Violence In The Congo: A Perspective
Of United Nation's Peacekeeping
SUBJECT AREA Foreign Policy
Title: Violence in the Congo; A Perspective of
United Nation's Peacekeeping
Author: Bloomer, David R.
Major, U.S. Marine Corps
Duty as part of a multinational peacekeeping force is certainly not
a routine assignment for U.S. Marines. However, as evidenced by the
Marines' participation as the core of the multinational force in Beirut,
Lebanon, such an assignment is possible. Unfortunately, until the Marines
in Beirut began to suffer casualties, there seemed to be little appreci-
ation in the Marine Corps for some of the unique problems which are in-
herent to all peacekeeping missions.
This paper proposes to study the problems which are associated with
peacekeeping through an analysis of the United Nations peacekeeping
mission in the Congo. The U.N. pioneered international peacekeeping in
the 1950's. The Congo mission, which lasted from July, 1960, through
June, 1964, was the largest, the costliest, the most complex, and the
most controversial of the numerous peacekeeping missions which the U.N.
has sponsored. Although the U.N. Peacekeeping Force (UNF) accomplished
a lot in the Congo, it also made a lot of mistakes. An understanding of
what happened in the Congo and an appreciation for the problems that
confronted the UNF will enable any Marine to function more effectively
should he ever be assigned to a peacekeeeping mission.
The United Nations played a unique role in the Congo's struggle
to achieve stability after her emancipation from Belgium. The United
Nations Peacekeeping Force entered the Congo as a neutral party for the
purpose of restoring law and order in a riot torn country. Two years later
it was actively supporting the Congolese Government's attempt to end the
secession of the province of Katanga. The events that caused the metamor-
phosis in the UNF from a neutral peacekeeper to an apparent belligerent
form the basis of this study.
This study begins by tracing the roots of the Congo's political prob-
lems and with an analysis of the events that led to the establishment of
the UNF. This is followed by an analysis of the Security Council mandate
which authorized the Congo peacekeeping force. This mandate, which pro-
vided the legal basis for the peacekeeping force to operate and which
delineated the limits of its authority, changed several times during the
course of the Congo crisis. These changes and their affects on the UNF
are examined in detail. This is followed by a description of some of the
problems which confronted the UNF and by an account of the major military
operations in which the UNF participated. The concluding chapter analyzes
the UNF's mission in the Congo in light of eight principles which have
been established for peacekeeping. The conclusion is reached that, al-
though the UNF accomplished its basic mission in the Congo, by the end of
the crisis it could no longer be characterized as a true peacekeeping
force. Rather, the UNF seemed to be a psuedo-belligerent in the struggle
over Katanga's secession. The study concludes with a brief comment on
the Beirut multinational force with regards to the principles of peace-
keeping. The conclusion is reached that when the Beirut force was estab-
lished, many of the fundamentals of peacekeeping were violated. Conse-
quently, given the military and political situation in Lebanon at the time,
the violence that consumed the Marines in Beirut was inevitable.
The author relied heavily on numerous books which have been written
on U.N. peacekeeping in general and on the Condo mission in particular.
Numerous professional journals offered insight into the nature of peace-
keeping. Of particular value were transcripts of two speeches which were
delivered at the Royal United Service Institution by several prominent
authorities on peacekeeping. As a note on sources, the Congo was a con-
troversial issue which polarized world opinion. Consequently, unbiased
opinions were frequently difficult to find.
WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR
Violence in the Congo:
A Perspective of United Nations Peacekeeping
Major David R. Bloomer, USMC
2 April 1984
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Marine Corps Development and Education Command
Quantico, Virginia 22134
Table of Contents
Map: The Congo in 1960 i
One Seeds of Conflict 3
Two Independence and Chaos 14
Three Mission Overview 22
Four Mandate for Action 30
Five Problems of a Peacekeeper 44
Six Struggle in Katanga 68
Seven Conclusions and Analysis 89
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Until the Marines who were a part of the multinational peace-
keeping force in Beirut, Lebanon, began taking casualties, few Marines,
outside of those who were serving in Beirut, appreciated the unique prob-
lems associated with peacekeeping duty. For those who were still unaware,
that unawareness was shattered when a terrorist detonated a truck loaded
with TNT that he had driven through the front of the Marine barracks.
Two hundred thirty-nine Marines and sailors died as a result. In a con-
ventional war, it is safe to assume that such an attack would never have
succeeded. Yet it succeeded in Beirut - partly because of the nature of
peacekeeping. Peacekeeping is different. It is not a conventional mili-
tary mission and consequently, it entails unique problems and associated
The United Nations pioneered the concept of international peace-
keeping during the 1950's. Since then, the U.N. has sponsored numerous
peacekeeping missions throughout the world. The largest, the most expen-
sive, the most complex, and the most controversial of these missions was
the United Nations' attempt to maintain peace in the Congo from July,
1960 until June, 1964. This paper proposes to examine the unique nature
of peacekeeping through a detailed study of the military, political, and
legal aspects of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Congo.
Numerous principles have been developed which govern peacekeeping
operations. These are discussed in the concluding chapter. Three of
these principles, however, are particularly germane to the issues in the
Congo and should be kept in mind. First, a peacekeeping force, if it is
to be successful, requires the consent of all major parties to the dis-
pute. Second, a peacekeeping force should remain neutral troughout the
conflict towards all parties to the dispute. Third, a peacekeeping force
should implement military force only in cases of extreme self-defense.
The Congo mission was controversial for the United Nations. Most
of the controversy centered around the manner in which the peacekeeping
force observed the aforementioned principles. Not insignificantly, these
three principles and the manner in which they were observed by the Marines
in Lebanon were a prime cause of the difficulties which the Marines experi-
SEEDS OF CONFLICT
"Does independence come wrapped in paper or do we get it
at the bank?"
The former Belgian colony of the Congo erupted in violent fury
shortly after its emancipation in 1960. The country was swept into
virtual anarchy as its government lost control of all forces of law
and order. For three years, events in the fledgling country dominated
the world's headlines as a United Nations peacekeeping force struggled
to arrest violent tribal conflicts, to restore law and order, and to
prevent a bloody civil war. Most of the Congo's difficulties were
rooted in paternalistic policies which were pursued by Belgium prior
to the Congo's independence, and in the nature of the Congolese people
and their politics. Thees problems proved hard to eradicated and presented
difficulties for the peacekeeping force throughout its involvement. A
brief study of events which led to the Congo's independence will in-
crease appreciation for the complexities that faced the peacekeeping
Belgian involvement in the Congo began in 1885 when the Belgian
Parliament authorized King Leopold to take possession of the Central
African territory known as the Congo Free State. King Leopold rules
the land as his personal possession until 1923 when the Free State was
transferred to Belgium as an official colony. The Congo remained a colony
until 30 June 1960, when it was granted independence.
Located astride the Congo River basin in tropical Africa, the colony
covered an area the size of Western Europe. The Congo prospered under the
Belgians, largely because of its vast mineral wealth. The province of
Katanga, located in the Southeastern corner of the colony, proved to be
rich in copper, gold, diamonds, tin, manganese, uranium and cobalt. Bel-
gian mining companies flourished in Katanga and the provincial natives
grew accustomed to a close association with Belgian money.
The Congo's climate and topography ranged from the steaming rain
forests of the Congo basin to the temperate mountain plateaus and bush
country of the Eastern provinces. By 1960, its six provinces boasted a
population of 13 million which was divided into some 200 tribes and
seventy ethnic groups who, between them, spoke over 400 dialects. In-
terspersed among them were approximately 100,000 Belgian nationals.
Although the Belgians were not especially enlightened rulers, they
certainly could not be characterized as repressive. They ruled their
colony with a kind of benevolent paternalism which ensured cordial rela-
tions with their subjects, but did little to prepare the Congolese for
the rigors of self-rule. The Belgians envisioned a gradual broadening
of Congolese economic and educational horizons but made little attempt
to engender what could be called a truly elite academic, social or eco-
nomic class of Congolese. Content with the status quo, the Belgians
could see no time in the forseeable future when the Congolese would be
required to govern themselves. Consequently, when the Congo was swept
up in the nationalistic ferver that engulfed Africa after the Second
World War and cries for self determination surfaced during the mid-
1950's, the Belgians found themselves with a colony that was pitifully
unprepared to rule itself. For example: the Belgians had made no at-
tempt to integrate the Congolese into the administration of the colonial
government and all positions of importance were held by Belgians. There
were no qualified Congolese doctors, nor were there any native professional
societies, for few natives had progressed beyond primary school and there
were less than fifteen Congolese college graduates. Significantly, all
officers in the 25,000 man Congolese army were Belgians.1
As late as 1955, the Congolese had exhibited little interest in
independence. However, in December of that year, a paper published by
Professor A. A. J. VanBilsen of the University Institute for Overseas
Territories in Antwerp stirred interest in independence among the more
educated and more politically astute Congolese. VanBilsen's paper,
entitled "A Thirty Year Plan for the Political Emancipation of Belgian
Africa," argued persuasively that Belgium was following no plan leading
toward Congolese self-determination and that Belgium was entirely at
fault for the total lack of a Congolese professional society. He further
implicated Belgian policy for "giving too little attention not only to
the formation of competent indigenous elites, but above all to the
awakening among them ( the Congolese) of the sense of their responsibili-
ties toward the general good."2 Because of these mistakes, he argued that
it would take at least thirty years to prepare the Congo for independence.
He proposed a future "grand Congolese federation" based on the already
created Belgian administrative system.
Although Belgian reaction to VanBilsen's proposals was mixed, re-
action among the few Congolese who were aware of the "Thirty Year Plan"
was generally enthusiastic. The proposal generated political awareness
and led to the publication, in 1956, of the first formal Congolese
document rejecting Belgian rule. The doculment, entitled simply "The
Manifesto", was published by Joseph Ileo who was later to become the
Congo's prime minister. It politely but firmly rejected any concept of
the Congo's becoming an African copy of Belgium. Ileo state that:
"The present mainfesto is only a point of departure. We will
sharpen and complete it together with those who come later to
join us...The next thirty years will be decisive for our fu-
ture. It would be vain to base our national sentiment on at-
tachment to the past. It is toward the future that we must
turn our attention...We will only find this new equilibrium
in the synthesis of our African character and temperamant with
the fundamental riches of Western civilization...we wish to be
civilized Congolese, not dark-skinned Europeans"3
The response to this call for Congolese to take more initiative and
more responsibility for their country was electric. Word of "The Mani-
festo" swept African sections of the Congo's cities and filtered into the
bush country where it aroused the passions of even illiterate natives.
Although Ileo was content to work slowly for independence, other groups
were not so patient. Several weeks after the appearance of "The Mani-
festo", Joseph Kasavubu published a counter manifesto which demanded
more rapid action. Kasavubu was a dynamic leader who was to become the
Congo's first president. Whereas Ileo invisioned a nation united under
a single party, Kasavubu thought that political struggle among several
parties was vital to the Congo. His reaction to the "Thirty Year Plan"
was directly opposite to Ileo's, he wrote:
"For us, we do not wish to collaborate in the elaboration of this
plan, but purely and simply to annul it because its application
would serve only to further retard the Congo. In reality, it is
only the same old lullaby. Our patience is already exhausted.
Since the hour has come, emancipation should be granted us this
day rather than delayed another thirty years."4
The Congolese were slowly becoming aware of the awakening nationalism
within their country. As an anti-colonial ferver swept Africa, three
events occurred in 1958 which fanned nationalistic fires within the
The first event was the Brussels' World's Fair where seven Congo
pavilions were among Belgium's contribution. The Fair was attended by
a number of prominent Congolese and the pavilions were staffed by several
hundred natives. Due to poor communications and the extreme difficulty
of travel within the Congo, the Fair was the first opportunity for many
of the Congo's tribal leaders to meet. It provided an opportunity for
them to exchange political and cultural ideas, to view Belgian and Eu-
ropean lifestyles, and to search among themselves for common political
The second events was Congolese reaction to a spech delivered by
French president Charles DeGaulle in August 1958 to citizens of Braz-
zaville in French Equitorial Africa. In his speech, DeGaulle declared
that it should be French policy to grant independence as soon as possi-
ble to any of their colonies that wished it. This elicited a reaction
from the Congo's more forceful nationalists who were led by Patrice
Lumumba. He and most of the Congo's future political leaders signed
a motion which was delivered to the Belgian minister of the Congo.
This motion demanded a date for the end of colonization, called for
Congolese representation on a study group that was examining the ques-
tion of indenpendence, and rejected regional federalism in favor of a
By this time, Lumumba had emerged as the dominant figure in Con-
golese politics. As leader of the Congo's largest political party,
he attended a Pan-African conference in Ghana and was made a perma-
nent member of the organization established there. No longer isolated
in the Congo, he had a chance to meet with other African leaders and
to learn first hand about nationalist movements in other parts of
Though the Congolese were demonstrating increased political aware-
ness, their political system was fragmented and most political parties
originated in individual tribal groups. Parties were frequently short
lived as they, often, merged or simply disappeared. By mid 1959, there
were thirty-one formal parties in the Congo and by the spring of 1960,
the number had grown to one hundred twenty. Most of these parties
orginated in urban areas; however, many were dedicated to the preser-
vation of the country's rural interests. However, due to poor com-
munications, urban parties frequently had difficulty identifying and
maintaining the allegience of their rural constituents. Consequently,
large portions of the rural population had no strong political convic-
tions and were easily influenced by the most recent politician to
speak with them.
By 1960, these parties had coalesced into four political factions.
The first was best exemplified by Joseph Kasavubu and his ABAKO party
which espoused a policy of separation from Belgium. Once independence
was gained from Belgium, the ABAKO wanted to divide the existing Congo
into several autonomous states. Closely aligned witht he separatist
movement was the CONAKAT party which was led by Moise Tshombe. As
political leader of wealthy Kantanga province, Tshombe was a nationalist
who foresaw a loose Congo confederation in which considerable power
would be vested in the individual provinces. Significantly, he
favored the continuation of strong economic ties with Belgium. Lumumba,
as head of the Movement National Congolese (MNC), was the leader of
the Congo's only true national party. He envisioned a Congo unified
under a single strong central governement. The fourth, and weakest,
tendency was espoused by moderates who called for maintenance of close
ties with Belgium and who stressed no timetable for independence.
Both the ABAKO and CONAKAT parties were regional factions. Kasavubu
drew his strength from the tribes of the lower Congo region near the
capital of Leopoldville. Although he professed to desire a multi-
stated Congo, Kasavubu subjugated his personal beliefs after the Congo
gained independence, and he strived to maintain the power and unity of
the Central Government. Tshombe, on the other hand, derived his support
from the wealth and mining interests in lower Katanga. Rather than sub-
jugate Katanga and its wealth to the Central Government, once indepen-
dence for the Congo was gained, Tshombe chose to establish Katanga as
a separate state.
The stormy relationships between leaders of the Congo's strongest
political parties was to cause nothing but political turmoil in the
months following independence. As co-leaders of the Central Govern-
ment, Kasavubu and Lumumha's inability to trust each other was to vir-
tually paralyze the Central Government, while Moise Tshombe's determina-
tion to create an independent state of Katanga was to bring the Congo
to the brink of civil war.
Until January 1959, there had been little of the violence that
had chracterized many African struggles to overthrow European colonia-
lism. However, on 4 January, the Belgian government banned an ABAKO
rally in Leopoldville and Belgian paternalism died ingloriously in the
resulting violence. By the time the rioting ceased two days later, an
estimated fifty people were dead and over 300 had been injured. The
Belgians were stunned. They had underestimated the intensity of Congo-
lese nationalism and the depth of the hatred towards Europeans that had
been carefully nurtured by some Congolese leaders. The Belgians capi-
tulated to Congolese demands. Within two weeks, they offered to grant
the Congo independence, but offered no timetable.
The Congo was in an uproar, but most Belgian citizens cared little
about what happened in the colony; and, in particular, they did not want
to fight a war to preserve it as a colony. Only those who had business
interests in the Congo cared much about what happened. Among, those,
the general consensus was that, since the Congolese natives were so
undereducated, they would have to rely almost entirely on the Belgians.
Consequently, life within the Condo would proceed pretty much as before.
The prevailing attitude was summed up by an article in "La Releve" by
M. Staelens. He wrote:
"In fact our (Belgian) policy reflected both a background of
sheer funk (obession with the Algerian war) and a rather
Machiavellian calculation....He (deSchrijver, the responsi-
ble Belgian Minister) granted independence immediately, but
without carrying out any of the reforms urged by M. VanBilsen.
The reason for this is that he never intended conferring on the
Congolese anything more than a purely fictitious and nominal
independence. The financial circles concerned firmly believed
-as for our political circles, they were more naive than any-
thing else-- that it would be enough to give a few Congolese
leaders title of "Minister" or "Deputy", with decorations,
luxury motor-cars, big salaries, and splendid houses in the
European quarter, in order to put a definite stop to the eman-
cipation movement which threatened the financial interests."5
Despite Belgium's guarantee of independence, Lumumba continued to
keep the pressure on the Belgian governement. During April 1959, he
convened a coalition of eight political parties which drafted what be-
came the MNC party platform. The platform demanded the appointment of
a commission to oversee elections, called for universal suffrage, and
pressed for a detailed timetable for independence.
Widespread rioting continued throughout the Congo, and in January
1960, the Belgians acquiesced to Congolese demands for a date for their
independence. A conference in Brussels established 30 June 1960 as
independence day. The new state was to be established on the basis of
the six provinces originally set up by the Belgians. The first govern-
ment was to be established by elections which were to be conducted in
May. This governement would subsequently draft a constitution and elect
the head of state.
The May elections resulted in a narrow victory for Lumumba's
national party over Kasavubu's ABAKO party. The electorate voted along
regional lines, and Lumumba's party could control the government in only
three of the Congo's six provinces. Significantly, his party had no
representation in Katanga.
Immediately after the election results were announced, the Congo
divided into pro and anti-Lumumba camps. Lumumba could get no support
from Kasavubu and had difficulty forming a government. In Katanga,
Tshombe flatly refused to have anything to do with the Central Govern-
ment. However, one week prior to independence, a compromise was reached.
Kasavubu was elected to the largely ceremonial office of President, and
Lumumba was named Prime Minister and Defense Minister.
In five short years, the Congo had evolved from a colony that had
not even contemplated self-rule to the verge of independence. Al-
though emancipation was at hand, the Congolese people enjoyed neither
political nor social stability. The country had no common language,
no common culture, and little sense of national identity. More impor-
tantly, the largely uneducated population, 78% of which lived in the
rural bush areas, was frightfully ignorant of ramifications of
emancipation from Belgium. They had been led to believe, often by
unscrupulous politicians, that independence would bring instant wealth.
Other Congolese believed that they would inherit all Belgian property.
Many had no comprehension of the meaning of independence and viewed it
as an animate object that would arrive by train or be delivered in a
box on independence day.
Worst of all was the hate. Two races that had lived peacefully for
three quarters of a century watched each other cautiously. Anti-European
diatribes screamed at the Congolese natives had whipped many of them to
a blood - thirsty frenzy.
The Congolese government was led by two men who neither liked nor
trusted each other. Across provincial borders, Moise Tshombe stood
ready to make good his dream of an independent Katanga. In between,
was the Congolese army which was soon to be stripped of its entire of-
ficer corps. The bloody violence that ensued precipitated a crisis
that lasted nearly three years and that split factions of the Western
Alliance. The United Nations deployed a peacekeeping force to the
Congo in an attempt to restore law and order. The military activities
of this force created a storm of controversy and tested the credibility
of the U. N. .
1David W. Wainhouse, International Peacekeeping at the Cross-
roads (Baltimore:Johns. Hopkins University Press, 1973) pp. 267-68.
2Alan P. Merriam, Congo: Background of Conflict (Evanston,
Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1961), pp.69
5Conor Cruise O'Brien, To Katanga and Back (New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1962), facing page.
INDEPENDENCE AND CHAOS
"The huge bonfires of joy died down the cities of the Congo.
The drums and tom toms grew guiet. The last writhing dancers
fell exhausted in the dust. The wild intoxication of newly won
independence was over and the monstrous hangover began. With a
primeval howl a nation of 14 million people reverted to near
savagery, plunged backward into the long night of chaos."
Independence day - 30 June 1960. Poorly prepared for independence
and beset by political and social problem, the Congo struggled to cope
with its newly won status. Lumumba's government was a fragile coalition-
weak and composed of leaders who had little training to handle the tasks
that confronted them. Racial tensions continued to escalate when Lumumba
made an impassioned anti-Belgian speech at ceremonies commemorating the
Congo's independence. A litany of anti-European rhetoric had driven many
previously indifferent Congolese to a frenzy of hate aginst the Belgians.
Many bold assurances had been made and impatient natives eagerly antici-
pated the arrival of promised wealth. In the bush country, the drums
beat and tribal unrest went unchecked as the Belgian authorities prepared
to withdraw. In Elisabethville, across 800 miles of jungle from the Congo's
capital, Moise Tshombe plotted independence for his mineral rich province.
Caught in the midst of the turmoil, confusion, and hate, was the Con-
go's poorly trained 25,000 man army, the Force Publique. The army had a
reputation for ruthless effectiveness; but it was composed largely of mal
contents and trouble makers who were held in check by brutal discipline
that was imposed by their 1100 man, Belgian officer corps. (An agreement
between Belgium and the new Congolese government provided for the Belgian
officers of the Force Publique to remain until natives could be trained
to replace them.) The hysteria which surrounded independence had permea-
ted the army and it had raised their expectations of wealth and power.
Despite impending independence and African cries for reform, the force
commander, Lieutenant General Emil Janssens, felt that the army was above
politics. Consequently, he had made no plans to promote any Congolese to
officer ranks or to change army policies.1
Despite the tension, the Congo was quiet for five days after indepen-
dence. On 4 July, however, in a barracks near Leopoldville, a small group
of Congolese soldiers mutinied against their Belgian officers. This
largely isolated incident went unchecked by Belgian officers who were un-
sure of their authority in an independent Congo. The next day the revolt
spread to Camp Hardy near the city of Thysville. The mutineers demanded
higher pay, the replacement of Lieutenant General Janssens, and "Africani-
zation" of the army through replacement of the remaining Belgian officers
and NCO's by Congolese. They were not mollified when Janssens emphatically
rejected their demands and declared that he had no intention of changing
army policy in light of independence. 2
The Congo erupted in a crescendo of savage madness as large elements
of the army totally rejected Belgian authority, and the revolt spread
across the country. Unruly bands of leaderless, drunken soldiers roamed
the streets looting and terrorizing the white population. Native civilians,
caught up in the frenzy of violence and destruction, joined the marauding
soldiers. Panic stricken Belgian civilians began an exodus out of the
Congo as they became the target of a wave of terror. Chaos ensued as
tribe turned upon tribe and blacks turned upon whites. Women were raped,
businesses were burned and looted, and wholesale murder was committed.
Gunfire resounded in city streets while, in the bush country, drums beat
and delirious war cries resounded through the African night. The Congolese
government was powerless to stop the proliferation of violence.
By 7 July, thousands of Belgians had fled the Congo, which further
reduced the stabilizing forces. The ferry across the Congo River to Braz-
zaville in French Africa ran twenty-four hours a day to handle the flood
of refugees. When the word of the madness which had engulfed the Congo
reached Brussels, the Belgian government sought Lumumba's permission to
use Belgian troops, who were still stationed at the Belgian controlled
bases at Kitona and Kamina, to protect Belgian nationals and their pro-
perty. Thinking that he could induce the rebellious army to cease its
rampage, and perhaps believing much of his vitriolic anti-Belgian rhetoric,
Lumumba flatly refused the Belgian request. Meanwhile, the Belgian govern-
ment quietly sent 600 additional troopes to reinforce the bases at Kitona
The next day, the Congolese Special Council of Ministers voted to
"Africanize" the army. All personnel were promoted one rank and the Con-
golese army became the only army in the world without a private. A former
Sergeant Major, Victor Lundula, was promoted to general an made commander-
in-chief of the army. His chief of staff was a former Sergeant turned
journalist, Joseph Mobutu. Neither of these men possessed the requisite ex-
perience to command a large force. By vote of the Congolese Senate, the
army's name was changed from the Force Publique to the Armee Nationale
Congolaise (ANC). More significantly, with these developmemts, the last
vestiges of Belgian stabilization were removed from the Congo.
Despite the pandemonium that was sweeping the reminder of the Congo,
Katanga had remained relatively quiet. The province and its people had
enjoyed a close economic relationship with its Belgian community. The
Katangans had reaped the benefits of the wealth that was derived from the
Belgian owned mines. By Congolese standards, the province and many of
its people were fabulously well off. The provincial capital of Elisabeth-
ville was far removed from the passions of Congolese politics, and Moise
Tshombe recognized the stability and prosperity that close ties with
The serenity in Katanga was shattered on 9 July when ANC troops
stationed at Camp Massart in Elisabethville revolted. Acting quickly and
in defiance of the Central Government, Tshombe took what proved to be a
fateful step by asking for Belgian assistance. Two Belgian companies
under Major Guy Weber quickly restored order on 10 July when they stormed
the camp barracks and then routed and killed an estimated one hundred Con-
By 11 July, however, it had become obvious to the Belgian government
that the situation outside Katanga had deteriorated beyond Lumumba's con-
trol and that since Lumumba could not restore order, Belgian troops would
have to. With its nationals still streaming out of the country and those
that remained still under threat of violence, the Belgians moved to stabi-
lize the situation. In violation of existing treaties with the Congo
government, Belgian troops deployed to key military bases and into Leo-
poldville and quickly restored a resemblance of order in these areas. At
the same time, at Tshombe's request, Belgian troops occupied the mining
town of Jadotville in Katanga.
Aside from Katanga and those areas which were controlled by the Bel-
gian army, anarchy prevailed within the Congo. The only vestige of autho-
rity was provided by the Belgians who had occupied the country in violation
of existing treaties. Lumumba's authority extened no farther than the
sound of his voice and his only authoritarian force, the ANC, was completely
out of control. Consequently, on the evening of 10 July, the United States
Ambassador to the Congo designate, Clare H. Timberlake, quietly suggested
to Lumumba and Kasavubu that they request assistance from the United Na-
This proved to be a fateful step. However, if Lumumba had any reser-
vations about asking for U. N. assistance, they were perished by the events
of 11 July when three, unrelated incidents touched off a new and more severe
wave of violence. The first incident occurred in the port city of Matadi
which was shelled by a Belgian warship. The shelling caused considerable
damage and some loss of life. Meanwhile, Belgian paratroops quietly rein-
forced Belgian positions throughout the Congo. The Congolese army radio
network carried exaggerated, hysterical versions of the paratroops' ac-
tion. These broadcasts precipitated increased attacks on Europeans. On
the same day, Tshombe made his move and declared Katanga to be a free and
Lumumba and Kasavubu promptly flew to Elisabethville in an attempt
to reconcile their differences with Tshombe; but when they arrived, Bel-
gian troops, under orders from Tshombe, had occupied the airport and re-
fused to let the plane land. When the plane returned to Leopoldville,
it was met by Belgian troops who were occupying the airport. An angry
exchange of words occurred between Lumumba and some Belgian soldiers,
and Lumumba was struck in the face. The break between Belgium and the
new Congo government was now complete.
Lumumba made two specific requests to the United Nations for assis-
tance. These were sandwiched around a thinly veiled threat to appeal to
Communist China for assistance if help was not forthcoming from the U.N..
The first request was delivered orally on the evening of 11 July to Dr.
Ralph Bunche who was the United Nations representative in Leopoldville.
The request cited the unreliability of the Congolese army and the inability
of the Central Government to maintain order. The next afternoon Lumumba
and Kasavubu made another request. They submitted a formal, written docu-
ment which solicited military assistance to combat both alleged Belgian
aggression and Belgian support for Katanga's sucession.4 They wrote:
"The Government of the Republic of the Congo requests
urgent dispatch by the United Nations of military assistance.
This request is justified by the dispatch to the Congo of metro-
politian Belgian troops in violation of the Treaty of Friendship
signed between Belgium and the Republic of the Congo 22 June 1960.
Under the terms of the treaty, Belgian troops may only intervene
on the express request of the Congolese government. No such re-
quest was ever made....we therefore regard the unsolicited Belgian
action as an act of aggression against our country."5
The differences in tone between these requests represent two funda-
mentally different ways to view the Condo problem. The first request em-
phasized internal weaknesses within the Congo; whereas, the second request
alleged external interference in the Congo's internal affairs. These di-
vergent viewpoints became the focus of United Nations' debate on the Congo
issue and influenced the resolutions passed by the Security Council.6
These resolutions, in turn, had a direct influence on the capabilities
and on the limitations which were imposed on the U.N. military force which
was deployed to the Congo.
The Congolese Central Government tried to force the issue by request-
ing aid again on 13 July with the stipulation, this time, that assistance
be provided primarily by African states and not by the United States. The
Security Council responded the following day with an 8-0 vote to commit
U.N. technical and military assistance to the Congo. This response com-
mitted the United Nations to what columnist Walter Lippman described as
"the most advanced and sophisticated experiment in international coopera-
tion ever attempted."7 The United Nations was committed to the Congo, and
as troops rushed in from all directions, they brought the tensions of cold
war politics with them.
1Ernest W. Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N.
Congo Operation (Baltimore:Johns Hopkins Press, 1967). p. 7.
2Wynfred Joshua, A Congo Chronology, 1960-1964 (Washington
D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1966), p. 2.
3David W. Wainhouse, International Peacekeeping at the Cross-
roads (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1973), p. 268.
4Ernest W. Lefever, Crisis in the Congo (Washington D.C.:
Brookings Institution, 1965), pp. 13-14).
5Ernest W. Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N.
Congo Operation, pp. 224-25.
6Ernest W. Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 14.
7Washington Post and Times Herald, 21 July 1960, p. 1.
"The U.N. is supposed to keep the peace - yet thousands
are dying here - violently. But without the U.N. force, nobody
would be safe. You wouldn't want to be here if the U.N. were
U.S. News & World Report
As modern warfare goes, the fighting in the Congo was not particu-
larly violent in terms of battle casualties. Most of the engagements were
little more than skirmishes fought by company size or smaller units. Yet
the danger, the fear, and the tension of combat were very real for those
who served there. The Congo was a war of nerves as much as a war of action;
yet, those that died there often met a brutal, inhumane death.
The United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNF) arrived in the Congo in
July 1960. During the course of the following three years, the Force be-
came involved in two separate conflicts, and it clashed with three distinct
foes - none of which was supposed to be an enemy.
The first conflict was with the mutinous ANC. On numerous occasions,
UNF contingents were attacked for no apparent reason by ANC soldiers. At
other times, peackeeping contingents clashed with ANC units which had been
encouraged by the Congolese government to interfere with United Nations
activities. This conflict expanded after the Congolese Central Govern-
ment fragmented into several warring factions in September 1960. The UNF's
original mission was to restore law and order. This mission was then ex-
panded to include efforts to prevent civil war. The Force clashed
with tribal bands and with ANC units who were loyal to the various, poli-
tical leaders who were seeking power.
The main act, however, was played out in Katanga where the UNF attemp-
ted to prevent civil war between Katangan forces and the Congolese Central
Governement. The Force gradually became more involved in the dispute over
Katangan independence and eventually intervened on behalf of the Central
Government. This intervention ended Katanga's secession.
What follows is a brief overview of the United Nations military in-
volvement in the Congo. Specific problems dealing with the political and
legal maneuvering in the United Nations that established the peacekeeping force,
and the specific military difficulties that the UNF faced as a result of
its unique role in the Congo will be discussed in subsequent chapters.
When Belgian troops occupied portions of the Congo in July 1960,
Lumumba immediately accused the Belgians of aggression and of attempting
to reinstate their colonial power. He also accused the Belgian government
of conspiring to establish Tshombe's regime in Katanga. Consequently, the
international community polarized on the issue, and what began as a local
conflict, immediately acquired dimensions of a struggle between nationalism
After their arrival in mid-July, U.N. troops quickly deployed to con-
trol key points within Leopoldville. Other UNF units occupied key cities
in the interior of the Congo. The Belgian troops, who had originally moved
to restore order, cooperated with the UNF in efforts to stop the violence.
By mid-September, most of the violence had ceased; and with the exception
of 231 officers and non-commissioned officers, who had been seconded to
Tshombe's gendarmerie by the Belgian government, all Belgian troops had
left the Congo.2
Much to Lumumba's consternation, however, the UNF made no efforts to
expel the Belgian troops from Katanga. By August, U.N. Secretary-General
Dag Hammarskjold was under pressure from the Soviet Union and militant
African states to commit U.N. troops to Katanga. Hammarskjold concurred
that the UNF should enter the province, but he backed down when Tshombe an-
nounced that his army would oppose, with force, any United Nations attempt
to enter Katanga.
Lumumba's dissatisfaction with U.N. efforts grew over what he consi-
dered to be half-hearted U.N. attempts to solve the problem of Katanga's
secession. He insisted that the United Nations was obligated to assist
the Congolese Central Government in an attempt to reintegrate Katanga.
However, one of the fundamentals of peacekeeping states that peacekeening
forces should remain impartial and that they should not take sides in the
conflict. Hammarskjold was familiar with this principle. This, plus a
racing debate in the Security Council over the precise role that the UNF
should play in Katanga, prevented the Secretary-General from committing
troops to action against Tshombe's forces.
The Central Government's difficulties extended beyond Katanga. In
the province of Kasai, tribal violence erupted between Baluba and Lulua
tribesmen. After numerous savage attacks in which several Baluba villages
were looted and burned, the Baluba leader, Albert Kolonji, declared Kasai
to be an independent state. Subsequently, he signed a mutual defense pact
with Tshombe. The province was subsequently invaded by ANC troops who
murdered hundreds of fleeing Balubas. Tunisian troops of the UNF who
were occupying Kasai looked on helplessly because their rules of engage-
ment did not permit them to interfere or to use force except in self de-
However, there was more involved to the action in Kasai than the
UNF's inability to stop the murder of Baluba tribesmen. The Soviet Union
had unilaterally intervened and had tranported the invading ANC troops in
Soviet aircraft. This internationalized the incident and caused Hammar-
skjold to denounce the Soviet action as "contrary to the spirit of the
Security Council resolutions . . . tending to re-introduce elements of
the very kind the Council wished to avoid when it requested the withdrawal
of Belgian troops."4 He insisted that all nations refrain from unilateral
assistance to the Congo and that all aid be channeled through the United
By early September 1960, much of Lumumba's support had eroded. Baluba
tribesmen and their supporters resented the invasion of Kasai. Other
natives were angered by Lumumba's frequent outbursts against U.N. efforts,
while others feared his leftist tendencies. Kasavubu attempted to dis-
solve Lumumba's government on 5 September, but Lumumba managed a close
vote of confidence. He was still attempting to continue his Soviet
supported invasion of Kasai when U.N. forces closed all airports in the
Congo to everything but United Nations traffic. This action prompted
Soviet accusations that the U.N. was sponsoring Belgian aggression and
it increased Soviet demands for active U.N. military intervention in Ka-
The political situation in Leopoldville assumed proportions of a
comic opera during mid-September. Kasavubu, again, declared Lumumba's
government to be no-existant. Two day later, on 12 September, Lumumba
was placed under arrest by army Chief of Staff Mobutu but was released
shortly thereafter by loyal Congo soldiers. On 14 September, Kasavubu
suspended the Congolese Parliament, and Mobutu led a militay coup. Sub-
sequently, Mobutu established a Council of Ministers to run the country.
Kasavubu remained President.5 Lumumbu was, once again, placed under
arrest; but he escaped to Stanleyville, in Orientale provice with
some of his supporters.
The United Nations had steadfastly refused to interfere with the po-
litical infighting in Leopoldville. The Soviet Union, alleging Belgian
support for Katanga, continued to press for direct U.N. intervention to
end Katanga's secession.6 The Soviets sponsored a series of verbal
attacks on the Secretary-General when he refused to respond to the
Soviet pressure. The fragile political coalition that had authorized
U.N. entry into the Congo continued to crumble. Several African states,
which were loyal to Lumumba's cause, were dismayed over a lack of U.N.
action to restore Lumumba to power and threatened to withdraw their
contingents from the UNF.
Fortunately, the perserverence and dedication of Secretary-General
Hammarskjold kept the UNF in tact. However, after the dissolution of
Lumumba's government, the U.N. had no strong authority within the
Central Government with whom it could deal. The political situation
deteriorated further on 1 December when Lumumba was, again, arrested, and
a Lumumba supporter, Antoine Gizenga, established a pro-Lumumba govern-
ment in Stanleyville. He immediately declared independence and actively
sought Soviet support. Lumumba, meanwhile, was shuffled between several
prisons and finally wound up in Elisabethville where he died under
It was not until 2 August 1961, when the Council of Ministers voted
to install Cyrille Adoula as Prime Minister, that the Congo gained a head
of state. The Congoless Central Government had been without effective
leadership for nearly one year.
It was a frustrating year for the peacekeeping force. It was a
year that was marked by sporadic outbursts of violence when United
Nations forces clashed with ANC units or with bands of native tribes-
men. With the establishment of Adoula's government, most of the vio-
lence stopped and most of the excitement was over. However, there was
still the problem of Katanga.
By August 1961, Tshombe possessed a well established, well armed,
and well trained gendarmerie. It was effectively led by Belgian officers
and non-commissioned officers, who had been seconded to the Katanga
government by Belgium, and by foreign mercenaries who had been personally
hired by Tshombe. Tshombe had succeeded in resisting all political at-
tempts to reintegrate Katanga with the Central Government, and his gen-
darmerie had demonstrated, several times, that it was more than a match
for the ANC.
During its early involvement in Katanga, the UNF acted strictly as
a peacekeeping force and it took no action against Tshombe's government.
However, by November 1961, the political climate at the United Nations
had changed considerably. The UNF was enpowered to take action against
Katangan mercenaries, and, through a series of military operations, it
terminated Katanga's sucession.
This resolved the Katanga issue and effectively ended U.N. military
operations in the Congo. It did not, however, restore political sta-
bility. Gizenga remained in control in Stanleyville, and Parliament
was suspended again in September 1963. Gizenga's regime continued to
strengthen, and in 1964, rebellion spread through several other provinces.
By June of that year, a financially strapped United Nations had conclud-
ded that, although the prospects for political stability in the Congo
were still not good, there was little to be gained by continued U.N.
involvement. The UNF was withdrawn from the Congo on 30 June 1964.
Ironically, it was the former secessionist, Moise Tshombe, who was
elected Prime Minister in July 1964. With the help of some of the mercen-
aires who had run his gendarmerie in Katanga, Tshombe defeated insurgent
rebels in the outlying provinces. He was subsequently deposed by Joseph
Mobutu. Mobutu changed the country's name to Zaire and the country re-
mained relatively tranquil through the remainder of the 1960's.
1John G. Stoessinger, The United Nations and the Superpowers
(New York: Random House, 1967). p. 78.
2Ernest W. Lefever, Crisis in the Congo (Washington D.C.:
Brookings Institution, 1965) p. 33.
3King Gordon, The United Nations in the Congo (New York:
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1962), p. 52.
5Evan Luard (ed.), The International Regulation of Civil Wars
(New York University Press, 1972), p. 112.
6Linda B. Miller, World Order and Local Disorder (Princeton,
New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1967), p. 75.
7Howard M. Epstein (ed.), Revolt in the Congo (New York: Facts
on File Inc., 1965), p. 65.
MANDATE FOR ACTION
The United Nations Force that served in the Congo was a multi-
national force, a legal creature that was carved out of a fragile poli-
tical consensus at United Nations Headquarters - eight thousand miles
from the conflict. Unlike a unilateral force that draws its authority
from a single government, a United Nations peacekeeping force, such as
the UNF, is constrained by the authority granted it by the Security
Council of the United Nations. The Council, through its agents, has
the authority and obligation to determine the precise mission of the
peacekeeping force and to define the means that the force can use to
accomplish that mission. Due to the multinational nature of the Secu-
rity Council and the ever present threat of a veto by one of the perman-
ent members, mandates for U.N. military action are usually, out of ne-
cesity, general in nature, and frequently ambiguous. This was certainly
true of the mandate that authorized the UNF. Military commanders were
handicapped by a complex, changing, yet general, mission and by restric-
tive rules of engagement. This caused very real problems in the field.
Before addressing these problems, however, an understanding of the
nature of the United Nations mandate for intervention in the Congo and the
specific limitations that it placed on the UNF is necessary.
This chapter will discuss the nature of the mandate that authorized
U.N. intervention in the Congo. It will examine the origins of the man-
date and trace the modifications which were made to the original mandate
by the Security Council. These modifications took the form of resolutions
which were passed by the Council in response to changes in the political
and military situation within the Congo. Each of these resolutions, in
turn, modified the military capabilities of the peacekeeping force. This
chapter will also examine the role of the Secretary-General of the U.N.
who, as the executive agent of the Security Council, directly influenced
the operations of the UNF.
Ostensibly, the United Nations acquiesced to Lumumba's appeal for
assistance because the appeal consisted of a specific request for aid
from the legitimate government of a sovereign state.1 In reality, the
question of whether to acede to Lumumba's request was not nearly so
simple. The committment of United Nations troops is the prerogative of
the Security Council. Consequently, any response to Lumumba's request,
which would commit troops to the Congo, was subject to veto by one of the
permanent members of the Council. However, when the resolution to autho-
rize intervention in the Congo was introduced in the Council, neither
superpower, in a rare show of unanimity if not agreement on the Condo
question, felt compelled to veto the resolution. In 1960, the United
Nations was very conscious of emerging African nationalism and of the
problems that this was causing for the colonial European powers. Neither
the United States nor the Soviet Union was willing to interfere unilat-
erally in the Congo if the price for hegemony in Central Africa was to
be labeled a colonialist.2 The Cold War was at its peak, and the United
States, fearing Soviet opportunism in Central Africa, saw the deployment
of a United Nations force as a means of interspersing the U.N. between
the super powers while, simultaneously, forestalling unilateral Soviet
intervention. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, supported U.N. inter-
vention because this support gave the Soviets the appearance of cham-
pioning the cause of anti-colonialism while decreasing American influence
in the region.3
Although the super powers had reached a rare consensus, the United
Kingdom and France were lukewarm, at best, toward the proposal. Both
countries had serious reservations about United Nations interference in
what they both felt was essentially an internal problem for the Congolese
people to solve on their own. Both opposed the creation of the UNF in
principle, but neither country felt strongly enough to veto the resolu-
The only common ground among the permanent members of the Council
was a general consensus that something should be done about the Congo;
however, there was little agreement among them regarding the proper
course of action. On his fragile understanding, the initial resolution
to assist the Congo passed the Security Council by an 8-0 vote on 14 July
1960. (France and the United Kingdom abstained). The resolution, however,
was vague for a number of reasons.
First, although the U.N. had previously sponsored a number of peace-
keeping missions, the U.N. had always stepped in to separate two warring
belligerents. In the Congo, there were no definite warring factions and
with the exception of Katanga's secession, there was no clear cut dispute.
Thus, there was no established precedent for peacekeeping in such a situ-
ation. Secondly, the chaotic and unclear situation in the Congo coupled
with the divergent views of the Security Council members precluded the
passage of a resolution authorizing definite action.4 The resolution
simply called for the withdrawal of all Belgian troops from the Congo,
and it authorized the Secretary-General to consult with the Government
of the Congo. The resolution also stated that the United Nations should:
"provide the Government (of the Congo) with such military
assistance as may be necessary, until, through the efforts
of the Congolese Government with the technical assistance
of the United Nations, the national security forces may be
able, in the opinion of the Government, to meet fully their
The resolution was specific in its call for the removal of Belgian
troops. However, it failed to define the nature of the military assist-
ance which was to be offered to the Congolese government. Subsequent ex-
pansions of this resolution (mandate) never fully clarified the specific
goals of the UNF. More importantly, the means that the UNF could use to
accomplish its mission were never fully delineated.
The Secretary-General determined the precise interpetation of the
mandate. Although the members of the Security Council were divided over
how to handle the Congo problem, Dag Hammarskjold had no reservations.
To him, the case for United Nations involvement was clearly defined, and
he had specific ideas regarding the role that the U.N. force should play.
From a United Nations point of view, Hanmarskjold saw both internal
and external aspects to the Congo problem. The external aspects were more
readily identifiable. Belgium had introduced troops into another sovereign
state without that state's permission. Whether this was an act of aggres-
sion, as charged by the Congolese government and the Soviet Union, or
whether it was an act of humanitarianism to protect the lives and property
of its nationals, as claimed by Belgium, the international consequences
and the threat to world peace were likely to be serious. States friendly
to the Congo were already threatening intervention and the potential for
East-West confrontation over hegemony in Central Africa was present. Under
terms of the United Nations charter, there appeared to be a clear cut case
Hammarskjold envisioned a simplistic operation for the UNF. In
his opinion, the presence of Belgian troops had caused most of the ten-
sion in the Congo. Therefore, he felt that the removal of these troops
should be the main purpose behind U.N. intervention. The introduction
of an international force, under a well-defined, United Nations mandate,
would enable Belgium to voluntarily remove her forces, while simultaneously
forestalling unilateral military intervention by other states.6 It fol-
lowed that after the withdrawal of Belgian troops, the UNF would main-
tain law and order until security forces of the Central Government could
assume this function.7 Unfortunately, Hammarskjold's view of the United
Nations role in the Congo clashed with Lumumba's who preceived the UNF
as an instrument with which to crush Katanga's sucession.
The internal portion of the conflict concerned the secession of
Katanga. Hammarskjold viewed this as largely a constitutional matter
which was to be resolved between Tshombe and the Central Government.
However, the Katanga problem was not that simple, and it subsequently
proved to be more complicated than any other aspect of the Congo crisis.
Lumumba insured that the difficulties which were caused by Katanga's
secession would not remain internal when, in his request for U.N. assis-
tance, he alleged Belgian support for Tshombe's regime.
Katanga was a thorny issue for Hammarskjold. Although he would
not permit the use of U.N. troops to force a settlement on Katanga, neither
could he accept Katanga's secession as an established fact. Since the
Congo had applied for United Nations membership and Katanga had been an
integral part of that country, Hammarskjold felt that any U.N. deter-
mination regarding the Congo would have to apply to Katanga as well.
He insisted that the constitutional relationship between Katanga
and the Central Government would have to be resolved between the two of
them, without reliance on outside forces. In addition, he would not per-
mit the United Nations to employ its military forces to the advantage of
either side, nor would he permit unilateral assistance by other nations
to either antagonist.8
Hammarskjold steadfastly maintained his resolve to keep the UNF out
of Congolese politics. However, as the crisis escalated and a political
and military impasse was reached in Katanga, U.N. troops were engulfed by
the tug of war over the province and, eventually,drifted towards active
support of the Central Government.
The Secretary-General's original concept called for a limited U.N.
involvement. However, he and the Security Council made four initial
assumptions regarding the Congo, all of which proved to be wrong. First,
they assumed that Belgium would soon withdraw all of her troops; and
second,that the UNF would be able to easily restore order.9 Belgium
did remove her troops from most of the Congo shortly after the 14 July
resolution was passed. However, one year later, Belgian officers and
non-commissioned officers still served in the Katangan gendarmerie and
their presence precipitated several clashes with the UNF.
The Security Council and the Secretary-General also assumed that the
Congolese government would regain control of the ANC and turn it into a
disciplined force. This was never accomplished. Consequently, UNF troops
periodically clashed with Congolese units. Although widespread violence
against European nationals was eliminated early in the conflict, the UNF
was never entirely successful at eliminating random atrocities which were
frequently perpetrated by bands of native tribesmen or by dissident ANC
units. The final false assumption was that the problem between Katanga
and the Central Government would be easily resolved.10
The realities of Security Council politics and the Secretary-General's
personal interpretation of the mandate that he received from the Security
Council were to severely limit the military options which were available
to the UNF. The cornerstone of Hammarskjold's policy was the principle of
non-interference in the Congo's internal affairs. This principle stated
that under no circumstances was the UNF to be used as an instrument by
either Tshombe or the Central Government to impose a solution to Katanga's
secession on the other side. Instead, the UNF was to provide a proper
environment so that, through negotiation, a peaceful solution to the Con-
go's problems could be found.
Hammarskjold was also sensitive to the complexities of super power
relationships within the Security Council. He understood that the initial
consensus between the United States and the Soviet Union was not based on
a mutual understanding or on common goals. In order to keep his fragile
coalition in tact and to avoid the inevitable veto that would accompany
an East-West confrontation over the Congo, Hammarskjold insisted not
only on the principle of non-interference in Congolese affairs, but on
its corallary, which prohibited the use of force by United Nations
forces except in cases of extreme self-defense.11 This restriction on
the use of force was to present UNF commanders with a serious moral
dilemma, as well as restrict their ability to accomplish portions of
the UNF's mission.
Based on his interpretation of the mandate and the situation in the
Congo, Hammarskjold developed a set of ground rules which defined the re-
lationship between the UNF and the Congolese Central Government. Using
these rules as a basis, he established the following operating principles
for the UNF:
First: The UNF would be under the "exclusive command" of the
Secretary-General who was accountable only to the Se-
curity Council. No UNF national contingents would take
orders from their own or the Congolese government. All
U.N. operations would be distinct and separate from any
activities sponsored by individual states.
Second: The United Nations would not interfere in internal con-
flicts, nor would it be used to enforce any specific
Third: The Force must have freedom of movement throughout the
Congo, including Katanga.
Fouth: The UNF would use force only in self-defense and, under
no circumstance, would it initiate the use of force.
Fifth: The Secretary-General, in consultation with the Congolese
government, would determine the composition of the Force.12
The mission of the UNF as initially established was, on the surface,
relatively simple. It consisted of five parts:
1. To restore and maintain law and order throughout the Congo.
2. To prevent civil war and curb tribal conflicts.
3. To transform the ANC into a reliable security force.
4. To restore and maintain the territirial and polical integrity
of the Congo.
5. To eliminate the influences of foreign military and para-military
personnel in the internal affairs of the Congo.13
The UNF's mission did not change significantly during the course of
its involvement in the Congo. However, the methods which the Force was
permitted to employ to accomplish its mission changed several times.
These changes resulted from modifications to the peacekeeping force's
mandate. The Security Council modified the mandate in response to changes
in the military and political situation in the Congo.
AN EXPANDING MANDATE
During the course of the United Nations military involvement within
the Congo, the Security Council passed four resolutions that directly in-
fluenced the U.N. peacekeeping force. Due to the need for political ex-
pediency and the divergent views of the permanent members of the Security
Council, each of these resolutions authorized broad action, yet each
limited the methods that the UNF could employ. An understanding of these
resolutions and the events which led to their passage will increase appre-
ciation for the problems which confronted UNF military commanders in the
The initial Security-Council resolution of 14 July simply authorized
U.N. intervention and called for the withdrawal of Belgian troops. It
also permitted the Secretary-General to offer such military and technical
assistance as would be necessary to allow the Central Government to
restore and maintain law and order. A subsequent agreement with the
Central Government authorized the UNF freedom of movement throughout the
Congo. However, Tshombe's steadfast refusal to allow U.N. troops to enter
what he considered to be the sovereign state of Katanga and his avowed
determination to resist U.N. intervention with force, if necessary, forced
Hammarskjold to seek clarification of his mandate from the Security-Council.
The original resolution had not authorized the UNF to use force and
it appeared that the peacekeeping force would have to fight to enter Katanga.
On 9 August, the Council expanded the 14 July resolution by noting Tshombe's
belligerent stance regarding the entry of U.N. troops into Katanga and by
reaffirming the Secretary-General's authority to deal with the crisis.
They expanded the mandate by calling for the removal of Belgian troops
from Katanga and by declaring that United Nations forces had the authority
to enter the province in order to implement the 14 July resolution. To
allay Tshombe's fears of a forced end to Katanga's secession, the resolu-
tion reiterated that U.N. forces would not intervene in the Congo's inter-
Although the resolution did not expand the UNF's capability to use
force, it did mollify Tsbombe and it allowed the UNF to enter
Katanga. It did not, however, alleviate the difficulties faced by indi-
vidual soldiers who were trying to maintain order in the midst of the
chaos that engulfed the remainder of the Congo.
By February 1961, the Central Government had suffered a series of
coups and had effectively ceased to function. The UNF had been able to
function under its limited mandate. However, though relative stability
had been restored to the remainder of the Congo by the UNF, there had
been no progress toward a resolution to Katanga's secession. Tshombe had
established an efficient, well-armed gendarmerie officered by Belgian of-
ficers seconded to him by their government and by mercenaries who were
working solely for the money. Lumumba's death in Katanga prompted Soviet
demands for the immediate ouster of Tshombe and pushed the country closer
to all out civil war. Clashes between ANC units and Tshombe's gendarmerie.
increased. Baluba tribes from Northern Katanga sought Tshombe's ouster
and they suffered several bloodly encounters with Katangan troops. The
UNF was caught in the middle of these conflicts. Because they were un-
able to initiate the use of force, the UNF was unable to stop these con-
The Security Council took steps to remedy this situation on 21
February,when it passed Security Council resolution S4741 which autho-
rized the UNF to take all appropriate measures necessary to prevent the
outbreak of civil war including, as a last resort, the use of force.
Resolution S4741 also called for the explusion from the Congo of all
Belgian and other foreign military and para-military personnel who were.
not under U.N. command.15 These measures, had Tshombe permitted their im-
plementation, would have eliminated the backbone of his military forces.
The resolution also permitted ground commanders the use of force, but it
still required commanders to determine when the else of force was appropri-
ate. Any determination to use force was subject to interpetation as to
whether the implementation was to prevent civil war or whether it was
to force a solution on Katanga. The resolution was not, under any circum-
stances, authorization for the UNF to conduct offensive operations as was
pointed out by Oscar Schacter in an article for the "Proceedings of the
American Society of International Law". Schacter stated:
"What it did was to authorize the Force, for the first time, to
take up positions for the purpose of preventing civil war clashes
(as in support of cease-fire arrangements and neutralized zones);
if the troops were attacked while holding such positions, they could
use force in defense, but this did not mean they were entitled to
"take the initiative" in an armed attack on an organized army
group in the Congo."16
With the establishment of Adoula's government in August 1961, the
situation outside Katanga stabilized. However, within Katanga, tensions
ran high. UNF and Katangese troops watched each other warily as both the
United Nations and the Central Government manuevered with Tshombe in an
attempt to resolve the issues which divided the two governments. It had
become increasingly obvious that the Central Government lacked the finan-
cial and military strength to end Katanga's secession. With UNF military
commanders barred from offensive action and permitted to else force only
under limited circumstances, a protracted stalemate,punctuated with spora-
dic fighting, appeared inevitable in Katanga.
By September, the UNF faced a new problem in Katanga. U.N. troops
had clashed directly with Katangan forces in a brief, but bloody, battle
near Elisabethville in early September. There was evidence that the
fighting had been initiated by the UNF. Both the United Nations and the
Peacekeeping Force were severely criticized by the press and several Western
governments, including the United Kingdom and France, for initiating mili-
Until the September incident, the United Nations had carefully avoided
supporting either side in the Katanga conflict. Subsequently, however, the
Security Council passed a resolution on 24 November 1961 that clearly brought
the United Nations down on the side of the Congoleso Central Government. The
November resolution deplored the armed action and the secession of Katanga,
and it rejected Tshombe's claims of Katangan sovereignty. It demanded the
cessation of all secessionist activities in the Congo and it declared that
the Central Government had the full support of the United Nations. More
importantly, this resolution authorized vigorous action by the UNF, in-
cluding the use of requisite force, to ensure the apprehension, detention,
and deportation of all foreign military personnel in the Congo who were not
under United Nations command.17
Britain and France abstained from the vote declaring that it went
"dangerously far in encouraging" the U.N. command in Katanga to use addi-
tional force. Great Britain further advised the Secretary-General that its
continued support for the Congo operation was contingent on the "skill and
wisdom with which the United Nations carries out its mandate."18
The November 24th resolution was backed by a weak political consensus,
but it provided military commanders with the requisite authority to force
a military solution to the stalemate in Katanga. Although the UNF never
initiated offensive action after the passage of this resolution to elimi-
nate the foreign elements from Tshombe's forces, the fact that it was au-
thorized to do so substantially changed Tshombe's perception of the peace-
keeping force's role in Katanga. With the passage of this resolution, it
became evident that the United Nations was determined to end Katanga's
secession, even if that meant active intervention by the UNF on behalf of
the Central Government.
1Ernest W. Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, (Washington D.C.:
Brookings Institution, 1965), p. 16.
2Lincoln P. Bloomfield (ed.), International Military Forces:
The Question of Peacekeeping in an Armed and Disarming World (Bos-
ton: Little Brown and Co., 1964), p. 16.
3John G. Stoessinger, The United Nations and the Superpowers,
(New York: Random House, 1967), p. 78.
4Ernest W. Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N.
Congo Operation, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1967), p. 19.
5Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 190.
6King Gordon, The United Nations in the Congo: A Quest for
Peace, (New York: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1962),
7Ibid., p. 18.
8Ibid., p. 20.
9Linda B. Miller, World Order and Local Disorder, (Princeton
New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1967), p. 72.
11Bloomfield, p. 116.
12Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 23.
13Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
14David W. Wainhouse, International Peacekeeping at the Crossroads
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973), p. 33.
15Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 194.
16Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
17Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 196.
18Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
PROBLEMS OF A PEACEKEEPER
"Few peacetime military tasks can be less enviable than the one
to which Members of the United Nations committed the officers
and men of the U.N. force in the Congo. The necessity for calm
under provocation, insult and violence; the need to comply with
political directives which must inevitably ofter be incompre-
hensible to the soldier on the spot...."
Brian E. Urguhart
The establishment of a large, multinational peacekeeping force in
the Congo created multiple problems for the United Nations. There were
numerous causes of these difficulties. Some were caused by the very
nature and structure of the United Nations while other problems were
unique to peacekeeping missions in general. Other troubles were rooted
in the physical nature of the Congo and in its turbulent, volatile, poli-
tical situation. This chapter will discuss some of the problems encoun-
tered by the United Nations in its efforts to first establish and then to
maintain a large, peacekeeping force in the Congo. This will be followed
by an examination of the restrictive rules of engagement that encumbered
the UNF for most of its existence and of the problems that these rules
The unique problems associated with peacekeeping in the Congo
affected every level of the Peacekeeping Force from top level commanders
to the individual soldier. These difficulties ran an entire gamut from
such mundane problems as providing a diet that would satisfy the diversi-
fied religious beliefs of the various national contingents to moral ques-
tions faced by commanders who were unable to use force, even to protect
themselves, except as a last resort.
The United Nations never anticipated the scope of the mission in the
Congo. The mission seemed simple in the summer of 1960, but it turned
out to be much more expensive in terms of money, manpower, and contro-
versy than even the most pessimistic estimates. During the four years
that the UNF existed, thirty-five nations contributed 93,000 men to the
peacekeeping force of whom 126 died in combat. The Force entered the
Congo as peacekeepers, but was forced to endure four years of sporadic,
often savage, fighting against forces that its restrictive rules of en-
gagement frequently would not allow it to fight.
Peacekeeping missions were not new to the United Nations. On
numerous previous occasions, the U.N. had supplied troops to maintain
peace. However, with the exception of the Korean War, which the United
States fought under the auspices of the U.N., the Congo was the first
time that United Nations troops had functioned as combatants. On pre-
vious occasions, U.N. forces had served in limited roles as military
police or as peace observors. The Congo, however, was different. As
the UNF became ever more deeply entangled in the Congo's problems, it
was forced to fight - first to accomplish its mission and finally for
However, despite the limitations which were imposed on it and the
difficulties that it faced, the UNF functioned for four years with a
degree of authority and some measures of success. Let's examine the
problems that the UNF faced.
ESTABLISHING THE FORCE
Member states of the United Nations responded quickly to Secretary-
General Hammarskjold's call for troops. One day after the 14 July reso-
lution authorized the U.N. to provide assistance to the Congo, Ghanian
and Tunisian troops were ready to enter Leopoldville. In Jerusalem,
Major General Carlvon Horn of Sweden, who was the commanding general
of the U.N. mission in the Middle East, was notified that he was to pro-
ceed immediately to the Congo in order to assume command of the peace-
keeping force. Not insignificantly, it took von Horn five days to find
transportation to Leopoldville. (The U.N. did not have the aircraft
assets and von Horn eventually found transportation on a U.S. Air Force
By the time von Horn arrived in Leopoldville, several national con-
tingents, totaling several thousand troops, had already arrived. These
units were temporarily commanded by British Major General H.T. Alexander
who was head of the Ghanian contingent.
The UNF was off to a fast start, but their problems were only begin-
ning. The Congo was not ready, either politically or socially, for the
peacekeeping force. An obscure, underdeveloped country, neither the
Congo's people nor its government understood the UNF, nor did they have
time to make preparations for its arrival. In response to early criti-
cisms of the U.N.'s operations in the Congo, Dr. Ralph Bunche, who was
the Secretary-General's personal representative to the Congo and the
first Officer-in-Charge of U.N. operations there, summarized some of the
problems which were faced by the UNF. He wrote:
"It (the United Nations Force) had to be quickly improvised
from nothing; its military personnel had been recruited from
twenty-six countries; it encountered internal conflicts, in-
cluding serious inter-tribal warfare; and it had been dropped
into the midst of a country and people who were totally unpre-
pared by experience and psychology to understand it and to
appreciate its functions and its real worth."1
From the commencement of military operations by the UNF, the very
nature of the United Nations caused problems. In 1960 there was no per-
manent military branch in the U.N., consequently, it had no standidng
military force, nor did it have contingency units from which it could draw
troops. Consequently, although troops were pouring into the Congo, the
military situation was chaotic. There was no cohesiveness between units.
Since the U.N. possessed no contingency plans for operations in the Congo,
donating states had been given little guidance regarding the types of units
which were needed. Consequently, many states sent whatever was available.
These units frequently failed to fill the needs of the Force commander.
In addition, the United Nations possessed no stockpiles of weapons or
supplies.2 Perhaps more significantly, the U.N. had no assured source
of revenue to finance its military operations. Member states were billed,
individually, for the costs of maintaining the UNF. The Congo mission
proved to be a severe financial hardship for the U.N.. This was particu-
larly true in 1961 when France and the Soviet Union refused to pay their
Aside from the difficulties caused by the lack of a standing U.N.
military force, other problems were caused by political and social turmoil
within the Congo. The abrupt withdrawal of Belgian authority had destroyed
the country's social administrative system. Consequently, the UNF received
virtually no host nation support from the Congo.
An even larger problem was caused by poor relationships between the
UNF and the Katangan and Congolese governments. If any peacekeeping force
is to be successful, it requires the consent and cooperation of the host
government and of all major parties to the dispute. The UNF lost the sup-
port of the Central Government early in the crisis when the Secretary-
General refused to let the Peacekeeping Force become Lumumba's tool in
his efforts to force the reintegration of Katanga. Lumumba responded by making
impassioned anti-U.N. speeches which prejudiced the Congolese people
against the UNF. The relationship improved little after Lumumba's ouster
and it did not improve substantially until September 1961 when the U.N.
began to intervene in Katanga on behalf of the Central Government.
The UNF fared little better in Katanga. Originally, Tshombe was re-
markably indifferent to the UNF's presence in Katanga. However, U.N. mili-
tary actions in support of the Central Government, understandably, turned
Tshombe and the Katangan people against the UNF. Ernest W. Lefever,
writing for the Brookings Institute, described Congolese feelings about
the Peacekeeping Force. He wrote:
"Many Congolese regarded the United Nations Force as an army of
occupation, a resented foreign presence. This was particularly
true in Katanga. To any observor the enternal appearance, be-
havior, and mood of the UNF resembled an occupation army in a
The consequence of the poor relationship between the UNF and the
various Congolese governments was that the UNF failed to gain the support
of the Congolese people. The Force was compelled to function under the
eyes of a generally non-supportive population. Ultimately, this did not
force the UNF to alter its operations, but this poor relationship did
inhibit the UNF's ability to accomplish its mission peacefully.
MILITARY VS. CIVILIAN CONTROL
Since the United Nations is a civilian organization which is dedi-
cated to the preservation of world peace, the U.N. charter does not pro-
vide for any indigenous military force. Consequently, the U.N. has little
corporate military knowledge. Prior to the Congo Crisis, since previous
U.N. peacekeeping missions had been limited in scope, this had caused
only minor problems. However, the size of the Congo mission and the
fact that the UNF was forced into a combatant role, forced the. U.N.'s
civilian leadership to work closely with UNF commanders in the formulation
of military policy. This created numerous problems, some of which were
not easily overcome. Some of these problems originated in a long and
diversified chain of command while others were rooted in the personali-
ties of the military and civilian leadership of the Congo mission.
The Security Council was responsible for political control of the
UNF; and in this capacity, it established the Force's mission and objec-
tives while providing general guidance for the conduct of military opera-
tions. As executive agent for the Security Council, the Secretary-General
was Commander-in-Chief of all U.N. forces in the Congo. In this capacity,
he was responsible for the composition, logistic support and employment
of the UNF.5
Dag Hammarskjold was a career civil servant who had dedicated his
life to the pursuit of international peace. As Commander-in-Chief of
the Peacekeeping Force, Hammarskjold delegated all field authority to his
deputy in the Congo. Since the United Nations was a civilian organization
whose mission in the Congo included much more than just military operations,
it was only natural that Hammarskjold would choose a civilian, whose views
were similar to his own, to be officer-in-charge of the Congo operation.6
ONUC (Organisation des Nations Unies Au Congo) was the Collective
designation for the U.N. operation in the Congo. UNF referred solely to
the military peacekeeping force. Regulations clearly stated that the ap-
pointed officer in charge commanded all U.N. activity within the Congo,
both civil and military. In turn, the military force commander was opera-
tionally responsible to the Secretary-General, through the officer-in-
charge, for all missions assigned to the UNF.7 This placed the UNF
commander in the rather awkward position of having to take direct mili-
tary orders from a civilian civil servant.
The following diagram illustrates the chain of command for military
Click here to view image
Although there was a civilian U.N. representative in charge of each
of the Congo's six provinces,with the exception of Katanga, provincial UNF
commanders did not have to deal directly with their civilian counterparts.
Rather, each provincial commander took his orders from the UNF Commander
in Leopoldville. In Katanga, the provincial military commander worked
directly for the civilian officer-in-charge; however, the military comman-
der received his military orders from UNF headquarters in Leopoldville.
General von Horn faced two immediate problems when he arrived in Leo-
poldville. First, he had to organize his staff; and second, he had to de-
fine his relationship with the civilian officer-in-charge, Dr. Ralph
Bunche. This was a vexing problem for von Horn, His relationship with
Bunche, if professional, was certainly less than cordial. The two had
fundamentally different views regarding how the UNF should be controlled
and administered, and on how the mission should be accomplished.
Bunche viewed the entire situation in the Condo as essentially a
political problem that, once solved, would alleviate the necessity for
military action. Von Horn agreed that there were severe political prob-
lems in the Congo, but he saw no way to accomplish his mission of restoring
law and order other than by straight forward military means. The General
felt that Bunche's abiding faith in the United Nations and his generally
pacifistic outlook obscured his view of the realities of the situation.8
However, despite his substantial conceptual differences with Bunche,
what worried von Horn most was his own inability to reconcile his position
of working directly for a civilian who had little feel for military matters.
In his autobiography General von Horn wrote:
"What worried me most of all, however,...was my own job, its
nature, scope and definition. I found it difficult to vis-
ulize my exact role. In one breath, he (Bunche) told me that
I had been awarded the euphemistic title of Supreme Commander
of all United Nations Forces in the Congo. In the next, that
over-all military command was vested in the Secretary-General,
and through him in his Special Representative or Officer-in-
Charge - who turned out to be Ralph."9
Due to the multi-national nature of the Peacekeeping Force and its
wide dispersion across the Congo, General von Horn wanted to create a
strong, unified central command. However, he was undermined in his efforts
by Dr. Bunche's proclivity to issue orders directly to field commanders
while leaving the central staff totally in the dark. General von Horn
appreciated the seriousness of this situation, and he realized that he
would be totally ineffective until the problem was rectified. However,
von Horn was at a loss as to how to resolve this issue. ONUC's hastily
drawn regulations made it abundantly clear that the military commander
was subordinate to the civilian officer-in-charge. The General was pain-
fully aware that Bunche had the authority to tell him how, when and where
to deploy his troops.10 Perhaps, fortunately for the UNF, Bunche was re-
called to New York in September 1960. With the change in personalities,
most of the misunderstandings were alleviated.
ONUC's civilian and military staffs worked in close proximity at
ONUC headquarters in Leopoldville. Considering the direct control that
civilians exercised over the UNF, there were remarkably few incidents when
ONUC's civilian leadership interfered with military operations. ONUC's
civilian officers were generally supportive of the UNF's efforts and they
tried to cooperate in any way possible. However, one potentially dis-
asterous incident did occur which merits a brief discussion.
The Port of Matadi, near the mouth of the Congo River, was the only
major sea port available to the UNF. Most of ONUC's supplies arrived
through this port. During March 1961, the port was guarded by a Sudanese
detachment of the UNF. During the first week of March, a detachment was
attacked by elements of the ANC. The Sudanese were faced with over-
whelming numerical odds and after a short fight, they began running short
of ammunition. When this information reached ONUC headquarters in Leopold-
ville, a civilian member of the staff attempted to order a counterattack
which involved the use of the Matadi landing strip. At the time, the
strip was under Congolese control and it was partially obstructed by
trucks, barrels and other materials. Fortunately, the Force Commander
was briefed on the plan prior to its implementation and cancelled the mis-
sion. Had he not, the UNF could have sustained heavy losses.11
PERSONNEL AND STAFF DIFFICULTIES
Due to the multi-national nature of the UNF, it suffered from person-
nel problems. The nature of the United Nations and its lack of a standing,
military force made the UNF an ad hoc mixture at best. The speed with
which the Peacekeeping Force was deployed, Lumumba's preference for African
troops, and the need for a politically acceptable mix did not allow the
Secretary-General many options when he chose his contingents. Consequently,
he was generally forced to accept whatever units donating states had to
offer, even though some contingents were of inferior quality. Some of
these inferior units were the best that member states could offer. Other
states refused to send their better units on a U.N. mission, while some
states were forbidden by law to send regular troops out of their country.12
The personnel situation was further hampered by numerous contingents
whose members spoke little or no English. Six month tours of duty led to
excessive turnover rates and an accompanying lack of stability.
Fortunately, most of the officers assigned to the UNF were of superior
quality, and they were able to overcome the shortcomings of some of the en-
listed personnel. Given the language barriers, the differences in military
customs and the disparities in training levels of the various contingents,
it would have been easy for commanders to misconstrue the often vague
and general orders which were sometimes issued. At other times, the
policies or attitudes of the donating states differed from that of the
United Nations. That there were few instances where related difficulties
arose speaks well for the professionalism and the political astuteness of
the officers involved.13 General von Horn expressed his satisfaction with
his field commanders by describing them as excellent and resourceful.14
Command of all of ONUC's military and civilian operations was centra-
lized at Leopoldville. Control was decentralized and delegated to UNF com-
manders in each of the provinces. As such, it was vital that the Force
commander have an efficient staff. This proved difficult to establish.
Prior to General von Horn's arrival, operations were conducted in an
ad hoc manner by Dr. Bunche who issued his orders orally. General von
Horn's staff initially consisted of twenty officers on temporary loan from
the United Nations force in Palestine. Although these officers had spent
considerable time working together, they lacked the training and experience
to direct an operation as large and as diversified as the one in the Congo.
These officers were replaced by a permanent staff of 162 officers and civi-
lians during August 1960.
Unfortunately, the establishment of a permanent staff failed to solve
the UNF's planning problems. One of the prime difficulties was caused by
the Secretary-General who insisted that all significant national contingents
be represented on the headquarters staff. The problems associated with
procurring qualified staff officers of appropriate rank who were politically
acceptable to both the Congolese Central Government and to the Security Coun-
cil had to be reconciled with this requirement. Also, different national
contingents were familiar with different staff systems. The system that
eventually evolved was a compromise between the American and British staff
systems. Most of the resulting confusion was solved by assigning most key
billets to officers from countries that followed British military traditons.15
The UNF was deployed generally along provincial lines throughout the
Congo's six provinces. Unlike the central staff in Leopoldville, each
provincial staff had, as its core, officers of the major national contin-
gent within that province. However, due to the complexity and the high
visibility of the situation in Katanga and the large numbers of troops
involved, the staff in Elisabethville eventually evolved into a miniature
counterpart of the central staff in Leopoldville.16
This system generally worked well. However, policies and orders
were subject to interpretation by the various national contingents who
tended to view orders in terms of their own military tradition and experi-
ence.17 This was especially true early in the conflict before the cen-
tral headquarters was well established.
For example, in July 1960, the commander of the Ethiopian brigade
in Orientale province was given a mission to maintain law and order. The
Ethiopian commander later reported that his biggest problem was the ambi-
guity of his mission. He determined that, under the circumstances, he
could best accomplish his mission by enacting the equivalent of martial
law.18 This worked effectively, but was clearly not the intent of the
order as such actions exceeded the UNF's mandate at that time.
The initial force level in the Congo was approximately 20,000 troops
which were deployed throughout a primitive country the size of Western
Europe. Most of these troops came from small countries with relatively
poorly equipped military establishments. The logistics problems asso-
ciated with feeding, arming and transporting such a large multinational
force were enormous and, without the assistance of the United States,
would, most likely, have been insurmountable for the U.N. .
When the UNF arrived, there was virtually no transportation avail-
able to the inner portions of the Congo. Modern highways were non-existant
and it was a torturous, eighteen hundred mile journey by river and rail
from the port city of Matadi to Elisabethville. Most of the rail trans-
portation that was available had been rendered unusable by the time U.N.
Consequently, the only means to effectively move and supply troops
in the Congo's interior was by air. However, the United Nations had no
standing air force which forced it to charter some aircraft and to borrow
others from member states.19 The bulk of the airlift during the entire
operation, however, was provided by the United States Air Force.
Handling and controlling the aircraft turned out to be nearly as big
a problem as procuring them. Initially, there were few aerial maps
of the Congo. The most sophisticated maps available were road maps
supplied by a Belgian mining company. Few Congolese airfields in the
interior of the country were capable of handling large transport air-
craft. There was also a decided lack of ground crews and air traffic
control personnel because, prior to independence, most of these posi-
tions had been held by Belgians who later fled the country during the
The UNF also experienced serious ground transportation problems.
The Force possessed, at one time, three thousand vehicles of nearly
ninety different makes and types. Unfortunately, these vehicles lacked
spare parts, maintenance manuals and facilities. Most important, the UNF
lacked qualified mechanics.20 Most of those vehicles belonging to the
Force were general purpose and not tactical vehicles.
Field communications proved to be another problem. Initially, UNF
headquarters and field commanders faced potentially crippling communica-
tions difficulties. The Force possessed virtually no signal equipment
aside from short range radios, and for the first four weeks of the oper-
ation, the UNF was forced to communicate via ham radio, plantation nets
and Air Congo teletype circuits.21 United Nations headquarters in New
York possessed elaborate communications capabilities but seemed impervi-
ous of the difficulties faced by the UNF in the Congo. General von Horn
expressed his frustration when he stated that "New York seemed totally
oblivious of the serious implications of their failure to provide us in
time with field signals."22
Good intelligence is obviously essential to any succcessful military
operation. In the Congo, the United Nations was sensitive to the political
conotations of intelligence gathering by a peacekeeping force. The collec-
tion of information for intelligence purposes was viewed as espionage
and it was not something that the United Nations should overtly practice.
Realizing the necessity of a good intelligence network the UNF avoided
some of the unpleasant political repercussions of intelligence gathering
by euphemistically referring to the G-2 section as the military informa-
Regardless of the name that the G-2 section went by, the UNF suffered
severe problems with intelligence gathering. This was especially true
in Katanga. The Secretary-General's special representative in Elisa-
bethville, Conor Cruise O'brien, complained that the UNF lacked a sophis-
ticated intelligence network and that it was forced to rely on one Greek
ex-policeman and a native houseboy for information.24 This was, perhaps,
an over simplification, but it was indicative of the problem.
The military information branch was the largest staff section at
UNF headquarters. All operating units at brigade and battalion level
had military information sections. Information was gathered primarily
via radio interception, through limited aerial reconaissance, or by
patrolling and through a network of field liason officers. However, the
system was hampered by too few qualified intelligence specialists and
too little equipment, especially for interpeting aerial photography and
for recording radio broadcast from Katanga. Not insignificantly, there
was a lack of money to buy information.25 Fortunately, by the time the
UNF became seriously engaged with Katangan forces, intelligence efforts
had improved, especially in aerial photography. Prior to the final round
of fighting, information gathered from photo reconnaisance enabled UNF
aircraft to locate and destroy the Katangan air force while it was still
on the ground.
As was mentioned earlier in this chapter, duty in a multinational
peacekeeping force creates unique problems for individual soldiers.
Peacekeeping duty in the Congo was certainly no different, and the uni-
que nature of the Congo caused some difficulties on its own. Unlike
soldiers of a single nation military force who fight, often with un-
restrained fury, to defend a national homeland or an ideal, most of the
UNF troops had no strong committment to the Congo or to the United Na-
tions. This proved to be especially disconcerting to UNF troops when,
as the conflict escalated and they became involved in the fighting,
they were attacked by the Congolese people whom they had come to protect.
Coupled closely with a soldiers frequent lack of total committment
to the United Nations was the problem of dual loyalty. Each soldier
serving with the UNF, regardless of his nationality, was enjoined to
act always "with only the best interests of the United Nations in view.26
Yet, for each soldier, duty in the Congo was only temporary. He still had
loyalties to his own country whose goals or solutions to the Congo problem
did not always coincide with those of the United Nations. This problem
surfaced during the early stages of the crisis when the Secretary-General
refused to allow Lumumba to use the UNF to end Katanga's secession. Con-
sequently, some of the more militant African states which supported Lumum-
ba, threatened to withdrawal their contingents if policies were not changed.
Other states directed their contingents not to fire on Congolese factions
who were sympathetic to the donating state's goals in the Congo. This
put pressure on career officers who were concerned as much about their
own careers and professional advancement as they were about events in the
Discipline proved to be a minor problem. Though individual soldiers
were often commanded by an officer of another nationality, soldiers could
be disciplined only by the commander of his own national contingent. Dif-
ferences in national customs and military tradition often led to widely dis-
parate punishments for similar offensives. This was coupled with often
striking differences in pay scales for men taking the same risks and per-
forming identical tasks. For example, a private in the Indian contingent
was paid $33 per month while a Swedish private earned nearly $400 per month.
These inequities accented the different lifestyles and different standards
of living in the various coutries that contributed troops to the UNF. De-
spite these difficulties, however, it was a tribute to the leadership of
the Force's officers and NCO's that, almost to a man, the members of the
UNF performed to the best of their abilities and that there were few in-
cidents of ill will between contingents.
Logistic support for a large force, such as the UNF, in a primitive
country the size of the Congo would have been a challenge for almost any
individual country. It was nearly beyond the United Nations capabilities.
Prior to its involvement in the Congo, the United Nations had never ex-
perienced, nor had it planned to support, an operation of the magnitude
of the one in the Congo. The size of the Congo and its poor transporta-
tion system; the different cultures, equipment, and military traditions
of the various contingents; coupled with the lack of an established U.N.
military logistics branch created a set of novel and unique circumstances.
The UNF was supported and maintained by the United Nations Field
Operations Service which was established in 1949 to provide technical
support for U.N. activities overseas. Although it did a creditable job
under the circumstances, the Field Operations Service lacked the exper-
tise and facilities to handle an operation as large and complex as the
Congo. As a result, the UNF's logistic support was probably not as ef-
ficient as it would have been had it been furnished by a single military
The relationship between the Field Operations Service and UNF military
commanders was occasionally strained. The UNF Command blamed Field Opera-
tions for duplication, delays, and inefficiency in the supply effort, while
Field Operations blamed the military for failing to estimate material and
manpower requirements in a timely manner. Both the UNF and Field Operations
were handicapped by administrative and planning deficiencies on their indi-
ONUC regulations gave all responsibility for logistic support of the
UNF to the civilian officer in charge and not to the military commander.
Such traditional military responsibilites as the feeding and billeting of
troops, the procurement of supplies, and the maintenance of equipment were
placed in civilian hands.29 General von Horn expressed some of his dissat-
isfaction with logistic arrangements when he wrote: "During my entire six
months in the Congo, the Force never enjoyed a satisfactory supply system
because both its direction and application remained exclusively in civi-
lian hands."30 Despite all of the logistic difficulties, however, there
were few indications that the UNF's capabilities were ever seriously de-
graded due to supply problems.
RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF FORCE
Most of the difficulties encountered by the UNF were concrete, physi-
cal problems that could be overcome by dedicated, professional men. How-
ever, the self-imposed limitation on the use of force except in self-
defense caused moral and tactical dilemmas at all levels of the United Na-
tions Command. In his first report to the Security Council regarding his
plan to resolve the Congo crisis, the Secretary-General established his
principle of the non-use of force. He stated that "..men engaged in the
operation may never take the initiative in the use of armed force, but are
entitled to respond with force to an attack with arms,... The basic ele-
ment involved is clearly the prohibition against any initiative in the use
of armed forces."31
Given the chaos that was prevalent in the Congo, the impotent Central
Government, the mutinous army, and the brutal inter tribal warfare that
flared sporadically during the course of the crisis, clashes between the
peacekeeping force and the Congolese were inevitable. The UNF's initial
mission was to restore and maintain law and order. However, under the
principle of non-interference, the UNF was prohibited from arresting or
even disarming marauding ANC units without the explicit consent of the
Congolese Central Government. Critics of the UNF's efforts in the Congo
have suggested that the failure to grant such authority and the restric-
tions on the use of force were the single biggest mistakes during the
entire operation; and that, had these limitations not been imposed, the
crisis would have been considerably shorter. A counter arguement can
be made that early authorization to implement military force would have
shattered the fragile political coalition on which the mandate for action
The moral and tactical dilemmas which the restrictions on the use of
force imposed on UNF commanders became obvious soon after the first con-
tingents arrived. The Force was supposed to protect lives and property,
yet it had no authority to take forceful action against ANC units, many
of which took unprovoked action against the UNF. Fortunately, the mere
presence of an outside force had a stabilizing influence on most ANC
The question of when the use of force was permissable in self-defense
was an issue throughout the conflict. Since the use of force by the UNF
was permissable only in extreme self-defense, commanders were allowed no
latitude regarding the implementation of force. Consequently, they were
forced to interpret a fine line between what was offensive action and what
was self-defense. The question became how far should a commander let a
situation deteriorate before using force? Initiating the use of force
too soon risked violation of the UNF's mandate, however waiting too long
frequently risked death or injury for UNF personnel. General von Horn
expressed the dilemma that this posed for military commanders. He wrote
that the problem was:
"whether to risk his men's lives by involving them in a situation
where some of them are bound to get short before having a chance
to defend themselves - or whether to risk the failure of a mis-
sion (on whose success the lives of many civilians may depend)
through a reluctance to expose his soldiers to what he considers
an intolerable degree of risk."33
At the same time, Ralph Bunche took a more parochial, and less sympa-
thetic, view of the problem. He stated that the "way of force offers no
possibility for an international body operating in a soverign country at
the invitation of that country."34
Several incidents which occurred are illustrative of some of the dif-
ficulties created by the prohibition on the use of force. None of the in-
cidents were related and they concerned personnel at vastly different levels
of the Force command structure. All of the incidents, however, probably
could have been avoided by less restrictive rules of engagement.
The confusion and frustration created by the restrictive rules of en-
gagement reached to the most senior officers in the UNF as was illustrated
by an incident that occurred on 18 August 1960 at the Leopoldville airport.
On that day, a group of Congolese soldiers surrounded a United Nations
C-119 that was being unloaded by four Canadian crew members. The Congolese
accused the Canadians of being Belgian soldiers and then roughed them up
while a Ghanian unit that was guarding the airport did nothing. After con-
sulting with some senior officers, the Ghanians took action and secured the
the release of the Canadian crew. The Secretary-General protested to the
Congolese government about the attack. However, he also criticized the
Ghanian contingent for not taking stronger action before violence ensued.
This precipitated a sharp exchange between the leader of the Ghanian
contingent, Major General H. T. Alexander, the Secretary-General and Ralph
Bunche. In a letter to Hammarskjold, Alexander noted that the incident
was only one of several which involved clashes between United Nations
forces and Congolese troops. Alexander deplored Congolese lack of dis-
cipline and he suggested that the only way to solve the mess in the Congo
was to disarm the ANC, by force if necessary, and then to retrain them.
He also criticized Major General von Horn for failing to issue specific
orders regarding the use of force and for an unwillingness "to exercise
any military authority at all, thus putting Ghanian and other U.N. troops
in an impossible position.".35 In light of von Horn's acknowledged con-
fusion over his role, there was probably an element of truth in Alexander's
Alexander continued to push Bunche for further clarification of the
rules of engagement. He insisted that orders, were "neither clear nor did
they give United Nations troops any liberty of action even to the use of
minimum force."36 Bu che still failed to appreciate the problem. He in-
dicated that Alexander failed to realize that the UNF was a peacekeeping
force, not a fighting force, and that it could use arms only in self-
defense. Bunche also stated that it was essential that U.N. troops avoid
getting in the "extreme position of having to shoot Congolese." 37
The confusion and misgivings felt by the UNF's most senior officers
extended to the leaders of smaller units with, occasionally, tragic results.
Two examples serve to illustrate this point.
The first incident occurred on 8 November 1960. An Irish unit under
the command of Lieutenant Kevin Gleason was attempting to maintain order
among warring native tribesmen in Northern Katanga. Gleason had been
warned by an experienced Swedish officer to be careful in his dealings
with the natives, especially the unpredictable Baluba tribe. While
leading a patrol, Gleason permitted a group of Balubas to surround his
unit and then approach his position. The Balubas attacked unexpectably
and killed ten members of the patrol.38 Since Lieutenant Gleason was
among the casualties, he was unable to explain why he had permitted the
Balubas to approach his position and then attack without taking precau-
tions to defend his unit. Survivors indicated that the Balubas acted
irrationally and that they appeared to be under the influence of drugs.
The reasons for Lieutenant Gleason's inaction can only be conjectured.
However, at the time of this incident, the UNF was still operating under
extremely strict rules of engagement; and the implementation of force, as
a very last resort, had been stressed to all commanders. It would be a
fair assumption that this limitation weighed on Lieutenant Gleason's
mind when he let his squad become surrounded.
A second, equally tragic, incident occurred in November 1961. Thir-
teen Italian airmen of the UNF had flown to the Congolese base at Kindu
where they delivered two scout cars to the Malayan contingent. The
Malayans took the airmen to lunch in the dining hall where the Italians
were attacked by what appeared to be drug-crazed Congolese soldiers. The
Congolese, who claimed that they were looking for Belgian paratroopers,
beat the Italians and dragged them off to jail. The fully armed Malayans,
who were under orders not to shoot unless fired upon, watched in silence.
All thirteen airmen were subsequently murdered.39
There were other incidents and problems caused by the restrictive
rules of engagement. Fortunately, only a few resulted in casualties.
The question of when the use of force was permissable was never satisfac-
torily resolved in the eyes of the military commanders. However, subse-
quent expansions of the Force's mandate during the prolonged confron-
tation in Katanga permitted the use of enough force to end Katanga's se-
1Ernest W. Lefever, Crisis in the Congo (Washington. D.C.:
Brookings Institution, 1965), p. 33.
2Ibid., p. 32.
3Ernest W. Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N.
Congo Operation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1967), p. 203.
4Lefever, Crisis in the Congo p. 140.
5Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Opera-
tion p. 27.
6Michael Harbottle, The Blue Berets (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stack-
pole Books, 1972), p. 39.
7Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Opera-
tion, p. 38.
8Major General Carl Von Horn, Soldiering for Peace (New York:
McKay Co., 1967), p. 173.
9Ibid., p. 154.
10Ibid., p. 170.
11Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Opera-
tion, p. 177.
12Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 145.
13Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Opera-
tion, p. 196.
14Von Horn, p. 174.
15Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Opera-
tion, pp. 178-79.
16Ibid., p. 184.
17Ibid., p. 183.
18Ibid., p. 184.
19Lincoln P. Bloomfield (ed.), International Military Forces:
The Question of Peacekeeping in an Armed and Disarming World (Boston:
Little Brown and Co., 1964), p. 154.
20Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 151.
21Bloomfield, pp. 153-54.
22Von Horn, p. 189.
23Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
24D. W. Bowett, United Nations Forces: A Legal Study (New York:
Frederick A. Praeger, 1964), p. 217.
25Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
26Ibid., p. 185.
28Ibid., p. 37.
29Bowett, p. 219.
30Ibid., p. 177.
31Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 194.
32Bowett, pp. 116-17.
33Von Horn, pp.162-63.
34Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, pp. 36-7.
35Ibid., p. 86.
36Ibid., p. 194.
37Ibid., p. 88.
38Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
39Carl Mydans and Shelley Mydans, The Violent Peace (New York:
1968), p. 314.
STRUGGLE IN KATANGA
"The tom-tom must beat this night to call our warriors to the
fight. Everywhere in the bush the army warriors must answer
this ancestral call."
Moise Tshombe on the eve of the U.N.
Notwithstanding the UNF's occasional clashes with the Congolese
army and with various tribal groups, most of the drama during the Congo
crisis was played out in Katanga. It revolved around Moise Tshombe's
attempts to establish the province as a free and independent state.
By mid 1961, Tshombe had built a well equipped, well armed and well
trained gendarmerie. The backbone of this force was a cadre of Belgian
officers and NCO's who had been seconded to Tshombe by the Belgian
government. For two and one half years, Tshombe's army frustrated
efforts by the Congolese Central Government and by the United Nations
to end Katanga's secession. Caught in the middle of what historian
Mugar Vuluhu called "the Katanga Circus", was the United Nations Peace-
Both the U.N. and the Peacekeeping Force played a controversial
role in Katanga. The UNF's role expanded from simple efforts, in the
beginning of the conflict, at preventing Tshombe's forces and those who
opposed him from committing wholesale murder, to active intervention, at
the end of the crisis, in support of the Central Government. Whereas
some authorities applauded the U.N. efforts in Katanga, others viewed
them as the U.N.'s "bloody war to suppress the establishment of Katanga
as a separate state".1
The Peacekeeping Force entered Katanga in August 1960. Katanga's
secession ended in January 1963. During this time, as its role expanded,
the UNF participated in four military operations against the Katangese.
By contemporary standards, these were not major military actions. How-
ever, all military activity was directly influenced by the political cli-
mate at United Nations Headquarters in New York and by the restrictions
imposed on the Peacekeeping Force by the Security Council's mandate.
Once the UNF commenced military operations, all military activity was
closely scrutinized by both the press and by various national governments
to ensure that the UNF had not exceeded its mandate. With this is mind,
the UNF's operations in Katanga will be examined in detail.
Katanga was vital to the survival of the Congo. Tucked away in the
Southeastern corner of the country, Moise Tshombe's fabulously wealthy
little kingdom was the key to the Congo's economic viability. Profits
generated by Katanga's Belgian owned mines accounted for over half of the
Congo's revenues. The province supplied 10% of the World's copper 60%
of the cobalt, and half of the Western Bloc's material for lining jet
engines. Consequently, more was at stake in Katanga for the super powers
than the survival of a new African republic.
Moise Tshombe was a wealthy man who both understood and appreciated
the benefits that Katanga had reaped from Belgian business interests with-
in the province. His political position had always called for close eco-
nomic ties with Belgium. Consequently, it was not surprising when, after
proclaiming Katanga's independence, Tshombe asked Belgium for recognition
and assistance. Nor was anyone surprised when Tshombe flatly refused to
let U.N. troops enter Katanga. He delared that his forces would fight
rather than permit U.N. occupation of the province.
Ralph Bunche recognized Tshombe's intransigence, and he reported to
the Secretary-General that he had found "unyielding opposition" in Katanga
to the entry of U.N. troops.2 This posed a problem for Hammarskjold.
The UNF was still operating under a limited mandate which restricted U.N.
military activities to the restoration of law and order. If the UNF was
going to be forced to fight in Katanga, the mandate needed clarification.
Bunche suggested that the Security Council establish further guidelines
for U.N. operations in the Congo. These guidelines would separate the
constitutional issue of Katanga's secession from questions relating to
the scope of the U.N. mission.3
This resulted in the 9 August 1960 resolution which 1) authorized
the UNF to enter Katanga and 2) reiterated the U.N.'s intent not to inter-
vene in or influence the outcome of the Congo's internal political problems.
Faced with the fact that the UNF was determined to enter Katanga, Tshombe
backed down on his threat to fight and indicated that he was willing to
compromise. On 12 August 1960, 240 Swedish soldiers entered Elisabeth-
The UNF's first year in Katanga was relatively uneventful. The UNF
was still operating under a strict mandate prohibiting the use of force.
Meanwhile, the Congolese Central Government floundered without leadership.
During this time, UNF activity was confined to policing minor skirmishes
between Tshombe's gendarmerie and Baluba tribesmen.
Operation "Rumpunch" was the first significant U.N. military action
in Katanga. "Rumpunch" was significant because of the motives behind the
UNF's action and because the operation was the direct cause of a subse-
quent, larger clash between the UNF and Katangan troops. With its activ-
ities in "Rumpunch", the UNF abandoned its peacekeeping role and became
an active participant in the conflict.
"Rumpunch" was an effort by the UNF to capture and to expel the
foreign military personnel who formed the nucleus of Tshombe's gendarmerie.
Despite the passage of the Security Council's 21 February resolution calling
for the repatriation of all foreign military and para-military personnel
in the Congo who were not under U.N. command, by August 1961, Tshombe's
forces were still firmly led by a core of foreign officers. It was esti-
mated that this core consisted of 230 Belgian officers and NCO's and 200
soldiers of fortune of various other nationalities. Although most of the
Belgians were due to leave the Congo during September, Hammarskjold was
anxious to end Katanga's secession.4 He felt that elimination of the
foreign personnel from the Katangan army would eradicate its leadership
and that it would, thus, expedite Katanga's reintegration.
However, despite Hammarskjold's personal desires, the UNF, at this
time, had no explicit legal authority to forcibly expel anyone from the
Congo. The 21 February resolution called for the removal of foreign mili-
tary personnel, but it did not authorize the UNF to implement the use of
force to ensure their removal. In order to circumvent this and to pro-
vide the strongest legal basis for "Rumpunch", Hammarskjold persuaded the
Congolese Central Government to pass an ordinance which would declare that
all foreign military personnel within the Congo were undesirable. The
Central Government, at Hammarskjold's request, then asked for United Na-
tions assistance in expelling the foreign personnel from the country.5
Armed with a legal request from the host state, the Secretary-General felt
justified in acting. In his eyes, the use of the UNF to expel the mercen-
aries from Katanga had become part of the mandate.6
The actual operation was relatively simple. At 0400 on 28 August 1961,
UNF forces, under the command of Indian Brigadier K. A. S. Raja, began
rounding up foreign military personnel in Elisabethville and at bases in
Northern Katanga. To prevent Katangan leaders from using it to incite
opposition to the operation, U.N. forces quickly seized the radio station
Later that morning, the United Nations Special Representative in
Elisabethville, Conor Cruise O'brien, met with Tshombe and explained the
purpose of the operation. Surprisingly, Tshombe agreed to cooperate and
offered to announce his cooperation over the radio. At 1300, Tshombe
broadcast a statement over radio Katanga indicating that he had agreed to
U.N. demands and that all foreign military personnel must leave Katanga.
At 1700, O'brien, who was under intense pressure from the Belgian counsel
in Katanga to end the roundup, terminated the operation. In return, the
Belgian counsel promised to repatriate all prohibited personnel. "Rumpunch"
had netted 338 foreign military personnel who were in U.N. custody. Slight-
ly over 100 mercenaries were still at large.
Unfortunately, the Belgian counsel's promise proved to be empty.
He had control over only those personnel seconded to Tshombe by the Bel-
gian government. He had no control over Belgian nationals who had been
recruited directly by Tshombe. Other country's counsels faced similar
There were a number of reasons why O'Brien stopped "Rumpunch" before
all foreign personnel had been seized. He had not considered the problems
that the Belgian counsel would face in fulfilling his promise, and, for
once, Tshombe had agreed to cooperate with the United Nations. Mili-
tarily, the UNF was concentrated in Elisabethville and it lacked the man-
power to operate extensively in other parts of the province. The Force
also suffered from an acknowledged lack of intelligence regarding the
specific number of mercenaries in Katanga and more importantly, they lacked
the mercenaries' identifies.Military considerations aside, however, O'brien's
greatest concern was continued avoidance of bloodshed. The U.N. had achi-
eved surprise and "Rumpunch" had been executed without conflict. To con-
tinue the operation risked a confrontation with the remainder of Tshombe's
Brigadier Raja, who was commander of UNF units in Katanga, took a
different view. He claimed that Tshombe's agreement to help was only a
ruse and that the only way to get rid of the mercenaries was to promptly
arrest and forcibly evict them.8 Subsequent events proved that Raja may
have been correct.
By early September, although 273 mercenaries had been deported from
Katanga, a considerable number remained, consequently, the leadership of
Tshombe's gendarmerie was still functional. The U.N. Command regarded
the early termination of "Rumpunch" as a mistake and they were determinded
to finish the job. To accomplish this, they planned and executed operation
"Morthor" (Hindu for smash and subsequently referred to as Round I) in
September 1961. This proved to be the most controversial and the most
militarily costly operation of the entire Congo crisis.
"Rumpunch" had accomplished little aside from alienating most of the
Europeans who lived in Katanga and providing Tshombe with fuel for vitri-
olic, anti-U.N. speeches. Most of Tshombe's Belgian officers had left Ka-
tanga. However, they had been replaced by less savory European and African
soldiers of fortune who lacked the Belgian's professional ethic.
Inside Elisabethville, 35,000 Baluba tribesmen sought refuge from
bloody purges by Tshombe's forces in a squalid U.N. camp. The man res-
ponsible for the Baluba persecution appeared to be Tshombe's Interior
Minister, Geofroid Munongo. On 5 September, O'brien accused Tshombo of
inciting tribal warfare, and he warned that continued persecution of the
Balubas would result in United Nations intervention. 9
Often fueled by Tshombe, rumors abounded in Elisabethville that the
Central Government, with U.N. backing, was planning to invade Katanga to
arrest its leaders and to disband the government. At the same time, the
U.N. Command claimed to have evidence that the Katangan leadership was
plotting to negate the effects of "Rumpunch" by recruiting additional mer-
The Congolese Parliament held a session on 8 September and agreed on
a four point plan which was to be implemented by U.N. forces. The plan
called for 1) the arrest and deportation of all remaining mercenaries in
Katanga, 2) the arrest of Tshombe and his key cabinet ministers, 3) the
disarming of the Katangan gendarmerie, and 4) the dispatch of officers
from the Congolese Central Government to take charge of Katanga.10 The
operation was to conclude just prior to the arrival of the Secretary-Gen-
eral who was planning a visit to Leopoldville.
From the United Nations' point of view, the plan was relatively simple.
Its purpose was to secure Tshombe's cooperation and to forestall Katangan
resistance through a U.N. show of strength. Armed with warrants issued
by the Central Government, U.N. forces were to arrest Tshombe and his
cabinet. The post office and radio transmitter in Elisabethville were to
be seized and all key Katangan military personnel were to be apprehended.
Once this was accomplished, the Katangan colors were to be struck and re-
placed by the flag of the Central Government.11
Shortly after the operation commenced, it became obvious that O'brien
and the U.N. Command had greatly miscalculated Tshombe's support. O'brien
had estimated that the operation could be accomplished in a few hours with-
out bloodshed. However, Tshombe had been forwarned of the plan and was
determined to resist.
Round I commenced at 0400 on 13 September when U.N. forces quickly
moved to occupy the post office and the radio station. The UNF encountered
aggressive and determined opposition by Katangan forces at the post office.
The Katangans fought fiercely, but they were driven out of their positions
in fierce hand to hand combat by Indian soldiers of the UNF. The Indian
contingent siezed the post office and held it against a subsequent counter-
attack.12 Tshombe and his key assistants had been forewarned, however, and
had fled the city.
Elisabethville was a city filled with terror and hate, much of which
was directed against the United Nations.13 A crowd soon gathered around
the Indian position at the post office, where it taunted the Indians with
shouts of "killers, assassins, macaques" (monkeys).14 Eyewitness accounts
from some British nationals allege that as the taunts and insults continued,
the Indians became nervous and shot some Congolese citizens in cold blood.
Other accounts accused U.N. forces of firing on a Red Cross ambulance.
Brigadier Raja denied U.N. culpability in any atrocities. He claimed that
the Red Cross vehicle had a bazooka mounted on it and that he and his men
had a clear conscience.15
Passions and tension ran high on both sides as each blamed the other
for the violence. As members of the opposing armies watched each other
warily, the danger of violent confrontation between U.N. forces and Katan-
gan citizens increased. On one crude grave for some soldiers who had been
killed in the fighting, a black Katangan had hanged a sign that read,
"Died for Katanga". This had been crossed out by an angry Belgian national
who had scrawled in its place "Murdered by the United Nations". Corres-
pondent Lee Griggs described the undeclared war as "...war of the worst
kind...fought by two reluctant armies, both jittery in the extreme".16
Incredibly, although U.N. forces had accomplished none of their
goals, O'brien held a news conference in Elisabethville on the night of
13 September and declared that the operation was a success and that Ka-
tanga's secession was ended. In reality, nothing could have been farther
from the truth.
The following day, Tshombe called for resistance by all Katangans
to any U.N. military operations. His call was answered by tribal bands
who attacked and subsequently captured an Irish army garrison at the mining
town of Jadotville. In Elisabethville, despite a declaration by Brigadier
Raja that all civilians caught carrying arms would be shot and that all
Katangan units that refused to throw down thier arms would be executed
for treason, Katangan forces kept pressure on the UNF and soon controlled
most key positions.
The controversy over Round I began when the Secretary-General, ar-
riving in Leopoldville on 13 September, was appraised of the action, ap-
parently, for the first time. The operation had been planned and executed
by U.N. authorities in the Congo with no explicit authorization from
United Nations Headquarters. Although the military situation was deteri-
orating, now that Hammarskjold was aware of the operation, he still refused
to countenance the use of force or offensive tactics, even to disengage
By 20 September, Hammarskjold had been killed in a plane crash and
the U.N. had suffered a military humiliation. Perhaps worse, the U.N.
was being assailed by much of the world press and by several powerful
Western governments for alleged aggression in Katanga.
When a cease fire was signed on 21 September, the United Nations was
at a decisive military disadvantage. The Irish unit at Jadotville was being
held hostage; and, with the exception of the captured post office, Katangan
forces held all key positions in Elisabethville. Under the circumstances,
the best the United Nations could hope for was a return to the status quo.
The ceasefire agreement guaranteed Tshombe that the UNF would relinquish
all captured positions in Elisabethville and it established a joint com-
mission to arrange for the exchange of prisoners. In addition, the cease-
fire granted both sides free access to the Elisabethville airport, and
it guaranteed that all units outside Elisabethville could return to posi-
tions that they occupied on 12 September. Perhaps more significantly, the
cease fire recognized the right of Tshombe's forces to protect themselves
from attack by Central Government troops. Tshombe's only concession was
an agreement to refrain from broadcasting anti-U.N. statements.18
In retrospect, Round I was a political and military disaster for the
United Nations. Tshombe had not softened his position on Katanga's seces-
sion, and his army was still run by foreign mercenaries. Worse still, the
military weakness of the UNF had been exposed, the terms of the cease fire
had eliminated what few gains the UNF had made, and the U.N. Command was
left to defend its actions against world reaction. With its credibility
at stake, the United Nations leadership was forced to explain why a peace-
keeping force had seemingly initiated armed action in Katanga.
The military debacle was relatively easier to explain than the poli-
tical one. A prime cause of the U.N. defeat was the restrictive rules of
engagement. Round I had been launched as an extension of "Rumpunch" and
it was planned to proceed without bloodshed. However, when Tshombe's
forces resisted, the UNF found itself at a decided disadvantage for a num-
ber of reasons. First, there had been no additional clarification regar-
ding the permissable use of force since the passage of the 21 February re-
solution. Consequently, UNF troops carried only defensive weapons and they
were still forbidden to use force except in cases of extreme self-defense.
These restrictions were of little consequence during "Rumpunch". However,
Katangan resistance threatened to turn Round I into an all out war and the
UNF was fighting with one hand behind its back.
UNF commanders appreciated the need for additional firepower. How-
ever, a previous request by the Force commander for jet aircraft and tanks
had been denied because these were viewed as offensive weapons. As a re-
sult of this weapons deficiency, the UNF could not match the firepower of
Tshombe's units. Whereas most Katangan units were well-equipped with
modern weapons including machine guns, mortars, armored cars, and Belgian
Standard NATO rifles, the UNF suffered from a critical lack of tactical
transportation and they were armed with a potpourri of small arms.19
Many critics claim that the UNF committed a tactical blunder shortly
after the commencement of Round I when the Force failed to block the main
avenues of approach into Elisabethville. Consequently, the Katangans were
able to easily reinforce key positions. The failure by the UNF to block
the avenues of approach may have been a tactical error, however, this was
not an oversight. The UNF simply lacked the manpower to control the area
around Elisabethville and, in most places, the Katangan forces enjoyed
a decisive superiority in firepower.20
The execution of Round I is still veiled by controversy, most of
which centers around the UNF's mandate and the amount of force that the
mandate authorized. Evidence does exist that Hammarskjold was not aware
of the plans for Round I, and that his Special Representative in Elisa-
bethville, Conor Cruise O'brien, was probably responsible for most of the
planning for the operation. O'brien claims, however, that he received
his instructions from ONUC headquarters in Leopoldville. Regardless of
which version is correct, the operation was an embarassment to the Secre-
tary-General, not so much because the operation failed, but because
O'brien had announced the deliberate use of force to end Katanga's seces-
Both France and the United Kingdom questioned the legality of Round
I. Both countries felt that the Peacekeeping Force had exceeded its man-
date. Hammaskjold attempted to justify the use of force by explaining
that Round I was merely a continuation of "Rumpunch" and that U.N. troops
were simply trying to arrest Tshombe's mercenaries. When they were fired
upon, U.N. troops were forced to defend themselves. This explanation,
however, does not stand up to a critical examination.
The UNF's dispatch of well armed troops to arrest Katangan officials
at 0400 hardly constitutes the use of force in self-defense. The Secre-
tary-Generals' explanation avoided any discussion of the arrest warrants
which had been prepared for Tshombe and his ministers. It also failed to
explain why the UNF was going to fly officials of the Central Government
to Elisabethville once Tshombe was arrested.21 Brigadier General Indar
Jit Rikhye, who was Hammarskjold's special military advisor and subse-
quent founder of the International Peace Academy, stated that the United
Nations collaboration with the Central Government and its subsequent use
of force in an attempt to end Katanga's secession was clearly a violation
of the Security Council's mandate, and that the subsequent negative re-
action should have come as no surprise.22
O'brien continued to claim that the operation was not only justified
but that it was also legal under the mandate. He endicated that he had
received instructions from the director of ONUC's civilian operation,
Mahmound Khiary to take over key positions in Elisabethville, to arrest
Tshombe and his ministers, and to expel the remainder of the mercenaries.
He further argued that those actions were justified to prevent civil war
between Katangan and Central Government forces.23 In light of O'brien's
expressed opinion that "the great political objective ot the U.N. was -
and necessarily remains - to end the secession of Katanga," chances are.
that he did not seriously question Khiari's instructions.24
Regardless of whether O'brein acted unilaterally or whether he
merely misinterpreted instructions, the command structure between New
York, Leopoldville and Elisabethville must bear some of the blame. By
executing "Rumpunch", the U.N. moved to actively support the Congolese
Central Government. Considering that there was a lack of strict gui-
dance from New York, it would appear that ample opportunity existed for
U.N. personnel to interpret "Rumpunch" as authority to intervene in behalf
of the Central Government.
By late autumn, the political storm that surrounded Round I had pas-
sed; however, the situation in Katanga had not improved. Most of the Bel-
gian officers in Tshombe's gendarmerie had been replaced by mercenaries
who had less respect for law and order than their Belgian predecessors.
Most prominent among these were some French officers who had fled the
French army in Algeria after an aborted coup against the DeGaulle govern-
As a result of the controversy over Round I and the continued pre-
sence of mercenaries in the Katangan gendarmerie, the Security Council
moved to strengthen the UNF's mandate. The 24 November 1961 resolution
specifically authorized the use of force by the UNF for the purpose of ex-
pelling foreign military personnel from Katanga.
This action by the Security Council set the stage for Round II. The
U.N. Command had learned some lessons in Round I and,as a result, had con-
siderably increased its manpower level in Katanga. By the beginning of
Round II in December 1961, the UNF in Katanga was organized into two Bri-
gades which now totalled 6,000 men. The Force had been equipped with jet
aircraft and it was able to make use of airpower, which had been non-exis-
tant during Round I. More importantly, the UNF now had authority to im-
plement the use of force, and it was no longer under strict orders to
shoot only in self-defense. Unlike Round I, the UNF commenced operations
in Round II fully intending to win a military victory.26
After Round I, the relationship between the UNF and Katangan forces
had deteriorated. Katangan forces, which were initially only mildly op-
posed to the UNF's presence, had become openly hostile towards the U.N.
Force. By the first week in December, Tshombe had also become openly
belligerant. A series of strident anti-U.N. speeches by the Katangan
leader had further inflamed his troops. While Katangan forces wandered
through the streets of Elisabethville with guns ready, they were closely
watched by nervous Indian forces who were still concerned by restraints
on their right to protect themselves.
The Indian contingent should not have worried. Acting Secretary-
General U Thant had made his aversion to Tshombe and his mercenaries ob-
vious. In addition, there had been some concern by donating states over
limitations on the use of force. The UNF had suffered casualties at the
hands of Katangan troops, and states were concerned about the Forces'
ability to protect itself. In response, Thant had developed a broader
interpretation of the mandate which permitted the use of more force.27
Neither Tshombe nor anyone else seemed capable of fully controlling
the Katangan soldiers. On 2 December, an unarmed Italian medical assis-
tant was severly beaten by Katangan gendarmes. On the same day, UNF
personnel were fired upon at the Elisabethville airport and Katangan forces
established roadblocks between the airport and U.N. headquarters. That eve-
ning ten UNF soldiers were kidnapped and another was killed by sniper fire.
Three days later, UNF forces gained possession of a Katangan plan to strangle
the UNF in and around Elisabethville. The plan had been drawn up by the
mercenaries' leader, Colonel Faulques. The plan was supposed to create
panic and confusion through selective murders. United Nations personnel
were to be kidnapped and then used for negotiations, while the Katangan
gendarmerie was to isolate various UNF units and disrupt communications by
establishing a series of roadblocks.28
By 5 December, Thant felt compelled to authorize action. The estab-
lishment of road blocks was in direct violation of the cease fire signed
at the end of Round I. Katangan aircraft were flying reconaissance flights
over UNF positions and Katangan army units had moved into positions around
the U.N. force at the Elisabethville airport. Tshombe subsequently reneged
on a promise to remove the road blocks which forced UNF units into untenable
positions. Since Tshombe appeared to be stalling for time, Thant autho-
rized the UNF to conduct whatever air and ground actions as were necessary
to restore freedom of movement.29
The U.N. force under Brigadier Raja moved immediately to clear the
roadblocks near the airport. By the time a cease fire was declared two
weeks later, 206 Katangan troops, an estimated 50 civilians, and 25 UNF
soldiers had been killed.
Despite some blood-curdling newspaper accounts of the fighting in
Elisabethville, Round II was largely a battle of position. Unlike in
Round I, the UNF was able to quickly clear the roadblocks in Elisabethville.
By using air support, they were able to prevent the reinforcement of Katan-
gan units,while steadily reinforcing their own positions with UNF units from
Katangan units tried to take advantage of the UNF's expressed in-
tention to avoid damage to civilians and their property by establishing
troop concentrations in the vicinity of schools, churches and hospitals.30
Non-uniformed Katangans were often seen directing fire, and informal squads
were wandering the streets setting up mortars and taking pot shots at U.N.
positions. This remarkably accurate fire was directed from the roof of
Elisabethville's tallest building - a hospital.
Round II was a striking military success compared Round I. By co-
ordinating air and ground power, the UNF was able to sieze and maintain the
the initiative and to quickly reopen lines of communication. More signi-
ficantly, for the first time since entering the Congo, UNF troops were
largely unencumbered by restrictive rules of engagement.
Once again, reaction to the use of force was predictable. In the Bri-
tish House of Commons, Edward Heath decried the use of force when he stated
that the "U.N. forces are of course fully entitled to protect themselves
when they are attacked, but they have not got a permit from the resolutions
to try to impose a political solution by force".32 Foriegn Secretary Lord
Hume reinforced this position when he declared that Britain opposed the use
of force "being carried to a point of leading the United Nations into an
endless war and chaos".33 Belgian and French government officials echoed
Acting Secretary-General Thant vigorously defended the U.N. action
and denied that the United Nations goal was to force a political or mili-
tary solution on Katanga. He declared that
"the purpose of the present military operations is to regain and assure
our freedom of movement, to restore law and order, and to ensure that
for the future the United Nations forces and officals in Katanga are
not subject to attacks; and meanwhile to react vigorously in self-de
fense to every assault on our present positions...military operations
Will be persued up to such time, andonly up to such time, that
these objectives are achieved.34
As was the case after Round I, the controversy over U.N. methodology
soon subsided. For the next year, both sides watched each other in an un-
easy stalemate as Tshombe and the Central Government negotiated in an at-
tempt to find some common ground. Negotiations proved fruitless however,
and by autumn of 1962, it was obvious that Tshombe had no intention of
ending Katanga's secession. Meanwhile mutual hostility between the UNF
and Katangan troops continued to grow. The year was marked by sporadic
but increasing violence as the U.N. force gradually increased in strength.
By December 1962, there were 13,500 U.N. troops in Katanga.
At the United Nations, the political climate had changed. Neutral
African states were growing impatient over the Katanga impasses and India
was having border difficulties with China. The U.N. Command feared that
the large Indian contingent would be recalled to India. In Elisabethville,
many Indian officers wanted to finish what had been started in Round II.
They wanted to rout Tshombe's army and end Katanga's secession.35
The political climate and U.N. headquarters had changed by late 1962.
There had been a change of government in Belgium; and in an abrupt change
of Belgian policy, the new Foreign Minister declared that Tshombe was a
rebel and that Belgium saw no way to end the conflict short of using force.
A U.S. State Department survey had come to the same conclusion. The cost
of the operation in the Congo was severely straining the U.N. budget and
there appeared to be only two alternatives for the U.N. - force an end
to the conflict or withdraw from the Congo.36
In response to the State Department survey, President Kennedy dis-
patched a commission, headed by LtGen Louis Truman to the Congo to con-
duct a survey of UNF requirements. Truman prepared a long list of reco-
mmended equipment. Though the equipment failed to arrive in the Congo
prior to the cessation of hostilities, Truman's list was interpreted by
the U.N. Command as a committment from the U.S. to force an end to the
Encouraged by the change in political climate, the UNF had been
planning an operation, under the legal guise of ensuring freedom of move-
ment, that, if successful, would end Katanga's secession. Although it
had been planned by U.N. officials, Round III was started on Christmas
Eve 1962 by Katangan soldiers who fired on a U.N. observation post in
Elisabethville. For three days, UNF officials warned Tshombe that, unless
he controlled his troops, military action would be taken. However, Tshombe
appeared to have lost control of his gendarmerie and the sniping continued.
At 0415 on 28 December, the UNF commenced offensive action and, with-
in three days, controlled a fifteen mile perimeter around Elisabethville.
UNF aircraft destroyed the small Katangan airforce while it was still on
the ground, and UNF troops occupied strategic positions throughout the pro-
Despite accusations of agression by Tshombe, the UNF kept the pressure
on the Katangan forces. The new U.N. operations chief, Robert A. K.
Gardiner, grimly declared that he was "not going to make the mistake of
stopping short this time".37 Tshombe's forces were in disarray and they
seemed to have lost their will to fight. Tshombe's forces were not as well
organized as in the previous engagements and by mid-January, most of his
mercenaries had fled the country. On 21 January, Tshombe agreed to sur-
render his gendarmerie and all of their weapons. Katanga's secession was
UNF forces did not leave the Congo until the summer of 1964. However,
there was no additional fighting in Katanga and no controversy surrounded
U.N. activities. What began as a simple peacekeeping mission had lasted
four years and had cost 126 UNF lives. These are light casualty figures
by most standards. But in the words of U Thant, "For a peace force,
even a little fighting is too mucn, and even a few casualties are too
1New York Times, 4 Dec. 1964, sec. 1, p. 1.
2A. J.Mezerik, (ed.), Congo and the United Nations (New York:
International Review Service), p. 28.
4Ernest W. Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo
Operation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1967), p. 52.
6Arthur Lee Burns and Nina Heathcote, Peace-Keeping by U.N.
Forces from Suez to the Congo (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963),
7Conor Cruise O'brien, To Katanga and Back (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1962), pp. 221-22.
8Ibid., p. 222.
9Ibid., p. 243.
10Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
11Ernest W. Lefever, Crisis in the Congo (Washington D.C.: Brookings
Institution, 1965), p. 80.
12Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
13"The Congo", Time, 22 September 1961, p. 31.
14Mugar Valuhu, The Katanga Circus (New York: Speller and Sons, 1964),
15Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
16Carl Mydans and Shelley Mydans, The Violent Peace (New York: Atha-
neum, 1968), pp.315-16.
17Rajeshwar Dayal, Mission for Hammarskjold (Princeton, New Jersey:
Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 271.
18Wynfred Joshua, A Congo Chronology, 1960-1964 (Washington D.C.:
Brookings Institution, 1966), p. 40.
19Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 143.
20Burns and Heathcote, p. 108.
21Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
22Indar Jit Rikhye, Michael Harbottle, and Bjorn Egge, The Thin Blue
Line (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974), p. 80.
23Burns and Heathcote, p. 102.
24George Martelli, Experiment in World Government (London: Johnson
Publications, 1966), p. 112.
25King Gordon, The United Nations in the Congo: A Quest for Peace
(New York: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1962), p. 138.
26Burns and Heathcote, p. 134.
27Ibid., pp. 132-33.
28Ibid., p. 132,
29Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo Operation,
30Gordon, p. 142.
31"Congo: The Heart of Darkness", Time 22 December 1961, pp. 18-19.
32Howard M. Epstein (ed.), Revolt in the Congo (New York: Facts on
File Inc., 1965), p. 119.
34Gordon, p. 143.
35Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 104.
36Joshua, p. 73.
37Lefever, Crisis in the Congo, p. 108.
38Ibid., p. 112.
CONCLUSIONS AND ANALYSIS
"The thousands of soldiers from some twenty countries who accepted
this challenge in the Congo began to learn to apply the arts of
war to the infinitely subtle and difficult problems of maintaining
the peace - this may be a development of more lasting importance
than what eventually happened in the Congo itself."
The author of the above quotation was present in the Congo and
helped to invent the United Nations concept of peacekeeping. Recognized
as one of peacekeepings foremost practitioners, Mr. Urquhart has
risen to the rank of Undersecretary of the United Nations. The quotation,
which was written shortly after the termination of U.N. activities in the
Congo, has proven to be prophetic.
Not only has the United Nations deployed numerous peacekeeping
forces since the end of the Congo crisis, but other nations have frequently
taken multinational action in attempts to maintain peace in an increasingly
hostile world. The multinational force which recently served in Lebanon is
a prime example. As a result of these actions, a number of working princi-
ples for peacekeeping forces have been established.
This chapter will define the essence of peacekeeping and then
it will analyze the United Nations peacekeeping effort in the Congo in light
of the established principles. It will also evaluate the success of the UNF,
and it will discuss the nature of its involvement in the Congo to determine
whether the Peacekeeping Force remained true to its mandate and whether it
remained a true peacekeeping force throughout its deployment. Finally,
every Marine is acutely aware of the problems which confronted the Marines
of the multinatinal force in Beirut. The establishment of a multinational
peacekeeping force with the Marines as its core directly or indirectly af-
fected the entire Marine Corps. The Marines in Lebanon faced many of the
same problems which were faced by the UNF in the Congo. These problems
will be briefly examined in light of the principles of peacekeeping. This
will be followed by a brief discussion of some of the steps that commanders
can take to prepare their units for peacekeeping duty.
THE PRINCIPLES OF PEACEKEEPING
Brigadier Rikhye, in his book on international peacekeeping en-
titled The Thin Blue Line, defines United Nations peacekeeping as "the
prevention, containment, moderation and termination of hostilities between
or within states, through the medium of a peaceful third party intervention
organized and directed internationally, using multinational forces of sol-
diers, police and civilians to restore and maintain peace."1
Peacekeeping is based on "the theoretical approach that certain
types of conflicts can be controlled or dampened by a neutral third-party
presence."2 Once a peacekeeping force has been established, its task is
to provide the proper atmosphere for negotiation and arbitration. When
commenting on the essence of peacekeeping, Brian Urquhart stressed that
the real purpose of a peacekeeping force " is not to win wars. It is to
give other people an excuse not to have wars with each other, and thereby
give negotiations a chance." Continuing, he stated that peacekeepers must
"stay above the conflict, have no enemies, take a great deal of abuse, be
rigidly impartial, and not confuse self-defense with reprisals."3
Clearly, enforcement plays no part in a peacekeeping role. A
peacekeepers weapons must be negotiation, mediation, tact, diplomacy,
patience and the moral force of his presence. His concept of action must
always encompass peaceful means and not persuasion by force or threat.
His operations must be guided by strict objectivity and non-alignment with
the parties to the dispute. Finally, and perhaps most important, the peace-
keeper must have the confidence, trust, and respect of all parties to the
dispute. If the peacekeepers actions are not characterized by the afore-
mentioned traits, it is unlikely that he will enjoy this trust and respect,
without which the chances of his intervention remaining peaceful are not
The preceding paragraphs described the essence of peacekeeping
and defined it in a pragmatic manner. However, peacekeeping operations
are seldom simple and the problems which confront peacekeeping forces are
usually not easily solved. If a simple solution to a dispute were possible,
chances are that a peacekeeping force would not be established in the first
place. Although peacekeeping assignments are hardly routine in the Marine
Corps, any Marine may, at some time, be called to serve in a peacekeeping
force. If he is to be successful in dealing with the unique and often com-
plex problems associated with peacekeeping, Marine officers need to be
familiar with peacekeeping's fundamental precepts.
The following principles have been developed for United Nations
peacekeeping missions. They are, however, basic to the success of any multi-
national peace force. Each of the following principles will be discussed
in turn and then the Congo mission will be analyzed in light of each prin-
ciple. The principles of peacekeeping are as follows:
1. The peacekeeping force should have the consent of the
principle parties to the dispute.
2. The peacekeeping force should be balanced in its geo-
graphic and political makeup.
3. All elements of a peacekeeping force must be loyal to
the mission and be responsive to the force commander.
4. The peacekeeping force must enjoy freedom of movement
throughout its area of responsibility.
5. The peacekeeping force must have the approval of the
6. All peacekeeping activities must be conducted simul-
taneously with efforts to resolve the basic conflict.
7. The peacekeeping force must always be neutral with
regards to the conflict and it must be uniformly
impartial in its actions.
8. The peacekeeping force should use military force only
CONSENT OF THE PRINCIPLE PARTIES
Brigadier General Michael Harbottle served as the Chief of Staff of
the United Nations Forces in Cyprus and, for two years, commanded the
British contingent of the Cyprus Force. He stated that if peacekeeping
forces are to be successful, they " must have the full cooperation and the
whole-hearted and genuine intent of the two sides in the dispute to resolve
their differences and to reach an equitable settlement. If this intent
and purpose are missing in the hearts and minds of the two or more contes-
tants most directly concerned, then the task of the peacemaker is well-nigh
Brigadier General A.J. Wilson, who was commander of the United Nations
Forces in Cyprus for six months, observed a related problem. Although
peacekeeping forces usually have consent when they enter a conflict, that
consent is frequently difficult to keep. Brigadier Wilson noted that once
a U.N. peace force arrives, parties to the dispute invariably seek to
interpret the peace force's mandate in very different ways. It is essen-
tial, therefore, that the peace force clearly understand its mandate and
that the force be invariably consistent in interpreting that mandate for
the parties to the dispute. Few things can be more detrimental or more
likely to cause a loss of confidence in the U.N. than for the peace
force's terms of reference to be misunderstood. To prevent this, the peace
force must make its capabilities and limitations clear from the very start.7
The most important point to this first fundamental is that any peace-
keeping force needs the consent of all major parties to the dispute. Bri-
gadiers Harbottle and Wilson brought up three additional points, each of
which was germane to the UNF's mission in the Congo. These points were
1) consent, once gained, is often difficult to keep, 2) peacekeeping forces
must accurately interpret their mandate for the parties to the dispute and
they must ensure that the parties understand the peacekeeping force's limi-
tations, 3) all parties to the dispute must genuinely want to find a solu-
tion to their differences. Let's address each of these points in turn.
The United Nations made no attempt to intervene in the Congo until
it was asked to do so by the Congolese government. Therefore, the UNF
entered the Congo with the consent of one of the major parties to the dis-
pute - the Congolese Central Government. The other major party to the
dispute, Katangan leader Moise Tshombe, was not enthusiastic about U.N.
intervention in the Congo's problems. He was adamantly opposed to the en-
try of U.N. troops into Katanga. However, Tshombe subsequently acquiesced
to a U.N. occupation of the province and he passively accepted the presence
of U.N. troops. Consequently, while the UNF did not enjoy the whole-hearted
support of both parties to the Congo dispute, neither side was adamantly
opposed to the Peacekeeping Force. As long as this situation existed, the
Force was involved in only isolated hostilities.
Unfortunately, the UNF was unable to maintain the consent of both the
Congolese and the Katangan governments. When this consent was lost, the
Force was no longer able to accomplish its mission peacefully. This loss
of consent was closely related to the way that both Lumumba and Tshombe
perceived the UNF's mandate. Since in the case of the Congo they are closely
related, the principles of maintaining consent and of accurately interpreting
the mandate will be discussed together.
The UNF was initially successful in restoring law and order and in
providing an atmosphere for the peaceful withdrawal of Belgian troops.
These missions were accomplished,for the most part, without violence.
By September 1961, however, the Congolese Central government had attached
its own interpretation to the UNF's mandate. Although the Secretary-Gen-
eral had thoroughly explained the mandate to the Congolese and he had made
it perfectly clear that the UNF would not be used as an instrument by
either side to force a solution on the other, the Central Government de-
manded that the UNF promptly intervene to put an end to Katanga's secession.
When Hammarskjold quite properly refused to permit this, the UNF promptly
lost the consent of the Central Government. Consequently, for the next
year the Force was involved in a series of incidents with Congolese troops
who had been turned against the UNF by a series of violent anti-U.N.
speeches delivered by Congolese leaders. The U.N. did not regain the sup-
port of the Central Government until August 1961, when the Peacekeeping
Force became actively involved in support of the Central Government during
"Rumpunch" and Round I.
A similar situation prevailed in Katanga. Tshombe's passive accep-
tance of the U.N. presence in Katanga permitted the UNF to serve its first
year in the province with no direct clashes with Katangan troops. After
"Rumpunch" the situation in Katanga changed. Whether or not the UNF remained
neutral in the conflict will be discussed later in this chapter. However,
regardless of the U.N.'s position regarding Katanga's secession, Tshombe's
perception and that of the residents of Elisabethville was that the UNF was
no longer neutral. They perceived that the Peacekeeping Force had become
an instrument of the Central Government. The UNF's actions during Round I
only reinforced this feeling. When Tshombe's attempts to rally his people
against the UNF's actions were roundly criticized by the U.N. Command, he
expressed his frustration with the U.N. presence when he stated:
"When I put my people on guard, against the danger which the U.N. represents
for Katanga, I am said to be conducting a campaign of excitement. If I
understand the situation rightly, Katanga is not only supposed to let it-
self be strangled, but also to permit this to happen in silence."8
The consequence of these perceptions was an openly hostile attitude
of the Katangan people toward the UNF. The fighting in Rounds II and III
resulted,in part, because the Katangans viewed the UNF as an army of occu-
pation and not as a neutral presence.
Brigadier Harbottle's final point was that all parties to the dis-
pute must genuinely want to resolve their differences. A case can be made
for the thesis that a peaceful peacekeeping mission to the Congo was
doomed from the start. The Cogolese Central Government genuinely wanted
to resolve the conflict with Katanga. However, the Central Government
wanted the conflict resolved on its own terms and, as a result, it offered
few concessions to Tshombe. Tshombe, on the other hand, negotiated a lot
and made numerous promises to reintegrate Katanga. In reality, Tshombe
had no intention of ending Katanga's secession until he was forced to throught
military action. Since both sides did not genuinely desire to resolve their
differences, the violence that ultimately ensued in Katanga was not sur-
GEOGRAPHIC AND POLITICAL BALANCE
Ideally, a peacekeeping force includes contingents from all parts of
the world which are contributed by nations with widely differing idealo-
gical beliefs. Generally, contingents from the super powers are not ac-
ceptable for peacekeeping missions because the super powers are seldom
viewed as neutral by all parties to a dispute. The principle of geogra-
phic and political balance often conflicts with the principle of consent
when the parties to the dispute object to representation from specific
countries. This was certainly true in the Congo.
Lumumba made it clear from the very beginning that he wanted no troops
from the United States in the peacekeeping force. He later insisted that
a majority of the contingents come from Africa. The Secretary-General com-
plied with this insistence as much as possible. However, this restriction
hindered his ability to get highly qualified troops, and it caused some
logistics problems because some of the African contingents were poorly equip-
However, despite the problems which were created by a lack of super
power support, the Congo operation was conducted with minimal support from
the super powers. Although a preponderance of the contingents were from
Africa, the UNF's composition crossed a wide spectrum of political beliefs.
Although several states, in particular the militant African nations, had
specific interests in the outcome of the Congo conflict, they took few actions
that influenced the UNF's capabilities. It can be concluded that the makeup
of the UNF had no significant detrimental effects on the Force's ability
to accomplish its mission.
LOYALTY AND RESPONSIVENESS TO THE FORCE COMMANDER
In any multinational force, regardless of its mission, commanders are
often faced with divided loyalties and with a lack of cohesiveness. This
is particularly true in peacekeeping forces where missions are frequently
vague and there is often a lack of immediate urgency to motivate individual
soldiers. Brigadier Wilson noted the problems of divided loyalty when he
"The first and most immediate problem facing a senior officer in a U.N.
force is that he will, as generally never before, find himself faced
with an acute double loyalty. As a serving officer in his own country's
armed forces, he will of course retain his normal loyalty towards his
country of origin; at the same time, however, as a member of a U.N. force,
he will have an equal, if not overiding loyalty, to the United Nations
Cordial relationships and mutual understanding can be difficult to establish
between national contingents. Similar relationships between senior
officers are vital and go a long ways towards fostering cooperation
in a multinational force. For this reason, senior officers selected
for multinational peacekeeping duties should possess a "disposition
to compromise and a disinclination to rock the boat."10 Senior offi-
cers who possess these attributes help insure that peacekeeping forces
work together towards a common goal and that the force remains res-
ponsive to the orders of the force commander.
There were minor problems of divided loyalty during the UNF's in-
volvement in the Congo. However, none was so severe that it influenced
the Force's ability to function. Similarly, despite some minor mis-
understandings, the Force's senior commanders worked well together.
A notable exception was the relationship between Major General von Horn
and the commander of the Ghanian contingent, Major General Alexander.
On several occasions, Alexander disagreed vehemently with von Horn's
orders and with UNF policies. General Alexander was particularly voci-
ferous about the policy of not disarming the ANC. The most notable
result of the poor relationship between the two officers was a reluctance
on von Horn's part to make best use of the Ghanian contingent. Shortly
after Alexander returned to Ghana in the autumn of 1960, he and General
von Horn reached an understanding. Von Horn felt that perhaps "the most
relieved and delighted unit in the command was undoubtedly the Ghana
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
Once a peacekeeping force is in position, it must maintain its free-
dom of movement while remaining non-coercive and impartial in the conflict.
A peacekeeping unit cannot let itself be forced into a narrow zone of ac-
tion by one or more of the parties to the dispute. There are difficulties
inherent in maintaining freedom of movement because maintenance of free-
dom of movement by the peacekeeping force frequently requires restricting
the freedom of movement of one or more of the belligerents.12 Consequently,
during attempts to maintain freedom of movement, peacekeeping forces fre-
quently have difficulty adhering to the principle of non-use of force.
Outside of Katanga, the UNF had few problems with the Central Govern-
ment restricting its freedom of movement. Within Katanga, however, the
problem was acute prior to Rounds II and III. Both actions were precipi-
tated by Katangan attempts to restrict the movement of U.N. forces. Prior
to Round III, Katangan roadblocks and troop movements had severely re-
stricted UNF movement in Elisabethville. To prevent being placed in un-
tenable, military positions, the UNF had little choice other than to resort
to the use of force.
APPROVAL OF THE MAJOR POWERS
Peacekeeping forces which originate in the United Nations require
super power consent to avoid a Security Council veto of the resolution
which is required to create the peacekeeping force. In smaller, regional
confrontations where there is little super power interest, support for a
peacekeeping force is needed from the strongest single nation or group of
nations in the region.13
As has been previously discussed, the permanent members of the
Security Council pursued different goals in the Congo and they differed
in their views as to how the crisis should be resolved. By not vetoing
the various peacekeeping resolutions which were passed to control the UNF,
the Council members gave their tacit approval, if not their enthusiastic
support to the peacekeeping mission.
PEACEKEEPING ACTIVIES MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY SERIOUS
ATTEMPTS TO RESOLVE THE CONFLICT
Obviously, peacekeeping is not an end in itself, but is rather a
means to an end. The peacekeeping force cannot, by itself, resolve the
conditions that caused the original conflict. The very real danger is
that if peacekeeping efforts are not accompanied by serious attempts to
resolve the underlying issues of the dispute, the peacekeeping mission
may only serve to prolong the conflict by removing the urgency to find a
solution to the underlying problems.14
During the course of the entire Congo conflict, negotiations between
United Nations representatives, the Congolese Central Government, and
Katangan authorities were on going in an attempt to find a solution to
the impasse of Katanga's secession. The difficulty was that there was
little common ground for agreement between the two sides. Tshombe
proved to be a mercurial leader who was capable of changing his demands
at any time. He agreed on several occasions to compromises that could
have led to the end of Katanga's secession. Invariably, however, Tshombe
reneged on his promises for one reason or another. In essence, he had
little desire to reintegrate Katanga with the Central Government. To-
shombe's intransigence made it increasingly difficult for the UNF to
forsee a peaceful resolution to the conflict; and it led, in part, to
active U.N. intervention on behalf of the Central Government and the
subsequent fighting in Rounds II and III.
A PEACEKEEPING FORCE MUST BE NEUTRAL AND IMPARTIAL
Brigadier Harbottle has noted that a peacekeeping force, if it is
to be successful in its purpose, "must be scrupulously impartial to both
sides (of the conflict). Were it to act with force, then that force
must also be used impartially, if necessary even against the 'host'
state or government that accepted it on its territory in the first
place."15 This principle is closely related to the principle of poli-
tical and geographic balance. It is desirable that nations contributing
contingents to a peacekeeping force have no vested interest in the out-
come of the conflict. This makes it much easier for the force to remain
However, the problem of neutrality goes deeper than this. Not only
must the peacekeeping force be neutral in fact, but it must also be per-
ceived as being neutral by the major parties to the conflict. Sometimes,
despite religious attempts to remain neutral, a peacekeeping force is
perceived by one of the belligerents to be partial to the other side.
This inevitably leads to offensive action against the peacekeeping force.
In turn, this may result in reprisals by the peacekeeping unit. Once a
peacekeeping force takes such action, it loses its moral authority and
it can become part of the dispute rather than the referee.16
The principle of neutrality caused numerous difficulties for the UNF
in the Congo. Although the Central Government did not always agree with
the limitations imposed on the UNF by its mandate, there were no instances
when the Central Government perceived the UNF as being partial to Tshombe.
The Katangan perception, however, was quite different. As was discussed
under the principle of consent, Tshombe and the Katangan people perceived
that the UNF was determined to back the Central Government to the detri-
ment of Katanga. This caused active military action against the peace-
keeping force which precluded the possibility of a peaceful solution to
NON-USE OF FORCE EXCEPT IN SELF-DEFENSE
Brigadier Wilson described peacekeeping duty as "rather like being
a member of a fire brigade which is allowed to use hoses only in certain
circumstances but which is in permanent attendance on a smouldering
conflagraion which might break out at any moment."17 This challenge
is precipitated by necessary, but often unconfortable, restrictions on a
peacekeeper's authority to implement the use of force.
The primary objective of a peacekeeping force should be to keep the
adversaries in the conflict apart. This should not be accomplished by
armed force, but rather by mediation or through interposition of the
peacekeeping force between the adversaries should they be inclined to
fight. The mere presence of the peacekeeping force acts as a stabilizing
factor and as a deterrant to more extreme action. The danger is that the
peacekeeping force should not appear as a "third force" which is determined
to impose peace at any cost.18 To avoid this appearance, the use of force
for offensive or for retaliatory purposes by peacekeeping forces must be
avoided at all costs.
However, this is not to imply that peacekeeping forces do not have
the right to defend themselves. The amount of power authorized any peace
force is naturally dependent on conditions prevailing at the time. Re-
gardless of the situation, however, the force commander must always be
given the authority to use whatever force is necessary to protect his
troops.19 However, regardless of efforts to protect itself, no peace-
keeping force that strives for maximum effect in its peacekeeping respon-
sibilites can reasonably expect not to suffer some casualties.20
The most obvious problem created by the use of force by peacekeeping
units is that the peace force may become actively engaged in the conflict.
Once this happens, the perception of neutrality is lost and the peace
force may become part of the dispute rather than part of the solution.
Excessive use of force may, however, cause an additional, more subtle
problem. A peacekeeping unit which possesses the authority to use force
will frequently find itself pressed by each disputing party to use force
against the other. This makes it relatively easier for the perception
of neutrality to be lost.21
The use of force by the UNF in the Congo was a continual source of
controversy. Attacks on the UNF by ANC soldiers early in the conflict
made it necessary for the Secretary-General to define the Force's right
to defend itself. Later in the conflict, he found it necessary to broaden
this right to enable U.N. troops to protect the property and lives of
local civilians and of U.N. property. This right was carefully researched
by U.N. lawyers and was explicitely defined for UNF commanders.22
There was little controversey, outside Katanga, over UNF military
actions. However, U.N. activities inside Katanga were a source of contin-
ual contention. This was particularly true during Rounds I, II and III.
There is strong evidence that the UNF initiated the fighting in Round I.
Even if they did not, UNF activities forced the Katangans to take action
which resulted in hostilities. The effect of this was that the Katangan
people no longer perceived the peacekeeping force as being neutral in the
conflict. This severely undermined the UNF's ability to maintain peace.
Round II was an extension of Round I. Though the fighting was not
specifically started by the UNF, Katangan military activities prior to
Round II were a logical result of the methods employed by the UNF in
Round I. By the close of Round II, the UNF had lost all perceptions of
neutrality and was openly viewed as an enemy by the Kantangan authorities.
Two other questions, aside from the principles of peacekeeping, bear
brief discussion in regards to the Congo. The first question concerns the
proper size for a peacekeeping force. In an article for "Military
Review", Major James C. Wise, USA, cites some authoratative writers
about this subject. Wise states that a peacekeeping force must; 1)
be large enough to defend itself and project a visible presence but
not so large as to attempt to impose its will on any of the belligerents,
2)"be large enough to have the flexibility to concentrate forces in res-
ponse to a local threat," 3) have no national contingent so large that
it appears to dominate the rest.23
Although 90,000 U.N. troops eventually served in the Congo, the
UNF, at its largest , numbered only 20,000. Frequently this number was
not large enough. It must be remembered that the Congo was the size
of Western Europe and Katanga, which during Round I was occupied by
less than 6,000 UNF troops, was approximately the size of France. On
notable occasions, the UNF was unable to properly concentrate its forces
in response to a local threat. The first instance occurred at Matadi in
March 1961. When the Sudanese garrison was overrun by ANC troops, the
UNF did not have the assets nor the firepower to adequately reinforce or
to relieve the Sudanese garrison. This prompted a Western military expert
to state that "the U.N. has committed the cardinal military sin of
spreading forces thin all over the Congo, leaving themselves with no
troops to put in motion in an emergency."24 Colonel R. Ernest Dupuy
echoed similar sentiments when he wrote that U.N. forces in the Congo
were "so scattered that concentration or mutual support was impossible."25
The second occasion was during Round I in Katanga. Once the planned
peaceful roundup of Tshombe's mercenaries degenerated into open hostilities,
the UNF did not have enough manpower stationed within Katanga to exploit
the limited successes that they achieved, nor did they have troops avail-
able to deter Katangan activities outside of Elisabethville.
The second point that bears discussing is the type of weapons that
were carried by the UNF. Many peacekeeping experts feel that peacekeeping
forces should have a full complement of weapons and equipment. However,
Brigadier Harbottle would draw the line at tanks and artillery because
these are generally classified as offensive weapons.26 Brian Urquhart
agrees with this philosophy. He stated that "the moment you get beyond
infantry weapons and armoured personnel carriers to protect the troops,
it is a hazard. You look as if you are part of the conflict."27
During the first portion of its involvement in the Congo, the UNF
possessed no offensive weapons. The Force was limited to light mortars
and to the personal side arms which were carried by individual troops.
The lack of offensive weapons posed no problems for the Force during its
first year in the Condo because it was involved in only minor skirmishes.
However, when the UNF became an active participant in the conflict subse-
quent to "Rumpunch", the Force suffered from its lack of firepower. Con-
sequently, more weapons were procured, including jet aircraft. This
enabled the Force to better defend itself. However, as will be discussed
in the next section, the addition of extra firepower substantially changed
the Force's nature.
DID THE FORCE REMAIN TRUE TO ITS MANDATE AND
DID IT REMAIN A TRUE PEACEKEEPING MISSION?
It must be remembered that there were three significant modifications
to the original Security Council resolution of 14 July 1960. The original
resolution created the UNF and authorized the Peacekeeping Force to restore
law and order in the Congo. The 9 August 1960 resolution specifically
authorized the UNF to enter Katanga. The 21 February 1961 resolution
authorized the use of force to prevent civil war, and the 24 November 1961
resolution authorized the use of force to expel foreign military personnel
With the exception of Round I, it can be argued that the UNF never
intentionally exceeded its mandate. Even in Round I, the violence that
ensued was not planned. Round I was supposed to be a peaceful roundup of
Tshombe's mercenaries and fighting did not begin until Katangan forces re-
sisted the UNF's action. By the time Round II took place, the UNF had
been authorized to use force in order to remove the foreign military per-
sonnel from Katanga. Although the UNF was ready and willing to fight in
Rounds II and III, both of these operations were precipitated by Katangan
agression against the UNF. In Round II, the UNF was protecting itself
against a series of assaults by Katangan forces and it was ensuring its
freedom of movement. During Round III, the Force took military action to,
once again, ensure its freedom of movement. Coincidentally, with both of
these actions, many of the Katangan mercenaries were eliminated.
However, although the Peacekeeping Force remained true to its mandate,
by September 1961, it had ceased to function as a true peacekeeping force.
The U.N. had broken a cardinal rule of peacekeeping - it had not remained
neutral in the conflict. When the United Nations planned and then executed
"Rumpunch", it established the UNF as an instrument of the Central Govern-
ment. Although U.N. officials rightfully claimed after each round of
fighting that the UNF was only exercising its mandate, the fact remains
that the mandate had expanded to permit the Peacekeeping Force to intervene
on behalf of the Congolese Central Government. U.N. officials had made it
clear that they opposed Tshombe's actions and that they wished to see
Katanga reintegrated with the remainder of the Congo. It was no wonder
that the Katangans opposed the Peacekeeping Force and that they viewed the
UNF as an opposing army of occupation. The result of this view was that
the Force could not accomplish its mission peacefully and it was forced
to become a belligerent in the conflict.
DID THE UNF ACCOMPLISH ITS MISSION
In a discussion about peacekeeping operations, Brigadier Harbottle
wrote: "To expect a politico-military operation of the Congo type, mounted
in the ad-hoc fashion that has been the keystone of such operations, to
be anything but a qualified success would be wholly unrealistic."28 The
Congo mission was an exceedingly complex undertaking for the U.N. and, as
a result, there are a number of questions that need to be answered in a
determination of whether the UNF successfully accomplished its mission.
Some of these questions are philosophical. For example, if one subscribes
to the view that all peacekeeping forces should accomplish their tasks non-
violently, then the U.N.'s mission in the Congo was a miserable failure.
The UNF fought on numerous occasions and, as was pointed out previously,
the fighting was a predictable consequence of some of the U.N.'s policies.
One could also ask whether the Congo was better off as a result of
the UNF's efforts. That is difficult to answer. U.N. officials acknow-
ledged when the UNF left the Congo in 1964, that the Congo was no stronger
politically then than it was when the crisis began. Civil war continued
to plague the Congo after the UNF's departure; and Moise Tshombe, after
he became Prime Minister in 1964, was forced to employ some of his old
mercenaries in order to defeat a Communist inspired insurgency. As to how
the question of Katanga's secession would have been resolved had the U.N.
not entered the Congo, that can only be the subject of conjecture.
All this is not to say, however, that the U.N. mission accomplished
little or that its efforts were not appreciated. Mr. Mongi Slim, who be-
came Tunisian Foreign Secretary and who was his country's representative
to the Security Council during the Congo crisis, spoke eloquently of the
U.N.'s efforts. He said:
"...much controversy arose on the merits of such an operations,
with many pros and cons. But what can be asserted beyond any
doubt is that the U.N. presence prevented the cold war from
settling in the Congo, that the unity of the Congo was re-
established thanks in large measure to the U.N. effort, and
that the U.N. helped to avoid an impending chaos that threat-
ened peace and security not only in the Congo, but in the whole
The Secretary-General, however, defined the UNF's specific mis-
sions, as far as the U.N. was concerned, when he established the Peace-
keeping Force. Hammarskjold delineated five missions, each of which
can be analyzed.
(1) The UNF was to restore law and order in the Congo. This
mission presented a paradox. How was the UNF supposed to restore law and
order in a country that was divided against itself without using force and
without taking sides in the conflict?30 This portion of the mission proved
to be difficult, but it was accomplished. The Force endured sporadic
attacks by Congolese civilians and ANC units throughout its involvement
in the Congo. Fortunately, however, most of the violence which was directed
at Belgian nationals ceased shortly after the UNF's arrival.
(2) The UNF was to establish conditions that would permit Bel-
gium to withdraw her troops from the Congo. This mission was successfully
accomplished, outside of Katanga, early in the conflict. With the excep-
tion of those troops who were seconded to Katanga, Belgian troops were out
of the Congo by mid-September 1960. The Belgian troops who were a part of
Tshombe's gendarmerie proved to be more of a problem, but they, too, were
(3) The UNF was to maintain the territorial and political in-
tegrity of the Congo. This mission can be interpreted to mean that the
UNF was to ensure that Katanga was reintegrated with the Central
Government or it can be interpreted to mean that the UNF was to ensure
that the Congo was not invaded by another state. In either case, the
UNF accomplished this mission.
(4) The UNF was to eliminate the influence of foreign military
personnel within the Congo. This mission was successfully accomplished
in much the same manner as the mission to eliminate the Belgian troops
(5) The UNF was to retrain the ANC and turn it into a reliable
security force. Although the UNF made several belated attempts to re-
train the Congolese army, this mission was never successfully accom-
plished. The primary cause of this failure was a lack of cooperation
by the Congolese Central Government. The key to retraining the ANC was
to train qualified Congolese officers. To accomplish this, the UNF
established several training courses. However, because the Congolese
Government preferred direct assistance by governments of their own
choosing, it failed to cooperate with the UNF and the courses were sel-
Closely related to this problem was the failure of the UNF to
disarm the marauding ANC units early in the conflict. Most U.N. per-
sonnel and many reputable observors agree that a disarmament of the ANC
would have facilitated peace. In retrospect it appears that a peaceful
disarmament would have been possible had it been vigorously pursued
early in the conflict.32 However, the UNF was required to consult with
the Central Government on security matters, and it had no authority to
disarm the ANC without Central Government approval. The Central Govern-
ment was so divided and the ANC was so split in its loyalties, that
none of the Congolese leaders was ever willing to give the UNF permission
to disarm the Congolese army.
DILEMA IN BEIRUT
It is well beyond the scope of this paper to examine America's
vital interests in the Middle East or to comment on the propriety of the
Marine Peacekeeping Mission to Beirut. Nonetheless, Marines were thrust
into a peacekeeping role as part of a multinational peacekeeping force.
That the Marines role was anything but peaceful is an all too well es-
tablished fact. Consequently, the Marines' mission in Beirut warrants
The Marines and the other contingents of the multinational force
did not enter Beirut originally as peacekeepers. They entered to ensure
the safe and orderly evacuation of civilians out of Beirut. The peace-
keeping mission evolved out of this. The result was a peacekeeping mis-
sion that, through no fault of its own, violated many of the fundamental
rules of peacekeeping.
In a book that was written long before the Lebanon crisis began,
Brigadier Rikhye discussed some problems which frequently result from
peacekeeping efforts that originate outside the U.N.. His writings pro-
phesied the events in Lebanon. (This is not to say that a U.N. force would
have been the solution to the Lebanese crisis. The establishment of a
U.N. peacekeeping force would not have been possible in 1981-82 for a
number of reasons). Rikhye noted that peacekeeping efforts outside the
cognizance of the U.N. frequently result in the use of force. As the
peacekeeping force escalates the use of force, the amount of resistance
to the peacekeepers escalates. In turn, the peacekeeper uses more force,
etc.. Consequently, violence proliferates. He continued by noting that
some peacekeeping operations are brutal and bloody. However, they are
completed quickly. Other operations (like the one in Lebanon) adhere
closely to the principle of minimum force. This method prolongs the
operation. However, although both of these policies often halt vio-
lence, under the surface, the structural conflict remains unchanged,
and its reemergence is simply delayed to a later date.33
With Rikhye's comments and the principles of peacekeeping in mind,
lets examine the peacekeeping mission in Beirut.
The Beirut multinational force and, in particular, the American
contingent, had many things going against it. First, and foremost, the
multinational force did not have the consent of all of the major parties
to the dispute. The Marine contingent, in particular, was viewed, rightly
or wrongly, by numerous Moslem factions as a pillar of support for the
Gemayel Government - risky business in Lebanon during the 1982-83 time
frame. In an interview with a "Washington Post" correspondent, a Druze
spokesman amplified this point. He indicated that the multinational force
should get away from the Lebanese army instead of trying to help it. He
said that the Americans had become protagonists in the civil war and that
"the Americans should help all Lebanese, and not just the Phalangist
government and it army."34 This is undoubtedly a very parochial view of
the American involvement in Beirut. But, it must be remembered that the
manner in which a peacekeeping force is perceived by the various belli-
gerents is as important as the actual political position of a peacekeeping
It is because of this perception that the super powers make poor
peacekeepers. Peacekeeping forces should be politically neutral regarding
the outcome of the conflict in which they are involved. No one could pos-
sibly perceive the United States as being neutral toward the final dis-
position of Lebanon.
Brian Urquhart commented on the Beirut force. He said that the peace-
keeping force had no unified command, it had no clearly defined mandate, and
it was too heavily armed. He indicated that "the moment you get beyond
infantry weapons and armored personnel carriers to protect the troops,
it is a hazard, you look as if you are part of the conflict."35
This was certainly true of the Marine contingent. Granted, the Marines
never intended to use their weapons for offensive action. However, in the
manner discussed by Rikhye, they became involved in reprisals. As the
Marines responded to force with like force, the attacks against them accel-
erated. Urquhart pointed out, " the moment you (a peacekeeping force) get
into the reprisal game you are lost - it is the beginning of the end."36
When the U.S.S. New Jersey became involved and rounds, other than purely
defensive fires, were shot, it can be argued that the American contingent
became a part of the problem in Lebanon and not the solution.
All of this is not to imply that Marine commanders in Beirut should
have responded differcntly to attacks on their positions. The point is
that the Marine contingent was in a precarious position from the very start.
The violence that ensued was predictable from the beginning of their in-
TRAINING FOR PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS
Successful peacekeeping requires a special state of mind in the peace-
keeper. Brigadier Rikhye describes peacekeeping as "just another category
of special operations for which all professional armies are trained.....
requiring an attitudinal rather than a physical adjustment. In the main
it is simply a question of placing greater emphasis on certain fundamental
characteristics required of a trained soldier - alertness, vigilance,
patience and acuteness."37
Major Wise, in an article for "Military Review" stressed the mental
aspects of peacekeeping. He wrote:
"In preparing his unit, no leader can overlook the frustrating
aspects of a task where acheiving nothing is the goal, or living
with the paradox of using a fighting force not to fight. The
reqards of peacekeeping are not very visible since the operation
takes place in an atmosphere of continuing international bicker-
It is essential that junior personnel understand the elements of
their mission, and the reasons for prohibitions on the use of force.
Above all, they must understand the inherent frustrations of peacekeeping.
They must be prepared to, quite possibly, absorb a lot of abuse and they
must realize that there may well be little immediate, tangible reward for
On the tactical side, peacekeeping forces should be proficient in all
small units manuevers. They should pay particular attention to accurate,
controlled, fire discipline; to patrolling techniques; and to riot and
crowd control operations.39
More senior officers and potential field commanders should receive
training in diplomatic, political and international civil service roles.
A senior officer should be especially conscious of the customs and the
culture of the country in which he is going to serve.40
Brigadier Rikhye summed up the attributes of a successful peacekeeping.
He said that a peacekeeper must acquire a sense of objective justice and
he must be able to quickly discern complex, changing situations. He must
understand the parties to the conflict and their diffirent motivations.
Above all, there is no place for a double standard. Both sides should
expect and receive equal treatment. Rikhye concluded by stating that it
was "probably true to say that is a peacekeeping force is unpopular with
both sides at the same time, then it is carrying out its duties objec-
tively and with impartiality."41
1Mugar Valuhu, The Katanga Circus (New York: Speller and Sons,
1964), p. 11.
2LTCOL John Child, USA,"Peacekeeping and the Inter-American System",
military Review, October 1980, p. 41.
3Washington Post, 12 December 1963, p. A1.
4Valuhu, p. 11.
5Child, pp. 42-43.
6Michael Harbottle, "Peacekeeping," Military Review, September 1969,
7Brigadier A. J. Wilson, "Peacekeeping - A U.N. Commander's View,"
Royal United Service Institute Journal, May 1968, p. 115.
8George Martelli, Experiment in World Government (London: Johnson
Publications, 1966), p. 155.
9Wilson, p. 113.
10Ibid., p. 114.
11Major General Carl Von Horn, Soldiering for Peace (New York: McKay
Co., 1967), p. 234.
12Major James C. Wise USA, "Putting Together a U.S. Army Force for
a U.N. Peacekeeping Operation," Military Review, December 1977, p. 24.
13Child, p. 43.
14Ibid., p. 42.
15Harbottle, p. 46.
16Washington Post, 12 December 1983, p. A1.
17Wilson, p. 121.
18Harbottle, p. 46.
19Wilson, p. 116.
20Harbottle, p. 47.
21Wilson, p. 116.
22Indar Jit Rikhye, "The Problems of International Peacekeeping",
Royal United Service Institute Journal, March 1977, p. 6.
23Wise, p. 25.
24U.S. News and World Report, 20 April 1961, p. 45.
25Colonel R. Ernest Dupuy USA, "A Soldier's Nightmare: That's the
Congo Picture Today," Army, Navy, Air Force Register, 17 September 1960,
26Harbottle, p. 47.
27Washington Post, 12 December 1983, p. A26.
28Michael Harbottle, The Blue Berets (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole
Books, 1972), p. 32.
29Ibid., p. 34.
30Dupuy, p. 13,
31Ernest W. Lefever, Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo
Operation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1967), p. 155.
32Ibid., p. 67.
33Indar Jit Rikhye, Michael Harbottle and Bjorn Egge, The Thin Blue
Line (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974), p. 10.
34Washington Post, 16 December 1983, p. A1.
35Ibid., p. A26.
36Washington Post, 12 December 1983, p. A1.
37Rikhye, Harbottle, and Egge, p. 274.
38Wise, p. 29.
40Rikhye, Harbottle and Egge, p. 273.
41Ibid., p. 274.
A. Books and Special Reports
Bloomfield, Lincoln P. (ed.). International Military Forces:
The Question of Peacekeeping in an Armed and Disarming
World. Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1964. This sym-
posium includes several essays on the Congo operation
by noted peacekeeping experts.
Bowett, D.W. United Nations Forces: A Legal Study. New
York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1964. An analysis of the
ramifications of the U.N. intervention in the Congo.
Boyd, James M. United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: A
Military and Political Appraisal. New York: Praeger
Bunnell, Charles F. Jr. Command and Control of U.N. Peace-
Keeping Operations. Air War College, 1968.
Burns, Arthur Lee and Heathcote, Nina Peacekeeping by U.N.
Forces From Suez to the Congo. New York: Frederick
A. Praefer, 1963. A reasonable, impartial and detailed
analysis of the scope of the U.N. mandate and its
effect on operations in the Congo.
Carter, Gwendolyn M. (ed.) Five African States; Responses
to Adversity. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University
Press, 1963. An analysis of the Congos struggle to
deal with emerging nationalism.
Dayal, Rajeshwar. Mission for Hammaskjold. Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1976. A definitive bio-
graphy of Hammarskjold's term as Secretary-General
written by his personal representative to the Congo.
Esptein, Howard M., (Ed.). Revolt in the Congo. New York:
Facts on File Inc., 1965. A narrative documentation of
significant events from the Congo's independence through
the withdrawal of U.N. troops.
Falk, Richard A. Legal Order in a Violent World. Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1968.
Fierimsky, Steve. Communist Chinese Influence in the Congo
(Brazzaville) and the Congo (Leopoldville) from Indepen-
dence Through 1965. Air War College, 1967.
Gordon, King. The United Nations in the Congo: A Quest for
Peace. New York: Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, 1962. The former U.N. Chief information officer
for the Congo offers an uncritical view of events through
Harbottle, Michael, The Blue Berets. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stock-
pile Books, 1972. The former chief of staff of the U.N.
Cypress Peacekeeping Force offers a brief history of U.N.
Hempstone, Smith. Rebels, Mercenaries and Dividends. New York:
Frederick A. Praeger, 1962. A pro-Katangan viewpoint of
Katanga's secession and the ensuing U.N. involvement. The
text is highly biased, but it does raise substantial ques-
tions from an anti-U.N. viewpoint.
Joshua, Wynfred. A Congo Chronology, 1960-1964. Washington,D.C.:
Brookings Institution, 1966. A chronology of U.N. efforts in
Lefever, Ernest W. Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the U.N. Congo
Operation. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1967.
Lefever, Ernest W. Crisis in the Congo. Washington D.C.: Brookings
Institution, 1965. An in depth analysis of the political, mili-
tary and legal problems that confronted the Congo Peacekeeping
Luard, Evan (ed.), The International Regulation of Civil Wars.
New York: New York University Press, 1972
Martelli, George. Experiment in World Government. London: Johnson
Publications, 1966. An opposition viewpoint by an author who
favored U.N. laissez-faire in the Congo.
Merriam, Alan P. Congo: Background of Conflict. Evanston, Ill.:
Northwestern University Press, 1961. A detailed analysis of
the roots of the Congo crisis. Particular emphasis on pre-
independence social and political problems.
Mezerik, A.J., (ed.) Congo and the United Nations. New York:
International Review Service. A chronology of U.N. actions
in the Congo supplemented by copies of relevant documents.
Miller, Linda B. World Order and Local Disorder. Princeton,
Princeton University Press, 1967.
Mydans, Carl and Mydans, Shelley (eds.). The Violent Peace.
New York: Athaneum, 1968.
O'brien, Conor Cruise. To Katanga and Back. New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1962. Autobiography and interpretation of
events in Katanga during "Rumpunch" and Round I by the for-
mer Special Representative to Elisabethville.
Raymond, Charles W. III. A Military Perspective of International
Peacekeeping. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: U.S. Army Command
and General Staff College, 1975.
Rikhye, Indar Jit, Harbottle, Michael, and Egge, Bjorn. The Thin
Blue Line. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974
Three acknowledged peacekeeping experts detail past and en-
vision future problems for peacekeeping operations.
Sohn, Louis B. The United Nations in Action. Brooklyn: The
Foundation Press Inc., 1968. A chronology of significant
legal and U.N. documents on the Congo.
Stoessinger, John G. The United Nations and the Superpowers. New
York: Random House, 1967. A discussion on super power inter-
action at the U.N. and its subsequent influence on the decision
Thompson, Sir Robert, (ed.). War in Peace. New York: Harmony Books,
Tondel, Lyman M. Jr. (ed.). The Legal Aspects of the United Nations
Action in the Congo. New York: Oceana Publications, 1963.
Valuhu, Mugur, The Katanga Circus. New York: Speller and Sons, 1964
An intensely pro-Katanga view of the Congo conflict.
Von Horn, Carl. Soldiering for Peace. New York: McKay Co., 1967.
An autobiography by the former commander of the Congo Peace-
Wainhouse, David W. International Peacekeeping at the Crossroads.
Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1973.
Wainhouse, David W. International Peace Observation. Baltimore:
John Hopkins University Press, 1966.
B. Magazines and Professional Journals
Child, Lt. Col. John "Peacekeeping and the Inter-American System".
Military Review, October 1980, pp. 40-54
Dupuy, Colonel Ernest R. "A Soldier's Nightmare: That's the U.N.
Congo Picture Today". Army, Navy, Air Force Register 17
September 1960, pp. 13.
Harbottle, Michael "Peacekeeping" Military Review. September
1969. pp. 43-59.
Rikhye, Indar Jit. "The Problems of International Peacekeeping"
Royal United Service Institute journal, March 1977, pp.3-9.
Wilson, Brigadier A.J. "Peacekeeping - A U.N. Commander's View"
Royal United Service Institute Journal, May, 1968. pp. 113-
Wise, Major James C. "Putting Together a U.S. Army Force for a
U.N. Peacekeeping Operation". Military Review, December
1977, pp. 20-31.
"Congo: The Monstrous Hangover." Time, 18 July 1960, pp. 17-24.
"The Congo." Time, 22 September 1961, pp. 30-31.
"Congo: Dinner for the Senator." Time, 8 December 1961, pp. 29..
"Congo: Battle for Katanga." Time, 15 December 1961, pp. 21-23.
"Congo: The Heart of Darkness." Time, 22 December 1961, pp. 16-21.
"The Congo: The U.N. Drives Implacably Ahead." Time, 11 January 1963,
"The Congo: Going, Going -." U.S. News and World Report, 13 March
1961, pp. 46-47.
"How the U.N. Runs a War." U.S. News and World Report,20 March 1961,
No Title, U.S. News and World Report, 20 April 1961, p. 45.
C. Newspaper Articles
New York Times. 4 December 1964, Sec. 1, p. 1.
Washington Post and Times Herald. 21 July 1960, p. 1.
Washington Post. 12 December 1983, p. A1 and p. A26.
Washington Post. 16 December 1983, p. A1 and p. A26.
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