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Department Seal

Volume X
Cuba, 1961-1962



Cuba, 1961-1962

16. Editorial Note

According to a chronology of JCS participation in planning for operations against Cuba, maintained in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, working level officers on the Joint Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were informed on January 11, 1961, for the first time of the plan being developed in the CIA for an invasion of Cuba by a Cuban exile force:

"Mr. Willauer and a CIA representative briefed Gen Bonesteel and Gen Gray on the general concept, in Gen Bonesteel's office. This was the first time the JCS at the working level had knowledge of this project. At this meeting, Gen Gray pointed out the necessity for the establishment of a special interdepartmental working group and suggested this matter be brought before the 5412 Group at their next meeting the following day." (Chronology of JCS Participation in Bumpy Road; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials)

The chronology indicates that the 5412 Group reviewed the planning on January 12, and arranged for the establishment of a State-Defense-CIA-JCS working group to evaluate the additional measures that might be required; see Document 17. On January 13 the Interdepartmental Working Group held its first meeting at the Department of State; see Document 18. Brigadier General David W. Gray, the JCS representative at the meeting, was given the mission of preparing an evaluation of the possible military courses of action necessary to overthrow the Castro government in the event the currently planned political and paramilitary operations were determined to be inadequate. The evaluation prepared in the Department of Defense for General Gray is printed as Document 19.

17. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, January 12, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/LA/COG Files: Job 82-00679R, Box 3, Special Group Mtgs-Cuba. Secret; Eyes Only. No drafting information is given.


12 January 1961

1. Mr. Dulles reported the information received from General Goodpaster to the effect that a large delegation from the above-mentioned group (Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front) reportedly will visit Washington on Saturday.

2. Mr. Willauer outlined a proposal to establish a task force consisting of representatives of State, CIA, Defense and the Joint Staff to draw up contingency plans covering the possible eventual use of overt U.S. forces.

3. All members agreed that such planning is an essential step. Mr. Gray asked that a preliminary report of the task force be available for the meeting of January 19th.

4. In answer to a question, Mr. Barnes gave details of the Cuban government's capture of materiel from two airdrops plus one cache.

5. Mr. Parrott outlined the status of the answer to a request from the Department of Justice to the Department of State for an opinion on whether such action would run counter to U.S. foreign policy interests. He said that all members of the Group had concurred, with the exception of Mr. Douglas. Particularly for the benefit of Mr. Irwin, who had not been exposed to this subject, Mr. Parrott outlined various reasons why State and CIA feel strongly that something must be done to stop Masferrer./1/ Mr. Irwin deferred to the judgment of those two agencies.

/1/Rolando Masferrer, a former pro-Batista Cuban senator.

6. The Group then approved the suggested exchange of correspondence,/2/ with some editing designed to give as much flexibility as possible. It was also agreed that every attempt should be made to avoid undue publicity in connection with whatever action is taken.

/2/Not further identified.

18. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, January 13, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Cuba Program, Nov 1960-Jan 20, 1961. Top Secret. Drafted in M by E. Glion Curtis.


Ambassador Whiting Willauer, Assistant Secretary of Defense John Irwin, General Gray, JCS, Captain Spore, OSO, Mr. Tracy Barnes, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], Mr. Joseph W. Scott, Mr. Glion Curtis, Mr. Wym Coerr, and Mr. Frank Devine/1/

/1/Willauer, Scott, Curtis, Coerr, and Devine represented the Department of State. Irwin and Spore represented the Department of Defense. Gray represented the JCS. Barnes, [text not declassified] represented the CIA. This was the interdepartmental working group described in Document 16.

The meeting opened at 10:05 a.m. with Ambassador Willauer in the chair. There were some introductory remarks emphasizing the special security restrictions on any matters discussed--Secretary Irwin noted that in the Defense Department only Secretary Erskine, Secretary Douglas, Secretary Gates and Secretary-designate McNamara will be informed. There was some preliminary discussion as to the nature of the job to be done which is brought out more fully in the remarks noted later on. Ambassador Willauer indicated that the reason for the existence of the working group was to provide a third prong to the two-pronged approach. The two-pronged approach is the overt program for Cuba on the one hand, and the accompanying covert program contained in the document dated December 6 and December 20./2/

/2/The December 6 version of this document, which does not include the second part dealing with the covert program, is in the Supplement. The December 20 version of the document has not been found.

Ambassador Willauer then proceeded to read through the document, stopping at various points to comment or to respond to questions. This record will not attempt to reproduce the content of the document, but merely to identify the place where the reading ceased and discussion took place.

Ambassador Willauer read Part I. Basic Assumptions through the sentence on economic dislocations (line 5, first paragraph). At this point he noted that he felt, and he quoted Jose Figueres as concurring in this viewpoint, that there was a high probability that the Soviet Union would pump in enough economic assistance to make a show case of Cuba. He noted that dissatisfaction arising from economic factors is not overlooked. He indicated that for all practical purposes, he felt, the notion had been abandoned that there was any hope of overthrowing the Castro regime with economic warfare measures alone, even if they include an effective blockade.

He then read through the rest of the Basic Assumptions section.

He then read Part II. Suggested Solution through the first paragraph. Comment: Ambassador Willauer indicated that events had overtaken the provisions of this paragraph. He said that at this time no one foresees any Foreign Ministers Meeting by February 1, nor do they foresee any effective collective sanctions decision. Ambassador Willauer then went on to note that an obscure item which appears in the New York Times of January 12 indicated an inclination on the part of President Betancourt of Venezuela to call an OAS Foreign Ministers meeting for the purpose of acting against dictators both of the right and of the left. Mr. Coerr noted that the type of reaction which had occurred yesterday in Uruguay against the Communist and Castro activities could build up to an OAS meeting. Ambassador Willauer commented that we had not given up all hope, but we cannot count on such a meeting taking place. Ambassador Willauer then read the second paragraph. He then noted that again events have overtaken the provisions of the paper in that the United States has already broken relations with Cuba. He noted that Peru had broken relations unilaterally and perhaps Uruguay is about to do so. The other Latin American countries, however, are reviewing their political situation and appear to be receding from their somewhat stronger attitude toward breaking relations which existed prior to the United States action. He specifically cited the Chilean elections and the Argentine evidence of softening of its position.

Ambassador Willauer then read the third paragraph of this section. He noted that this type of action is all overt, nevertheless, assistance to a government in exile, particularly in terms of personnel training and military materiel support, brings in the Defense Department immediately. Secretary Irwin directed attention to the provision of assistance "after" recognition and raised the question particularly with reference to training, as to whether it shouldn't be done ahead of time and be ready for use at the time of recognition. Ambassador Willauer quoted General Gray as having said that the force of 750 men could perhaps hold a perimeter of only 1,000 yards across. He noted that the actual amount of real estate controlled by the government is not important and even expressed the possibility that one could be recognized without any real estate at all. In response to General Gray's question, Mr. Scott noted that although the phrase used in the paper is government-in-exile, what is really meant is a provisional government. Ambassador Willauer then noted the fact that the Agency is smuggling into Cuba two Cuban leaders. These persons might constitute a rallying point for the formation of a government within Cuba.

Mr. Barnes asked whether it is realistic to speak of recognizing a government in exile while the Castro Government is still in existence and asked whether this was really possible. Mr. Coerr replied, "yes" with the proviso that it would, of course, not be done if the situation were so flimsy as to be ludicrous. In response to Mr. Barnes' question whether real estate is essential or not, Mr. Scott replied that the present legal opinion is that real estate is essential. Secretary Irwin indicated he had the same concern as Mr. Barnes. As he described it, his problem is that it is not sufficient to establish control over a piece of territory but in addition there must be an ability to maintain that control. His question is whether 750 men really will be able to do that. Ambassador Willauer made the point that perhaps there is already sufficient real estate of one sort or another available in the Escambray in dissident hands to warrant recognition of a government which controlled that territory.

Secretary Irwin commented that the real question was not one of recognition, but rather whether or not we are prepared to do enough with sufficient speed to enable the provisional government to establish its control over all of Cuba. He noted that he is currently very concerned with such a problem in Laos, where volunteers were encouraged but no decision had been taken yet as to how far we would go.

Mr. Scott observed that this was one of the reasons for this current meeting. How do we make recognition effective? How much do you need to provide for the purpose? In this picture the abilities and limitations of the Defense Department constitute the third prong in the program.

Ambassador Willauer raised the question of training volunteers such as Argentines or Cubans. Tracy Barnes estimated that there are now 70,000 Cubans in and around the Miami area, of whom perhaps 10,000 could be of military age. Ambassador Willauer then continued with "Suppose we figured on the basis of 10,000 Cubans and perhaps 5,000 other Latin American volunteers for training, then questions might be: Where could they be trained? What would be required for the purpose? and, How long would it take? Tracy Barnes noted that there may be a question of what types of people would be acceptable. For example, he said that a military background of some sort may be necessary. Ambassador Willauer suggested that this was a Department of Defense judgment. Mr. Coerr observed that the size of the force may be dependent upon the kind of victory which is considered to be necessary. In amplification he said one sized force might be sufficient to knock Castro off, but to eliminate his government quickly and thoroughly might require more people. Captain Spore asked whether the first step isn't really to surface a new leader before recognition of the government. Ambassador Willauer commented that it would never be possible to pull all the Cubans together. Captain Spore inquired about the need for some massive program within Cuba.

At this point Secretary Irwin left the meeting.

General Gray, responding to Captain Spore's last question, indicated that the document/3/ will answer that question. Ambassador Willauer then noted that it will be necessary to make several assumptions. One is that whatever government is recognized must be assumed to be satisfactory for our purposes. A second is that Castro is in power in Cuba and has certain military equipment and capabilities. One of our questions is, in the light of these assumptions, what is required from the outside to assure success of the provisional government?

/3/Reference is to the staff study prepared in the Department of Defense on January 16; see Document 19.

At this point Mr. Devine made three comments. He noted that with reference to our recruitment of volunteers, Castro is also busy recruiting Latin American volunteers for his own purposes. Secondly, he noted that the principal point implicit in the element of establishing a safe haven perimeter within Cuba was the expectation that this would encourage and in fact produce large-scale adherence from defectors within Cuba. Thirdly, he wished to be sure that the fact that two Cuban anti-Castro leaders are being infiltrated into Cuba at this time does not represent a decision already taken that these are the chosen instruments. Mr. Devine was reassured on this latter point.

There was then an exchange between Ambassador Willauer and General Gray. General Gray indicated that his directive from General Bonesteel was that this working group was to write an overall plan with all three elements; that subordinate to this general plan was to be a family of plans for detailed operations in support. Ambassador Willauer indicated this is correct.

The reading of the document continued from the third section "Measures to implement Proposed Solutions." There was no further comment or discussion down through paragraph d of the section "Recognition of a Cuban Government-in-exile," however, Ambassador Willauer did note in passing that unilateral action by the United States has already been taken and that the collective action section has been overtaken by events. He also noted that the language calling for recognition of government-in-exile immediately upon breaking relations has been overtaken by events.

Secretary Irwin returned to the meeting at this point.

Mr. Barnes then noted that there is a group of 400 to 1,000 Cubans who expect to make some calls on President Eisenhower and elsewhere during the course of today and tomorrow. Ambassador Willauer then continued the reading through the end of Part I.

Ambassador Willauer read Part II--Covert Action, Section 1--Objectives. He commented that the Agency is doing a tremendous amount of work--Tracy Barnes indicated that there are 180 different groups of Cubans. Mr. Barnes also said that two representatives of opposition groups are about to go inside Cuba. One is a member of the FRD, the second is not. He continued by saying that perhaps Arellano Sanchez Arango might also go in. Sanchez Arango claims to have a lot of support, but so far has not identified any of it. Ambassador Willauer then read Section 2--Present Status, and noted that the support spring boards are located in Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Canal Zone.

The Ambassador then continued reading sections 3 and 4 and then invited comment by Mr. Barnes on the geographic score, the main thrust and the broadcast activity in the political action and propaganda fields. Mr. Barnes reported in considerable detail about activities of Swan Island, the three newspapers, and the magazine, as well as trips through Latin America by the jurists, labor groups, representatives of Cuban women, and students organizations. He noted the political stand taken last May by Tony Varona in Mexico City and Caracas, the development and announcement of a political platform, which he characterized as being somewhat negative. He indicated in some detail the reasons why it was felt that a more positive approach to the platform provisions was not desirable at the stage reached when the platform was released. He then indicated that Radio Swan is commencing to discuss various approaches to such important questions as land reform, elections and other elements of a platform. General Gray asked who was the leading candidate. Mr. Barnes indicated that he has lists from many sources with detailed information about the individuals. He said that he is ready to sit down and consider the candidates and reach a decision as to who are most appropriate. He noted that at this stage we should not go so far as to select one individual who might be shot, and that the selection of a single candidate should follow some demonstration that he can survive in Cuba and does in fact have a substantial political following.

Ambassador Willauer noted that there is one military contingency plan which will have to be ready for use if Castro should start slaughtering Americans. This would be a purely military plan and would include military occupation. General Gray noted that such a plan already exists and is being revived. Ambassador Willauer noted that the hardest political problem was that the Cubans would not work together. Mr. Barnes then noted that the tabs to the paper give full details about the individuals, names, background, etc.

Secretary Irwin at this point left the meeting.

Ambassador Willauer then read the paramilitary section, number 5. Mr. Barnes commented on the communication teams in Cuba. He first noted, however, that so far the activities have not developed any cracks and crevices in the Castro structure. There is still hope that these might become visible during the next sixty days with increased propaganda, support, and other activities. He indicated that at one time there were ten communications teams active. For various reasons these have now been reduced to six. There is no indication yet of Cuban DF capability. In contrast the Agency with Navy help feels that it knows every movement of any Cuban ship and has good information about the ground forces and secret police, and does not have much information about air activity.

Ambassador Willauer then continued reading in the paramilitary section through the sentence ending "and carry out sabotage." At this point [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] was asked to comment, since he just recently came from Havana. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] indicated that the various elements of the opposition are cooperating with each other in sabotage activities. Recently, there has been a decrease of such activity because of the Fidel-inspired invasion scare, the militia activity, and the introduction of death penalties. Some of the sabotage teams have been picked up but some are still in existence, willing and able to act; however, more material is necessary. Ambassador Willauer noted the need for labor to cut the cane. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] continued by noting that the sabotage units can be coordinated with any landing. Some details of the supply drops were reported. Mr. Barnes indicated that of the six missions flown within the past ten days (out of a total to date of ten supply drops)--five were supply missions. Of these, two were fully successful, one was partially successful, one was mechanically successful but the material was lost subsequent to its receipt by the people to whom it was destined, and the fifth was not good. Mr. Barnes indicated that better results will be possible in the future, now that there are on-site communications units in action. Ambassador Willauer noted in passing that with a collapse of the Castro regime after successful efforts, it may be necessary to provide certain facilities, such as electric power or communications, particularly in a place such as Havana, if the sabotage efforts are as successful as is hoped. Thus it might be wise to earmark early some Naval ship with this thought in mind.

The final paragraph of the paramilitary section was read. Ambassador Willauer noted the Paul Kennedy article in the New York Times,/4/ which he indicated as giving pretty accurate information about the training and asked whether anyone required additional information. Ambassador Willauer indicated that it still may be possible to have U.S. strike bases; that this matter has not yet been finally decided. He also mentioned the question of contract pilots. He said that the idea of air strikes beginning three days before D-day has been killed, and that a strike beginning the day before D-day has now been accepted. He noted that it is possible that Cuba may have a jet air force based on the pilots being trained in Czechoslovakia. As yet there is no evidence that there are any jet airplanes in Cuba. However, Ambassador Willauer raised the problem that, if Castro has a jet air force, how would it be possible to explain the use by the FRD of a jet capability. He suggested the possibility of a volunteer group, to acquire and provide the jet pilots and planes. Ambassador Willauer indicated that he hoped the Defense Department would include in its estimates some indication of what might be required to counteract a Cuban jet air force, and some estimate as to how soon Cuba could have effective jet capability after delivery of such planes in Cuba. Following Mr. Barnes comment that there is no magic to any specific number of days before D-day for a pre strike, and that sufficient facts are not now on hand to reach a decision, Ambassador Willauer commented that with the present Cuban air force one day before D-day is sufficient. Mr. Devine noted that one of the problems of activity prior to D-day is what will be happening during that period in the U.N. and the O.A.S.

/4/See footnote 1, Document 15.

Ambassador Willauer then finished the reading of the paper with the miscellaneous section.

Captain Spore then commented at length on the sea lift problem. He gave a run down of what vessels the Agency now has indicating that it would not be sufficient for the number of troops involved. He said that the Navy is quite concerned about the problem of selecting a beach. He also said that heretofore calculations had been based on an unopposed landing. If an opposed landing is a possibility, there will be a requirement for naval support and the vessels in hand have no armament. He also expressed Navy concern over the actual landing and transportation without Castro's prior knowledge from port of embarkation. Ambassador Willauer noted the possibility of a pre-dawn strike.

Ambassador Willauer then explained about the timing problem, indicating that the next meeting of the Group is early Thursday/5/ morning, and that this working group has been instructed to obtain the third prong document from Defense before that meeting. He suggested that the next working group meeting be Monday/6/ when some type of progress report might be helpful. General Gray raised some general questions. He then specifically asked if the plan just read is valid. He noted that there are so many contingencies raised, the plan does not seem to have yet been determined. Ambassador Willauer indicated that the Special Group could not go beyond the point which the Ambassador has described in stating what the United States policy will be. This will be something that has to be determined and set by the new administration. In the meantime the Group does require from Defense a statement regarding the questions he, the Ambassador, has raised.

/5/January 20.

/6/January 16.

General Gray and Ambassador Willauer then discussed the nature of the job to be done by Defense and what is required.

General Gray then attempted to sum up what he understood was needed. He said (1) The Group seems to want an estimate of the time to organize and train a Cuban indigenous army, including an estimate of its chances; (2) What U.S. support would be required for the 750 men in terms of air and naval power; (3) What U.S. ground forces will be required to support the action. A separate paper, he said, would deal with U.S. unilateral intervention to protect U.S. lives and property, involving ground, air and naval forces. He would contemplate this situation arising so quickly that there would be no possibility to inter mix it with the plan. And (4) the use of U.S. and indigenous forces on a planned basis.

There was considerable discussion by Captain Spore, Ambassador Willauer, General Gray, and Mr. Barnes on the need to work on the assumption that the 750 men may not be able to do the job unassisted. At one point, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] estimated, on the basis of observation of visa applicants, that in the group of 70,000, there would be less than 1,000 able-bodied men available for training for military duties. Ambassador Willauer suggested that General Gray note, as a problem in connection with training Cubans, the question of who pays the trainees, who pays their dependents, and who would pay indemnity in case of their death.

Mr. Barnes noted that the study would not be complete without consideration of the timing factor. Nor without consideration of two further points, namely, coordination with action vs. Trujillo, and an estimate of why an embargo, including activity which amounts to acts of war, will not work. Ambassador Willauer noted that there is perhaps insufficient time to do all this in the final report, however, he suggested that the desirability of also dealing with Trujillo should be noted, and that the Agency might include an evaluation of the effects of a complete economic embargo. It was also considered that at some point the Agency will have to prepare and put up for the reaction of the Special Group, its assessment of the possibility of success by the 750 unaided. There would also be required an assessment of the political feeling in the country which it is hoped might be developed between now and the end of February.

The next meeting is on the calendar for Monday at 1600 hrs.

19. Staff Study Prepared in the Department of Defense

Washington, January 16, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files: Job 85-00664R, Box 1, Source Documents-DCI-8, Vol. I, Part III. Top Secret. The source text has a handwritten date of January 16 on a cover sheet. A handwritten note on the cover sheet, in an unknown hand, confirms that the evaluation was discussed on January 16 by the Interdepartmental Working Group on Cuba; see Document 20.


/1/According to a chronology prepared in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, General Gray received informal approval of the evaluation on January 19 from General Lemnitzer and Joint Staff Director General Earle Wheeler. (Chronology of JCS Participation in Bumpy Road; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials) On January 22 General Lemnitzer used the evaluation in a briefing on the Cuba project at the Department of State for several members of the new Kennedy administration. (Memorandum No. 1 from the Cuban Study Group to the President, June 13; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)

The Problem

1. To evaluate possible military courses of action to overthrow the Castro Government in Cuba in the event currently planned political and paramilitary operations are determined to be inadequate.

Facts Bearing on the Problem

2. The basis of the problem was a request by the Department of State for an evaluation of the following possible military courses of action in Cuba.

a. U.S. unilateral action with U.S. Air, Naval, and Army forces.

b. Invasion by a U.S. trained and supported volunteer Army composed of Cubans and other anti-Castro Latin Americans.

c. Invasion by a combination of a and b above.

3. The estimated strength and capabilities of Cuban Armed Forces are as follows:

a. Ground

(1) Revolutionary Army--32,000; capability low, except for guerrilla type operations.

(2) Revolutionary National Police--9,000; capable of security only.

(3) Militia--200,000 to 300,000; capability low except for guerrilla type operations.

b. Naval

(1) Strength, 4 to 5,000 personnel; 3 PF, 2 PCE and 43 smaller craft; capabilities very low.

c. Air Force

The Revolutionary Air Force, from which almost all the rated pilots were purged by Castro, has almost no combat capabilities at this time. However, reports indicate that as many as 100 pilots are undergoing flight training in Czechoslovakia. Also, the Air Force has received several Czech trainees and 6-10 helicopters recently.

4. In the military field, the Soviets have delivered to Cuba in the past five months, at least 20,000 tons of arms and equipment, including small arms, armored vehicles, personnel carriers, helicopters, trainer aircraft, a variety of artillery, and large quantities of ammunition. So far, the U.S. has no evidence of the Soviets providing Cuba with sophisticated weapons such as missiles or nuclear devices, or MIG jet fighter aircraft.

5. There are fifteen airfields in Cuba which are capable of handling jet aircraft.

6. The U.S. has available on the East Coast of the U.S. the following combat forces.

a. U.S. Atlantic Fleet, including at least two attack carriers, a Marine Division, and a Marine Air Wing.

b. The Strategic Army Command.

c. Elements of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command.

7. Mr. Tracy Voorhees, Special Advisor to the President on Cuba, has reported that approximately 40,000 anti-Castro refugees have entered the U.S. in 1960.

8. From 1950 through 1959, approximately 70,000 Cubans entered the U.S., 10,000 of whom have been naturalized.

9. The CIA estimates that there has been a total of 65,000 anti-Castro Cuban exiles of all classes of which 3,000 are Cuban males capable of performing military service. Of these 3,000, CIA estimates that 750 are willing to perform military service in a Volunteer Army.

10. That an adequate number of troop age (18-65) physically able male Cuban exiles are available in the U.S. to form a Volunteer Army of sufficient strength to have the capability of establishing and holding a lodgement on the Island of Cuba.

11. That it is impossible to train covertly, in the Free World, a force adequate to assure a successful permanent lodgement in Cuba.

12. Massive internal popular support by the Cuban people of action to overthrow the Castro Government cannot be assured.

13. That the Soviet Bloc will continue its assistance to Cuba, but will not openly intervene on behalf of the Castro Government.


14. U.S. Unilateral Action:

a. The Commander in Chief, Atlantic Command, has a contingency plan/2/ prepared and approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff which provides for the employment of Army, Naval and Air Forces for the overthrow of the Castro Government in Cuba. This contingency plan is currently undergoing revision in view of increased capabilities of the Cuban Armed Forces and militia. This revision generally reflects only an increase in U.S. Military Forces to be employed.

/2/Not found.

b. If U.S. unilateral action were directed the forces assigned for commitment to this operation are considered adequate and on an emergency basis could begin commitment within a matter of hours. If circumstances prove this force to be inadequate the proximity of Cuba to the U.S. simplifies the problem of rapid reinforcement of the Task Force from other U.S. based forces. This reinforcement would be directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as required.

c. Unilateral action in Cuba by the U.S. would have a tremendous impact on U.S. prestige in the Caribbean and Latin America (as well as the rest of the free world) unless it had strong support of Latin American public opinion and, preferably, token Latin American participation. It would therefore be desirable that, prior to the implementation of this course of action, a concerted effort be made either through the OAS or through selected Latin American countries, to obtain condemnation of the Castro regime and open Latin American support for action to eliminate that regime.

d. This course of action could also be justified if Castro attacked Guantanamo Bay or if such an attack were "staged". With prior propaganda effort by the U.S., Free World opinion could be sufficiently swayed, or the facts sufficiently "muddled", that U.S. unilateral action in response to such an attack, actual or "staged" would have less impact on U.S. prestige in the Free World.

15. A second possible course of action would be invasion by an overtly U.S. trained and supported Volunteer Army, adequate in size and capability to assure a successful lodgement in Cuba.

a. This force would be trained in both guerrilla and battalion type tactics. It would not be organized above the level of reinforced battle group combat teams.

b. The training would be conducted at bases presently on a caretaker status, in Southeastern United States or Puerto Rico, and which could be made available.

c. It is believed this force could be trained to minimum standards in seven months with time phases as follows: 8 weeks for the initial planning, assembly of equipment, instructors and trainees; 8 weeks basic; 6 weeks advanced individual training and small unit training; and 6 weeks unit training. During the 2 months basic training phase potential leaders and technicians would be identified. Their training, to a minimum acceptable level, would be conducted during the five months remaining in the basic training period outlined above.

d. Refresher and/or advanced flying training, to minimum acceptable standards, can be provided former Cuban pilots on bases in Southeast United States during the seven month training period envisioned above.

e. Dependent upon the size of this force, and the degree of direct U.S. participation, provision of adequate amphibious lift would be a problem. Crews necessary to operate these craft can be trained during the seven month training period at bases in Southeastern United States or on Islands in the Caribbean.

f. A force adequate in size to assure a lodgement in Cuba would require a sustained source of supply in such quantity, and by such means, that it would obviously be beyond the capabilities of Cuban exiles and beyond U.S. capability to provide covertly. Consequently, logistic support would have to be provided overtly by the United States unilaterally, or in conjunction with one or more Latin American countries. In either event, adequate logistic support would be assured.

g. In training and committing a Volunteer Army certain problems arise which are beyond the present resources and purview of the Department of Defense. For example: (1) The pay of the Volunteer Cuban Army; (2) The costs of the training, equipment, and logistic support; (3) Care for the dependents of these forces; (4) Hospitalization facilities and costs, and (5) Indemnities for casualties. These problems are not insurmountable but must have early consideration in planning.

h. The problem of maintaining the lodgement and assuring supply would be complicated somewhat if the Castro regime obtains jet aircraft prior to the invasion by the Volunteer Army. Once jet aircraft are seen in Cuba, a jet capability must be assumed. However, this problem could be reduced to manageable proportions if prior to the invasion a limited number of B-26 aircraft made a surprise attack on the fifteen Cuban airfields capable of handling jet aircraft. It is believed such an attack would destroy all, or nearly all, of their aircraft, and render their airstrips inoperable. On the basis that such a surprise attack did not destroy Castro's jet capability, it would be desirable to have the immediate participation of jet aircraft from Latin American countries as part of the OAS contribution. If used these aircraft would have to operate from U.S. bases.

i. The capabilities of this Volunteer Army to take and hold a lodgement in Cuba would be dependent on opposition to Castro within Cuba, and the popular attraction of the leaders of the Volunteer Army, and of the provisional government. Both of these factors will be subject to change before and after the envisaged invasion. Unless extensive internal popular support is received, a force based upon the personnel availability estimate in paragraph 9 could hold a lodgement for only a very brief time. To hold a lodgement for any appreciable period without massive popular support would require a minimum force of 5,000.

16. Invasion by a combination of possible courses of action a and b.

a. The possible third course of action would involve the employment of a U.S. trained Volunteer Army and U.S. Army, Naval and Air Forces for invasion. Such a course of action would have as its objective the overthrow of the Castro Government and control of the Island of Cuba. This U.S. participation could range in scope from the provision of Army, Naval and Air Force combat units to logistical support only.

b. This course of action from the viewpoint of operational planning would involve only a downward revision of forces allocated to CINC-LANT's contingency plan comparable to the strength and capability of the Volunteer Army.

c. As in the case of unilateral U.S. action this course of action would accomplish its objective; for, if circumstances indicate a requirement for additional forces, the proximity of U.S. military bases to Cuba and the availability of additional U.S. based forces simplify the problem of rapid reinforcement of the Task Force. Such reinforcement, as required, would be directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

d. The problems facing the employment of this course of action are a combination of those for courses of action a and b.


17. Courses of action a and c are the only courses of action which assure success.

18. Course of action b will require, as a minimum, U.S. logistic support and will not necessarily accomplish the mission of overthrowing the Castro Government.

19. Course of action c will be subject to the same objections as course of action a, however would have a better chance of obtaining Cuban popular support.

20. Since courses of action b and c could not be accomplished covertly and would take at a minimum 7 months to prepare, the U.S. would have to face a long period of world condemnation, as compared to course of action a which could be accomplished expeditiously without prior world knowledge of U.S. intentions.


21. It is recommended that the above conclusions be considered by the Group in any further evaluation of plans for action aimed at the overthrow of the Castro Government.

20. Memorandum for the Files

Washington, January 16, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Cuba Program, Nov 1960-Jan 20, 1961. Secret. Drafted by Curtis.


Meeting 4:10 p.m., January 16, 1961


Ambassador Willauer, General Gray, Messrs. Barnes, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], Captain Spore, Messrs. Scott, Devine, and Curtis

General Gray presented his draft of the Defense Department paper./1/ He read through the document and noted several language changes on his copy for incorporation in the final document.

/1/Document 19.

The salient features are incorporated in the following paragraphs.

The problem was stated to be to evaluate the possible military courses of action in event of a determination of inadequacy of the present political and paramilitary program to remove Castro.

There was a three fold approach to the problem. The first (a) is unilateral action by the U.S.; the second (b) is with a volunteer "Cuban" army; and the third (c) is a combination of the first two.

Intelligence estimates of Cuban strength were reported and included some present jet capability. There is an estimate of the availability of only 750 able-bodied Cubans willing to fight out of the estimated 65,000 Cubans in the Miami area. Under approach (b) it is estimated that a minimum of 5,000 men, preferably 10,000, will have to be overtly trained and that 7 months is the minimum time period required. Mr. Scott noted that the basis for estimating a force of 5,000 will have materially changed in 7 months with present trends in Cuba and the probable degree of USSR support to Castro. It was noted that with a requirement of 5,000 and only 750 Cubans available substantial numbers of other Latin volunteers are required.

The final conclusion is that course (a) is the only realistic one with a certainty of the outcome. There was discussion of a further contingency to provide support for a spontaneous indigenous uprising. There was discussion of format and procedures. Ambassador Willauer presented his draft of a covering statement/2/ to Mr. Barnes and Mr. Scott for study.

/2/Not found

General Gray did not expect that another meeting will be required and plans delivering the final draft of his paper on Wednesday/3/ morning to Mr. Scott.

/3/January 18.

21. Memorandum From the Assistant to the Deputy Director (Plans) for Covert Operations (Barnes) to the Chief of WH/4 of the Directorate for Plans (Esterline), Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, January 18, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Cuba Program, Nov 1960-Jan 20, 1961. Secret; Eyes Only. Sent through the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division.


Meeting with General Gray--18 January 1961

1. I saw General David Gray (JCS Staff assigned to the Willauer Planning Group by General Bonesteel) on 18 January in order to have a general discussion with him of the Cuban planning problems. I found him not only extremely cooperative and understanding but amazingly in agreement with our views. He pointed out that any operation of this type must be thought of in terms of a series of possible approaches on a graduated scale, each step requiring more effort and more commitment by the U.S. His scale ran from the mere use of pressure to open unilateral U.S. intervention. The intermediate steps generally were support of an internal uprising, a small invasion force bringing about an uprising, a trained guerrilla force, a volunteer army, and a volunteer army in connection with a U.S. effort. He felt that our planning in effect carried through the first three steps and what we now need is some planning that will prepare the U.S. for any possible contingency. In effect, the planning now needed should carry us from where our plans end through the various phases in the scale, including the final step of overt U.S. military action. He stated that a paper/1/ is being prepared by Defense to explain this planning cycle and he said, as of the present, he believes that probably the most likely action would be the use of our element followed by substantially overt U.S. support, presumably after the recognition of some provisional government. He said that his worry is that a decision might be made to land the FRD force without having first decided upon and prepared the supporting U.S. effort. His position was that it would be too late to try to do this after the FRD force was on its way. I told him that all of us agreed thoroughly with him and we were all equally anxious to obtain firm plans and decisions that would permit the use of such force as the situation may require.

/1/Reference is to the staff study dated January 16, Document 19.

2. General Gray thought that it would be better not to undertake any planning on the overt support post an FRD strike force landing until the Defense paper has been completed, which he feels should be ready next week. General Gray did feel that we could start immediately to plan for possible support needs in case an internal uprising should occur before any FRD force landing. Such planning, he said, should begin with him although it would involve discussions with logistics officers. I told him that we were prepared to give some estimates on the logistics side as to what we felt might be involved in such support. I plan to get in touch with General Gray to make an appointment early next week for Jake Esterline, Jack Hawkins, a WH-4 logistics officer and myself.

3. General Gray, in my opinion, presently believes that the potential Cuban opposition is probably too great for any force of only 750 men. He admits that internal support could change this but says that he cannot help feeling that 200,000 militia each with a sub-machine gun is, in itself, a pretty strong force if they do nothing more than stand and pull the triggers. He agreed, however, that the next few weeks should be very revealing as to the future of internal opposition and further agreed that from the planning point of view these issues are not involved since one must assume the worst situation in order to be properly prepared. Such preparation does not necessarily mean that it will all have to be used.

4. General Gray said that he was quite aware of the difficulties of holding a group of alert young men in a readiness condition for too long. He said, however, that if the present deadlines, for whatever reasons (i.e. political or otherwise) are delayed, the military might be able to be helpful in providing exercises to stimulate actual conditions that might have to be faced. Such training could be useful, he said, and would keep the men busy for at least some additional period. It should be noted that General Gray did not say that the extension of time was unavoidable but was only talking on the basis that it might occur.

5. A point on which I think we must be realistic is that if the FRD force does go into action and then is provided with U.S. military aid, the command of the operation will at the moment the aid begins to be provided shift to CINCLANT. Personally, this does not bother me because it seems to me that at that point CINCLANT is the proper C-in-C.

C. Tracy Barnes/2/

/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

22. Editorial Note

On January 19, 1961, President Eisenhower and President-elect Kennedy met at the White House, together with their principal advisers, to discuss various foreign policy concerns. According to a memorandum prepared by Clark Clifford, who was helping to organize the transition for Kennedy, Eisenhower brought up the issue of Cuba briefly, in a discussion devoted to the problem of Laos:

"President Eisenhower said with reference to guerrilla forces which are opposed to Castro that it was the policy of this government to help such forces to the utmost. At the present time, we are helping train anti-Castro forces in Guatemala. It was his recommendation that this effort be continued and accelerated." (Memorandum by Clifford, January 24; Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, White House Correspond-ence, 1/61-11/63)

Robert McNamara also prepared a memorandum for the President-elect in which he summarized the discussion at the meeting. His summary of the discussion on Cuba reads as follows:

"President Eisenhower stated in the long run the United States cannot allow the Castro Government to continue to exist in Cuba." (Memorandum from McNamara to Kennedy, January 24; Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 65 A 3464, 381 Cuba, 18 Jan. 61)

23. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, January 19, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/LA/COG Files: Job 82-00679R, Box 3, Special Group Mtgs-Cuba. Secret; Eyes Only. No drafting information is given.


19 January 1961

1. Mr. Willauer presented the highlights of a paper/1/ which he had prepared following meetings of the special contingency planning group. He concluded that several major aspects of the overall plan require clarification or further decision, citing the following: (a) the use of U.S. air bases for strikes before and after D-Day, (b) staging of the invasion force, possibly from the U.S., (c) specific action, including timing, to get support of other Latin American countries, (d) how and when to recognize a provisional government, (e) the possibility of having to provide considerably more overt support than originally planned.

/1/Reference is to a memorandum from Ambassador Willauer to Under Secretary of State Merchant dated January 18. For text, see the Supplement.

2. Mr. Dulles noted that the next ten-day period poses a number of problems from the standpoint of policy approval. In answer to a question, Mr. Barnes said we are not planning specific overflights in the immediate future but urged that we be in a position to service requests as quickly as possible. The Group agreed that dispatches by sea can be continued without further approval at this time. It was also agreed that a high level meeting, to include the new Secretaries of State and of Defense should be arranged as soon as possible to reaffirm basic concepts.

3. Mr. Merchant said that the Department of Justice is not now prepared to take any action against Masferrer. The Group agreed this seemed reasonable under the circumstances.

4. Mr. Merchant reported the opinion of Assistant Secretary Mann that President Ydigoras/2/ may be overthrown in the next few days, perhaps by leftists in the Army or Air Force. Mann had urged that it be agreed that no Cuban trainees be placed at the disposal of Ydigoras and that plans for evacuation on very short notice be firmed up. It was noted that Mr. Mann and Col. King are in close touch on this matter.

/2/General Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes, President of Guatemala.

24. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, January 22, 1961, 10 a.m.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Cuba Program, Jan 21, 1961. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted on January 23; no other drafting information is given on the source text. For another record of the meeting, see Document 25.


Meeting on Cuba


The Secretary of State

The Secretary of Defense

The Attorney General

The Under Secretary of State-designate

The Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Mr. Allen W. Dulles

Mr. Paul Nitze

General Bonesteel

Ambassador Hugh S. Cumming

Mr. Thomas Mann

Ambassador Whiting Willauer

Mr. Richard Bissell

Mr. Tracy Barnes

General David Gray

Colonel Cecil Shuler

Mr. Joseph W. Scott

The Secretary called on Mr. Mann to give a resume of activities regarding Cuba in the diplomatic field over the last several months. Mr. Mann said that several months ago he had talked with members of the Latin American diplomatic corps and had indicated to them that the United States wanted to know whether the OAS system could prevent Castro's exportation of communism elsewhere in the hemisphere. The reaction of most members of the corps was that they wanted to know first where the Kennedy administration and the Quadros administration would stand. A short time ago, the Colombian Ambassador suggested to Mr. Mann that he go to Colombia and talk with President Lleras, who had once been Secretary General of OAS and who could be expected to be eager to see the OAS used in an effort to stop Castro. Mr. Mann then presented at some length a procedure for lining up support in the OAS for sanctions against Castro. He mentioned that a complicating factor was the problem posed by the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. He then listed the possible lineup in the OAS which might favor effective action against Castro if properly approached. In summary Mr. Mann felt that the basic choice was whether we go it alone or multilaterally. (After the meeting, Mr. Mann made clear to some of the participants that the multilateral approach he had in mind should proceed simultaneously with the development of action plans in other fields and should in any case provide us with a realistic estimate of multilateral possibilities within about a month from the time soundings were begun.)

At this point, Mr. Merchant noted that two distinctions should be made regarding possible Latin American support for action against Castro. First a distinction should be drawn between the attitudes of governments and the attitudes of peoples within Latin American countries. A second distinction should be made with regard to the difference between what governments would be willing to support publicly and what they would be willing to support only privately.

Ambassador Willauer said that one of the matters that had captured his attention from his position in the field was how the fear engendered by Castro had dried up private capital activities in all of Latin America. Not only American firms, but also local sources of capital were seeking to escape.

With reference to the distinction between governmental and public attitudes, the Secretary asked Mr. Mann whether we might be in some rather tight situations in a number of countries of the hemisphere if Moscow pushed the button, i.e., with respect to pro-Castro movements in a number of countries. Mr. Mann said this would definitely be the case and mentioned Venezuela and Colombia as examples. As a further example of this [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] mentioned that he had a private meeting with [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] had been brutally frank. [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] mentioned he would send the Secretary a memorandum on his talk [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

The Secretary asked whether a systematic review had been made of possible actions under the Monroe Doctrine. He thought we ought to know what would be the legal situation under the Doctrine with regard to differing levels of action. Mr. Mann replied that a lot of thought had been given to this but as far as he was aware no systematic study had been made of it. He mentioned that Mr. Arthur Dean had recommended a young lawyer to study this problem. Mr. Mann felt that we should have outside legal advice on it.

The Secretary next asked at what point did we begin to consider that Castro had gone beyond the watershed in Cuba, adding that it seemed clear there was little hope now. Mr. Mann indicated it was difficult to name a specific point. There were a number of things that Castro had done that led to the conclusion that he had crossed the watershed. One early action on his part was his initiative in seeking ties with the Sino-Soviet bloc, which he had undertaken before we had acted on sugar quotas. Mr. Mann then listed other actions on Castro's part such as expropriation of land, setting up the militia, etc. He summarized by saying that history may indicate that Cuba had been one of the most rapidly communized states--faster even than those in Eastern Europe. He pointed out that Castro has complete control, something totally different from the situation in the traditional dictatorships in Latin America.

Mr. Bowles asked whether we had an estimate on the economic needs of Cuba and how far the Sino-Soviet bloc would likely go to meet them. Mr. Mann indicated there was such an estimate which needed, however, to be updated.

The Secretary then called on General Lemnitzer to review the military situation in Cuba. After having emphasized the extreme sensitivity of some of the information he was about to give, General Lemnitzer estimated that the Revolutionary Army had 32,000, the Revolutionary National Police 9,000, the Militia over 200,000. He said that Cuba was an armed camp. They had received more than 30,000 tons of arms and equipment over the past five or six months. This buildup had made a decided change in the U.S. contingency plans to deal with it. He said there was no evidence of jet aircraft, missiles, or nuclear weapons; on the other hand, about 100 Cuban pilots were being trained in jet aircraft in Czechoslovakia. Their return to Cuba would add a new dimension to the problem.

With respect to Guantanamo, the General identified the critical problem for us as being the water supply. In response to a question from the Secretary he said there was no evidence of a buildup of Cuban forces around Guantanamo. He also indicated that very precise rules of engagement had been worked out for our aircraft in the area of Cuba. These included hot pursuit into Cuban airspace. The Secretary wanted to know whether the Cubans knew about this. The General said that they did not. The Secretary then asked whether the Cubans had any air-strike capability against Miami. The General replied they didn't have much now but when the pilots now training in Czechoslovakia return and if jet aircraft became available for them this would change the picture.

The Secretary then called on Mr. Dulles to outline the program for which he has been responsible with regard to Cuba. Mr. Dulles said that last March 17th the President had approved a covert action program to eliminate Castro. There had been three major lines of development under this program. The first was the political front, the second the psychological front, and the third was training Cubans for paramilitary activities. With regard to the political front he indicated that a vehicle had been created, the FRD, to enable the Agency to pull together as many of the disparate anti-Castro groups as possible. At one time there had been 184 anti-Castro refugee groups. He thought that on the whole the FRD was a reasonable representation of the anti-Castro political spectrum now inside Cuba. It covered the range from a little to the right to a little to the left of center. There were no Batista-ites or Communists in the FRD. The essentials of its program were the restoration of the Cuban constitution of 1940 and the original reforms announced by Castro, which had been subsequently laid aside. He then mentioned that under the mechanism of the FRD they had proceeded with psychological and paramilitary activities. Under the former he mentioned Swan Island, WRUL and certain radio stations in the Miami area, publications such as Avance, El Mundo, Diario de la Marina and Bohemia.

Mr. Dulles next described the paramilitary training activities going on at Retalhuleu in Guatemala. Under cover of the FRD, he said, we now have about five to six hundred highly trained Cuban foot soldiers. These have been trained by three Special Forces teams from Fort Bragg. The head trainer considered them the best-trained men in Latin America. In addition, we had sixteen B-26's, four or five C-46's and seven C-54's. At the present time, we had six active communications teams in Cuba and were planning to put in small paramilitary teams of six to eight men whose mission would be to try to line up resistance in Cuba.

The Secretary asked what was the estimated strength of resistance in Cuba at the present time and Mr. Dulles said he thought we could count on about 1,000, who were somewhat scattered. The Secretary then asked whether we have a capability to establish a going resistance movement without use of U.S. forces. Mr. Dulles said this would necessarily depend on how many came over to the dissident side. He said that our present Cuban force in training would reach 700 to 800. He then went on to mention the difficult problem of keeping them in Guatemala. At the best, we had six weeks to two months left before something would have to be done about them.

Mr. Dulles then said that in the normal course of events the Agency would continue drops--the next ones were scheduled for January 25-26--but that policy guidance was now needed from the new administration. He mentioned that the 5412 Group had met weekly and it had heretofore been possible for him to get his guidance from that Group. He said that at the moment what he needed was policy guidance on the following matters: (1) continuance of training, (2) introduction of small teams into Cuba with sabotage and communications capability, and (3) drops of food and supplies to dissidents now in Cuba. Mr. Barnes added that guidance was also needed on infiltrating political leaders into Cuba. He mentioned Artime and Manuel Ray.

Secretary McNamara asked what size Cuban force was considered necessary to buildup enough strength to overthrow Castro. Mr. Dulles said he thought that our presently planned Cuban force could probably hold a beachhead long enough for us to recognize a provisional government and aid that government openly. Secretary McNamara then asked whether the estimate was that time was strengthening or weakening us. Mr. Dulles replied that it now was weakening us. This could change if people in Cuba got hungry, but this might be a long time off. Food was still being sent to Cuba from the United States. General Lemnitzer interjected to say that Castro's popularity might be going down but his grip was getting tighter daily.

Mr. Bowles asked whether we knew of any cliques in the Castro hierarchy. Mr. Dulles said we didn't think there were any; that it now seemed to be down to the hard core. Mr. Bowles recalled the division between Trotsky and Stalin. Mr. Dulles replied that they didn't see any such division in the Cuban picture. He said he believed that the Castro regime had plans to export Castro's communism; that they already have power among the people in the Caribbean countries and elsewhere, particularly in Venezuela and Colombia.

The Attorney General said that about five days ago he had been approached by a former attorney of Castro's who was till close to Raul Castro, who had indicated that Raul might be going over into counter-Revolutionary efforts, principally against Che Guevara. The attorney had asked him what were the prospects for cutting off petroleum shipments to Cuba in the event of Raul's defection. He expected the attorney, who is now in Cuba, to return shortly with more on this.

Turning to the possibility of recognizing a provisional government, the Secretary indicated that seizing the Isle of Pines would have a number of advantages. Mr. Dulles said it had indeed a number of advantages but one major problem was how could dissidents in Cuba join up with a force landed there. General Lemnitzer said the Isle of Pines was heavily defended. Ambassador Willauer said that his first reaction had been very much in favor of trying to seize Pine Island. The head of the Special Forces team training the unit in Guatemala, however, had informed him that they would expect to lose roughly 50% of an invading force. He also brought up the possibility of a counter-attack by Castro forces from Cuba itself. The Secretary then said he was thinking about a two-step operation; first the establishment of a beachhead on the Isle of Pines and then moving on to Cuba itself. In this connection he asked whether we had a Puerto Rican ranger battalion and General Lemnitzer said we did not.

The Secretary next asked whether we anticipated any problem about restaffing Cuban personnel at the Guantanamo base. General Lemnitzer said there was no problem about this at the moment. About 1,000 Cubans lived on the base. The rest lived outside. The Secretary asked what about the possibility of putting the force now in Guatemala on the base at Guantanamo. General Lemnitzer replied that there might be some problem of concealment and an action of that sort might justify an attack against the base. The Secretary then asked in terms of contingency planning how many U.S. divisions were being thought of. General Lemnitzer in reply said two plus or maybe three.

The Secretary then commented on the enormous implications of putting U.S. forces ashore in Cuba and said we should consider everything short of this, including rough stuff, before doing so. He said he felt we might be confronted by serious uprisings all over Latin America if U.S. forces were to go in, not to mention the temptation that the commitment of such forces in Cuba would provide elsewhere in the world. In this connection he again mentioned the possibility of a physical base on the Isle of Pines for a provisional government which we could recognize. This he thought would be a powerful step forward. What we needed was a "fig leaf." A Cuban provisional government on the Isle of Pines, for example, could sink Soviet ships carrying supplies to Castro with less danger than would be the case with direct involvement of U.S. forces.

The Secretary then asked Mr. Dulles if he could say offhand how much money the Cuban operation had cost to date. Mr. Dulles said that it had cost about $6 million last year and $28 million was earmarked for the first six months of 1961. The Secretary asked him whether he could use a quarter of a billion dollars. Was there a possibility, for example, of suborning a unit on the Isle of Pines. This in the long run would be much cheaper than using U.S. forces directly. The Secretary also mentioned that we should inquire into the possible usefulness of a pacific blockade with a carefully and publicly defined mission. In elaboration he mentioned the possibility of "making some international law." Should we, for example, announce that the introduction of jet aircraft into this hemisphere by the Bloc would be regarded as a violation of the Monroe Doctrine. It would then be the Bloc's responsibility if they chose to "escalate" in the face of such an announcement.

General Lemnitzer then asked permission for General Bonesteel to show a chart of several possible courses of action in ascending scale which had been drawn up for contingency planning purposes. General Bonesteel summarized the chart and said that in his view we needed an overall national plan. The Secretary agreed and said it was clear a task force was needed to devote itself to the development of such a plan. He thought that the task force should be composed of representatives of State, Defense, and CIA. Mr. Dulles said that perhaps also representatives of Treasury and Justice should be included as needed.

Mr. Merchant commented that the inadequacies of the original March 17th plan only began to become apparent in November and mentioned that the intelligence community had brought out an estimate in the first part of December/1/ concluding that time was running against us in Cuba. He then mentioned that we were now working against some important deadlines. Among these were the shakiness of the Ydigoras regime, and the so-called "shelf-life" of the Cuban unit in Guatemala. The possibility of bringing the Cuban forces to the United States raised the question of how overtly the United States was prepared to show its hand. These problems were of an immediate nature, and another reason why policy guidance was needed as soon as possible.

/1/Reference is to SNIE 85-3-60, dated December 8, 1960. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. VI, pp. 1168-1174.

Mr. Dulles said he hoped that the 5412 Group would be continued and could resume its meetings as soon as possible. The Secretary concluded by saying he would try to work out some arrangement about this tomorrow or the next day.

(At the end of the meeting, Ambassador Willauer gave the Secretary a memorandum he had written for Mr. Merchant on January 18/2/ which outlined a number of major issues on which policy guidance is needed. The memorandum was a reflection of views developed at the first meetings of a tripartite (State, DOD, and CIA) task force on the Cuban problem which had been chaired by Ambassador Willauer. A copy is attached to the original of this memorandum.)

/2/For text, see the Supplement.

25. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, January 22, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files: Job 85-00664R, Box 3, Vol. IV (6). Secret. Drafted by Tracy Barnes on January 23.


Conclusions of Dean Rusk's 22 January Meeting on Cuba/1/

/1/For another record of this meeting, see Document 24.


See attached list/2/

/2/Not printed. For the list of meeting participants, see Document 24.

The meeting was long and covered the entire problem in considerable detail. It is the purpose of this memorandum mainly to record the points of significance to CIA. It might be said, however, that in general no definite conclusions were reached other than to say that within a day or two the DCI will be advised by Secretary Rusk as to the views of the present administration on how to proceed and the status of the Special Group with particular reference to the grant of authority for actions in connection with Cuba.

The actions to be taken by CIA are:

1. To continue planning with the State Department with respect to the political side of the proposed provisional government or junta, i.e. who should be selected and when, how and where should they be selected. This is already underway and will be continued.

2. To plan with the Pentagon with regard to specific support which might be provided by the Pentagon in the event that conditions make support necessary. Such planning with respect to the possibility of support for a pre-FRD strike landing is already underway. Other contingencies are also under consideration.

3. An estimate should be made of the effects of overt U.S. action in Cuba on the rest of the world with particular reference to the rest of Latin America, the OAS, close NATO allies and possible Soviet and ChiCom moves in other parts of the world, e.g., Berlin, Laos, Korea, and possibly the Congo. Sherman Kent has been alerted to this and proposes to do a memo to the Director/3/ which can be coordinated if the Director so desires.

/3/On February 11 the Board of National Estimates sent CIA Director Dulles a memorandum prepared in the Office of National Estimates, entitled "Probable International Reactions to Certain Possible US Courses of Action Against the Castro Regime." (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, DCI (McCone) General Maxwell Taylor Committee on Cuba, 28 Jan-21 May 1961) The text of this memorandum, which was forwarded to the U.S. Intelligence Board on the same day, is in the Supplement.

4. To prepare a briefing for the DD/P, possibly the DCI, regarding what is being done in connection with sabotage within Cuba and what might be done to increase same.

5. To prepare a briefing regarding the theory underlying the selection of a landing site for the FRD strike force and some of the possible areas which would fit this theory.

6. To prepare a short paper/4/ identifying individuals either connected with the project or supporting the project who had FBI experience in Latin America during the war; also stating the present working relationships with the FBI in connection with the project. (There is nothing peculiar about this. It was asked for by the DCI in order to be ready in case Secretary Rusk again raises a question along these lines based on his own personal recollections of wartime actions.)

/4/Not found.

Nos. 4, 5 and 6 are being taken care of by WH/4.

C. Tracy Barnes/5/


/5/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

26. Memorandum of Conference With President Kennedy

Washington, January 25, 1961, 10:15 a.m.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Chester V. Clifton Series, JCS Conferences with the President, Vol. I. Top Secret. Drafted on January 27 by Goodpaster.


General Lemnitzer

General Decker

Admiral Burke

General White

General Shoup

General Clifton

General Goodpaster

The President first told the group that General Clifton would be taking over from me the Defense Liaison functions. He expressed appreciation for the help I have been enabled to give him by staying on for a short while. He said he would hope to make use of General Clifton in order to stay in very close touch with the Chiefs. General Lemnitzer confirmed that it has been valuable to have someone here with whom the Chiefs could take up specific items, and whom they could get to take up questions with the President for them. The President said he is extremely anxious to keep in close contact with the Chiefs. He recognized that he would be seeing General Lemnitzer frequently when he comes to NSC meetings, attends meetings with the Secretary of State, etc.

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

The President asked what the Chiefs think should be done regarding Cuba. General Lemnitzer replied, recalling that the initial plans were for clandestine operations. However, with the shipment in of heavy new military equipment from Czechoslovakia--30,000 tons or more--the clandestine forces are not strong enough. We must increase the size of this force and this creates very difficult problems. What is required is a basic expansion of plans. He noted that time is working against us--although living conditions in Cuba are deteriorating, Castro is tightening police state controls within the area. He is also sending agents and arms into other countries of Latin America. General Lemnitzer thought that the hope is to get a government in exile, then put some troops ashore, and have guerrilla groups start their activities. At that point we would come in and support them. He noted that plans are ready for such action. General Decker added that this action should be taken under a recognized Cuban leader, and, unfortunately, we do not have one at present. General Lemnitzer confirmed that there are a multitude of splinter groups. The President commented that Castro has been able to develop a great and striking personality throughout Latin America and this gives him a great advantage. Admiral Burke agreed that there is lack of a leader to rally around, and that we need somebody to fill this role.

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

27. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, January 26, 1961.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/DDP Files: Job 78-01450R, Box 5, Area Activity-Cuba. Top Secret. Drafted by Bissell for a Presidential briefing. The briefing apparently was that provided by Dulles to President Kennedy and other members of the new administration on January 28. For records of that meeting, see Documents 30 and 31.


A. Concept of the Operation:

1. We believe the present plan can establish a beachhead on Cuban soil and maintain it for a period of two weeks, possibly as long as thirty days. It will be of sufficient size to enable a provisional government to be introduced and exist without being under small arms fire. It will contain an air strip and will permit access by sea.

2. There is reasonable chance that the success of the above plan would set in motion forces which would cause the downfall of the regime.

3. There is a greater than even likelihood, however, that, although the consolidation of the beachhead would elicit wide-spread rebellious activities and great disorganization, it would not by itself and with such other support as could be rendered by Agency resources cause the downfall of the regime. Nevertheless, supplemented by the infiltration of other PM teams in other parts of Cuba and by harassing air activity, it could produce a set of affairs describable as continuing civil war.

4. Under these conditions and assuming that the provisional government had been recognized by the United States, there would appear to be a basis for an overt, open U.S. initiative to institute a military occupation of the island by a composite OAS force in order to put a stop to the civil war. This would almost certainly have to be accompanied by a commitment on the part of the OAS to hold supervised free elections reasonably promptly.

5. The provisional government would indicate its readiness to cooperate with such an OAS force whereas the Castro regime would almost certainly refuse to permit a period of OAS pacification followed by an OAS supervised election. Thus the initiative referred to above would in fact lead to overt military intervention against the Castro regime.

B. Immediate Decisions Required:

1. Activities now in progress include (a) political preparations to form an acceptable junta representing all groups; (b) propaganda; (c) the final recruitment and training of PM forces; and (d) active softening up operations in Cuba, including infiltration of teams, maritime resupply, sabotage, extension of agent communication nets, and air resupply and leaflet missions.

2. The softening up activities listed under paragraph 1. (d) preceding are essential not only as preparation for the final effort to overthrow the regime but also to test the temper of the Cuban people, to enable operational assessment of the actual and potential strength of the resist-ance and furnish other hard intelligence. If these activities are continued for another two to three weeks, it should be possible to form a far better judgment than at present of the chances for the success of the operation outlined in part A. above. Both the continued evidence to the world of active resistance in the island and the intelligence thus obtained will be of equal value as preparation for the operation outlined above, or for overt U.S. or OAS military action or as continuing pressure in the event that paramilitary or military action is substantially delayed.

3. It is recommended:

a. That the activities currently in progress set forth in paragraph B.1. above be continued for three weeks pending a reassessment of the chances of success of the operation as planned.

b. That the detailed military planning be reviewed by not more than one or two senior officers on behalf of the JCS with a view to confirming or modifying the military estimate contained in paragraph A.1. above.

28. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara


Washington, January 27, 1961.

//Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 65 A 3464, China-Cuba, 1961. Top Secret.


U.S. Plan of Action in Cuba

1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are becoming increasingly concerned with the situation presented by steadily increasing military strength of the Castro Government and the tight grasp of the Communists over the means of counter-revolution, including the military, the police and governmental financial resources as well as the organs of propaganda. Unless the United States takes immediate and forceful action, there is a great and present danger that Cuba will become permanently established as a part of the Communist Bloc, with disastrous consequences to the security of the Western Hemisphere. Cuba provides a Communist base of operations for export of similar revolutions to an already unstable and potentially explosive Latin America.

2. The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the primary objective of the United States in Cuba should be the speedy overthrow of the Castro Government, followed by the establishment of a pro-U.S. Government which, with U.S. support, will accomplish the desired objectives for the Cuban people. Great emphasis is placed on the urgent necessity for the United States to locate, train and support such Cuban nationals as will be capable of establishing a new non-Communist government once Castro is overthrown.

3. The current Political-Para-Military Plan/1/ does not assure the accomplishment of the above objective nor has there been detailed follow-up planning to exploit that plan if it succeeds or for any direct action that might be required if the plan is found to be inadequate.

/1/A summary of this plan, referred to as the Trinidad Plan, is in the Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/LA/COG Files: Job 82-00679R, Box 3, Papers Furnished the Green Committee. See the Supplement.

4. As you recall, at the conference between the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Attorney General, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff on 22 January 1961/2/ this problem was addressed. At the time the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pre-sented a Joint Staff concept of an ascending scale of U.S. supported or directed actions to accomplish the overthrow of the Castro Government. This concept, which is appended hereto, was intended to demonstrate the key elements in the development of an over-all U.S.Plan of Action for the overthrow of the Castro Government. That conference informally agreed that an Inter-Departmental Planning Group should be established to develop a detailed over-all U.S. Plan of Action along the general lines indicated in the Appendix.

/2/See Documents 24 and 25.

5. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, therefore, recommend that:

a. An over-all U.S. Plan of Action for the overthrow of the Castro Government be developed by an Inter-Departmental Planning Group.

b. Such an over-all U.S. Plan of Action for the overthrow of the Castro Government include, but not be limited to the following:

(1) Mission

(2) Each feasible course of action (as set forth in the Appendix hereto, or as revised by the planners), with sub-elements as follows:

(a) The concept of operations for the course of action.

(b) Specific Tasks required of Executive Agencies concerned to accomplish the course of action.

(3) Coordinating Instructions

(a) Designation of Agency or individual responsible for inter-departmental coordination and arrangement for reviewing and approval of the Plan.

(4) Requirements for supporting plans.

(5) Special provisions for continuous evaluation of the situation as a basis for determining U.S. course of action.

(6) Command relationships for implementation of each course of action.

c. The resultant over-all U.S. Plan of Action, after review by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other appropriate agencies and approval by the President, be supported by detailed plans by the cognizant Executive Agencies for the implementation of tasks set forth in the over-all U.S. Plan of Action.

6. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are prepared to assign personnel to participate in this Inter-Departmental Planning for the Department of Defense.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

L.L. Lemnitzer


Joint Chiefs of Staffs



(1) Pressure

Concept: Economic break dip relations O.A.S. acn. Propaganda & info; Naval/Aerial surveillance; Embargo; Show of force; Comm & trans.; Isolation

Mil. Req.: Naval/Aerial surveillance; Embargo; Show of force

Status of Mil. Req.: Current naval maneuvers

(2) Internal uprising

Concept: Foster thru propaganda & pressure a general internal uprising by the Cuban people

Mil. Req.: Log. supt.

Status of Mil. Req.: No plan; (Plan being initiated)

(3) Volunteer invasion force w/covert support

Concept: Train and equip small vol. force Cuban exiles to invade, establish a center of resistance for antiCastro Cubans to rally to establish pro U.S. Govt.

Mil. Req.: Logistic support

Status of Mil. Req.: Support provided as required

(4) Guerilla force with covert support

Concept: Train antiCastro Cuban exiles in U.W., insert into Cuba to est. U.W. units, initiate guerilla warfare w U.S. covert support

Mil. Req.: Logistic support

Status of Mil. Req.: No action

(5) Volunteer invasion force with overt action

Concept: Same as (3) plus planned overt follow up by U.S. forces; Naval blockade

Mil. Req.: Army, Naval & A.F. combat units; Logistic units; Supplies; Naval blockade

Status of Mil. Req.: No action; (Plan required)

(6) Overt U.S. action supported by L.A. volunteers

Concept: Invasion by U.S. military forces in conjunction w L.A. volunteers; Naval blockade

Mil. Req.: Same as (5); Naval blockade

Status of Mil. Req.: Modification of current cont. plan required est program of L.A. vol. req

(7) Unilateral overt U.S. action

Concept: Invasion by U.S. military forces only; Naval blockade

Mil. Req.: Same as (5); Naval blockade

Status of Mil. Req.: CINCLANT contingency plan (Being modified)

29. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara


Washington, January 27, 1961.

//Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Cuba 1961 000.1--092. Secret.


Increased Tempo of the U.S. Information Offensive Toward Cuba (C)

1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are of the opinion that it would serve the National interest to intensify the information offensive of informing the Cuban citizens of the dangers inherent in the Castro government's alignment with the Sino-Soviets and their isolation from the Inter-American System. Such increased activity would definitely tend to offset the distorted view of U.S. objectives and policy that the Cuban populace now receive from their government and would contribute to the internal problems of the Castro regime.

2. One means of accelerating the information offensive could be through the greater employment of the Voice of America and Radio Swan, using increased power, and the long wave band so as to reach the largest possible segment of the Cuban populace. Consideration should be given to the employment of continental U.S. stations which would transmit regular commercial news and selected television programs using increased power for these broadcasts. It may be feasible to employ commercial stations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as leading dissident Cubans now residing in these areas to assist in this offensive.

3. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the Secretary of Defense forward the memorandum in the Appendix/1/ to the Secretary of State.

/1/Not printed.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

L.L. Lemnitzer/2/


Joint Chiefs of Staff

/2/Printed from a copy that indicates Lemnitzer signed the original.

30. Memorandum of Discussion

Washington, January 28, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 1/61-4/61. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Bundy and initialed by Kennedy. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room. Another set of notes of this meeting, prepared by Lemnitzer, is in National Defense University, Lemnitzer Papers, Notes, Miscellaneous Meetings, 1961. Tracy Barnes also prepared a record of this meeting; see Document 31.



The President, The Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Assistant Secretary Mann, Assistant Secretary Nitze, Mr. Tracy Barnes, Mr. McGeorge Bundy

The meeting began with a description of the present situation in Cuba by the Director of Central Intelligence. The judgment expressed without dissent was that Cuba is now for practical purposes a Communist-controlled state. The two basic elements in the present situation are a rapid and continuing build-up of Castro's military power, and a great increase also in popular opposition to his regime.

The United States has undertaken a number of covert measures against Castro, including propaganda, sabotage, political action, and direct assistance to anti-Castro Cubans in military training. A particularly urgent question is the use to be made of a group of such Cubans now in training in Guatemala, who cannot remain indefinitely where they are.

The present estimate of the Department of Defense is that no course of action currently authorized by the United States Government will be effective in reaching the agreed national goal of overthrowing the Castro regime. Meanwhile, the Department of State sees grave political dangers to our position throughout the Western hemisphere in any overt military action not authorized and supported by the Organization of American States.

After considerable discussion,/1/ the following proceedings were authorized by the President:

/1/According to a "Review of record of proceedings related to Cuban Situation," prepared by Naval Intelligence for the Director of Naval Operations on May 5, Lemnitzer's debriefing following the White House meeting on January 28 outlined the discussion as follows:

"The President wanted to know how the JCS felt about the prospects for success of a landing in Cuba by the forces being trained in Guatemala. It was indicated that they wanted a JCS study and evaluation of CIA's plan and the JCS opinion of its chances for success. The Chairman offered a personal opinion that in view of the strong forces Castro now had that the Cubans would have very little chance of success. As opposed to this, CIA took a very optimistic view of the force's ability to land and hold a beach head. The Chairman also pointed out that whereas they might be able to take a small beach head that after a relatively short time Castro would be able to mount heavy forces against them. The problem would then be one of who would come to their assistance." (Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials)/1/

1. A continuation and accentuation of current activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, including increased propaganda, increased political action and increased sabotage. Continued overflights for these purposes were specifically authorized.

2. The Defense Department, with CIA, will review proposals for the active deployment of anti-Castro Cuban forces on Cuban territory, and the results of this analysis will be promptly reported to the President.

3. The Department of State will prepare a concrete proposal for action with other Latin American countries to isolate the Castro regime and to bring against it the judgment of the Organization of American States. It is expected that this proposal may involve a commitment of the President's personal authority behind a special mission or missions to such Latin American leaders as Lleras, Betancourt and Quadros.

Finally, it was agreed that the United States must make entirely clear that its position with respect to the Cuban Government is currently governed by its firm opposition to Communist penetration of the American Republics, and not by any hostility to democratic social revolution and economic reform. The President intends to deal with this matter himself in the State of the Union Address./2/

/2/In his State of the Union message on January 30, President Kennedy drew a distinction between opposition to Communist penetration and control in Cuba and Latin America and support for social and economic reform. See American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, p. 15.

The President particularly desires that no hint of these discussions reach any personnel beyond those most immediately concerned within the Executive Branch.

McGeorge Bundy

[end of document]


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

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