166. Notes on the 478th Meeting of the National Security Council
Washington, April 22, 1961.
//Source: Yale University, Bowles Papers, Box 392, Folder 154. Personal. Drafted by Bowles in May.
[Here follow 3-1/2 pages of Bowles' notes; see Document 158.]
NSC Meeting, Saturday, April 22nd
There were some thirty-five people at the NSC meeting on Cuba. Again Bob Kennedy was present, and took the lead as at the previous meeting, slamming into anyone who suggested that we go slowly and try to move calmly and not repeat previous mistakes.
The atmosphere was almost as emotional as the Cabinet meeting two days earlier, the difference being that on this occasion the emphasis was on specific proposals to harass Castro.
On two or three occasions I suggested that the greatest mistake we could make would be to pit the United States with its 180 million people in a contest against a Cuban dictator on an island of 6 million people. I stressed that while we are already in a bad situation, it would be a mistake for us to assume that it could not disintegrate further and an almost sure way to lose ground was to reach out in ways that would almost surely be ineffective and which would tend to create additional sympathy for Castro in his David and Goliath struggle against the United States.
These comments were brushed aside brutally and abruptly by the various fire eaters who were present. I did think, however, that the faces of a few people around the table reflected some understanding of the views I was trying to present, notably Dick Goodwin, Ted Sorensen (which is surprising), Arthur Schlesinger, and above all Jerry Wiesner.
The President limited himself largely to asking questions--questions, however, which led in one direction.
I left the meeting with a feeling of intense alarm, tempered somewhat with the hope that this represented largely an emotional reaction of a group of people who were not used to setbacks or defeats and whose pride and confidence had been deeply wounded.
However, I felt again the great lack of moral integrity which I believe is the central guide in dealing with tense and difficult questions, particularly when the individuals involved are tired, frustrated, and personally humiliated.
If every question in the world becomes an intellectual exercise on a totally pragmatic basis, with no reference to moral considerations, it may be that we can escape disaster, but it will certainly be putting the minds of the White House group to a test when it becomes necessary to add up the components, large and small on the plus or minus side of a ledger, and when the minds that are attempting to do this are tired, uneasy, and unsure, the values and the arithmetic are unlikely to reflect wise courses.
[Here follows the remainder of Bowles' notes; see Document 184.]
167. Record of Actions at the 478th Meeting of the National Security Council
Washington, April 22, 1961, 10 a.m.-noon.
//Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95. Top Secret. A note on the record of action indicates that the President approved the record on April 24. The time of the meeting is taken from the President's appointment book. (Kennedy Library)
The President presided at this meeting. The Secretary of the Treasury and the Director, Bureau of the Budget, participated in the actions below. The Attorney General; the Acting Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; the Director, U.S. Information Agency; the Under Secretary of State; the Deputy Secretary of Defense; the Secretary of the Army; the Secretary of the Navy; the Acting Secretary of the Air Force; the Deputy Under Secretary of State; the Counselor, Department of State; the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; the Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the Executive Secretary, National Aeronautics and Space Council; General Maxwell Taylor; General David Gray, U. S. Army; the Deputy Director (Plans), Central Intelligence Agency; the Special Counsel to the President; the Special Assistants to the President for National Security Affairs and for Science and Technology; Mr. Bromley Smith, National Security Council; and the Acting Executive Secretary, National Security Council, attended the meeting. The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, and the Adviser to the President on Disarmament participated in NSC Action No. 2408. The Deputy to the Adviser to the President on Disarmament and the Deputy Director, U. S. Disarmament Administration, attended the meeting for NSC Action No. 2408.
2406. U.S. Policy Toward Cuba
a. Noted the President's view that there should be no further discussion outside the Government of the meaning of recent landings in Cuba, since the object now is to move forward.
b. Noted the President's view that U.S. citizens in Cuba should be shortly advised again of the view of this Government that they should leave Cuba, and that at an appropriate time publicity should be given to this advice.
c. Noted the President's view that U.S. assistance to active guerrillas in Cuba should, for the present, be extended only where there is a moral obligation, or to assist in survival or evacuation. Guerrillas with whom the United States may be in contact should be advised to lie low for the present. This directive should, however, be constantly reviewed in the light of the changing internal situation in Cuba.
d. Discussed the training of Cuban soldiers, and agreed that the question of possible forms of large-scale, open enlistment of Cuban soldiers should be studied by the Departments of State and Defense./1/
/1/After the NSC meeting, Secretary of the Army Elvis J. Stahr sent to McNamara a copy of the discussion paper that he used during the meeting to elaborate on this proposal. Stahr proposed the creation of a "Freedom Brigade" in the U.S. Army composed of volunteers from among Cuban refugees in the United States. After basic training, the unit would be given Special Forces type training. The object would be to create a highly trained, flexible force that could be used for such purposes as guerrilla or unconventional operations in Cuba to spearhead a U.S. invasion of Cuba and to undertake occupation responsibilities in the post-combat phase of an invasion. The assumption was that if U.S. forces did intervene in Cuba, they should "get in and get out" quickly and leave occupation responsibilities to refugee groups such as a "Freedom Brigade," which would underpin any government that the United States might recognize. (Memorandum from Stahr to McNamara, April 22; Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 381 (Sensitive)) McNamara sent a memorandum to Nitze on April 22 in which he instructed ISA, on the basis of the actions taken at the NSC meeting, to: "Explore with the State Department the political and military implications of recruiting and training volunteer Cuban nationals as a part of the U. S. Army. The Cubans might be organized into a 'Freedom Brigade' or alternatively they could be integrated into existing units." (Ibid., Nitze Cuba File)
Action Memo sent to State and Defense/2/
/2/All of the action memoranda listed in this record were issued on April 25 to the agencies indicated as National Security Action Memoranda. The titles of the memoranda requiring action were as follows: NSAM No. 42 "Assistance to Cuban Refugees", NSAM No. 43 "Training to Cuban Nationals", NSAM No. 44 "Caribbean Security Agency", NSAM No. 45 "Coverage of Castro Activities in the United States", NSAM No. 46 "Attitude of Various Governments during the Cuban Crisis", and NSAM No. 47 "Soviet Assist-ance to Cuba". (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series)
e. Discussed the support of refugees, and noted the President's directive that levels of support should be reported to him with recommendations for their improvement, and his desire that such support should be open and overt. The President also directed that the adjustment of Cubans to life in the United States should be given particular attention by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
Action Memo sent to HEW and CIA
f. Noted that an interdepartmental study group would be considering an increase in U. S. assistance to Latin American countries in matters relating to internal security and counter-guerrilla activities, and agreed that a representative of the Department of Justice should be added to this group.
g. Noted the President's desire that there be prompt recommendations with regard to trading with Cuba from the Departments of State and the Treasury.
h. Noted the President's directive that the possibility be studied of creating a Caribbean Security Agency, to which we and the other Caribbean countries would contribute forces, and to whom any nation attacked could appeal for help.
Action Memo sent to State and Defense
i. Noted that the Attorney General and the Director of Central Intelligence would examine the possibility of stepping up coverage of Castro activities in the United States.
Action Memo sent to Justice and CIA
j. Noted that the Secretary of State had established an Operations Group in the Department under Ambassador Achilles, who would be responsible for all action with respect to the Cuban situation.
k. Noted the President's request that he and the Vice President receive from the Department of State prompt information as to which governments have been helpful in various parts of the Cuban crisis, and which unhelpful.
Action Memo sent to State
l. Noted the President's desire that a prompt and up-to-date report on Soviet assistance to Cuba be furnished by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency to the Director, U. S. Information Agency, and the Department of State.
Action Memo sent to Defense and CIA
168. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to the Chief of Naval Operations (Burke)
Washington, April 22, 1961.
//Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 381 (Sensitive). Confidential.
In accordance with the discussions at today's NSC meeting, please have J-2 move at once to coordinate with CIA in the prompt presentation of the material exposing the degree of Soviet Bloc military support to Cuba, and if possible Bloc participation in recent military actions. The object of this project should be to produce the most forceful possible public exposure on this matter. If some sacrifice of intelligence sources should be required to make the presentation effective, this could be considered. This project should be completed by Wednesday, the 26th.
Robert S. McNamara
169. Memorandum for the Record
Washington, April 22, 1961.
//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report. Top Secret. Drafted on April 23 in the CIA. The Taylor committee, composed of Taylor as chairman, Robert Kennedy, Dulles, and Burke, was established by President Kennedy on April 22 following a 10 a.m. meeting between the President and Taylor. Taylor recorded in his memoirs that the President called him in New York on April 21 and asked him to come to Washington to discuss the situation growing out of the Bay of Pigs problem. Kennedy asked Taylor to take leave of his responsibilities as President of the Lincoln Center and conduct an investigation into the causes of the failure of the Bay of Pigs operation. The President's instructions to Taylor, contained in an April 22 letter, were "to take a close look at all our practices and programs in the areas of military and paramilitary, guerrilla and anti-guerrilla activities which fall short of outright war. I believe we need to strengthen our work in this area. In the course of your study, I hope that you will give special attention to the lessons which can be learned from recent events in Cuba." (Maxwell D. Taylor, Swords and Plowshares (New York: Norton, 1972), pp. 180-184)
First Meeting of General Maxwell Taylor's Board of Inquiry on Cuban Operations Conducted by CIA/1/
/1/The subject line of the original draft of this memorandum reads: First Meeting of the Green Study Group. (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Cuba, Box 12, Memoranda of Meetings) The group was usually referred to as the Cuba Study Group.
TIME AND PLACE
1400-1800 hours, 22 April 1961, Quarters Eye
Study Group Members
General Maxwell D. Taylor
Attorney General Robert Kennedy
Admiral Arleigh Burke
Allen W. Dulles
Department of Defense
Major General David W. Gray
Colonel C. W. Shuler
General C.P. Cabell
C. Tracy Barnes
Colonel J.C. King
Jacob D. Esterline
[name not declassified]
Colonel Jack Hawkins
1. After discussion of procedural matters, it was decided that all papers and documents stemming from the inquiry would be retained by General Maxwell Taylor. Colonel J.C. King, Chief, Western Hemisphere Division, was designated recorder of the first meeting.
2. Mr. Dulles, in his opening remarks, cited the document which authorized CIA to conduct paramilitary operations. This document, NSC 5412,/2/ was described as one of the most secret documents in the U. S. Government. Mr. Dulles said that under this authority CIA is directed to engage in activities such as the Cuban operation under the general supervision of the National Security Council. General Taylor indicated that he wanted a copy of this document to be made available to him for his study. General Gray indicated he had a copy and would give it to General Taylor.
/2/NSC 5412, March 15, 1954, was the National Security Council directive on covert operations. (Eisenhower Library, White House Office Files, Files of the Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, NSC 5412/2) The oversight committee for covert operations was, therefore, referred to as the 5412 Committee.
3. Colonel King was then asked to describe Agency activities on the Cuban problem prior to the establishment of the Task Force, i.e., Branch 4 of the Western Hemisphere Division on 18 January 1960. In his remarks Colonel King stated that in late 1958 CIA made two attempts (each approved by the Department of State) to block Castro's ascension to power. The first attempt was made in November 1958 when contact was established with Justo Carrillo and the Montecristi Group. The second attempt was made on or about the 9th of December 1958 when former Ambassador William D. Pawley, supported by the CIA Chief of Station in Havana, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and Colonel King, approached Batista and proposed the establishment of a Junta to whom Batista would turn over the reins of government. Colonel King was queried by the Attorney General as to the approximate date that the Agency concluded that Castro was unacceptable to the U.S. politically, if not actually a Communist, and when this conclusion reached the Secretary of State and the President. Colonel King commented that there were reports as early as June or July 1958 during the period that sailors from Guantanamo were held by Castro forces which indicated beyond a reas-onable doubt that the U.S. was up against an individual who could not be expected to be acceptable to U.S. Government interests. Admiral Burke also made reference to the fact that he had been in at least one meeting with Colonel King on or about 29 December 1958 in which officials of the Department of State, except for Under Secretary Robert Murphy, appeared to feel that Castro was politically compatible to U.S. objectives. Considerable discussion involving all members of the Investigating Committee followed on this point with the Attorney General requesting assurance that Agency reports at that time reached the highest authority.
4. Reference was made to the first few days of January 1959 in Havana when a primary target of the advance guard was the Communist files in BRAC.
5. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] reported that on 21 September 1959 he assumed the responsibility for planning for potential Agency action in contingency situations that might evolve in Latin America. He stated that this was a staff position that conducted liaison with existing desks in an attempt to identify the existence or non-exist-ence of basic information which was an essential preliminary to the planning of clandestine operations within any given country. Most of the countries of Central America (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador) were identified as potential contingency problems because of the instability of their governments. The Isle of Hispaniola--Haiti and the Dominican Republic--was a high priority target. In South America, Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina were included among the countries which required review and potential action. Cuba, quite naturally, emerged as the number one target for contingency planning. Because of the national policy affecting Latin America, it was ascertained early in the survey that the operating desks did not have available in collated fashion the type of information that was required for planning purposes for covert operations. As a result of this discovery, the entire intelligence community was given a requirement to produce certain information on the various countries involved with special emphasis on Cuba as rapidly as possible. In time, a three-volume study was produced which included basic intelligence, political and psychological information, operational data, geographical information, selected potential areas for clandestine operations, and related operational data.
6. The Cuban situation continued to deteriorate rapidly and in December 1959, it was decided that CIA needed to consider urgently the activation of two programs:
A. The selection, recruitment and careful evaluation (including medical, psychological, psychiatric and polygraph) of approximately thirty-five (35) Cubans, preferably with previous military experience, for an intensive training program which would qualify them to become instructors in various paramilitary skills, including leadership, sabotage, communications, etc.
B. The instructor cadre would in turn, in some third country in Latin America, conduct clandestinely a training of additional Cuban recruits who would be organized into small teams similar to the U.S. Army Special Forces concept, and infiltrated with communicators, into areas of Cuba where it had been determined numbers of dissidents existed who required specialized skills and leadership and military supplies.
At this time, the basic Agency concept of operations was that the members of the instructor cadre would never be committed to Cuban soil. The members of the paramilitary leadership groups would be introduced covertly into the target area.
7. As a result of this fundamental decision [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] went [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in mid-December 1959 to survey certain isolated areas [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] to determine the potential usefulness of these areas for the training of the instructor cadre. In addition to the survey, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] held meetings with CINCARIB Lt. Gen. Ridgely Gaither, and CGUSARCARIB Major Gen. Charles Dasher, to familiarize them with the basic Agency thinking in the Cuban matter.
8. Mr. Esterline outlined the organization of the Task Force and the steps which led to the paper presented to the President on 14 March 1960 and approved 17 March 1960,/3/ which was the first authorization to mount an operation to get rid of Castro. General Taylor requested the original T/O of that Task Force. He also requested other T/O's, including the present one, which will illustrate the buildup of the Force.
/3/For text, see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. VI, pp. 850-851.
9. Mr. Bissell discussed the 17th of March approval. The concept then presented persisted for approximately 10 months. There were four major courses:
A. Creation of a political opposition. This took 4 to 5 months and during that period it was found less and less possible to rely on the Cuban politicians.
B. Mass communications to the Cuban people.
C. Covert intelligence and action originating inside Cuba.
D. The building of an adequate paramilitary force outside Cuba which called for cadres of leaders.
10. The original budget did not provide for the mounting of an organization of the type which eventually developed.
11. General Taylor then requested that the exact procedure followed in the clearance in this basic paper of 17 March 1960 be described.
12. Through 1958, 1959, 1960 and so far in 1961, weekly meetings have been held with the Assistant Secretary of State, his deputy, Special Assistant, and a representative from the Office of Special Operations in State, for the purpose of briefing them on the highlights of intelligence. Since the approval of the paper, they have also been kept informed in general terms of major operational aspects.
13. Mr. Bissell said that the language of the basic paper was general as we did not know then how large a force would be built up. During the autumn months of 1960, the military force took shape and the original concept went through subtle changes.
14. In June 1960, the FRD (Frente Revolucionario Democratico) came into being. This was one of the first orders of business. It was needed as an umbrella for the recruiting and training of a nucleus of a military force. The thinking then was that this military group would be used in small teams and serve as a catalyst for uprisings in Cuba.
15. The Attorney General then asked was it conceived that Castro could be overthrown with a catalyst force at that time. Mr. Bissell replied that the original concept was to generate various pressures on Castro including this force, and it was expected that the classic guerrilla pattern would be followed. The Attorney General then asked what step should we have taken at that time if we had known what we know now, and did we have any policy then. Mr. Dulles replied we did have a policy, which was to overthrow Castro in one way or another.
16. General Taylor asked if the plan was based on capabilities or on what we actually needed, to which Mr. Dulles replied in the negative. Mr. Bissell said we thought we could build up guerrilla resistance through teams being infiltrated to groups inside, which would lead to the formation of a large enough group to facilitate air drops of arms and other materiel.
17. Mr. Esterline said we had a navy of sorts which ran operations for the ex/infiltration of personnel and the introduction of arms and other materiel with better than 50% success. The buildup of guerrillas did not occur as expected and the number of successful drops was very low. This led to the further expansion of our military force to the point that it had gotten beyond the covert state about 1 November 1960.
18. General Taylor requested the date that military training began. He was informed that thirty (30) selected leaders were sent to a jungle area [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in July 1960. These were all recruited and carefully screened by the FRD.
19. General Taylor asked if maximum effort was made to raise manpower. Mr. Esterline answered that at first we were very selective and the troops came in at a trickle. Later they came in at a greater rate than we could handle. Mr. Esterline described the method of selection and screening. General Taylor asked if figures were available as to how many ex-officers of the Cuban army were recruited and as complete a breakdown as possible of personnel.
20. Mr. Barnes stated that beginning about mid-November 1960, there were weekly discussions in the Special Group. Mr. Dulles said recommendations from the Task Force were considered at these meetings. Special Group references show that on 16 November 1960, the changing concept of the operation was noted by Under Secretary Livingston Merchant. By November 1960, it was recognized that guerrilla warfare operations in the Escambray were not going well; we were having difficulty with air drops and some change in approach was needed.
21. Mr. Bissell said that one of the problems at this time was the Department of State's concern about tainting Guatemala and Nicaragua if the size was augmented. The Agency was asked to consider with-drawing from Guatemala and setting up an American base. After further consideration, the use of a base in the continental U.S. was ruled out.
22. In answer to General Taylor's question as to what bottle-necks existed, it was stated that there were no bases immediately available for the training of large numbers of the troops and that recruits came in at a trickle until the political base was broadened.
23. The Attorney General asked what was the purpose of a Strike Force, to which Mr. Bissell replied they would administer a strike which could lead to a general uprising or a formation of larger guerrilla units in the mountains with which dissidents could join forces. The Strike Force was not in repudiation of the guerrilla concept but in addition to it.
24. Col. Hawkins stated there never was a clear-cut decision in his mind policy-wise to use a Strike Force.
25. Mr. Bissell read excerpts from a memorandum of 8 December 1960 of a meeting of the Special Group where a changing concept had been presented by various members of the Task Force. General Taylor said that all members of the board want a copy of this paper./4/
26. Among the items requested in this memorandum, officers from the Special Forces for the training of the Strike Force were authorized, the use of an air strip at Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua was approved, supply missions were approved, and on Tuesday, 19 April, the use of American contract pilots was approved. Records are in General Lansdale's office.
27. General Taylor asked what discussions there were with President Eisenhower during this period and requested copies of any existing memoranda.
28. Mr. Dulles said that the only minutes of the meetings of the 5412 Group were prepared and kept by CIA. These could be consulted by authorized individuals of other departments.
29. Mr. Bissell quoted from the minutes of a 5412 meeting where doubt was expressed that a covert force could succeed and consequently overt action might be required. About 1 January 1961, recruiting was greatly stepped up.
30. In reply to General Taylor's question as to when did we reach concept number three, Mr. Esterline said about 1 March 1961. In January and February 1961, JCS teams were sent to the camps under special arrangement and furnished the necessary instructor force for training of a larger strike force.
31. The Board agreed that one set of papers only would be kept, these to be by General Taylor. Documents desired are:
[Here follows a list of the documents requested by the committee.]
170. Editorial Note
On April 22, 1961, Chairman Khrushchev wrote to President Kennedy in reply to Kennedy's letter of April 18 concerning Cuba (attachment to Document 130). In an 8-page letter, Khrushchev reiterated and expanded upon the charge of aggression against Cuba that he had leveled against the United States in his letter to Kennedy on April 18 (see Document 117). It had been proved beyond doubt, he stated, "that it was precisely the United States which prepared the intervention, financed its arming and transported the gangs of mercenaries that invaded the territory of Cuba." Khrushchev dismissed Kennedy's concern for "freedom" in Cuba as in fact concern on the part of the United States to reestablish control over the Cuban economy, and he again pledged Soviet support for the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro. As he had done in his previous letter, Khrushchev implied that the Soviet Union would retaliate against U.S. aggression in Cuba by menacing United States interests elsewhere: "there can be no stable place in the world if anywhere war is aflame." He stated, however, that the Soviet Union did not seek advantages or privileges in Cuba. "We have no bases in Cuba, and we do not intend to establish any." (Department of State, Presidential Correspond-ence: Lot 77 D 163, Pen Pal Series, 1961-1964, Special US-USSR File, 1961) For text of the letter, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VI, pages 10-16.
The Department of State issued a statement on April 22 in response
to the letter from Khrushchev that day. The Department dismissed
the letter as unworthy of further reply: "The President will
not be drawn into an extended public debate with the Chairman
on the basis of this latest exposition of the Communist distortion
of the basic concepts of the rights of man." (Department
of State Bulletin, May 8, 1961, page 663)
171. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to All Posts in Latin America
Washington, April 23, 1961, 3:58 p.m.
//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/4-2361. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Berle and cleared in L by Chayes and by Rusk. Repeated to Ciudad Trujillo.
1661. Re Depcirtel 1662./1/ Take early occasion to discuss with highest authorities available following problems flowing from Cuban situation:
/1/In circular telegram 1662 to all posts, the Department provided background information for high-level official discussion relating to the Bay of Pigs operation. The tenor of the information was that it was a Cuban operation in inspiration and personnel, with some official and private U.S. support. (Ibid.)
US deeply concerned over attempts of Sino-Soviet bloc to undermine free institutions everywhere. As new Administration has made amply clear it places maximum emphasis on this Hemisphere and its accelerated development in freedom. Unfortunately Hemisphere now facing unparalleled threat. US now considers dominance Castro regime by Sino-Soviet bloc established beyond possibility reasonable doubt by following facts:
Khrushchev's public message to President,/2/ disclosure Communist supplied arms and planes in large quantities, known presence of at least 300 bloc technicians including almost certainly military personnel, imposition of totalitarian methods in all branches of economic cultural life, calibration bloc and Commie apparatus in all parts of world with Castro regime's interests. Effect is to build up formidable armed power center in Hemisphere whose hostile attitude towards all other Hemisphere governments is openly proclaimed by regime's speeches and propaganda.
/2/See Document 170.
US now considers situation that of intrusion of extra-continental power into Hemisphere menacing Hemisphere peace and security and calling for measures of Hemispheric defense, defense of neighboring countries threatened and conceivably of self-defense of US.
Hemispheric defense matter for consideration under Rio Treaty and other Inter-American procedures but defense of threatened countries or of US may be subject of unilateral or bilateral action or group agreement between countries involved. In this case if OAS fails to take multilateral action or authorize action by one or more powers those governments threatened or in need of defense or prepared assume responsibility implied in obligations to oppose extra-continental aggression may act on their own singly or in group. Distinction between "intervention" in internal affairs of another State and defense against widening area of domination by extra-Hemispheric powers is vital one.
We plan going forward with vigorous preparations for Alliance for Progress meeting and implementation but clearly Alliance can be implemented only by free men in free Hemisphere.
Kindly obtain and report views of government to which accredited and get feeling regarding either (1) meetings of Foreign Ministers or (2) special session OAS or (3) organization consultation Rio Treaty under Article 6 on ground capture and use of Castro government by bloc threatens security of American states and peace of Americas.
FYI. Sentiment of several Latin American Ambassadors here suggests their governments hope for and would approve extremely vigorous action by US. Report promptly as our line of action will be decided quickly. Dept will carry on parallel conversations with Ambassadors here./3/ End FYI.
/3/The Department sent out another circular telegram on April 24 expressing concern over the continued transit of the territory of countries friendly to the United States by Soviet bloc aircraft en route to Havana. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/4-2461)
172. Memorandum From the President's Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Rostow) to Secretary of Defense McNamara
Washington, April 24, 1961.
//Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 381 (Sensitive). Top Secret. Also sent to Rusk and Dulles.
Notes on Cuba Policy
Herewith, as promised, some notes on a possible approach to the problem of Cuba. You may wish to consider these tentative notions as you develop your own views in coming days.
1. The Approach. The line of approach suggested has these two characteristics:
a. it would deal separately with each of the five separate threatening dimensions of the problem represented by Castro.
b. it would deal with these problems in ways consistent with--and, if possible--reinforcing to our world-wide commitments and, especially, to our relations with other Latin American states.
2. The Five Threats. The argument begins by identifying these five threats to us represented by the Castro regime.
a. it might join with the USSR in setting up an offensive air or missile base.
b. it might build up sufficient conventional military strength to trigger an arms race in the hemisphere and threaten the independence of other Latin American nations.
c. it might develop its covert subversive network in ways which would threaten other Latin American nations from within.
d. its ideological contours are a moral and political offense to us; and we are committed, by one means or another, to remove that offense, including our commitment to the Cuban refugees among us.
e. its ideological contours and success may tend to inflame disruptive forces in the rest of Latin America, accentuating existing economic, social, and political tensions which we, in any case, confront.
Notes on possible lines of action towards each follow.
3. The Threat of an Offensive Base. Following the opening in Khru-shchev's latest note,/1/ Thompson should be instructed, at an early but cooler moment, to tell Gromyko: we note with satisfaction the Soviet commitment to forego an offensive base in Cuba; that, in line with the President's speech to the newspaper publishers,/2/ this is one of the minimum conditions for world stability. A further action on this threat is noted in paragraph 4, below.
/1/See Document 170.
/2/See footnote 1, Document 160.
4. The Threat of an Arms Build-up. An OAS meeting should be called soon, but after careful diplomatic preparation. The objective would be to achieve common assertion of the following propositions:
a. The constructive tasks of this Hemisphere--symbolized by the Alliance for Progress--are such that we cannot afford to divert excessive resources to arms, picking up here from the proposal of Alessandri for hemispheric arms limitation.
b. We are not prepared to see extra-hemispheric military forces emplaced in the Western Hemisphere.
On the basis of such declarations, the OAS would immediately mount arrangements for: hemispheric arms limitation; cooperative military arrangements to cope with any military extension of Castro's power; a demand that Castro accept arms limitation appropriate to the size of his country, under the common rules of the game; an assertion that the hemisphere will jointly act to prevent the creation of a foreign military base or other form of intrusion into the hemisphere.
If Castro failed to play, we would move towards a selective OAS blockade of Cuba, designed to prevent arms shipments to him by sea, if not by air.
5. The Threat of the Castro and Other Communist Networks. Quite independent of the OAS actions suggested under 4, above, we should begin covert cooperation with Latin American states to build up knowledge of the Communist network and to develop common counter-measures. Latin American governments will be able to work with us seriously to the extent that the effort is not made an overt political issue. Moreover, this is mainly a professional, not a political, job.
6. The Ideological Threat of the Castro Regime Itself. Here the first step is to make a fresh analysis, on the basis of all the rich intelligence available to us, of the vulnerabilities of the Castro regime. This involves two things. First, a detailed assessment of the Cuban order of battle; of Castro's control mechanism; of attitudes of key individuals located at strategic points in the regime; of class and regional attitudes towards the regime and recent and foreseeable trends in those attitudes. We need a map of the cohesive forces and tensions within the Castro system. Second, we require a systematic analysis of various alternative means of exploiting in our interest the weaknesses of the regime that lie within our present capabilities or capabilities that might be developed.
It is possible that we shall conclude that an invasion of one sort or another is the only way to unseat the regime; but alternative forms of action may emerge. In any case, it is essential that we think again before acting in the old grooves.
7. The Threat of Castroism in Other Latin American States. The roots of Castroism lie in Latin American poverty, social inequality, and that form of xenophobic nationalism which goes with a prior history of inferiority on the world scene. The vulnerability of the Latin American populations to this form of appeal will depend on the pace of economic growth; the pace at which social inequality is reduced; and the pace at which the other Latin American nations move towards what they regard as dignified partnership with the U.S. What is required here is a radical acceleration and raising of sights in the programs being launched within the Alliance for Progress.
8. A Contingency Plan. We do not know what Castro's policy towards the U.S. will be; nor do we know what Soviet policy towards Cuba will be. A situation may arise at any moment when it will be required in the national interest to eliminate that regime by U.S. force. A fully developed contingency plan is evidently required.
9. The Ottawa Speech. If we can develop and agree a new line of approach to the Cuban problem in coming days, one possible occasion for suggesting some of its elements might be the President's address in Ottawa, scheduled (I believe) for 17 May. This would be particularly appropriate if we propose to induce Canada to join in the OAS. Other occasions, however, could easily be found; and it is, of course, essential that we make various soundings in the Hemisphere before committing ourselves to this course, notably those outlined under paragraphs 4 and 5.
10. A Final Point. In two of the four areas where we inherited Communist enclaves of power in the Free World on January 20, we have, initially, not done terribly well. Laos, at best, will yield in the short run a muddy and weak Free World position; in Cuba our first effort at a solution failed. There is building up a sense of frustration and a perception that we are up against a game we can't handle. This frustration and simple anger could lead us to do unwise things or exert scarce national effort and resources in directions which would yield no significant results, while diverting us from our real problems. There is one area where success against Communist techniques is conceivable and where success is desperately required in the Free World interest. That area is Viet-Nam. A maximum effort--military, economic, political, and diplomatic--is required there; and it is required urgently.
It is not simple or automatic that we can divert anxieties, frustrations, and anger focussed on a place 90 miles off our shores to a place 7,000 miles away. On the other hand, I believe that the acute domestic tension over Cuba can be eased in the short run if we can get the OAS to move with us along the lines suggested here; and a clean-cut success in Viet-Nam would do much to hold the line in Asia while permitting us--and the world--to learn how to deal with indirect aggression.
In the end--given our kind of society--we must learn to deal overtly with major forms of covert Communist aggression. And we must teach the Free World how to do it. The combination of the suggested approaches to Cuba and Viet-Nam could help./3/
/3/On April 26, Paul Nitze sent a memorandum to McNamara discussing
the Cuban aspects of Rostow's April 24 memorandum. He concluded:
"The suggestions which have merit are the proposed actions
(a) to quietly build up the internal capabilities of Latin American
countries, (b) to develop all possible intelligence on the Castro
regime, (c) to exploit this intelligence, (d) to develop a contingency
plan, and (e) to think again before acting in the old grooves."
The suggestions that he felt were of doubtful merit were: "(a)
to deal separately with individual dimensions of the Castro problem,
(b) to make consistency with our other policies a criterion of
action against Cuba, and (c) to make public statements to the
Soviets and to the world indicating the approach we intend to
take toward Cuba." (Washington National Records Center, RG
330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 381 (Sensitive))
173. Memorandum for the Record
Washington, April 24, 1961.
//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Secret. Prepared by Colonel Hawkins.
Factors which Hampered Preparations for and Conduct of Effective Paramilitary Operations (Cuba)/1/
/1/On May 5 Hawkins drafted a 48-page memorandum for the record that detailed the background and development of the Bay of Pigs operation. A copy is in Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/DDP Files: Job 78-01450R, Box 1, Area Activity-Western Hemisphere-Cuba.
1. The following factors tended to limit the effectiveness of paramilitary operations:
a. Lack of clear-cut, detailed policy directives, in writing, from proper governmental authority. (The March 17 directive/2/ was general in nature. Additional written directives should have been issued from time to time setting forth in detail concept, missions, objectives and authorized procedures. Verbal instructions do not suffice in matters of great import.)
/2/An apparent reference to the program of covert action against Cuba approved by President Eisenhower on March 17, 1960.
b. Slowness of governmental machinery in resolving policy questions once presented. (For example, two and a half months were requested to obtain the services of Special Forces training teams after original request by the Paramilitary Staff. Results of Special Group meetings were often inconclusive. Proceedings were verbal and minutes were recorded by individual departments. This led to misunderstanding. The Group itself did not have authority to resolve major questions, and there were no written policy directives forthcoming after meetings were conducted.)
c. Over Centralization of Control. (Examples: The Special Group had to be consulted before launching each over-flight mission. Tactical headquarters were in Washington, whereas it has long been recognized that tactical operations must be controlled by a tactical headquarters in the field or at sea. It would have been better to place paramilitary operations under control of a special task force within the Unified Command. This task force should have included representatives from Army, Navy, Air Forces, Marine Corps and C.I.A.--all under a naval commander, since the target country was an island.)
d. Lack of adequate organization, procedures, equipment, facilities and staff within C.I.A. for management of paramilitary operations. (The organization and procedures of C.I.A. are not suitable for control of paramilitary operations and its paramilitary staff is very small. C.I.A. must call upon the Defense Department for equipment, supplies and personnel to establish training bases, conduct training and prepare plans. It would be better to assign paramilitary responsibilities to the Defense Department which has vast resources, both human and materiel, for such purposes.)
e. Failure to approve use of U.S. bases for training. (The paramilitary training base in Guatemala was entirely unsatisfactory. Troops had to live in prison-camp conditions and there were no adequate training areas or facilities available. Location of the base in Guatemala also introduced political complications and created tremendous logistical problems which were very difficult for C.I.A. to handle.)
f. Failure to use U.S. bases for air logistical and tactical operations. (The air base in Guatemala was at too great a distance for satisfactory supply flights for support of agents and guerrilla organizations. The air base in Nicaragua was too distant for satisfactory B-26 operations. Two sorties per day were the maximum that could be programmed, and pilot fatigue made this impossible for a period longer than one or two days. Location of the air bases in third countries complicated security and political problems and increased the likelihood that use of the bases would be denied soon after commencement of operations. Location of bases in third countries also multiplied logistical problems.)
g. Denial of the request to use American contract pilots for aerial supply of agents and guerrillas. (Cuban pilots demonstrated at an early date their inability to fly successful missions. Of twenty-seven attempted only four were successful. American pilots, on the other hand, have demonstrated their ability in this field in many areas of the world, working with a variety of indigenous guerrilla forces. The failure to supply guerrilla organizations was a critical failure in the over-all operation.)
h. Denial of the request to use American contract pilots for B-26 strikes. (The paramilitary staff expressed in writing on January 4, 1961/3/ its doubts regarding the ability of the Cuban pilots to conduct satisfactory tactical air operations. Request for use of American pilots had been previously made to the Special Group which authorized their hiring but not their employment.)
/3/See Document 9.
i. Long delay in obtaining Special Forces personnel for infantry training. (This request was submitted by the paramilitary staff on October 28, 1960. Personnel were not made available until January 12, 1961.)
j. Rejection of the preferred invasion plan (Trinidad). (This plan was recommended by the paramilitary staff as the best possible plan and was endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the plan most likely to succeed.)
k. Restrictions imposed upon the conduct of effective tactical air operations. (The State Department from the outset opposed any tactical air operations. The paramilitary staff, on the other hand, consistently informed all authorities concerned that the operation could not be conducted unless the opposing air force was knocked out before the landing, and unless the landing force was continually supported by effective tactical air operations as long as it was in a combat situation.
The preferred plan presented by the paramilitary staff called for full scale air attacks on all airfields, using all available aircraft, commencing at dawn of D-1 and involving another full scale sortie in the afternoon and continuation of full scale operations on D-Day and thereafter.
Political decisions led eventually to a half strength attack on D-2 on only three airfields. After this strike, photographic interpretations and pilot debriefing indicated that the opposition still retained a number of offensive aircraft in operational condition.
This disadvantage could still have been overcome if full scale attacks on all airfields at dawn on D-Day had been permitted as planned.
Cancellation at the last moment, while the troops were already off the beaches preparing to land, of the air attacks planned for D-Day doomed the operation to failure. The paramilitary staff predicted loss of all shipping when informed of this decision at about 2230 on the night of the landing.
If this decision had been communicated to the paramilitary staff a few hours earlier, the operation would have been halted and the ships withdrawn with troops on board.
Restrictions on the use of napalm also contributed to failure. Use of this weapon against concentrated aircraft, tanks and trucks clearly visible in available photographs could have been a decisive factor. For example, photographs showed one concentrated tank park with 36 tanks and a truck park with 150 trucks.
Political considerations regarding use of air led to the selection of the Zapata area as an alternative of the preferred plan. A political requirement was established to seize an airfield capable of supporting B-26 operations. A study of all Cuba showed that there was no airfield that the Cuban force could hope to seize and hold except in Zapata.
The curtailment of tactical air must be regarded as the one factor which insured failure of the operation.)
l. Failure to include all members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at high level meetings in which military matters were to be discussed. (The practice of including only the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at such meetings is, in the opinion of the writer, dangerous. It cannot be expected that any single military officer can advise on all the technical aspects of air, sea and ground warfare. The Cuban operation was essentially a seaborne invasion. Such operations are a specialty of the Navy and Marine Corps. Therefore, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Chief of Naval Operations, if present at all meetings, would have been able to contribute invaluable advice at the proper time.
It is the hope of this writer that serious consideration will be given to the question posed above as military matters of greater significance are dealt with in the future.)
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps
/4/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
174. Memorandum for the Record
Washington, April 24, 1961.
//Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Cuba, Memoranda of Meetings. Top Secret. Drafted by [text not declassified].
Second Meeting of the Green Study Group
TIME AND PLACE
1020-1700 hours, 24 April 1961, CIA Administration Building
Study Group Members
General Maxwell D. Taylor
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy
Admiral Arleigh Burke
Director of Central Intelligence, Mr. Allen W. Dulles
Department of Defense
General David W. Gray
Colonel Stanley W. Beerli
Central Intelligence Agency
General C.P. Cabell
Mr. Richard M. Bissell, Jr.
Colonel J.C. King
Mr. C. Tracy Barnes
Mr. Jacob D. Esterline
Colonel Jack Hawkins
[Here follows discussion of record-keeping procedures.]
7. Mr. Bissell then commenced the discussion by resuming the chronological account of the development of the Project. He said on Saturday, 22 April, a review had been made of November and December, 1960, developments. By early January, the original concept of a 300-man force broken up into small teams for infiltration--after possible training in the United States--became shifted to the concept of a much stronger strike force. To Gen. Taylor's query as to whether this shift was covered by a formal paper, Mr. Bissell replied that there was no formal recording of the shift. The expansion of the forces in Guatemala was accelerated and on 12 January 1961, we received 38 officers from the Special Forces Group. Following the arrival of these officers at the camp, the character of the training changed.
8. At the end of January, 28 January to be precise, the President was briefed on our Agency plan. At this time, little more was involved than a presentation, largely oral, of the status and a decision was obtained to continue with the activities but there was no implication that military action would be undertaken. Gen. Taylor asked if this was the first time the plan had been presented to the President and Mr. Bissell said yes, but added that the President did not offer an opinion concerning it. Mr. Bissell said we were seeking authority to continue all our activities--overflights, etc. and to call attention to the fact that we were recruiting and moving men and accumulating material and expending money against mere contingencies, and that we were anxious to present our plan to Gen. Lemnitzer. (Gen. Gray was asked to provide a copy of this plan from his file. He remarked that this was the plan which the JCS had approved on 3 February 1961.)/1/
/1/JCSM-57-61; for text, see Document 35.
9. Mr. Bissell stated that on or about 17 February 1961, another meeting, including the President, was held./2/ By this time the JCS had evaluated the military plan which had been developed by Col. Hawkins. Gen. Taylor asked if this plan was considerably different from the final plan adopted and was answered affirmatively. At this February meeting, we felt a sense of urgency as the military plan called for a D-Day of 5 March. At the 17 February meeting, it became clear that there would be no immediate decision and that the plan would have to "slip" by one month. It was recalled that the President, the Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, Mr. Bissell, Mr. Barnes, Gen. Gray, Col. Hawkins, Mr. Mann and Mr. Berle and possibly others, were present. Gen. Taylor asked if the outcome of that meeting was to decide to let D-Day slip and Mr. Bissell answered affirmatively adding that certain questions had been raised with respect to military implications.
/2/See Document 48.
10. Mr. Bissell then read from a paper he had prepared on 11 March/3/ which was a statement of the status of preparations, actions, timing and possible alternate courses of actions. This was presented at a meeting attended by much the same persons who attended the 17 February meeting./4/ At this juncture, Mr. Dulles called to the attention of the committee a copy of Mr. Bundy's record of action of the 28 January meeting (of the NSC?)./5/ He stated he had no authority to disseminate copies but he would read it, which he did. The paper reported that the Director of Central Intelligence had reported on the situation in Cuba, that Cuba was rapidly becoming a communist state and that the United States had undertaken a program of covert action, propaganda, sabotage and assistance to exiles. The paper reported that the present estimate of the Department of Defense was that no program existed at this time which had capability of correcting the situation. The President, according to the document, authorized the continued activities of the Agency, including overflights. The Department of State was instructed to propose actions which could be taken in concert with other countries of the hemisphere, such as Brazil and Colombia. Mr. Dulles read the paper in full and stated it was available at any time to members of the committee.
/4/See Documents 59 and 60.
/5/See Documents 30 and 31. The January 28 meeting was not an NSC meeting.
11. Mr. Bissell read from a memorandum of the 11 March meeting concerning the status of immediate alternative courses of action:
A. Use of force in such a way as to minimize appearance of an invasion, including amphibious infiltrations by night.
B. Commit the PM force to a surprise attack, accompanied by use of tactical air force.
C. Employ two successive landings--one a diversionary force to be followed by landing of the main force 24 hours later.
D. Send the force into an inaccessible area where it could hold the beachhead for considerable time.
"A" and "D" were included because at the 17 February meeting, the President and the Secretary had urged an examination of all possible alternatives. No affirmative decision came out of the 11 March meeting.
12. Mr. Dulles then proceeded to read the statement of action of the meeting of 8 February./6/ (A discussion of the two February dates ensued--8 February and 17 February--with Mr. Bissell conceding that there was no meeting on 17 February, but that the paper had been prepared for a meeting which had been cancelled or postponed.)/7/ Mr. Dulles stated that the President was not present at the 8 February meeting/8/ but the discussion resulted in a decision by the President to authorize the encouragement of the establishment of an exile Junta and Revolutionary Council and discussion with exile leaders looking toward such a development. No other action pending further word from the President, was authorized.
/6/See Document 40.
/7/The meeting scheduled for February 17 was postponed until February 18; see Document 48.
/8/President Kennedy was present at the February 8 meeting.
13. Mr. Dulles then read from a paper covering the 11 March meeting, noting the President had decided on the following courses of action:
(1) Every effort should be made to assist the Cubans to form a political organization. This is to include publicity for the leading political figures.
(2) The United States Government should prepare a "White Paper" on Cuba and assist the Cubans to do the same.
(3) The Department of State would explore possibilities of a de-marche in the United Nations (?)./9/
/9/The question mark in the source text indicates some question as to the accuracy of the statement. According to the available record of the March 11 meeting, the statement is accurate as written.
(4) President expects to offer United States' support for Cubans to return to their homeland. However, best plan for achieving this has not yet been presented. New proposals for action should be submitted.
Gen. Taylor commented that it would appear the President was favorable to the concept but was not satisfied with the proposals to date.
14. Mr. Bissell then read an account of a 15 March meeting./10/ According to this paper the plan for the Cuban operation submitted on 7 March 1961/11/ was unacceptable as it was not a program of infiltration but a World War II type of assault. That in order for a plan to be politically acceptable it must:
/10/See Document 65.
/11/An apparent reference to the CIA paper of March 11; see Document 58.
A. Be an unspectacular landing at night in an area where there was a minimum likelihood of opposition.
B. If ultimate success would require tactical air support, it should appear to come from a Cuban air base. Therefore, territory seized should contain a suitable airfield.
The paper contained a brief outline of a second military plan prepared by Col. Hawkins which was approximately the plan later adopted.
15. Mr. Bissell next read from notes on a meeting held on 16 March,/12/ at which time two operations were proposed:
/12/See Document 66.
A. Trinidad--Probably an opposed landing in daylight with air support required.
B. Zapata--Unopposed landing with no tactical air until opposed.
Consequently, as of 16 March, there were two plans still under consideration as indicated above. Between the 16th of March and the end of March another postponement was called due to the visit of Prime Minister Macmillan. The target date for action was postponed to 10 April, later to 15 April and finally to 17 April.
16. Mr. Bissell then read from a paper covering a meeting held on 12 April./13/ By this time, the plan had crystallized and this covered the concept of the operation:
/13/See Document 92.
1. Modification of air plans to provide for air operations limited basis on D-2, and again on D-Day. Shortly after the first strike on D-2, Cuban pilots would land at Miami. Other details not discussed.
2. Diversion or cancellation. Not feasible to halt embarkation but if necessary, ships could be diverted.
Gen. Taylor asked why it was not feasible to halt the embarkation and Mr. Bissell replied that the staging and loading of the troops was already underway. Mr. Bissell said that approval was given on continuing stages but that on April 12, D minus 5, the President still had the power to stop it. Staging started D minus 7 and 2/3s had already been moved from camps and first vessel sailed on D minus 6 and the last on D minus 4. Mr. Kennedy commented that the plan appears to have been approved but the "GO" signal not given. He asked with whom the plan had been coordinated. Mr. Dulles stated that an Internal Departmental Task Force had been set up early in March 1961 and various tasks were assigned to the separate departments. The IDTF was composed of representatives from State, Defense and CIA, specifically, Mr. Braddock, former Charge at Habana representing State, Gen. Gray representing Defense, and Mr. Barnes representing CIA. At the end of the 16 March meeting agreement was reached to set up the IDTF. Mr. Bissell said it was the sense of the 16 March meeting that the Zapata plan was preferable. Admiral Burke commented that the JCS did not agree at that time. Mr. Bissell stated there was a review of the plan by the JCS and that Gen. Gray would later elaborate on that.
17. Mr. Bissell stated that by 12 April the plan had crystallized but we still had no "go ahead" signal, whereupon Mr. Kennedy asked how we came to that conclusion and how was it actually worked out. He asked if anyone formally presented a plan for approval. When actually did the President and others examine the plan and give it their approval? Gen. Gray stated that 16 March was the date. Gen. Taylor asked if it was approved on that date and Mr. Bissell stated it was approved as the plan to be implemented but that no "go ahead" signal was given. Gen. Taylor inquired as to what the JCS had done with respect to the plan and Adm. Burke replied that on 15 March 1961, the JCS was briefed on the alternate plan and that the evaluation concluded that the alternate Zapata plan was considered the most feasible. He then started to discuss the three alternatives when Gen. Gray interrupted with the suggestion that the discussion was getting out of step; that the Trinidad plan should be discussed first and then the three alternative plans.
18. Col. Hawkins' Presentation--Before going into the details of the Trinidad plan, Col. Hawkins said he would like to provide background information showing what factors were available and factors not available in connection with planning of that Project. He stated that when one is confronted with the requirement for non-attributability you introduce tremendous difficulties for a covert plan. For example, in a regular military operation, you know what forces you have, bases, state of training, etc., but in a PM covert plan you don't know much of anything. He said that last September when he joined the Project, the question of bases for the strike force and for supplying guerrillas in the mountains was not resolved. The only bases available were two bases in Guatemala. These were training bases, a shelf on the side of a volcano with room for 200 men at most (we ended up with 1400). These were the training facilities--which were very poor.
19. The air base in Guatemala was 750 miles from Central Cuba--too far for supply operations. C-46's could not reach Eastern Cuba with satisfactory loads. C-54's could. The distance was too great for tactical air operations using B-26 or smaller planes. All sorts of studies were made to locate a satisfactory base. The United States was ruled out but Col. Hawkins did not agree with the reasoning therefor. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] Consequently, we had no base from which to conduct satisfactory operations. However, we later learned that President Somoza of Nicaragua would cooperate and we selected Puerto Cabezas as the site since it had an airfield, dock facilities, and other advantages. We were still 500 miles from Central Cuba, still far but feasible.
20. Late in the autumn of 1960 we feared we would lose Guatemala bases and recruiting stopped, and we looked around for other bases. We could never be sure how many troops we could get as the recruiting was often slowed down due to political infighting of exile leaders.
21. Training--We did not have facilities for PM training. Last fall we only had four CIA personnel. On 28 October, Col. Hawkins requested three Special Forces teams--a total of 38 people--for training the forces in Guatemala. Because of political considerations, it was two and a half months, 12 January 1961, before they got there. We were facing amphibious operations, the most difficult of all military operations, and we had no ships. The question was: should we buy ships, recruit crews, or should we charter ships? We finally bought two LCI's in Miami, not fitted for landing troops but we modified them, we recruited Cuban crews, it took months (until January 1961) to get the ships to sea. The crews were made up of former Cuban navy personnel. We also recruited American contract personnel for these ships, the two LCI's. These two ships could carry only 150 men so this did not answer our problem. We had to charter ships. We contacted a Cuban ship owner named Garcia who had six small freighters of the 1500-2000 ton variety. This man, Garcia, offered the most and asked the least of all the Cubans we were in touch with. He asked that we cover the operating expenses. At first we wanted two ships for our 750-man force. We armed the LCI's and kept them as command ships. We also used them for other operations such as the raid on the Santiago refinery.
22. Air Picture--This was a problem in the autumn of 1960. We had few trained crews. There was always the question of whether the Cubans would measure up. We didn't know whether the air force was adequate. The covert approach is extremely difficult. PM operations of any size at all cannot be covert. Col. Hawkins commented that we may have to adjust our thinking to the need for coming out in the open as our enemies are doing.
23. Policy Questions--Policy questions had a bearing on our plans. Some unanswered questions by early January were these:
Will a strike be conducted?
Will an air operation be permitted?
Will American pilots be used?
Will Nicaragua be used as a base?
Col. Hawkins then read from a paper dated 4 January 1961,/14/ which he had prepared. This paper outlined the current status of our operation and set forth policy questions which had to be resolved. (Col. Hawkins provided a copy of this paper for inclusion in the record. Consequently, no attempt is made to reproduce it in these minutes.)
24. From the above mentioned paper, Col. Hawkins outlined the concept of the strike operation:
1. Securing of a small lodgement on Cuban soil by 750-man force.
2. This to be preceded by tactical air strike which would destroy the air force, naval vessels.
3. Following this, other military targets would be attacked, such as tank parks, artillery parks, motor transport, etc.
4. Close air support for strike force on D-Day and thereafter.
5. The initial mission was to seize a small area preferably with an air field and access to the sea, with contingency plans for air drops if field and port not available.
6. Force should try to survive and not break out until time opportune or U.S. intervened.
7. Expected widespread popular support and general uprisings.
8. If this did not develop, there was the possibility that the fighting might bring on assistance from other Latin American countries and the U.S. with the resultant fall of Castro.
9. Plan called for continuation of regular PM operations: sabotage, guerrillas, etc.
10. If driven from the beachhead, the force would continue guerrilla operations.
25. Gen. Taylor stated that this concept raised fundamental questions. What was the magnitude of the air cover you expected and did you expect to stay on shore indefinitely, and if so what size force did you plan to employ? Col. Hawkins said that the force was to have been composed of 750 men and that they expected to have an air force of 15 B-26's, whereupon Gen. Taylor questioned whether 15 B-26's could have done all that was expected. Col. Hawkins explained that the plan was to eliminate the enemy air force. We anticipated that he had twelve operational planes, including six B-26's, 4 T-33's, and from two to four Sea Furies. This turned out to be a fairly accurate estimate. We felt that fifteen B-26's could do the job.
26. Gen. Taylor asked on what intelligence did we base our belief that there would be popular uprisings. Col. Hawkins said that we had our own agents up and down the length of Cuba--some 60 to 70 agents including 25 radio operators--who gave us a picture of large members of people begging for arms in order to fight Castro. We had difficulty supplying the arms via the air drops. The Cuban pilots were not sufficiently qualified for this work. The flights were rarely opposed but the aircraft encountered difficulty in finding the drop zones. (Mr. Esterline commented that at no time were our surface craft interdicted by Cuban navy craft and surface deliveries were much more successful.)
27. Col. Hawkins then quoted other extracts from his paper of January 4, summarizing the size of our air force--ten B-26's but only five pilots; seven C-54's; a few C-46's--with grossly inadequate transport crews. Five hundred Cubans training in Guatemala. FRD (Frente) recruitment not going satisfactorily. Special recruiting teams being sent from camps to Miami to assist. Expect to have 750 men in time but unless Special Forces training they could not be ready before late 1961. All this time, Col. Hawkins said, Castro was building up his military capability and in September we thought he still had 75% of the population behind him, although his popularity was then declining. Gen. Taylor asked in retrospect what would have been the best timing (for the strike to have occurred?) and Col. Hawkins replied early March.
28. Col. Hawkins said at the time of the preparation of his paper of 4 January we did not know whether the new administration would approve the project and this needed to be resolved immediately in order that the operation could be stopped and considerable expense saved. He therefore recommended that the Director of CIA attempt to get a decision from the President-Elect. Col. Hawkins felt that if the decision was made in mid-January the force could be ready to move by the end of February. We were then under pressure from the Guatemalan government. Time was not entirely in our favor. We anticipated that Castro would soon have a jet capability. Heavy equipment was being assembled throughout the country and the establishment of a police state was advancing rapidly. In his paper he recommended that the operation be carried out not later than 1 March 1961.
29. Col. Hawkins terminated reading his paper. Mr. Dulles asked what disposition was made of it and Col. Hawkins said it was directed to Chief of WH/4 (chief of the Cuban operation). Mr. Esterline, C/WH/4, said he directed it to higher authority. Gen. Taylor asked for the identity of the higher authority and was told it went to the Chief of the Division (Col. King), the Assistant Deputy for Plans (Mr. Barnes), and the Deputy for Plans (Mr. Bissell). Mr. Bissell stated that the paper did not go much further than his office, and added that we did eventually get the air crews, the B-26's, etc. Avon Park was readied. American contract pilots were readied. He stated that with respect to the major policy decisions raised by Col. Hawkins, these issues will emerge when limitations on use of the tactical air force are discussed. Mr. Esterline commented that we battled with State for months and we only got watered down more and more for our efforts.
30. Mr. Kennedy asked why, if Col. Hawkins' presumptions and conclusions were correct, and if State and others felt it wasn't feasible or desirable, wasn't the project called off? Mr. Bissell explained that what actually happened was that Col. Hawkins' position was stated and first there was agreement on air strikes on D minus 2, D minus 1, and D-Day; and then later an absolute minimum calling for strikes on D minus 1 and D-Day. And what finally was called for was a maximum effort on D-Day.
31. Mr. Kennedy asked Col. Hawkins if he would have approved the operation as it ultimately came to occur--that is, would he have or did he approve of the watered down plan? Col. Hawkins replied that he did not approve but must say this with qualifications. He said he always maintained that we must get rid of the opposing air force. He insisted the three major airfields must be attacked. He was not in favor of limiting the number of aircraft (he eventually got the number raised)--he was not satisfied with the limited application of air power and he thought we would have had a satisfactory sweep on D-Day of all the Cuban airfields. Gen. Taylor asked how many planes we had on D-Day and Col. Hawkins stated fifteen. Admiral Burke asked if all the factors raised by Col. Hawkins were ever listed in check off form--and were they checked off as achieved? The reply was that we had no formalized check list but we knew where we stood as we went along. Col. Hawkins said we had the capability on the morning of D-Day with the 15 B-26's but we weren't given an opportunity to do the job.
32. Col. Beerli stated that prior to D-Day we had an accurate count of the enemy air force and knew where every craft was kept. He had a total of 36. Col. Beerli described them by category. We estimated 50% of these planes were in flying condition. On the D minus 2 strike we destroyed over 70% of their air power. We had 15 planes left to employ to knock out the remainder. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] showed the enemy planes were concentrated at San Antonio. On D-Day one Sea Fury was knocked out and another fell into the ocean. They were down to three T-33's. Gen. Taylor asked then why did the strike fail? Col. Beerli replied that we had strikes planned for San Antonio, Libertad, and 11 other targets, but were not permitted to carry them out. Gen. Taylor commented that we had done well with our air force and Col. Beerli replied that we had them pinned down and we based this belief on [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and photography. He added that every aircraft we lost was due to the T-33's. Mr. Kennedy asked how many aircraft did Castro have on D-Day. Col. Beerli said he had 2 Sea Furies, B-26's and 3 T-33's. Col. Hawkins repeated that we had planned a fifteen plane raid at dawn on D-Day but were not permitted to carry it out. Mr. Dulles asked if subsequent events bore out the correctness of our air O/B and Col. Hawkins replied in the affirmative.
33. Mr. Kennedy asked for information on the report that MIG's were in the air. Col. King said that MIG's did not appear until the final date. They may have been in crates and quickly assembled. Mr. Dulles commented that aerial photography never picked up any MIG's. Mr. Bissell said we had no reports from agents of MIG air flights. Gen. Taylor asked concerning the characteristics of the T-33's and was told they are jet trainers armed with two 50 cal. machine guns. Gen. Gray said that on D plus 1 a request was made of our destroyers to attempt to locate the field. Col. King said the report of MIG's in crates indicated San Julian air base. Col. Beerli terminated his remarks by saying that as of D-Day the air picture was in our favor.
34. Trinidad Plan. Col. Hawkins then proceeded to discuss the Trinidad Plan. He utilized charts showing the composition of the strike force and maps of the areas discussed. First he described the composition and organization of the assault force and how it was trained. He said at first there was no one to train the troops so he sent Col. Egan and Capt. Monk with directives to conduct individual training, small unit training, etc., and an 8 week course was provided. With large influx of recruits, concurrent recruit, small unit and combined training had to be conducted. Gen. Taylor asked where they found room in view of Col. Hawkins' previous statement of the small shelf on the volcano side, and Col. Hawkins explained that we finally got permission to use a finca belonging to Mr. Alejos of Guatemala for training purposes. However, firing practice was done in the mountains.
35. Noting that tanks appeared on the chart, Mr. Kennedy asked if tanks did get ashore and if they were camouflaged or disguised. Col. Hawkins said that tanks were put ashore and Gen. Gray added that these were the same type of tanks given to other countries. Col. Hawkins stated that we trained the tank crews at Ft. Knox and we had no trouble whatsoever. The Cubans knew where they were being trained and Col. Hawkins said that was a good example of how our own soil is better suited for training from security and other standpoints.
36. In arriving at the Trinidad plan, Col. Hawkins said that he studied the entire island carefully. He then decided that the Trinidad area with the nearby Escambray mountains was the place. Gen. Taylor asked if he had the benefit of photography in reaching his decision and Col. Hawkins said he had no photography until one flight was flown in November with not too satisfactory results. He then proceeded to describe the Trinidad area--the town of some 18,000 population, the nearby port to the south, named Casilda--with its docks--many good beaches for our purposes--good guerrilla country nearby with hills of 2,500-4,000 feet in which from 600-1,000 guerrillas were reported to be active who had been able to maintain themselves for six months, but were eventually eliminated. Although these were small groups with little equipment and poor supplies, it nevertheless took Castro six months to eliminate them. Therefore in considering the Trinidad plan it was felt that the force could if necessary move to the mountains and could exist in such terrain indefinitely. There were no approaches from the North that Castro could use, only other main road was from Santa Clara--this had a bridge over a river and a railroad bridge--and we were planning to knock out these two bridges. Other approach was from Cienfuegos--with bridges. The area was suitable for isolation. Also there was reason to believe that the Trinidad population was friendly. They had been supporting the guerrillas in the hills. We expected to pick up recruits from the Trinidad civilian population and we planned to bring in arms packs for 4,000 men and rapidly expand our forces. Another advantage if the force succeeded in maintaining itself and eventually breaking out was the possibility that we could have severed Cuba in the middle, creating great problems for Castro.
37. Gen. Taylor inquired as to the date of the plan. Col. Hawkins said it was written in January and the JCS was briefed on the plan on 31 January. He remarked that the JCS, in an independent study, had also selected the Trinidad site as the most suitable for this type of operation. Gen. Taylor asked how did the JCS get into this matter and Gen. Gray replied that the JCS had already been asked to come up with a likely spot and that they had in mind a small invasion force.
38. Col. Hawkins then reviewed the strike plan as follows:
Prior D-Day--destruction air force
D-minus 1--attack aircraft on ground--also tank parks, artillery, etc.
H minus 6--feinting operation off the West Coast of Pinar del Rio--destroy bridges
H Hour--Assault force lands on beaches--seizes high ground--another company moves inland and establishes self on forward slopes--another company on a separate beach--clear Casilda--airborne troops drop in heights over Trinidad.
39. Gen. Taylor inquired as to the known presence of Castro forces in the area. Col. Hawkins said we could never pin down the exact location of his forces. There were some 40,000 militia in the general area--with about 5,000 militia encircling the Escambray mountains. These were not making an aggressive effort to join battle with the guerrillas but would catch them as they came out for food. We evaluated the militia fighting qualities on what they did in the Escambrays and this was very low. He then went on describing the plan by saying that after seizure of the objectives we would enlist and arm civilians, we would use the hospital and other buildings for the force--we would coordinate with local civilian leaders and make contact with local guerrillas. We would use the local airport for resupply--but the airport could not take a B-26. In the event Trinidad could not be held, the plan was for the force to withdraw to the Escambrays where they would be supplied by air drops. This, Col. Hawkins said, was the beauty of the Trinidad Plan--it provided an alternative and safe area to move into if the original phase failed to achieve its objectives. Gen. Cabell commented that the concept called for a dawn landing. Col. Hawkins said the air strike called for attack on three air fields and the Managua military base, which had tanks and equipment which would have easily been destroyed by use of napalm but we were not authorized to use napalm in the operation. Gen. Taylor asked who said napalm could not be employed and Col. Hawkins replied that it was a decision of the National Government. Col. Hawkins listed in detail all the targets which we had selected for air attack--which included in addition to obvious military targets--the Havana power plant, microwave stations, refineries, etc.--and said all these things we wanted to do. Gen. Taylor asked if the air requirement varied with the change of plans and Col. Hawkins replied no.
40. Gen. Taylor asked aside from terrain what else was favorable and Col. Hawkins repeated his references to friendly population, nearby guerrillas, beaches as good as those of Zapata. He said the presence of enemy forces was a disadvantage of this plan as compared with the Zapata Plan. We did not think there was anyone at Zapata. Gen. Gray said that as far as could be determined there was only a police battalion at Trinidad. Admiral Burke commented that the size of the air field at Trinidad was another disadvantage--the field at Zapata being larger. Col. Hawkins reiterated that the principal advantage was being able to fall back into the mountains. At Zapata we presupposed an uprising but the beachhead did not last long enough. At Trinidad we might have had favorable civilian reaction--one agent told us he had 2,500 men wanting arms.
41. Mr. Kennedy asked if we had any communication from the island after D-Day indicating a desire on the part of the people to rise, and Col. Hawkins said yes there were requests for arms but air drops without the use of American pilots had never been successful. Gen. Taylor asked if there was an annex to the plan for supplying arms to anyone who did rise. Mr. Bissell stated that we had airplanes and supplies and were ready to respond to agent calls. We could have responded--there were 19 requests--most of them before D-Day. Mr. Kennedy asked if there were any after D-Day and Col. Hawkins said yes, but we couldn't service them since our aircraft were committed to try to deliver supplies to the strike force which had lost its supply ship.
42. Gen. Gray recalled that the Agency had prepared a summary of agent radio communications received--and messages from the beaches--on D plus 2 and asked that a copy of that summary,/15/ which he found quite impressive, be furnished for the record.
43. Mr. Bissell said that we had anticipated domination of the air and therefore could have made daylight deliveries of arms in response to the many calls we had received. As it turned out we did not have the means with which to respond.
44. Mr. Esterline then informed the group that we had on hand one of the American pilots who survived the morning raid, and since he was planning to leave the city tonight, asked if the committee would like to hear his story this afternoon. Gen. Taylor said he would like to hear him after we finish the actual scenario and this should be sometime after lunch. The hour of 4 p.m. was set.
45. Gen. Taylor asked what happened to the Trinidad Plan. Col. Hawkins replied that it was always opposed by the State Department--also the President wanted something that was less like an invasion. Mr. Bissell read from the record of the 15 March meeting which reported that Trinidad was not acceptable since it appeared like a WWII assault operation. Gen. Taylor asked if the plan was rejected on 15 March and Mr. Bissell replied no, on 11 March. Admiral Burke commented that on 3 February the JCS had generally this same plan. Mr. Bissell said that the JCS first evaluated this plan early in February and Admiral Burke said that the JCS had made a number of recommendations aimed at strengthening the plan.
46. Mr. Bissell stated that we considered a variety of alternatives--one suggestion was that we seize a remote area and build an airfield from which to operate. Col. Hawkins then described the ground rules which had been established for the next plan:
1. It must call for a quiet, night landing operation--nothing that might be viewed as spectacular.
2. It must include seizure of an airfield that would accommodate up to B-26 planes in order that air strikes which were to commence at dawn could be attributed to that field.
Col. Hawkins said we looked all over for an airfield in Oriente province but could find none that could handle a B-26. We built up the concept for an operation at Preston but the field would not support B-26's. We reconsidered the Isle of Pines--but rejected it because there were from 7,500-15,000 troops there and there were no suitable beaches for night landings. We thought of another plan for Trinidad involving landing troops who would go directly into the mountains--but there was no airfield. Finally, through photography, we found what we thought was a usable field--this was in the Zapata area--and this is what led us to this area. The plan was hastily put together. We got started about 15 March--after the 11 March meeting. An error in photographic interpretation had occurred. We believed there were 4,900 usable feet of runway in northern Zapata. One of the disadvantages was the 18 mile bay which meant we would have trouble getting people up there in daylight hours. We found a 4,100 foot field at Playa Giron. We would never have adopted the Zapata Plan if we had known that he had coordinated forces that would close in and fight as they did. The air field requirement was what led us into Zapata.
47. Col. Hawkins then described the moving of the troops from Guatemala to Nicaragua which was accomplished on three successive nights without incident. We were employing four merchant ships and two LCI's. They fanned out upon leaving Puerto Cabezas and later rendezvoused at approximately 40 miles off the coast. Col. Hawkins paid tribute to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] for his performance in handling the fleet. The ships formed convoy and proceeded to a point 5,000 yards off the beach.
Afternoon Session--24 April 1961.
(Note: This account of the afternoon session is not complete inasmuch as the recording secretary was not present during the first portion of the session, having missed approximately 45 minutes of the meeting. However, the notes prepared by Col. Ingelido, who was present during the entire afternoon session, should cover this missing period.)/16/
/16/Colonel Michael J. Ingelido, Deputy Secretary, JCS, also functioned during the deliberations of the Cuba Study Group as General Taylor's assistant. Colonel Ingelido was present at the afternoon session of the Study Group's deliberations on April 24, which he noted began at 1:50 p.m. Ingelido's notes on the meeting are more extensive than those prepared by [text not declassified] printed here. According to Ingelido's notes, at the outset of the afternoon session CIA officials gave a resume of the landing operations planned for the Red, Blue, and Green Beaches during the Zapata operation. They also discussed the critical element of the air support planned for the operation, including the possible use of napalm to neutralize enemy forces in the area. General Gray outlined DOD and JCS participation in the planning, which led to a general discussion of the information provided to the President, and the actions approved by the President. (Memorandum for the record by Ingelido; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Cuba, Taylor Report)
48. (Gen. Gray was in the midst of discussing the JCS evaluation of the Trinidad Plan when note taking was resumed.) He said the scheme of maneuver was basically sound. There was a need for civil officer type people to coordinate with the population, etc., and this was done. The original idea was that the guerrillas would join up with the strike force. The JCS thought it best to maintain a corridor and establish a link--he pointed out that one road runs from Santa Clara to the area--and a secure route for moving up into the hills. Without interference from the air, we estimated the Cuban Army could move men and materiel to the scene by D plus 2. At time of assessment there was one regiment of Cuban Army near Santa Clara. We also were told the Cuban Army was not concentrated but spread out. We figured it would take them a day to concentrate and another day to move the 100 miles to the scene.
49. Gen. Gray indicated that the publicity which developed during the final weeks of the project, much of it centering around the Revolutionary Council and its alleged plans, gave Castro notice that something was in the wind and time to mobilize his forces. Mr. Esterline explained that we were given the requirement of establishing a broad based revolutionary council. He said Cubans cannot keep quiet and before you knew it we had a Roman Circus on our hands--leaks to press, etc., both in Miami and New York. Gen. Taylor asked if the Revolutionary Council was aware of the operation. Col. King stated that the first word they had that the operation was going was on the evening of Friday, 14 April. Col. King and Mr. Barnes had gone to New York City to brief Dr. Miro--had met with the group--had dinner--and at midnight Col. King told Dr. Miro that at dawn on the following day some action would take place. Col. King cautioned Dr. Miro that there always seems to be a leak and that in the interests of the sons of some of the members of the Council, including Miro, and other relatives--Col. King told Dr. Miro to keep this information very much to himself. Dr. Miro said he would not even tell Dr. Varona, another member of the Council, and added that he would keep all members of the Council together the entire night.
50. Gen. Taylor said that what was inferred was that all this hoopla made execution of the plan more difficult and Gen. Gray said yes--that this permitted Castro to prepare--but if the target had been the Trinidad area he would not have been ready until the afternoon of D-Day. Mr. Barnes said that there was a great deal in the press--Tad Szulc and others--guessing as to dates--and all this developed during the last week--and this could not have been anticipated. Mr. Esterline commented that one or two of Mr. Reston's articles in the New York Times two or three days before the date were not at all helpful. He said that despite this we were able to move people from Guatemala to Nicaragua and the first anyone knew about the invasion was when they hit the beaches.
51. Gen. Gray said that another miscalculation was that the Cuban Army was not coordinated and thus we expected the strike force would be able to resist attack. In this respect Trinidad would have been difficult terrain for launching of attacks. While the Cuban Army could eventually have reduced the beachhead, it was Gen. Gray's opinion that the beach could have been held for seven days. In considering the Trinidad Plan it was not considered that U.S. overt intervention would be necessary since the force could get to the hills. The ships were loaded with supplies on D minus 21, but it was always clearly understood that the President could always call off the plan. The ultimate success of the plan depended on political factors--uprisings, possible OAS action, etc.
52. Gen. Taylor asked what provisions, if any, had been made for follow up support. Gen. Gray said that CIA was training additional personnel. He said Mr. Berle had sounded out certain South American countries but got no promise of military support. The plan called for the arming of local volunteers who were expected to join up with the force. Mr. Esterline said we had approximately 300 additional untrained troops--about 167 in Guatemala and the balance in Miami. Gen. Cabell pointed out that the original concept called for a 750 man force but that we actually committed in advance all our 1400 men rather than hold out for follow up. Gen. Gray said the key to the plan was popular uprisings all over the Island--which would pin down the militia in other areas. The militia in this area had proved to be friendly to the guerrillas and for this reason Castro had to bring others in from elsewhere.
53. Gen. Taylor asked Gen. Gray concerning the 30-70 evaluation they had given to the plan. Gen. Gray said this referred to the Trinidad Plan--that the percentages were roughly 30-70 and never ran more than 40-60. He then said that about this time Mr. Berle was appointed coordinator of Latin American affairs and Ambassador Willauer faded out of the picture. He said he had had meetings with the Berle group. Gen. Taylor asked if Mr. Berle got into the military aspects of the plan and Gen. Gray said not to any important degree--that he was mostly concerned with the political aspects. Col. King said that Mr. Berle was given one briefing on the Trinidad Plan.
54. Gen. Gray then stated that on 23 February a JCS evaluation team went to Guatemala to assess the troops and summarized their conclusions as follows: Based on general review of the military portion of the project and evaluation of the combat efficiency of the forces, such forces could attain the initiative--but the ultimate success of the operation would depend on the extent the strike forces served as a catalyst. Gen. Taylor said this new evaluation of the plan expected them to get ashore all right but success depended on their serving as a catalyst to a general uprising. Gen. Gray answered affirmatively. Gen. Gray stated that Col. Tarwater thought the air force was very well prepared but made certain suggestions for improvement.
55. Evaluation of the Zapata Plan. Gen. Gray said that the JCS first saw the Zapata Plan on 15 March and gave it a favorable evaluation as an alternate plan. This, he said, was done hurriedly. The JCS was briefed on the plan on 13 March; prepared its evaluation on the 14th of March, pre-sented it on the 15th March and submitted it to the President on the 16th of March.
56. Mr. Bissell said three other alternatives were considered:
1. The Isle of Pines
2. The Preston Area
3. Alternative Trinidad Plan--(landing at night, into the hills and at daylight attack backwards to the beachhead).
With respect to No. 3, Col. Hawkins said the plan really was for the force to move into the hills--and not attack backwards--and was a modification of the original Trinidad Plan.
57. Gen. Gray said that of the alternatives mentioned it was considered that the Zapata Plan was the most feasible but not as feasible as the original Trinidad Plan. Zapata depended on control of the air and the ability to secure the exits to make difficult the movement of enemy forces into the area. The plan called for the mining of all approaches but this was not executed. The evaluations were the essential part of the JCS contribution--however, we attended most meetings. Gen. Taylor asked if the evaluation which Gen. Gray had summarized was approved by the JCS and Gen. Gray responded affirmatively. Of the three alternatives the Zapata Plan was the best.
58. Mr. Kennedy said wouldn't you say that the JCS had approved this plan? Admiral Burke responded by saying that the paper does not say so--but in effect the JCS approved this plan--felt it had a reasonable chance of success. Admiral Burke added that the original plan had the area they would have selected--Trinidad. Gen. Gray stated that at no time did the JCS say that the Zapata Plan should not be carried out. Mr. Bissell said that the 16 March meeting summed it up as follows:
Trinidad Plan would provide more decisive results at greater initial risk
Zapata Plan provides less decisive results--and slower results--with less initial risk
Mr. Bissell commented that we felt and hoped the Zapata Plan would be less risky but recognized its limitations--less chance of a build up from friendly population.
59. Gen. Taylor said there appeared to be two points: At no point did the JCS recommend doing it--it merely commented on three alternatives--but where we made our mistake--we should have said--but did not--that this plan was not feasible. We had an opportunity to do more and we were responsible for approving it. Mr. Dulles stated that all the plans were exposed at high level. Admiral Burke commented that one difficulty was that Gen. Lemnitzer was there by himself--then corrected himself to say that Gen. Gray was with Gen. Lemnitzer at the high level meetings.
60. Gen. Gray stated that as we became associated we became more interested in trying to make it go. Mr. Kennedy asked if this wasn't the key to the whole thing--this wanting it to go? Mr. Dulles said we had these alternatives--we could carry out the plan or we could demobilize the strike force. Gen. Gray said that if we had ever written a National Concept--we would have had to rewrite it continually. Admiral Burke said that there naturally was confusion during the change of administration. We should have formalized this thing much earlier and in greater detail. The trouble was that only a few people of the Admiral's staff knew about it.
61. Gen. Taylor asked if the possibility of uprisings was discussed among all of you and Mr. Dulles answered yes. Mr. Dulles said the first plan was the shock plan--and in this plan we hadn't counted on immediate uprisings--this was longer range. He said there were objections on the political side to the shock effects--and we couldn't count on it succeeding.
62. Mr. Kennedy asked what the objective was in landing 600-1000 men on the shore. Mr. Dulles said to obtain a beachhead which could be built up. Mr. Kennedy then asked how a beachhead could be held against 300,000 troops--or against even 30,000 or 25,000. Mr. Dulles said the enemy would not have been able to concentrate all his troops on one spot. Mr. Kennedy then said that he thought that uprisings were an essential part of the JCS evaluation. Gen. Gray said that it did not anticipate immediate uprisings--but uprisings on a slower basis. Mr. Kennedy then directed a question to Admiral Burke asking if it was the Admiral's understanding that 1400 men could land--and without benefit of uprisings--could maintain their position for several weeks. Admiral Burke said they thought they might be able to hold their position but if they could not, that they would then become guerrillas. Gen. Gray said that we thought the Cuban air force would be knocked out. He said the men demonstrated they could fight effectively at night. Mr. Bissell added that we expected a landing in Pinar del Rio on D plus 7. Col. Hawkins added that we had reports of men wanting to join but reiterated that the real key was control of the air.
63. Gen. Taylor then asked where is the concept? Gen. Gray said it is in the plan. The objective did not change. Here is the mission: To invade island of Cuba--with amphibious force--hold beachhead--provide castalyst for uprising--move in as guerrillas if beachhead not sustained. Gen. Taylor (checking language of mission) read: "--alternative 3 has all the prerequisites necessary and would be able to sustain itself for several weeks but inaccessibility of population would affect support of Cuban population . . ." Gen. Cabell remarked that we meant joining up forces and not necessarily civilian uprisings. Gen. Taylor stated it still becomes a choice between 3--but with Trinidad preferred.
64. Mr. Bissell stated that the language about sustaining for several weeks indicates a change of thinking--a slower development with less prospect of initial success. If the area could have been held for two weeks there was a good probability of ultimate success--for with no air opposition we could have knocked out his microwave and forced him to voice--we could have learned his plans--we could have reinforced the brigade with another 500 men--the logistic problem would not have been difficult--but we did not knock out his air. Gen. Cabell stated that maritime re-supply would have been a factor--with no air opposition--and would have had an effect on the outcome.
65. Gen. Gray stated that following the decision on 16 March that the Zapata Plan should be pursued, the Inter-Departmental Group on 22 March developed and finalized an agreed list of tasks./17/ For example, the State Department would take care of recognition, etc. This paper served the useful purpose of coordinating our planning.
/17/See Document 71.
66. On 28 March the JCS approved letters of instructions to CINC-LANT and CONANT and we implemented the plan to improve the Miami defenses. We tested the plan and had planes, etc., to move in to protect the Miami area. Naval support was carried out by the carrier Essex and 7 destroyers. Destroyers escorted the invading ships--close at night but at a distance during the day. Gen. Taylor asked if they were authorized to engage. They were authorized to engage if attacked but under these circumstances the whole force was to have been diverted--since we were protecting shipping and not assisting an invasion. The rules of engagement changed several times as the operation proceeded. Our job was mostly one of support during two phases:
Covert support--D-Day to D minus 3
Logistic support--during build up phase
67. CIA was in a position to double and quadruple the force. We planned logistic supply as part of this build up. If things went well they might have built up in the Cienfuegos area in D plus 30. We provided arms packs for 30,000 men in addition to CIA planning for 5,000 packs. Packs for 15,000 men were actually loaded on ships and headed for the area. Also recoilless rifles, mortars, jeeps, trucks, etc. We were also providing for the overt phase under several conditions. For example, if the U.S. recognized this force (one of the Council members, Capt. Artime, went in with the brigade), State was planning on recognizing the government but no State or diplomatic representative would have been sent in until Havana was taken. We also considered possibility of supporting the force in the event a third country recognized them before we did. In addition we had one Marine hospital to move to Vieques.
68. Gen. Taylor asked about the evacuation plan and Gen. Taylor [Gray?] said it was planned to employ the LCI's and planes from the air strip. Gen. Gray said a separate war room was set up in the JCS--the regular war room was cut out. Only a limited number were cut in--this list included Adm. Dennison. Col. Mallard of the Agency was on the Essex. It was a cumbersome type of organization but it worked. There was good commo. There was good liaison. Decisions were implemented quickly.
69. Admiral Burke stated that the trouble was the delays--commo from there to Washington and back was fairly good--but there were always delays--sometimes of several hours--what was needed was a commander on the spot to make decisions. Another thing--although the commo was good from CEF (?) to Washington--there was not enough between the Naval forces and the ships--took a couple of days to find out that two ships were one and the same--that different names were being used for the same ship.
70. Gen. Gray said that there should have been an Inter-Departmental group working on the concept and keeping the President informed in writing. This would have eliminated the fact that up to the last date there was not a meeting of minds. It was not clear whether there was going to be an air strike or not. Mr. Barnes said it could not have been achieved the way it went along--after the Trinidad Plan was scrapped we were forced to come up with new concepts and new approaches to meet objections which were being raised.
71. Admiral Burke said that politically it could not have been done. We made our mistake in not drawing up what we thought the concept was and presenting it to the State Department and CIA. We did not grab it hard enough--partly because we were holding it so tight--therefore Gen. Gray's group couldn't get advice from the people who could have given it--because they weren't cut in. If he had been working under an agreed concept it could have been done better.
72. Mr. Bissell said that what he had read from the April 12 paper came near to this. Many of the suggested acts that came up involved political policy decisions of great import and these had been made in advance. Example, question whether Navy jets in the air would give protection to B-26's giving close ground support. Decision was made that support should be given--this required high level policy and was a reversal of policy re engagement of U.S. forces. We could have had a concept of use of U.S. forces. Gen. Taylor said: You talk of concepts but the concepts didn't change. Admiral Burke stated we would have task for example to cover by Naval air--this came very late so that by the time we were supposed to execute this we were at some distance from the area. Gen. Gray said that if we had had an agreed national plan we would have had to face up to the decisions which we got piecemeal--re rules of engagement. It should have been in an overall plan.
73. Gen. Taylor asked how can we do better--about the political restraints--how can we do this. Gen. Gray replied: by putting the political factors into the plan at the beginning. Admiral Burke commented that the President must have been confused by the many different people who were advising him. Gen. Gray said that once we got State in on agreed plans, Mr. Braddock came up with the answers. We should get State into the plan at the outset.
74. Gen. Taylor remarked that after the rejection of the Trinidad Plan we were racing against the clock. Gen. Gray said that he had wanted to war game the plan and that that is what should have been done. Gen. Taylor then asked what were the factors that necessitated speed. Gen. Gray said the rainy season was approaching and this would affect not only ground fighting but flying conditions. There was the problem of the jets which Castro was supposed to be receiving soon. Info that some jet trainees had returned from Czechoslovakia. Col. Hawkins said there were other factors: We were holding 1400 men in impossible conditions. The President of Guatemala was pushing us. Also American newsmen were after the story and some of the troops and airmen were threatening to desert.
75. Interrogation of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. At this juncture [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], a member of the Alabama National Air Guard and a contract flyer who participated in the project, was received by the committee. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said that he had drawn up a small resume and that if the committee was agreeable he would half-read and half-comment on that resume. (Presumably the resume will become a part of the record.) Consequently only the questioning will be recorded here.
76. Col. Hawkins asked [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] what happened to the original plan for D-Day. He replied that he was exposed to the targets. He thought the people were familiar with the original plan. It changed 180 degrees. We were to use maximum effort against air fields, microwave stations, (forcing use of radio voice)--we hoped this chaos--plus propaganda would do the job. Col. Hawkins asked what were the orders. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] replied that they were ordered to use two aircraft on each target except that only one would be used on air base near Guantanamo. Request was granted late for use of other aircraft. We were pushed for briefing of crews--we didn't have time for target study--the whole situation was cramped. After D-Day it was obvious that not all enemy aircraft were destroyed--we thought we knew how many he had but he was turning them around quickly--our turn around time was 7 hours round trip with 30 minutes over the target.
77. Mr. Kennedy asked if these pilots were Americans or Cubans and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] replied they were both Americans and Cubans. They got along well together and both were motivated by patriotic reasons.
78. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said that the first attack (D minus 2) only served to make Castro mad and gave him time to re-group his forces. Some of the flyers saw Navy protection--others did not. At Puerto Cabezas there was uncertainty as to whether they were enemy or friendly. Admiral Burke stated that on D-1 and D plus 1 the Navy fliers were over and that on D plus 2 authority was given for one hour of coverage. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] was asked if MIGs were involved. He said that as much as he would like to he can't say that MIGs were involved. He said he did not believe they were. He said he debriefed B-26 and other pilots and they saw none. The reports of Navy intervention may have helped in air battles but as far as Cuban personnel were concerned they took it for granted that they had Navy cover.
79. Mr. Kennedy asked if the pilots expected they would have help or assistance. Were they ever told they would not have assistance? [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] replied that they were not told that they would not have assistance and he did not think they expected military assistance. Mr. Bissell said that on D plus 2 they were briefed to expect Navy cover and protection and beginning at that time they may have expected assistance. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said the news was a great morale booster to people in the Puerto Cabezas area and when it did not materialize morale was affected adversely. Cuban crews aborted and without this assurance of assistance American pilots would not have participated.
80. Gen. Taylor asked what targets they found on the beach. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] replied that on D plus 1 they caught a large column of trucks. An American pilot "bounced" those trucks and from 15 to 20 Rusians tanks--three B-26's made passes at the trucks and hurt them badly. This was Tuesday afternoon about 1800 hours local time. Col. Hawkins remarked that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] indicated they suffered 1800 casualties. Mr. Kennedy asked if [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] was able to tell where the fighting was taking place. He was unable to give a conclusive answer but thought the forces had moved up from Blue and Red Beaches but never very far out. He remarked that the enemy had lots of anti-aircraft fire. Mr. Kennedy asked if they had this on D-Day. Col. Hawkins said that they did not but that they moved it in very fast. Gen. Taylor asked where were they reporting flack and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] replied: from all over--and with excellent marksmanship. Gen. Taylor asked how the air-ground commo worked and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said the commo gear went down with the ship that was sunk and that there was no commo.
81. Mr. Kennedy asked if the Cuban pilots did well. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said they constantly found excuses for not flying. Gen. Taylor asked what percentage failed and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] replied that only 35% were "ready to go" and you could count the number of "tigers" on one hand. Col. Beerli took exception to this saying that on D minus 2 we had eight aircraft up and that these made more than one pass over the target. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] observed that at that time the sight of victory was present--but when they got thinking that they were losing it was different. He said that on the morning of D minus [plus?] 2 he had to beg them to go. He observed that they were good until things started going wrong.
82. Mr. Kennedy asked where was the fighting going on at D plus 1 and D plus 2. Admiral Burke said that on D plus 2 Navy recon could find no infantry--they were all apparently in the bush. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said he had no information as to where the fighting was.
83. Mr. Kennedy asked if the Castro forces had come down the road on D plus 1 and Gen. Taylor remarked that he did not see how they could have gotten down there that fast even if they knew where the landing was coming. Col Hawkins said there were tanks in the Red Beach area on D-Day. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] expressed the personal opinion that there was not much fighting done. Gen. Taylor asked if there was any prearranged plan for use of smoke to identify our own people on the ground and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said that the air force was concerned exclusively with taking care of the "heavy stuff" and not attacking troops. Mr. Kennedy asked how long the party lasted on Red Beach and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] thought it wasn't more than a matter of hours.
84. Mr. Dulles raised the question of the confusion in orders of going after the airfields on D plus 1. Mr. Bissell said that at some point on D-Day we received permission to strike the airfields that night--and then there was some talk of a strike at dusk--but ultimately it was authorized for that night but bad visibility and other factors prevented them carrying it out. Col. Beerli asked [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] if there was a lack of aircraft and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] replied that they were limited to the number of shells on any given target--we were limited to number of aircraft we could use. When we called it off we thought we were losing the war intentionally. This thought was based on the restrictions which had been placed on us.
85. The meeting terminated at approximately 1700 hours.
[name not declassified]
175. Memorandum for the Record
Washington, April 25, 1961.
//Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Box 12, Cuba, Memoranda of Meetings. Secret; Eyes Only; Ultrasensitive. The drafter is not listed, but it was probably Colonel Ingelido. The meeting took place at the Central Intelligence Agency at 10 a.m. The participants in the meeting, in addition to Taylor, Kennedy, Dulles, and Burke, were Cabell, Gray, Barnes, Moorhouse, Esterline, Beerli, Hawkins, King, Ingelido, Commander Mitchell, and Lieutenant Colonel Tarwater. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)
Question: What limitations were placed on CIA with regard to using U.S. military personnel.
Answer: There was no legal limit on the numbers or types of personnel that could be assigned, the only limiting consideration being the problem of disclosure.
Suggestion: It would be helpful if the President was given a memo setting forth the evidences of the direct involvement of Communist personnel in the operation.
Response: CIA agreed to prepare such a memorandum for the President with information copies for the Paramilitary Study Group.
Request: It was requested that a paper and/or map covering a period several months prior to the invasion be prepared indicating all Cubans prepared to revolt.
Response: CIA indicated that a map had been prepared indicating the agents with whom they were in contact and that this would be provided to General Taylor.
Question: Had an attempt been made to have anyone enter the objective area for reconnaissance prior to the operation.
Answer: No. For security reasons and because photographs had given no evidence of any significant activity in the area.
Question: What were the sources of intelligence prior to the operation.
Answer: SpecInt, agent reports and photographs. Photographs were received at least several times a week.
Request: That some of these photographs be made available to the Study Group.
Response: CIA agreed to make these photographs available.
Statement: The point was made that not only U.S. troops were restricted in the action they could take, but we prevented foreigners that we had trained from using their weapons to their maximum capability.
Statement: One of the greatest problems encountered in developing this force was the difficulty in getting the Cubans to sublimate their petty differences for the common good.
Statement: One fact that misled our estimate of the opposition we would meet was that prior to the Zapata Operation there has never been a pitched battle between Cubans.
Request: That all professional military people involved in the operation and in training the force be identified.
Response: CIA indicated this would be provided.
Question: At some point would it be desirable to have the conclusions of all key people involved in the operation.
Request: General Taylor requested a re-briefing on the Air Plan and further information on the reported air ammunition shortage.
Response: CIA indicated this would be provided.
Request: General Taylor requested the reconstitution of the intelligence that influenced the decisions, this to be presented in such form as to indicate the decisions influenced.
At this point Colonel Hawkins briefed on the actual operation. He prefaced his remarks by pointing out that the information on which his report was based was limited and incomplete.
When the 15 April air strikes were originally considered it was suggested that they be conducted for two days without restriction. However, due to political considerations it was decided to conduct limited strikes on D-2 and limited strikes on dawn of D-Day. It was decided to use two B-26 aircraft against each of three airfields on which all Cuban tactical aircraft were based, San Antonio de los Banos, Campo Libertad, and Santiago de Cuba.
Reconnaissance flights on 8, 11 and 13 April indicated the Cubans had 36 combat aircraft although many of these were not operable. Consequently it was decided to increase the aircraft in the air strikes from six to eight with one additional aircraft assigned as a spare.
The D-2 air strikes were planned to destroy Castro's combat aircraft on the ground. It now appears that these air strikes destroyed all of Castro's tactical aircraft except for two Sea Furies, two B-26s, and three to four T-33s.
Opinions were expressed generally favoring the view that if the D-Day air strikes had been conducted as originally planned all of Castro's tactical aircraft would have been destroyed or at least eliminated to the extent that the invasion force could have survived.
It was pointed out that all but eight or nine operable aircraft had been destroyed and that four of these were eliminated on D-Day by the invasion force.
The question was raised as to why the T-33s had not been destroyed. Several possible answers were given, including the restriction against the use of napalm, self-imposed by CIA, and the possibility that the aircraft on one runway had not been attacked.
Question: Were you surprised at the effectiveness of the T-33s.
Question: What led to the decision to conduct air strikes on D-2.
Answer: The strikes were timed to coincide with Nino Diaz landing in the Oriente and it was desired to tie the air strikes in with the defections.
Statement: We knew before the landing that Castro retained operational tactical aircraft.
Question: Why were limitations placed on the air strikes.
Answer: In order to reduce the appearance of a major military operation which would indicate U.S. involvement.
Statement: It is a mistake to focus primary attention on one particular decision. We were operating under the very clear instructions to make this operation appear as one the Cubans could conduct without gross U.S. assistance.
Statement: It was not one decision or one thing that caused failure, but many things.
Statement: In covert operations of this kind political considerations always outweigh the military, with a consequent erosion of the military capability to the point that the operation becomes militarily infeasible.
Statement: This raises one of the vital considerations before this Group, the conflict between the desire for political acceptability and military effectiveness.
Statement: The point was made that political considerations must be given their due weight, but if this results in making the operation militarily infeasible the President should be advised that the plan is no longer feasible. He cannot be expected to remember all the details of a plan nor the significance of one seemingly minor change in a military operation.
Statement: The President had frequent consultations with military representatives.
Statement: The DOD was not consulted in the decision to call off the air strikes.
Statement: It is dangerous to conduct meetings where military advice is required when only one officer from one service is present. This was the case during six or eight meetings.
Question: Were the D-Day air strikes previously approved.
Answer: The paper setting forth the air strikes was passed around at the April 12th meeting./1/ This paper made clear that there would be air strikes, but not an all-out effort. However, this document was only passed around at the meeting, read and considered by some, and collected after the meeting. It is doubtful if the President read it or understood the details.
/1/See Document 92.
Question: What led to the cancellation of the air strikes.
Answer: At 1300 Sunday it was understood that the plan, including the air strikes for dawn of D-Day, had been approved. At about 7:00 P.M. CIA representatives were called to Mr. Rusk's office. He was concerned over the apparent defection of two rather than one B-26 and an additional cargo plane because he felt these additional defections had caused him to mislead Mr. Stevenson. At 10:30 P.M. the CIA tactical commander was advised that the air strikes had been called off. He most strongly urged that this decision be reconsidered and reversed. In debating the air strikes question and in discussing the action to be taken to strengthen Mr. Stevenson's position, the President was contacted. In discussing the air strike question the President said he wasn't aware that there were going to be any air strikes on the morning of D-Day. At 2315 D-1 Mr. Rusk announced that there would be no dawn air strikes. At this time the invasion ships were within 5,000 yards of their landing beaches and it was physically impossible to call off the strikes.
Question: Was a strong position on this issue taken with Mr. Rusk.
Answer: Probably not strong enough. It was indicated that the worst would be that the invaders would not have their B-26 support and if the ships were on their way out the force would be denied its resupply capability.
Question: At the 12 April meeting were the air strikes an issue.
Answer: No, the plan appeared to have jelled.
Statement: There were only verbal instructions. These were not written, signed directives and the only papers that were available were fuzzy. The issues were never clearly resolved.
Statement: I understood there was to be one final briefing involving all the participants and setting forth the entire plan. This was never done. Had this briefing been held the ultimate decisions might have been different.
Statement: After cancellation of the air strikes an attempt was made to minimize the probable damage. At 0400 D-Day a CIA representative contacted the State Department to see if the Navy's protective CAP could be extended from the 20-mile limit to 15 or preferably a three-mile limit. The State Department objected and the President, in attempting to prevent U.S. attribution, confirmed that the Navy's protective CAP limit would not be changed. He did approve, however, EW support. Prior to this Presidential determination an alerting order had been sent to CINC-LANT and he had turned his force around to be in a position to provide CAP and EW support if so ordered.
By the time it became apparent we would not receive air CAP we sent out a message to put the troops ashore and move the ships out to sea.
The brigade troops commenced landing at Blue Beach at 0100.
0300--The Caribe had completed unloading.
0330--The troops unloading from the Alantico were under fire.
0430--Troops landed at Blue Beach.
0600--First LCU ashore.
0630--Enemy air attacks against shipping and Blue Beach commenced.
0640--Friendly aircraft arrived.
1730--Three LCUs had discharged vehicles and tanks.
0825--Castro T-33 shot down by Blagar.
0930--Rio Escondido hit and sunk. Crew members rescued and put aboard Blagar.
--Brigade reported airstrip ready for use.
1000--Continuous enemy air attacks against withdrawing ships.
1130--Brigade reported only four hours ammunition left.
During the Blue Beach landings the Houston proceeded up the Bay led by the Barbara J. They sent a reconnaissance team ashore and it was immediately attacked from the west flank. Two hundred seventy men did land in the vicinity of Red Beach. However, going ashore they saw lights from what appeared to be a construction project which they had not been previously aware of, and when they got ashore they ran into an enemy force estimated to have 800 troops and 12 tanks.
As the Houston was proceeding out of the Bay it was hit by a bomb and the ship went aground with approximately 130 personnel aboard.
As regards the airborne landing little detailed information is available. However, all the aircraft returned safely reporting that the troops had jumped over their intended landing places. Furthermore, reports indicate some of the airborne personnel were occupying their assigned positions.
During the course of D-Day the decision was made to conduct night air attacks against San Antonio de los Banos and Campo Libertad in an attempt to destroy Castro's air capability. The value of these attacks was negligible.
Also during the night of 17-18 April three air drops were made at the landing beaches. One landed in the drop zone, one in the sea, and one drifted inland.
On D+1 at about 0730 the 2d Battalion reported it could not maintain its position without air support for more than 30 minutes.
0824--The Brigade Commander reported that Blue Beach was under attack by 12 tanks and four jet aircraft. The need for ammunition and supplies was repeated.
1010--Red Beach wiped out.
1200--Blue Beach under attack by MIG-15s and T-33s, out of tank ammunition, and almost out of small arms ammunition.
1600--Essex reported long line of tanks and trucks approaching Blue Beach from East.
Enemy air attacks and shortage of ammunition continued to be reported for the rest of the day. Ammunition and food were air-dropped on the airstrip. On the afternoon of D+1 three friendly B-26s intercepted a column of enemy tanks and trucks, causing 1,800 casualties. At this point it was emphasized that the over-all plan had been based on control of the air and this action was cited as evidence of what the B-26s would have been able to accomplish if the air plan had succeeded.
1800--1st Battalion reported under heavy artillery attack.
2000--The Brigade Commander was advised that he would be evacuated after dark. He replied saying, "I will not be evacuated. We will fight to the end here if we have to."
During the night of 18-19 April Navy CAP was again requested and permission was granted for one hour air CAP between 0630 and 0730. These aircraft were issued instructions to defend the invasion force from enemy air attack, but not to attack ground targets.
When it came time for the friendly forces to launch their air strikes the Cuban air crews were either exhausted or demoralized by the lack of air cover, consequently American crews were dispatched. One American crew was shot down during the period of Navy air cover and another was shot down when air cover was not provided.
At 0600 on the 19th of April enemy air strikes commenced. From 0710 to 1430 the enemy was closing in and the Brigade Commander was sending frantic appeals for air cover. Finally at 1430 he sent his final message saying, "Am destroying all equipment and communications. Tanks are in sight. I have nothing left to fight with. Am taking to woods. I cannot wait for you."
Question: What sort of anti-tank equipment did the force have?
Answer: A number of 3.5-inch bazookas; five tanks; two 75 mm recoilless rifles; and an undetermined number of anti-tank mines.
Statement: In considering the possible reasons for the shooting down of the B-26 during the period of Navy air CAP it was suggested that the rules of engagement may have unduly restricted the Navy.
Question: What specific intelligence got to the President?
Answer: NIEs, intelligence annexes and briefings.
Statement: It would be desirable to examine the ground rules and determine the price we paid to try and keep within political limitations.
Statement: It appears this operation was simply too big to remain covert.
Colonel Beerli, head of Air Operations for the CIA, briefed on air aspects of the operation. His position for this operation was coordinated with Colonel Hawkins. Lieutenant Colonel Gaines was his chief deputy for this operation. Lieutenant Colonel Gaines had a staff of 14 people working on this operation in Washington. Except for the security, administration and cover people the personnel assigned were members of the Air Force. The actual training site in Guatemala was run primarily by Major Campbell with a force of 20 people.
The point was made that one of the greatest procedural difficulties resulted from the physical separation of the air staff from the rest of the planners under Colonel Hawkins.
Colonel Beerli stated that he had 316 personnel at Puerto Cabezas, of whom 159 were Americans. The Cuban crews were recruited in Miami from 92 personnel that were screened. From these personnel they recruited and/or developed 17 B-26 crews and five C-46 crews. As far as the concept of air operations was concerned the concept varied very little from the beginning. The primary effort was being directed toward eliminating the enemy air force and to provide close support. On the 13th of April the photos indicated that Castro's combat aircraft were located on three airfields. On D-2 eight aircraft were committed against these fields with the results previously mentioned. It was pointed out that the B-26s had been the primary concern and the capability of the T-33s hadn't been appreciated as it wasn't believed that these aircraft were armed.
By late afternoon of D-1 photos indicated that instead of dispersing his aircraft Castro had concentrated them at San Antonio de los Banos.
After the cancellation of the dawn air strikes on D-Day the pilots were briefed to provide close support for the invasion force with at least two aircraft over the beach at all times. Thirteen missions were launched on D-Day in providing close support to the invasion force and in protecting against hostile vessels.
That night six B-26 aircraft were launched against Cuban airfields. However, two aircraft aborted on take-off and the others were not able to identify their targets due to haze.
On D+1 six aircraft were scheduled in support of the beachhead. On the night of D+1 two aircraft got off and struck San Antonio de los Banos. On Wednesday morning two B-26s were committed again and two more were lost.
In summary there were 13 strikes on D-Day, four on D-Day night, six on D+1, and seven on D+2, for a total of 39 air strikes. Seven aircraft were lost in these operations. Furthermore, six, C-54s made air resupply drops and one C-46 landed on the beachhead airstrip on the evening of D-Day.
Statement: It is believed that the Cuban pilots did as well as could be expected and they would have done better in an aura of victory.
Following this the Group were read a paper by Colonel Hawkins in which he set forth his personal opinion as to some of the deficiencies which became apparent during the operation./2/ Among these deficiencies were:
/2/See Document 173.
The lack of clear-cut policy directives signed. He does not believe that verbal instructions are sufficient.
The slowness of government machinery in making policy decisions.
Overcentralization of control. This prompted some discussion, resulting in the statement that the CIA doesn't have the capability to organize and train paramilitary forces. At this point a message was read from Colonel Hawkins just prior to the invasion in which he indicated that the invasion force was better armed and equipped than some U.S. Infantry units and that Lieutenant Colonel Gaines believed the air unit was as well qualified as the best U.S. Air Force squadron./3/
/3/See Document 98.
Lack of adequate organization and staff. The paramilitary responsibility should go to the DOD.
Training conditions were unsatisfactory. The desirability of using bases on Saipan or in the United States was considered with no conclusions reached.
The meeting adjourned.
[end of document]
to Foreign Relations of the U.S., Vol. X, Cuba.
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