175. Memorandum for the Record1


  • 40 Committee Meeting, 13 February 1976, 9:00 a.m.

Members Present: Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Brent Scowcroft; Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert F. Ellsworth; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Joseph J. Sisco; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General George S. Brown.

Substitute Member Present: Deputy Director for Operations William Nelson vice Director of Central Intelligence George Bush.

Also Present: Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs William G. Hyland, Director of INR Harold Saunders, and Assistant to the Chairman, JCS, Lt. General W. Y. Smith were present for all items. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Edward W. Mulcahy; Chief, Africa Division, CIA, James M. Potts; and NSC Senior Staff Officer for Africa Harold Horan were present for Item No. 1.

1. Angola

Scowcroft: Let’s start with Angola. Bill (Nelson), I understand you have some new information for us.

Nelson: Right. This is going to be short and sweet. (Briefed, during course of which he reported that 30 of 46 African nations had recognized the MPLA and it will be seated at the OAU meeting.)2

Scowcroft: Your people have talked with Savimbi, haven’t they?

Nelson: Yes. He says he will continue fighting, waging guerrilla warfare.3 [less than 1 line not declassified]

Scowcroft: The President met the other day with the new Zaire [Page 439] Foreign Minister and announced that we would, of course, continue to offer support until our authorized funds run out.4

Brown: What about the South Africans? What are they doing? I read that they had formed a buffer line.

Potts: That’s right. And they still have some people in Serpa Pinto.

Sisco: What is the guerrilla warfare capability of Savimbi? What is the over-all assessment of his capabilities—training, equipment, etc.?

Nelson: Well, he’s not done that lately; he’s been fighting a conventional war. But he has demonstrated an ability to maintain himself under guerrilla warfare conditions. The big problem will be resupply. He has only one airfield now. There’s a chance he might get some supplies via South Africa, but that’s not certain.

Scowcroft: What was his record against the Portuguese?

Potts: Acceptable. He managed to stay on inside Angola while the others fled.

Ellsworth: Where?

Potts: In the south, which is his tribal region.

Mulcahy: He held on for six years.

Nelson: Of course the Portuguese were not always making a big effort.

Ellsworth: After we got supplies to Serpa Pinto what would he do with them—would he have the means to move them? Are there roads?

Nelson: There are roads, and they have trucks.

Brown: What position is South Africa taking? Are we encouraging them to do more? They may be our only hope. I was told the other day that there are more Cubans in Angola—percentage of the population, that is—than there were Americans in Vietnam at the peak. If the South Africans will stay we ought to help them.

Scowcroft: That’s what they’d like—for us to help them with equipment.

Nelson: We are talking to them, but have offered no aid.

Scowcroft: They’ve asked for enough equipment to choke a horse.

Brown: We can’t touch it.

Scowcroft: It wouldn’t go with Congress, and if we went up there with it, it would only set fire to the issue.

Sisco: What is left that we can put in?

[Page 440]

Nelson: Well, with some reprogramming we can free about [dollar amount not declassified]

Sisco: For how long?

Nelson: For as long as the money lasts.

Scowcroft: You mean that is in the program that we were working on, but a lot of things have happened since then. We would have to take a new look.

Nelson: Savimbi wants demolition equipment now. The South Africans were to have given him some, but they are being cosy with him. They want him to turn over some SWAPO personnel—I guess so they can put them into jail—so they are holding back in delivering aid. The big problem is what are we going to do down the road? Where are we going? We can continue our resupply. It looks as if Roberto is about finished, but Savimbi could use some. We could continue this resupply without going to the Congress. This would enable Savimbi to continue for a while, but it would have no end in sight other than to just support him until we run out. How long and for what purpose?

Ellsworth: Savimbi told [less than 1 line not declassified] that he expected Zaire to go on?

Sisco: I would think he will hold out for a while. Kaunda is more problematical.

Mulcahy: Kaunda is more dependent upon access to the railroad, and he is likely to be the first to negotiate.

Sisco: That’s my feeling, too.

Mulcahy: Mobutu will too, eventually.

Ellsworth: How long?

Mulcahy: A month or two. And once he does he will play it straight. If he tried to operate in Luando Province he would find it hostile territory.

Scowcroft: The French have indicated to us privately that they will move to recognize the MPLA soon.5 So that will solve the helicopter problem.

Nelson: What about the British?

Sisco: They told us about the French, and they were candid about their not being able to stop them or a European Community ground swell.

Scowcroft: As you know, Secretary Kissinger plans a trip to the area at the end of March or early April. He will try to sort out where we stand with these countries. I’d like to suggest that the Working Group [Page 441] watch this daily and treat it as a day-to-day problem—what we do, where we go, etc.

Nelson: May we go ahead and support Savimbi?

Scowcroft: Bob (Ellsworth), you had some problem with this before. I’m going with what the President said. We can present a proposal to him for decision.

Ellsworth: I support Savimbi, but I’m not ready to approve this until we have a plan and a policy. As I recall our last meeting, State was going to come up with a policy paper and I would be pleased to see that.

Sisco: State has no paper. We have one but it has yet to get the Secretary’s stamp. But let me tell you what we have in mind, subject to the Secretary’s approval. We visualize immediate steps so as to try to moderate the adverse impact of this situation. And we are concerned particularly about Angola’s neighbors. With Angola, we could proceed to dribble in aid. No one at State feels we can go to the Congress and ask for anything more for Angola. Savimbi might get some aid from South Africa, and maybe from the French, but if the French recognize the MPLA, they probably won’t help any more. Our objective would be to try to redress the adverse impact. Now a problem I see is can all this wait until after Henry’s trip? I think that we can’t wait until then to go to the Congress for aid for Angola’s neighbors.

Ellsworth: Based on what you just said, what are we doing helping Savimbi?

Sisco: I do agree that his continued activity offers some political options.

Ellsworth: Like what?

Sisco: Some modest political accommodation.

Brown: It would help Zaire rally. I think it would be helping Zaire for us to continue to help Savimbi.

Scowcroft: No question. No doubt that Zaire at present wants us to help out with whatever we can do.

Sisco: What we are doing with Savimbi is de facto disengagement.

Nelson: He wants to continue.

Sisco: That’s about the only case you can make.

Ellsworth: Okay. If that’s what we are doing, then we must be prepared in a cold-blooded way to cut it off when the money runs out.

Scowcroft: Savimbi’s been told that, hasn’t he?

Nelson: Yes.

Sisco: Right.

Ellsworth: Well, we were talking earlier about June or July.

[Page 442]

Scowcroft: It may be—depending upon how fast you spend what’s left.

Ellsworth: Well, there simply should be no tears when the time comes.

Nelson: We’d like permission to go to the French and get the helicopters back. If they expect us to pay for them, all we may get out of this is a bill if they lose one.

Brown: Didn’t we make it clear when we started this?

Nelson: No. I think we ought to go to them and say that we are not able to pay any more bills.

Scowcroft: Let’s presume that they have no more bills.

Nelson: We need to clarify this. It was not mentioned when we first made the arrangements.

Hyland: Who has control?

Nelson: The French.

Hyland: Why pay for them? We paid for the delivery, didn’t we?

Scowcroft: Yes, and we’ll have to pay to fly them back, too.

Hyland: Did the French pay?

Nelson: No.

Hyland: Who would pay for them if they gave them to Mobutu?

Nelson: We can’t.

Hyland: That’s probably what we ought to be doing, trying to turn over any equipment we have to Mobutu.

Scowcroft: I think you should tell the French what our problem is, and get the helicopters back on that basis. It is clear that we are not going to get any use out of them.

Nelson: I think we can handle this without directly raising the issue, just review what we are responsible for.

Scowcroft: If the French recognize the MPLA soon, that ought to make it easier to get them back.

Sisco: One thing I want to make clear, I hope that we are not going ahead on the assumption that the totality of the [dollar amount not declassified]has to go to Savimbi. We may need some at the end of the line for transition.

Nelson: We’ll go ahead on a modest scale.

Scowcroft: Keep some in reserve.

Nelson: The situation has changed, and I’m not sure we could get four planeloads in now.

Scowcroft: There’s nothing cheap about [dollar amount not declassified] You can do a lot with that. I recall what we did with the Kurds.

Nelson: Shall we say anything to the leaders, or wait?

[Page 443]

Scowcroft: Before we do that we ought to get together with State on policy.

Sisco: A letter went out last night. We had to fuzz this. We said we were not going to cut anything off, but that we couldn’t do very much. Zaire will be talking to the French, Dutch, Germans and Belgians.

Scowcroft: Is everyone happy about Angola?

Ellsworth: Don’t put it that way!

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Angola].


[1/14; pages not declassified]

  1. Source: National Security Council, Ford Administration Intelligence Files, 40 Committee Meetings. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. Briefing is not attached.
  3. Telegram 25904 from Kinshasa, February 11, reported on a meeting with Savimbi during which he stated his intention to continue the fight against the MPLA. The limits of U.S. involvement were discussed with Savimbi, [text not declassified] (Central Intelligence Agency, DO Files, Job 80–00464A, Box 33, Responses to Investigators)
  4. Ford met with Foreign Minister Nguza on February 11 in the Oval Office at 1:45 p.m. (Memorandum of conversation; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 283, Memoranda of Conversations, Presidential File, February 1976) According to the President’s Daily Diary, the meeting ended at 2:10 p.m. (Ford Library, Staff Secretary’s Office)
  5. See Document 174.