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Intelligence

Department Seal

FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES
1961-1963
Volume X
Cuba, 1961-1962

DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Washington

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Cuba, 1961-1962

136. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to Agency Personnel in Nicaragua

Washington, April 18, 1961./1/

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files: Job 85-00664R, Box 4, Vol. I. Top Secret; Flash.

/1/A handwritten note on the source text indicates the time of transmission of this telegram was between 11:26 and 11:52 a.m. The action authorized in the telegram indicates, however, that the telegram must have been drafted after 11:58 p.m. on April 18. See the source note, Document 140.

4739. Ref: [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] 833 (IN 4292).

1. Immediately upon receipt this message launch fifty percent B-26 strike aircraft armed your discretion destroy tanks and vehicles on approaches beachhead. Conserve Cuban crews for max effort night attacks target one.

2. US Navy air CAP over beachhead area will provide fighter cover your aircraft.

137. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison) to the Commander of Special Task Group 81.8 (Clark)

Norfolk, April 19, 1961, 1:27 a.m.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Top Secret; Operational Immediate; Exclusive. Repeated to JCS.

190627Z. Exclusive for Clark from Dennison info Gray.

1. At your discretion and with due regard for security your forces and need for concealing involvement U.S. conduct eyeball recco objective area first light 19 April.

2. New subject. If CEF effort has not been fully effective desire all info earliest as to whether guerilla operations have been started. If this is the case then it might be possible for us to arrange support by air drops etc. As you must realize I am groping in the dark and any info you can supply (possibly through Col Mallard's sources) would be of great help.

3. Another subject. We may be called upon for evacuation of wounded. This might involve helicopters and stop off in Essex prior transfer to yet undetermined destination.

138. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison) to the Chief of Naval Operations (Burke)

Norfolk, April 19, 1961, 2:01 a.m.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Top Secret.

190701Z. Exclusive for Admiral Burke from Dennison.

A. Your 190137Z./1/

/1/Document 133.

B. My 190627Z./2/

/2/Document 137.

1. See Ref B to CTG 81.8 info JCS.

2. Evacuation of wounded is completely out of the question without overt involvement of US forces. Furthermore, I know of no haven in some place "inaccessible to news hawks." Evacuation either by day or night is a fantastically unrealistic project unless I am permitted to put sufficient force ashore, with air and gunfire support from the sea, to provide a beach head. Alternative would be for CEF ships to bring wounded from beach to sea.

139. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison) to the Chief of Naval Operations (Burke)

Norfolk, April 19, 1961, 2:11 a.m.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Top Secret.

190711Z. Exclusive for Admiral Burke from Dennison.

A. Your 190217Z./1/

/1/Document 134.

It is impossible to give guarantee that I could land observer on the beach without danger of being killed or captured. On the contrary I could guarantee that any observer landed would be completely ineffective at best and probably would involve the United States. I have no information about contact sources on the beach, no info on communications ashore and no information on positions of CEF forces. The proposal is completely unrealistic and I will have no part of it./2/

/2/An unidentified handwritten note on the source text at this point reads: "He may have to."

140. Telegram From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison)

Washington, April 19, 1961, 3:37 a.m.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report. Top Secret; Exclusive; Flash. Also sent to CTG 81.8. A chronology maintained in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations indicates that the instructions in this telegram resulted from a conference at the White House. (Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials) The conference cited in the chronology was the one listed in the President's appointment book as having begun at 11:58 p.m. on April 18 and concluded at 2:46 a.m. on April 19. No participants are listed for this off-the-record meeting on Cuba, and no other record of the meeting has been found. (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Book)

JCS 994369. Bumpy Road. Exclusive to Adm Dennison and RAdm Clark from JCS.

1. TG 81.8 to furnish air cover of 6 unmarked aircraft over CEF forces during period 0630 to 0730 local time 19 April to defend CEF against air attack from Castro forces. Do not seek air combat but defend CEF forces from air attack. Do not attack ground targets. Pilots carry as little identification as practicable. If necessary to ditch, ditch at sea.

2. CEF transport aircraft, to include C-46, C-54 and possibly C-130 types, are scheduled to air drop supplies to CEF forces in beachhead from 190630R to 190730R./1/ Friendly B-26's are scheduled to attack Castro tanks and forces in vicinity of beachhead during same period.

/1/6:30 to 7:30 local time.

3. U.S. Col. Robertson will land on beach by small boat during same period for consultation with CEF commander.

4. CEF very short of supplies and are being requested by other agencies to break out from beach as soon as practicable either as organized force or as small bands of guerillas. If this is not possible it may become necessary to evacuate CEF forces at last resort. Should this be necessary will probably use CEF ships but have Phibron 2 in position about 30 miles from beach by 191300R/2/ prepared to conduct evacuation from Blue Beach or other designated beach at 191700R/3/ using unmarked amphibious craft with crews in dungarees so that they will not be easily identified on beach. If evacuation by U.S. ships ordered furnish air cover to protect landing craft and keep amphibious shipping not less than five miles from beach so as not to indicate U.S. ships are involved. What is latest time you will need executing order to evacuate at 191700R?

/2/1 p.m. local time.

/3/5 p.m.

5. Make frequent reports after operation begins.

6. New subject. Furnish air cover to CEF ships more than 15 miles from coast as practicable./4/

/4/At 6:30 a.m., Clark cabled to Dennison: "Will devote my entire resources to execution JCS 190837Z [JCS 994369]." (CTG 81.8 telegram 191130Z to CINCLANTFLT; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials)

141. Telegram From the Chief of Naval Operations (Burke) to the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison)

Washington, April 19, 1961, 3:41 a.m.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Top Secret; Operational Immediate; Exclusive.

190841Z. Exclusive for Adm Dennison from Burke. Your 190701Z/1/ not very helpful. You may have to evacuate CEF or wounded only. We realize US forces would be involved but we would want to hold involvement to as low a level as possible. If you evacuate wounded hold them in Essex and I will inform you location of haven. God knows this operation is as difficult as possible and we are trying to do all we can without much info and without having been in on all initial stages. I too am irked and tired and I realize many of these suggestions are most difficult. Yet we will have to do all we can to help even if it is not the way we would like to do it. Don't let the flag etc.

/1/Document 138.

142. Editorial Note

General Gray briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the situation in Cuba at 7:30 the morning of April 19, 1961. Intelligence reports indicated that internal resistance in Cuba, aside from the CEF force, was limited to 1,000 guerrillas in the eastern part of Oriente Province, 850 guerrillas inland from Cienfuegos, and 100 guerrillas in the Pinar del Rio area. Only two of six scheduled CEF B-26 bombers had attacked San Antonio de los Banos during the night, and the crew of the Blagar had refused an order to deliver supplies to the beach because they could not finish the mission before daylight and no air cover was visible. Another effort was planned between 6:30 and 7:30 while CTG 81.8 air cover was scheduled. Two CEF C-54s had air dropped supplies in the area of the beach during the night, and one C-46 had landed on the air strip and unloaded. The last CTG 81.8 reconnaissance flight indicated that the late afternoon CEF strike on Cuban tank forces was a success. Several trucks and tanks were reported damaged.

Despite the few positive developments that Gray was able to report, his briefing emphasized the fact that the situation at the Bay of Pigs was becoming desperate. Gray noted that the CEF Brigade Commander had asked during the night: "Have you quit? Aren't you going to support me any more?" He stated that he could not hold out without help, but later radioed: "Regardless of whether you help or not, I will fight on regardless." The question, however, was how long he would be able to fight. Information received during the briefing indicated that as of 7:50 a.m. the CEF battalion on Blue Beach was under artillery and air attack, and a truck convoy was advancing on the beach from the north. At 10 a.m. a call from CIA indicated that CIA was conferring and would probably recommend evacuation of the CEF. (J-5 Briefing 730R, 19 April 1961; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials)

143. Telegram From the Commander of Special Task Group 81.8 (Clark) to the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison)

USS Essex, Caribbean, April 19, 1961, 8:40 a.m.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Top Secret. Repeated to JCS.

191340Z. Exclusive for Dennison, Gray, from Clark. Bumpy Road. Your 190627Z./1/

/1/Document 137.

1. All evidence indicates CEF ashore still are organized fighting unit and not shifting to guerilla activity. Believe one body of survivors from Red Reach attempting to join main body at Blue Beach. Nothing was delivered to beach area by sea during the night. Indications are that CEF ashore is low on all supplies, including ammo and is hard pressed if not desperate. Air drops by CEF planes poorly delivered. Most fall into sea.

2. All above from intercepted CEF traffic.

3. All this radio traffic is addressed for either action or info to Cdr. Millard's boss, who is the same as Col. Mallard's boss.

144. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison) to the Commander of Special Task Group 81.8 (Clark)

Norfolk, April 19, 1961, 10:46 a.m.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Top Secret; Operational Immediate; Exclusive. Repeated to JCS.

191546Z. Bumpy Road. Exclusive for RAdm Clark from Dennison, info Gen Gray.

A. CTG 81.8 191448Z./1/

B. JCS 994247 DTG 172035Z./2/

C. JCS 994309 DTG 181837Z./3/

D. JCS 994369 DTG 190838Z./4/

/1/In this telegram, sent to Dennison and Gray at 9:48 a.m., April 19, Clark reported a request to his Task Group from the CEF for close air support to meet an attack led by tanks against the CEF position on the beach. (Ibid.) Clark had reported 34 minutes earlier that CEF forces on Blue Beach were under artillery fire. (CTG 81.8 telegram 191414Z to CINC-LANTFLT, April 19; ibid.)

/2/Document 115.

/3/Document 122.

/4/Document 140.

1. Close air support cannot be furnished. Restrictions of ref B are applicable. Only exceptions to 15 mile limitation so far authorized are refs C and D./5/

/5/At 10:33 a.m., Clark reported to Dennison that the CEF commander had repeated his plea for close air support; the CEF was under continuing artillery fire and had been attacked twice by aircraft. (CTG 81.8 telegram 191533Z to CINCLANTFLT, April 19; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials) At 11:09 a.m., Clark suggested that he be authorized to take advantage of the fact that two hostile planes were circling near one of his destroyers in order to launch an air strike from the Essex. (CTG 81.8 telegram 191609Z to CINCLANTFLT, April 19; ibid.)

145. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison) to the Commander of Special Task Group 81.8 (Clark)

Norfolk, April 19, 1961, 11:24 a.m.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Top Secret; Emergency; Exclusive. Repeated to JCS.

191624Z. Bumpy Road. Exclusive for Clark, info Gen Gray from Dennison.

1. Dispatch 2 DD to take station off Blue Beach to determine whether there is any chance for evacuation.

2. Provide air cover to protect DDs.

3. Fly recco over beach to determine situation./1/

/1/At 11:18 a.m., Clark reported to Dennison that he had received the following message from the CEF brigade ashore: "We are out of ammo and fighting on the beach. Please send help. We cannot hold. (Signed) Pepe." (CTG 81.8 telegram 191618Z to CINC-LANTFLT, April 19; ibid.)

4. Report immediately by fastest possible means results observations.

5. CEF ships have been ordered to move into Blue Beach.

6. Final instructions on evacuation will follow.

146. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison) to the Commander of Special Task Group 81.8 (Clark)

Norfolk, April 19, 1961, 11:32 a.m.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Top Secret; Emergency; Exclusive. Repeated to JCS.

191632Z. Bumpy Road. Exclusive for RAdm Clark info Gen Gray from Dennison.

1. Provide continuous air cover over beaches today to protect CEF from air attack.

2. Protection from ground attack not authorized./1/

/1/At 11:31 a.m., Clark reported to Dennison that he had received the following message from Blue Beach: "Out of ammunition. Men fighting in water. If no help given Blue Beach lost." (CTG 81.8 telegram 191631Z to CINCLANTFLT, April 19; ibid.)

147. Telegram From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison)

Washington, April 19, 1961, 11:57 a.m.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report. Top Secret; Operational Immediate; Limited Distribution; Exclusive. Repeated to CTG 81.8. A chronology maintained in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations indicates that the instructions in this telegram resulted from a conference at the White House. (Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials) It is not clear from the President's appointment book which conference at the White House produced these instructions; President Kennedy was busy throughout much of the morning of April 19 in meetings with the visiting Prime Minister of Greece, Constantine Karamanlis. No meeting that might be interpreted as dealing with the crisis in Cuba was listed for the morning of April 19. (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Book)

JCS 994382. Bumpy Road. Exclusive for Adm Dennison and Adm Clark from Gen Gray.

1. Confirming phone conversation with Adm Burke/1/ send 2 destroyers off Blue Beach to determine whether there is any chance of evacuation or not.

/1/The chronology cited in the source note above indicates that this telephone conversation took place at 10:20 a.m. between Burke and Dennison.

2. Fly reconnaissance over beach to determine situation.

3. CEF ships have been ordered to move to beach.

4. Fly air cover for destroyers, CEF shipping and own air reconnaissance. This means active air to air combat against any aircraft in the area. You will be notified of time of any future friendly B-26 aircraft in area. No attack against ground forces authorized.

5. Report immediately by fastest means possible results of reconnaissance. Final instructions will be sent later.

148. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State

New York, April 19, 1961, noon.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.37/4-1961. Top Secret; Niact; Eyes Only. The outgoing copy of this telegram at USUN indicates that it was drafted by Yost and Pedersen and cleared in draft by Stevenson. (USUN Files: NYFRC 84-84-002, Outgoing Tels 1962)

2937. For President and Secretary from Stevenson. Cuba.

1. Atmosphere in UN, among both our friends and neutrals, is highly unsatisfactory and extremely dangerous to U.S. position throughout world. Sovs and Castro Cubans have been able capture and so far hold moral initiative. This is at least partly due to lack of advance planning on how to defend ourselves politically.

2. With sufficient high level approaches to friendly govts explaining our policy, Dept should be able assure enough votes to provide blocking third against Sov/1/ or Rumanian res/2/ and against any Asian res or compromise if it is sufficiently slanted against us. If LA's prepared vote against Mexican res/3/ because of their own, we might be able defeat it as well. 7-power res/4/ is best we can do. How strongly we should come out for it in capitals at this point, however, I am as yet uncertain but will make recommendation shortly.

/1/On April 19 the Soviet Union submitted a draft resolution in the First Committee that called for the General Assembly to condemn armed aggression against Cuba, which the Soviet Union stated was sponsored by the United States, and called upon member states to render such assistance to Cuba as might be necessary to repel such aggression. (U.N. doc. A/C.1/L.277)

/2/Romania submitted a draft resolution on April 17 that called for the General Assembly to demand the immediate cessation of military activities against the Republic of Cuba and to issue an urgent appeal to the states whose territory and means were being used to support the attack to stop such assistance. (U.N. doc. A/C.1/L.274)

/3/On April 18 Mexico submitted a draft resolution in the First Committee that made reference to the obligation of observing the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of any state. The resolution called for the General Assembly to make an urgent appeal to all states to ensure that their territories were not being used to promote a civil war in Cuba and to urge cooperation in the search for a peaceful solution to the situation in Cuba. (U.N. doc. A/C.1/L.275)

/4/An additional draft resolution was submitted in the First Committee on April 18 by Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Panama, Uruguay, and Venezuela. This resolution made reference to the general obligation to seek a peaceful solution to disputes and called for the General Assembly to encourage the member states of the Organization of American States to lend assistance in achieving a settlement. It also called for the General Assembly to exhort all member states to abstain from any action that might aggravate existing tensions. (U.N. doc. A/C.1/L.276)

3. So far we have received virtually no support in speeches of others. Immediate approaches in capitals is necessary if Dept desires favorable speeches. Situation so difficult here no one will speak, except those hostile to us, without definite instructions on their govt's policy. Introduction by 7 LA's of res may help this because it gives focus around which to turn debate.

4. We are also exposed with large number of other dels with whom we have policy disputes on other issues in UN. At just wrong moment we have managed alienate Arabs on Palestine refugees item and on Jordanian case in SC against Israeli Jerusalem parole. We are in difficulty with whole Brazzaville group because of Cameroon plebiscite. If we had known we would have to face current situation we would have undoubtedly followed different policies and could have avoided present strained relations which are seriously damaging our bargaining power with them on Cuba.

5. Everyone, of course, friend or foe, believes we have engineered this revolution and no amount of denials will change their minds. Our prestige is thus committed, particularly in Latin America. Some states--Communist and "positive neutralists"--are very hostile. Others are uneasy. And those who are for us, especially LA's, are afraid to speak out because they fear internal repercussions of fight in Cuba on their own countries; they pray that this revolt will succeed within hours. Also urgently need if possible language to meet universal view that aiding, instigating and organizing from outside is as culpable as intervention in international and inter-American law.

6. Whatever happens now we are in for period of very serious political trouble. If revolution succeeds within days without overt U.S. intervention our problem minimized but by no means overcome. If it fails, we will lose stature and strength, with all that this implies for our position in OAS, the Alliance for Peace Program, the attitude of LA's toward Sov blandishments, and their ability resist other Cubas in LA; these stakes are high and having started this operation and having already paid heavy political price for it, I hope we will use covert means to maximum, to make it succeed and succeed fast. If nevertheless it fails we can then only say we were not involved, we are appalled at victory of oppression; and we are confident that in time Cuban people will again be free. From viewpoint U.S. position in world as reflected in UN, overt U.S. intervention in Cuba, after all we have said, would probably be worse than failure present effort. Green (Canada) told me today if U.S. intervened directly it would put us in impossible situation.

7. If worse comes to worst and there is prolonged military stalemate in Cuba which we are committed to support most serious situation will arise which will put us in grave difficulties in UN. Overt U.S. military support of rebels in absence legal framework or adequate provocation would be politically disastrous. It would be considered as another Suez and we would have to expect world to react accordingly. Overt aid, if decided upon, must be based on sound legal position even if it is fiction. We feel there must, for example, at least be rebel govt established in Cuba with control of substantial section of Cuban territory and including major city as capital and which can appeal for help before we even consider such step. I wish make clear I am not recommending this be done; considerations which govern such decisions are not sufficiently known to me here. But if this point should be reached we must have legal position at least as firm as USSR has in Laos.

Stevenson

149. Telegram From the Commander of Special Task Group 81.8 (Clark) to the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison)

USS Essex, Caribbean, April 19, 1961, 12:06 p.m.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Top Secret; Emergency; Exclusive. Repeated to JCS, COMCARIBSEAFRON, COMKWESTFOR, and COMNAVBASEGTMO.

191706Z. Bumpy Road. Exclusive for Dennison, Gray, Smith, McElroy, O'Donnell from Clark. Bumpy Road. Your 191624Z./1/

/1/Document 145.

1. Para 3. Area held by CEF appears to be one quarter to one half mile along the beach to a depth of about one quarter under artillery fire with tanks and vehicles to both east and west. Believe evacuation impossible without active engagement with Castro forces.

2. Destroyers on the way for observation only./2/

/2/Clark followed this telegram with another to Dennison at 12:44 which reads: "2 DD are proceeding to Blue Beach but feel I must point out that they will be subjected to air attack and surface artillery fire and in my opinion will not be able to make any contribution to decision as to feasibility of evacuation which is feasible if we stand ready to support by air cover and counter battery fire and start at once." (CTG telegram 191744Z to CINCLANTFLT, April 19; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials)

150. Telegram From Central Intelligence Agency Personnel in Nicaragua to the Central Intelligence Agency

Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, April 19, 1961, 12:07 p.m.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/LA/COG Files: Job 82-00679R, Box 3, Gen Maxwell Taylor, Green Study Group, Vol. II. Top Secret; Flash.

902. 1. Situation for air support beachhead completely out of our hands. This morning's effort extended us to the limit. Have now lost 5 Cuban pilots, 6 co-pilots, 2 American pilots, and one co-pilot, and observer either killed or captured. Unknown number aircraft out of commission. (Will advise.)

2. Two crews shot down today were shot down during period "positive aggressive" Navy air support and cover granted and for one hour 1130Z to 1230Z 19 April. Per Hqs. 4834/1/ (OUT 7237).

/1/Telegram 4834 to the Air Commander at Puerto Cabezas, April 19, 3:04 a.m., informed him that the Navy would provide 1 hour of air cover over the beaches at the Bay of Pigs, and enjoined him to make the best possible use of the opportunity to attack Cuban forces on the approaches to the airfield. (Ibid.) For text, see the Supplement.

3. Still have faith. Awaiting your guidance.

[end of document]

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Department Seal Return to Foreign Relations of the U.S., Vol. X, Cuba.



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