The former Belgian Congo became an important theatre of the Cold War in the early 1960s. The USA supported the Congolese Government directly while also supporting the UN initiatives in the Congo. This necessitated some covert operations by the CIA when the above objectives conflicted. The attempts in 1962 to provide the Congo with air support against Katanga was a prime example of Washington hedging its bets by pursuing several parallel solutions. One of these tracks involved having the CIA set up an air unit with old trainer aircraft obtained from Belgian stocks and piloted by Cuban veterans from the Bay of Pigs. This account, which is based on extensive archival research and interviews, chronicles the political events and decisions in the Congo and Washington that led to the involvement of the CIA. It also describes the practical steps needed to actually create the air unit.
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