Belgian Military Forces in the Congo

Volume 2 - Rescuing the CIA, The Belgian Tactical Air Force Congo, 1964 - 1967

Stephen Rookes, Polydor Stevens

This volume presents the role of the Belgian Tactical Air Force, Congo, (FATAC) in the Congo, 1964-1967, and is an addition to the author's previous publications dealing with the Congo Crisis, 1960-1967.
Date Published :
October 2022
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Illustration :
80 b/w photos, 30 color photos, 5 maps, 4 tables, 8 ills
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781804510124
Pages : 96
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


Although Belgium officially withdrew its military forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in July 1960, unofficially the former colonial ruler of this central African country maintained a political, economic, and military presence throughout the period known as the Congo Crisis, 1960–1967. Belgium’s military presence is seen mainly through its relations with the secessionist state of Katanga from 1960 to 1963 and through what was termed “technical assistance”.

By April 1964, the DRC was, once again, threatened by internal conflict that threatened its national integrity. The Armée Nationale Congolaise (ANC) being ill-equipped to deal with two separate rebellions that broke out in the Kwilu and Kivu provinces that year, had, nonetheless, the support of a CIA-sponsored air force composed principally of anti-Castro Cuban exiles. This air force receiving reinforcements in the shape of Harvard T-28s at the beginning of 1964, with other aircraft delivered by the CIA including Douglas C-47s, and Vertol-Piasecki H21s, the US government sought reassurances that these aircraft would be correctly maintained. After discussions were held between the US and Belgium, it was agreed that Belgium would provide further technical assistance in the DRC.

Set up at the end of May 1964, the Force Aérienne Tactique Congolaise (FATAC), or the Belgian Tactical Air Force, would remain in the Congo until 1967 where its role was to assist the different armed forces of the DRC to put down the so-called ‘Simba Rebellion’. These forces, including the aforementioned CIA air force, also included a mercenary army employed to reestablish order to the Congo.

In this second volume dealing with Belgian military forces in the Congo, the history of the FATAC is told using eyewitness accounts from veterans of the unit plus an array of documents relating to the period in question. This volume is a valuable addition to anyone wishing to supplement their knowledge of the Congo Crisis.

About The Author

Stephen Edward Rookes is originally from Exeter in the UK, Dr. Stephen Rookes is a French writer and academic who earned his PhD from the University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, France. He specialises in the history of Cuban exiles and takes a particular interest in the CIA's covert operations in Central America and in Africa. This is his second instalment for Helion’s @War series.

Senior Captain Polydore Stevens was born and raised in the Belgian Congo. He served with the Belgian Air Force from 1969 to 1993 and during this time he flew several types of aircraft including Mirage fighter jets. This experience made him perfect for the role of coordinating Belgium’s Mirage V operations during the Gulf War. After retiring, Senior Captain Stevens worked for the European Union as an air transport advisor and flew humanitarian missions in several African countries. He has worked for international organisations in Afghanistan and spends his free time researching aviation history. This interest leading him to return to Central Africa, he located the wreck of the Piasecki H-21 used in the rescue of Dick Holm in the Congo.

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