not declassified]

Scowcroft: No doubt.

Nelson: They thought that they had not been paid back.

Scowcroft: They were—or are.

Colby: (Pointing to chart). This is what we are doing. [less than 1 line not declassified]

Scowcroft: You do have some more?

Colby: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Colby: There is a new problem. We are fresh out of money. We are just about to the edge of nothing, or below. [1 line not declassified] An alternative would be if OMB would direct Defense to reprogram money to CIA for this purpose. That is a possibility. In fact, the only one I see. It would require not only the normal finding, but the consent of the appropriations committees.

Clements: Well, it would take a lot more power than Jim Lynn of the OMB—the President would have to demand that this be done and order us to do it.

Scowcroft: Isn’t there a second option—increasing the Reserve?

[Page 348]

Colby: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Scowcroft: Do you have to go through the notification procedure to ask directly for a supplemental?

Colby: We would have to hook on to someone else’s supplemental.

Clements: I can’t see your going in with a direct request.

Colby: No, that’s what we’ve been trying to avoid—revealing the intelligence budget. [less than 1 line not declassified]

Clements: That’s possible. We may be.

Scowcroft: Look at all the possible options. Not only for this, but other things that might come up.

Colby: Right. The three options (referring to charts) are about the same. The main difference is in air. These are big operations. The scope and size are such as to make one question whether we should attempt it.

Scowcroft: Can they use such material?

Colby: We would have to send technicians.

Sisco: We can’t send technicians.

Clements: I agree, Joe.

Brown: Right. There’s no stomach for that here.

Scowcroft: Option B, encouraging South Africa. What does that include specifically?

Colby: They’d like to get their troops out, and hire mercenaries. They say that they don’t have the money to do this and have turned to us. I think that this is political dynamite. The press would be after us. They and Africans would say that the MPLA is supported by the big, brave Russians, while the others are backed by the bad South Africans and Americans. That would be unpleasant.

Sisco: More than that. Your description is too mild. What is in the interests of the South Africans? They have more interest in being there than we do and they don’t need our help. I do not favor giving any support to the South Africans. I do not think we ought to get into the position of financing their effort. I want our lawyers to look into the legal question, but even if it is not illegal, it certainly would be violating the spirit of several UN resolutions. I have strong reservations about this. We would not want to discourage them, but leave them to their own devices.

Scowcroft: We do not want to discourage them.

Potts: One of their requests is to buy C–130 aircraft.

Mulcahy: We’ve given them permission to purchase the civilian version.

Potts: Yes, but they must sign an agreement not to use it for military purposes.

[Page 349]

Colby: On the legal question, I’d like our lawyers to talk with yours (Sisco’s).

Sisco: What would these three options buy for us? The Soviets have the bit in their teeth and they are not going to let go. What would be the practical impact of these options, and over what period of time?

Colby: I’ve said before that I do not think that the full impact of the Cuban influence has been felt yet. I thought maybe by the middle of December, but maybe now not until January. But once it does, the direction of the fight will go all the other way. The [dollar amount not declassified]will slow but not stop it; the [dollar amount not declassified] might hold it awhile; the [dollar amount not declassified] might enable us to go ahead.

Potts: These are not mercenaries; they are regular Cuban troops. And the experienced Cubans and best equipment were in the North.

Sisco: What is the capacity of our side to fight?

Colby: I don’t think that is a major problem.

Sisco: You don’t?

Colby: They are not much different from the other side, but the others have had training by the Soviets.

Scowcroft: It is a question of whether or not they will break and run at a rocket attack. With South Africans beside them they have done well.

Clements: What is all this talk? I’ve visited there and these people want to fight. They are natural fighters; they even eat each other. Leadership is the main factor.

Sisco: Is it possible to give priority to some leadership component? Second, with the hardware, what do they get to combat Soviet air support?

Colby: We definitely have not done the training that was needed, because we had to concentrate on a surge of equipment. Savimbi wouldn’t send any of his men out for training—he claimed that he needed them. We have been helped by South African and Zaire’s troops.

Potts: And the relationship between some of the outsiders and the locals is not good. They are always squabbling.

Walters: The Portuguese commandos did well in the North when they were left alone.

Colby: Well, we’ve put in this material and have not been able to do the training.

Scowcroft: Can’t we do a better job of identifying mercenaries?

Colby: We’ve tried—Brazilians, Greeks, etc.

[Page 350]

Nelson: The French have put in $1.5 million in ammunition and they are going to put in another $.5 million.

Sisco: What it comes down to is the quality of leadership.

Nelson: Even with good leaders, when they first meet up with tanks and armored cars, they will run.

Colby: As to your second point about air, all we would include here would be anti-air.

Sisco: What about pilots flying Zaire’s Mirages?

Potts: They have cut their order from France in half. They started with 15, cut it to 12 and now six, simply because they did not have the money. This [dollar amount not declassified] item (pointing to chart) would be for gunships.

Scowcroft: That would raise things to a whole new level. American technicians—that would introduce another level.

Colby: If we contemplate a long fight we will have to send in Americans.

Sisco: We can’t send Americans.

Clements: Why not Brazilians?

Nelson: They turned us down flat.

Mulcahy: They’ve recognized the MPLA.

Walters: This is disturbing to the Brazilian military, but they recognized the MPLA within hours and they also supported the Zionist resolution.

Scowcroft: The diplomatic option is fine, but to expect anything to come of it until the Soviets see the results of what they are putting in, is unrealistic.

Colby: I’d rather put [dollar amount not declassified] in to get other African nations into the act.

Sisco: Well, these options are not mutually exclusive.

Colby: We ought to help the Africans become more aggressive on this issue. If Amin wanted [dollar amount not declassified] to do this, I’d give it to him.

Scowcroft: What we come down to is this: Do we quit now or stay in the ball game? Ten African countries have already recognized the MPLA.

Colby: We could send delegates to an OAU meeting.

Scowcroft: There’s just no chance of that having much of an impact.

Potts: The Soviets would be embarrassed by it.

Scowcroft: I don’t disagree that we ought to do all we can, but as part of, not instead of doing something else.

[Page 351]

Colby: Let’s go full tilt to see if we can get the Africans to act.

Scowcroft: No quarrel with that, but no illusions, either.

Colby: Well, I’m not quitting the other.

Scowcroft: Well, we need an options paper for the President. Check with Lynn on the options for getting money.

Nelson: Don’t forget that we will have to tell Congress.

Colby: We could have a bad problem—McGovern, Dick Clark—they’ve already spoken against this.

Brown: Congress would be opposed to doing anything except through State.

Scowcroft: We’ve really had modest flack on this so far. We’ve spent [dollar amount not declassified] Maybe we can’t do anything more, but let’s at least give the President the options.

Colby: Options, not alternatives.

Sisco: I’d like to see a little more precision as to what the options can do.

Brown: Yes, more specifics. Another thing, the last thing we want to do is to get Mirages in there before any MIGs show up. Then we would be accused of escalating things. The Ambassador has ordered our Defense Attaché not to even look across the river to the airport. We have a wire that the Ambassador said this stand was supported by the NSC Staff.6

Horan: It is a new subject to me.

Potts: The Defense attaché has been flying his plane [1½ lines not declassified]

Scowcroft: Look into that, Joe.

Sisco: I see two broad alternatives—a position where we admit defeat or we opt for stabilization at this cost.

Brown: Militarily.

Scowcroft: Does Zaire have any commandos?

Nelson: That’s what he sent into Cabinda.

Scowcroft: Can’t we send a couple of squads across the river to Brazzaville with bazookas?

Horan: Mobutu’s reaction to the news of the MIGs was to ask for radar, Redeyes, aircraft.

Clements: Say, not to change the subject but any late news on Fernando Poo?

Potts: We have some photos of what’s there.

[Page 352]

Clements: The Russians have moved in there. This is important. We talk about Diego Garcia; that’s nothing compared to Fernando Poo. It is a former Portuguese . . .

Walters: Spanish.

Scowcroft: I see no difference of opinion. We want to do what we can on the diplomatic front, and try to stay in the ball game militarily. How do you feel?

Brown: I’d like to see us develop a paper and see what we think we can accomplish with each option. Although we should not propose using any Americans.

Sisco: I concur in that.

Colby: Does that include American equipment—TOWs?

Sisco: We ought to drive hard on the SA–7’s. We ought to exert every effort to get those before we turn to Redeyes.

Clements: Are we interested in increased reconnaissance of Angola? Say, with the U–2’s?

Potts: Very much.

Brown: We can do this with the U–2 or SR–71. The U–2 is better. Although we’d have to fly that out of Ascension, which means we need the Brits’ concurrence.

Clements: What do you think, Joe?

Sisco: We’ll see. We’ll give you word back on this.

Brown: The U–2 would be simpler, respond faster, cheaper, although we’ll have to get permission of the British. The SR–71 is more expensive and there would be a longer reaction time, but we could launch from the U.S.

Colby: Go over Brazzaville, too.

Scowcroft: Good idea. Good.

Clements: I’ll send you a copy of the memorandum.7

Scowcroft: Okay—for Committee records.

Colby: Joe, in this diplomatic endeavor, we will, of course, do as much as possible in the covert field to support you.

Scowcroft: Give us the proposals—start with one that is bare bones to keep things together. I note that the [dollar amount not declassified]package contains aircraft; maybe that is not necessary and you can cut that some. It may not be essential.

Sisco: Option One—show what it means geared to the thrust of what the Soviets are putting in.

Colby: We’ll do that for the three options.

[Page 353]

Horan: Does Option Three take care of the Soviet 122’s?

Colby: There’s not much that we can do. When one first comes in it really terrifies, but when you get used to it, it is not too bad.

Brown: I want to point out that the TOWs are a sophisticated weapon, a lot can go wrong, and they need a lot of maintenance. We’ve had a lot of trouble with them. They are hard to handle, even with good troops. So don’t think you can put those in there and expect effective use. The LOW might be better.

Colby: One advantage is in how close you have to get to a tank to knock it out.

Potts: We’ve asked the French for some of theirs with the idea that they’d also provide a team to operate them. That was five days ago, and we don’t have an answer yet.

Walters: We’ll get a reply in a couple of days.

Colby: This [dollar amount not declassified] is not much of an answer.

Clements: Well, those 3,000 Cubans worry me.

Sisco: We ought to have a political assessment—South Africa, domestic—well rounded.

Scowcroft: The working group should get to work on this right away. We ought to have a paper to look at early in the week, maybe Monday—Tuesday8 morning at the latest.

Colby: Shall we go ahead on the SA–7’s?

Scowcroft: No dissents on that question?

Potts: We ought to get these in a hurry.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Angola.]

  1. Source: National Security Council, Ford Administration Intelligence Files, 40 Committee Meetings. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. Briefing is not attached.
  3. “Options for Covert Paramilitary Support—Angola,” November 20. (National Security Council, Ford Administration Intelligence Files, Angola)
  4. Document 140.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 138.
  6. Not found.
  7. Not found.
  8. November 24 and 25. The paper was not found.