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Department Seal

Volume X
Cuba, 1961-1962



176. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, April 26, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report. Secret; Eyes Only; Ultrasensitive. The drafter is not listed, but it was probably Colonel Tarwater. The meeting was the fourth in the series conducted by the Cuba Study Group and took place at the Pentagon for a brief discussion of Indochina and subsequently at the Central Intelligence Agency for the discussion of Cuba. The participants in the meeting, in addition to Taylor, Kennedy, Dulles, and Burke, were Cabell, Gray, Bissell, Mitchell, Tarwater, and General McGarr for the discussion of Indochina.

[Here follows a brief discussion of the problems posed by the Communist insurgency in Indochina.]

Question: How did the President get his intelligence on this operation./1/

/1/Although not identified in the source text, Bissell probably answered most of the questions relating to intelligence and the CIA's role, while Gray probably provided the information relating to the briefing of the JCS.

Answer: He received a daily intelligence bulletin which included information on Cuba and intelligence was discussed at all the task force meetings. However, he never received any special intelligence briefings, as such, on this problem.

At this point it was decided that it would be helpful to run through the intelligence information contained in the 11 March paper/2/ on the proposed operation against Cuba. This intelligence in essence indicated that despite growing discontent within Cuba time was against us. Castro was increasing his police state controls and his military effectiveness to the extent that unless some outside support, some shock action, was taken within six months, it would probably be militarily infeasible to overthrow Castro with a force composed of Cuban exiles.

/2/Document 58.

Statement: It should be made very clear that the idea that time was running out weighed very heavily in the decision making.

Question: You mentioned the requirement for shock and yet the invasion plan that was finally implemented was purposely limited.

Answer: But the purpose of this, sir, was not to limit the shock on the Cubans, but rather to limit the shock on the rest of the world, making it appear that the invasion was something that the Cubans could do by themselves.

At this point in the meeting the intelligence available to the planners and the tactical commander was discussed. With regard to Castro's air force it was stated that the location of all Castro aircraft was known, even to the extent of knowing which aircraft were operational and which were not. They were surprised, however, by the capabilities of the pilots which Castro committed against the invasion force. In retrospect it was believed that these aircraft were probably flown by 50 Cuban pilots that had been trained in Czechoslovakia and returned to Cuba a few days before the invasion.

With regard to Castro's navy, it was believed that the capability of this force was low and that they would not be inclined to fight. This estimate held good, for only three small vessels were committed, two of which were sunk, while their larger naval units remained at their stations.

The weakest tactical intelligence was on the location of the ground troops. A reason for this was because the militia was not well organized in the sense that no two units were organized exactly the same nor with the same number of personnel. Intelligence was aware, however, of the location of Castro's armored units and his military headquarters. In this connection it had been pointed out that Castro had a force of 6,000 troops armed with tanks and artillery which could arrive at the beachhead within 10 hours. It's believed the tanks used against the invaders were part of this force. If the troops fighting the invasion force were militia, then the estimate of the militia's willingness to fight was incorrect. However, if this force was not militia, but rather the force mentioned above spearheaded by foreigners, then the estimates were not wrong.

The possibility that this force was spearheaded by Czechoslovakians was indicated by the report that one of the tanks knocked out had three persons aboard that were not Cuban. Further, another report said that some of the command chatter was in a foreign tongue. With regard to the absence of uprising throughout Cuba during the period of the invasions, it should be pointed out that reports from agents of the numbers of people that were likely to support the invasion had been reduced from 20-30,000 down to 2,500 to 3,000 active guerrillas. It was also stated in the intelligence estimates that there would not be any major uprisings until the Cubans could see visible evidence of the invasion force. Consequently, no major uprisings were anticipated until the invasion force had been able to take towns in the Matanzas Province.

Statement: You are now describing much more than a successful lodgment.

Response: Yes, but we felt that the force had to move out to make the lodgment visible.

Question: Inasmuch as this was a key element in the JCS decision, was it ever made clear to them this degree of success was necessary in the ultimate success of the operation.

Answer: I believe the impression was given that the lodgment should last for at least a week. This would have been a significant factor in influencing potential dissidents.

Statement: It was also hoped that the landings in the Oriente and uprisings in the Pinar del Rio would help create the catalyst necessary to trigger uprisings throughout Cuba.

Statement: One of the factors that made us think that the resistance potential within Cuba was substantial was the fact that we had a backlog of 19 requests from our agents for supplies, arms and ammunition for 8,000 people. These people were crying for supplies. Had we been able to provide this equipment these people would have had something to rise with.

At this point General Taylor requested a brief tabulation of how many reports had been received indicating that people were ready to rise against Castro, and also indicating the number of people that were ready to rise.

Statement: Special Intelligence also gave indication of government concern with dissident activities. These evidences were further substantiated by debriefings of people coming out of Cuba.

Question: At any time did you give an estimate of the resistance potential within Cuba.

Answer: I don't believe any numerical estimate was given.

Question: You did expect enough uprisings throughout the country, however, to start the army of liberation.

Answer: Yes.

Question: At no point, however, was any formal estimate of this possibility given.

Answer: I have a paper of 3 March/3/ in which it was estimated that between 2,500 and 3,000 were actively engaged against Castro, that 20,000 were potential supporters of the invasion force, and that 25% of the population was opposed to the Castro regime.

/3/Not found.

Question: Did you ever actually define the degree of success necessary to provoke adequate uprising to permit ultimate success.

Answer: To establish a beachhead and hold it for some time, approximately a week, together with activities by our air units carrying out their scheduled missions.

Question: Do you believe that the impression prevailed that there would be spontaneous uprisings.

Answer: I myself didn't believe there would be major uprisings within 24 to 48 hours.

Question: Do you recall what the JCS said on this issue.

Answer: They said the invasion force had a reasonable chance of establishing a lodgment and that ultimate success would depend on uprisings within Cuba.

At this point the JCS Evaluation of the alternate objective area proposals was read./4/ Following this the question was raised as to whether JCS had ever acted on the Zapata Plan. The answer was given that the JCS had been advised of the change by General Gray.

/4/Reference is to JCSM-166-61, March 15, Document 62.

Question: Where in the JCS Evaluation of the Zapata Plan does it say that there will be air strikes.

Answer: It doesn't.

Statement: At this stage of the game there was no plan--only concepts. There was no time to develop a plan as such.

Statement: At this point General Gray stated that as he remembered, and as his notes indicate, the Joint Chiefs understood that the Zapata Plan included only D-Day strikes and no pre-D-Day strikes.

Question: How much time did the JCS give to this problem.

Answer: About one hour. It should be pointed out, however, that at the time the JCS considered the alternatives, the Trinidad Plan had not been ruled out and so in the evaluation of the alternatives it was stated that Zapata was the best of alternatives, however, the Trinidad Plan still had the best hope of success.

Question: When were the JCS or their representatives first briefed on the original plan.

Answer: On 3 February.

Question: Was a careful study of this plan made at this time.

Answer: Yes

Question: The basic Trinidad Plan did not change prior to March 11 when alternative proposals had been requested.

Answer: This is essentially correct.

Question: Was Mr. Rusk briefed on the Cuba Plan prior to 10 March.

Answer: I believe he was briefed on some elements of the plan, but not on the military details.

Statement: State Department representatives, however, had continued to oppose the plan.

Statement: In attempting to overcome State Department objections, CIA prior to March 11 had agreed to give up the pre-D-Day air strikes.

Statement: The 11 March meeting resulted in two new parameters for the operation. First, a less spectacular landing and, second, possession of an airfield to which the B-26 aircraft could be attributed.

Statement: These decisions led to the hurried search for alternative operational concepts that would meet the new parameters.

Statement: JCS representatives were briefed on these concepts on the 14th of March.

Question: What factors led to the decision to split the force in the Zapata Plan.

Answer: Further investigation had revealed that the airfield at Red Beach was inadequate for our purposes. It also revealed there was an airfield south of Red Beach that was adequate to our needs. Consequently the decision to split the force was made in order to protect the airfield and to protect the defiles into the landing area. Furthermore, we were concerned about the fact that the ships that went to Red Beach had an 18-mile run and might not get out.

Statement: At the 15 March meeting the President indicated that he did not like the dawn landings and directed that this aspect be reconsidered. On the 16th of March the President approved the revised Zapata Plan for progressive implementation, but he retained the ability to cancel.

Question: At the 16 March meeting was the JCS preference for the original Trinidad Plan over the Zapata Plan presented.

Answer: I don't think so.

Question: Do you think it was in the President's mind that these men could disappear as a guerrilla force if necessary.

Answer: Yes.

Statement: The Zapata area has traditionally been an area for guerrilla operations.

Response: When we went to the State Department we discussed the seriousness of calling off the air strikes. However, I did not say that we would cancel the operation because at this time we did not have the ability to call it off.

Statement: I can't believe that if the President had understood how important the air strikes were that he would have called them off.

Response: All members of the Group concurred.

Statement: If the President's decision had been made earlier I would have flown out to Glen Ora and discussed the matter with him. However, when the decision was finally made it was too late to do this.

At this point Mr. Bissell gave some of his personal views as to some of the wrong judgments made. First, the underestimation of Castro's capability in certain specific respects, mainly his organization ability, speed of movement and will to fight. We also underestimated his air capability. Example, contrary to our opinion, the T-33s were armed and flown with skill, loyalty and determination. In retrospect, some of the reasons for this underestimation may have been the use by Castro of bloc technicians and, if this is so, it is believed that one of their greatest contributions may have been in the staff work. Our second major mistake was our failure to develop an adequate air capability. We should have had at least 50% more B-26 pilots. We should have been able to foresee the need for these pilots. We should have allowed for some attrition, and the two aircraft cover over the beach was understated. Another major mistake was the restriction on the employment of our air capability between D-2 and D-Day. As to the administrative and organizational shortcomings, it is believed that these contributed much to the final failure. Another error was involved in the inevitable conflict between the requirements for military effectiveness and those of disclaimability. In the late stages of this operation I believe unnecessary concessions were made in favor of disclaimability which were unrealistic. Inasmuch as so much of the operation was already common knowledge, our chances of success would have been much greater if we had been allowed to use U.S. soldiers of fortune and to make air strikes from U.S. bases. In any future operations a cold-blooded appraisal should be made of the degree to which it is necessary to make concessions in favor of disclaimability as opposed to military effectiveness.

At this point Mr. Dulles interjected that he was in basic agreement, but he would like to add two additional items. First, he felt that he should have asked the Navy their opinion of what was necessary to assure that the men would get safely ashore with their material during a night landing on an unfamiliar coast. This opinion should have been rendered without concern for political considerations. Another factor was that the President was faced with hurried and difficult decisions. We had made it very clear to him that to call off the operation would have resulted in a very unpleasant situation.

Statement: The odds against any operation of this kind are almost insurmountable until the Government faces up to making sharp decisions promptly.

Question: Did the Government give the CIA an almost impossible job?

Answer: I don't believe so. I think we were closer to success than you realize.

Statement: Despite the disaster the U.S. must retain the capability for unofficial military actions. Whenever the U.S. engages in this sort of operation we will again be faced with the same dilemma of disclaima-bility versus military effectiveness. In this connection, I think we should consider changing our overt foreign policy posture for we have a tendency to make our operations extremely difficult by oversanctimonious announcements.

Statement: In the future we must carry out any operations of this type in such manner that the President, who has shown the highest courage, will not have to assume the responsibility.

177. Editorial Note

The rescue operations conducted by the Navy after the failure of the Bay of Pigs operation were discontinued on April 26, 1961. (CTG 81.8 telegram 262004 to CINCLANTFLT, April 26; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials) On April 23 Admiral Clark had rescued an additional 24 members of the Cuban Expeditionary Force from the Bay of Pigs area. (CINCLANTFLT telegram 240438Z to COM-SECONDFLT, April 23; ibid.) Admiral Dennison instructed Vice Admiral Ricketts, Commander of the Second Fleet, to support Clark's "humanitarian mission" if it became necessary to protect the U.S. forces involved, and to do so "with our banners flying." (Ibid.) No conflict with Cuban forces ensued, however, and the search for survivors thereafter proved futile. Ricketts summed up the frustration of the United States Naval forces, which stood off the coast of Cuba during the Bay of Pigs operation, in a cable to Burke and Dennison on April 23: "Beyond my horizon, but not far distant, lie the beaches on which died recently many who had great faith in us. Within my horizon steams the naval power that could have justified that faith. I view it with both pride and anguish." (COMSECONDFLT telegram 232129Z to CNO and CINC-LANTFLT, April 23; ibid.)

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


Washington, April 26, 1961.

//Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 381 (Sensitive). Top Secret.


Cuba (U)

1. Reference is made to your memorandum to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, dated 20 April 1961, subject as above./1/ This memorandum with Appendices is responsive to questions posed by you in reference memorandum.

/1/Document 159.

2. Appendix A contains an analysis of courses of action. Appendix D contains a brief outline plan based upon CINCLANT Operation Plan 312-61/2/ which will provide for the overthrow of the Castro government by the application of US military force, the course of action considered best suited to accomplishment of the objective.

/2/Not found.

3. This plan, with appropriate additional instructions to CINC-LANT as to timing and manner of execution, is responsive to the requirement for a military plan to accomplish the desired objective. The plan is well conceived, has been reviewed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and will insure quick overthrow of the Castro government.

4. There is a need for a well conceived political program to insure rapid turnover of control of government to designated Cuban authorities and permit the rapid withdrawal of US forces. It is recommended that the Secretary of State be requested to develop guidance in support of this operation.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Earle G. Wheeler/3/

/3/Wheeler signed for Burke above Burke's typed signature.

Appendix A


1. The objective as stated by the Secretary of Defense is to overthrow the Castro regime by the application of military force.

2. The analysis which follows has taken into consideration the world reaction to the abortive invasion of Cuba. Most nations apparently believe that the United States was wrong to give any support to this operation, particularly since there was no resultant uprising by the Cuban people. In the United Nations the prestige of the United States has deteriorated, and there are indications that the Latin American nations have lost some confidence in the United States. Within Cuba the incident has probably had the effect of strengthening the control held by the Castro government, instilling confidence and loyalty in the militia and other forces, and demoralizing the dissident elements which remain.

3. Any military effort undertaken by the United States against Cuba will engender strong criticism by most of the world. If a military action or series of actions take appreciable time to accomplish the overthrow of the Castro government, this time can be used to the advantage of the Sino-Soviet Bloc and Castro in strengthening his defenses. More important, world Communism can use this period of time to advantage in building up a massive, world-wide, anti-US propaganda effort against the United States course of action, including introduction of a resolution to the UN. If the United States were to embark on such a course, and then, through the pressure of world opinion be forced to abandon its action, the result would be a severe blow to the prestige, the objectives, and the national interests of the United States. Achieving world-wide surprise in an undertaking like this is extremely important. It seems apparent, therefore, that any military operation undertaken to accomplish the above objective should be swift, sharp, and overwhelming and should present the remainder of the world with a fait accompli.

4. The following alternative programs have been considered:

a. Naval and Air Blockade. A blockade could be instituted immediately and could be effective. It would stop the influx of Bloc military equipment and personnel, and would do much to halt the export of Communism from Cuba to Latin America. The Cuban economy, in particular the oil industry, is especially vulnerable to blockade, and it is believed that a blockade, by itself, could reduce the Cuban economy to chaos./4/ However, a blockade would force great hardships on the Cuban people regardless of political belief, and it is likely that their plight would generate strong resentment in all of Latin America. Since a blockade must be time-consuming, world resistance could be skillfully built up by the Bloc, as pointed out previously, and the blockade might have to be abandoned. Since use of blockade would not, by itself, assure the objective it is not recommended as the only course of action. However, blockade should be utilized to complement a military invasion and, if such an invasion is to be delayed for an appreciable period of time, a limited blockade against military supplies and equipment should be instituted to prevent build-up of Cuban military strength.

/4/McNamara added a marginal handwritten note at this point which reads: "how soon would it force [illegible word] capitulation?

b. Overt Support of Cuban Dissident Forces. This course of action would strengthen the dissident elements both materially and psychologically. The recent defeat of the invading dissident elements has undoubtedly had a demoralizing effect on them, and has probably weakened them in numbers and organization. Reorganizing these groups, and attracting additional numbers in face of current repressive measures taken by Castro will be extremely difficult. Even if sufficient numbers could be organized, their training would take much time, and it seems evident that their quality could never come up to US standards. These factors all seem to indicate that this course of action by itself would give little assurance of accomplishing the objective, and it is therefore not recommended. While support to dissident elements should not be chosen as the main course of action, it should not be abandoned. These elements can be of great assistance in intelligence collection, serve as focal points for uprisings, and assist in military operations and continual harassment of the Castro regime. Some form of support in Cuba is necessary to give encouragement to resistance movements in Cuba and other countries and to impress them with the fact that the United States will not abandon them. The success of a military operation against Cuba, however, should not be made dependent upon the actions of any dissident elements.

c. Military Intervention by the Organization of American States. In world opinion, the US has replaced its previous policy of unilateral US action to prevent extra-continental interference in the affairs of this hemisphere, fundamental to the Monroe Doctrine, with a policy of collective action through the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Rio Pact. While instability in Latin America is due fundamentally to the lack of social and economic progress, instability has been increased and intervention by the Sino-Soviets in the affairs of this hemisphere has occurred partly because of the unwillingness of the United States to act unilaterally in the face of its treaty restrictions and the unwillingness of the OAS to act. The unwillingness of the OAS nations to act against Cuba may be attributed to a long-standing fear of intervention by any country (particularly the United States) in their own internal affairs, as well as fear of reaction within their individual countries. Actually, the organization itself is weak. It is a system of 21 sovereign nations, each of which has equal vote. Any decision by the OAS must be a compromise that is acceptable to two-thirds of the member states. OAS military actions would be unlikely unless a majority of the states were convinced that they were faced with a clearly discernible external threat. Communist tactics, however, are subtle and cleverly screened. Although there is a growing awareness among the Latin American nations that the total-itarian Castro government is becoming a threat to their security, they do not yet consider it a clear and present danger. For these reasons OAS military action against Cuba is unlikely for the present.

d. Overt US Actions Supported by Latin American Volunteers. Participation by volunteers from Latin America in direct US military action against Cuba would soften the impression that the United States would be taking unilateral action contrary to the spirit of the UN and the OAS. In order to be convincing, it would have to be evident that there was a large number of volunteers coming from a variety of Latin American nations. The assembly and organization of these volunteers would be time-consuming, and all security of the operation would be lost. The success of this course of action seems unlikely and it is not recommended in any form.

e. Unilateral US Action

(1) Unilateral military action by the United States offers the advantages that there need be no compromise in pursuing US objectives, and that a reasonable degree of surprise can be achieved. Disadvantages are that strong criticism will be voiced by many nations of all political beliefs, and that the Latin American nations may become particularly distrustful of the United States.

(2) If the United States could overthrow the Castro government through a swift and decisive action, it is believed that all nations would, even while criticizing, accept a fait accompli, especially since they recognize the inherent danger to the basic security of a nation posed by a hostile regime located in close proximity. There is also a good possibility that a decisive action taken by the United States against Communism would renew the confidence of many in the Free World whose faith in our leadership has been faltering.

(3) An overt US action, if taken, must be assured of success. Physical capture and control of the Cuban government and key facilities is the only means of insuring that the objective of overthrowing the Castro government is achieved. CINCLANT Operation Plan 312-61 (Cuba), which has previously been reviewed and approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provides the means of achieving this objective. Implementation of the plan should be in such a manner as to achieve surprise, both world-wide and tactical, and to accomplish the objective in the shortest time possible.

(4) Concurrent supporting actions should be taken as required, to assist in the accomplishment of the objective and to insure the establishment in Cuba of a situation satisfactory to the United States following the overthrow of the Castro government. Appropriate agencies of the Federal government should participate in this planning. One action that is recommended is the creation of an incident which will provide justification for the overthrow of the Castro government by the United States. Such an incident must be carefully planned and handled, to insure that it is plausible and that it occurs prior to any indication that the United States has decided to take military action against Cuba. Premature exposure of the fact that the incident was created by the United States could cause a shift in sentiment by the Cuban people against the United States.

5. More deliberate action

a. Another alternative to be examined is that of following a more deliberate course, characterized by extensive preparations both military and political. The military forces to be used in the operation could be brought to peak effectiveness at the time desired, and logistic arrangements could be thorough and complete. If the military posture in Cuba continued to improve, requiring additional assault forces to invade Cuba, these forces could be obtained through a selective increase of forces as shown in Annex C to Appendix F./5/ The time of assault could be chosen during a period when world tensions are low, minimizing the risk of having to conduct military operations in more than one place. The chances of achieving tactical surprise might be enhanced by planning the invasion for a time which coincided with routine training exercises.

/5/Neither printed.

b. With sufficient time available a "Freedom Brigade" composed of Cuban Volunteers inducted into the US Army could form the basis for a flexible organization which could contribute to guerrilla and unconventional operations, the spearhead of any overt military action and post combat reconstruction. Such a force would also have a psychological effect on Cuba and could be used to absorb Cuban manpower in the US and Caribbean area. The unit, as US leadership is replaced by indigenous leadership, could be discharged to be utilized as a purely national force.

c. Politically the United States could make a concerted effort to establish world support and acceptance of the necessity for taking action against the Castro government. Advantage could be taken of favorable political situations as they develop. Military action could be planned for a time when international bodies such as the UN and the Organization of American States are not in session, and when nations are preoccupied with other problems. Particular effort could be made to get OAS to propose or support action in Cuba.

d. While a more deliberate course of action offers some advantages, past history seems to indicate that time is on the side of Castro. An invasion should not be conducted during the hurricane season, which lasts from August through November. The Castro regime could use this time to strengthen itself militarily and internally to the point that it would require a large-scale effort to overthrow him. Since this course of action would probably require large military effort, and shows little assurance of achieving the implicit political objectives, it is not recommended.

6. From a military point of view, it is recommended that the course of action proposed in paragraph 4 e above, in conjunction with the courses of action discussed in paragraphs 4 a and 4 b, be adopted if it is decided to accomplish the stated objective.

[Here follow Appendix B, "An Appraisal of the Strength of the Cuban Military Forces", and Appendix C, "An Appraisal of the Probable Behaviour of Cuban Civilian Population During the Period of Military Action".]

Appendix D


Task Organization (See Annex A Attached)

1. Situation

a. Current Intelligence

b. Enemy forces are organized Cuban military forces, Cuban militia, para-military groups and mobs, and possibly, pro-Castro "volunteers" from Latin America communist elements.

c. Friendly Forces:

(1) US Department of State is responsible for evacuation of non-combatants, establishment of "Status of Forces" agreements, provisional local law enforcement agencies, base rights and overflight rights as required; and will provide for logistic support to indigenous personnel after the first five days of the operation.

(2) MSTS and MATS will provide augmenting transportation as directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

(3) Central Intelligence Agency will support the operation.

(4) Rio Pact forces and indigenous forces may offer assistance.

2. Mission

Commander in Chief Atlantic will, when directed, conduct military operations in Cuba in order to accomplish the following: Defend the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay; restore and maintain order; support or reestablish the authority of a Cuban Government friendly to the United States, and support the national policy of the United States.

3. Execution

a. In the event that military operations are directed, any or all of the following courses of action may be undertaken by CINCLANT:

(1) Reinforce and actively defend the Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay.

(2) Interdict Cuban lines of communication.

(3) Neutralize Cuban offensive capability by overt attack against military installations.

(4) Conduct Naval and air blockade of Cuba.

(5) Conduct assault operations to accomplish the mission.

b. Concept of Operations

(1) Western Cuba. When directed, operations in Western Cuba will be conducted by Army Airborne, Naval Amphibious, and Air Force and Naval Air Forces with the objective of seizing the Havana port and airfield complex, communications and government facilities in order to establish a base for further operations. Thereafter, operations will be expanded as required in order to accomplish the over-all mission.

(2) Eastern Cuba. Naval and Marine Forces under command of COMNAVBASE GTMO, will conduct operations to (a) defend the Naval Base at Guantanamo, (b) protect and/or evacuate United States and other designated nationals, (c) maintain a base for further operations.

(3) It is essential that operations be conducted with rapidity and decisiveness by a concurrent amphibious and airborne assault in Western Cuba. This will require that the amphibious elements be mounted and sail prior to deployment of airborne elements to the objective area. The combined airborne-amphibious assault and link-up of forces will ensure early availability of medium tanks and artillery in support of the airborne forces. The army seaborne echelon must be loaded out and sail so as to be available to commence off-loading on D-day.

(4) Amphibious forces in Western Cuba will be relieved and withdrawn as soon as practicable for further operations in the Eastern Cuban area./6/

/6/McNamara added a handwritten marginal note at this point that reads: "Should not Eastern and Western plans be carried out simultaneously?"

(5) By 60-90 days after the initial landing of combat forces it is expected that conditions will permit the utilization of other forces as occupation troops.

(6) The "objective areas" are initially the Western Cuba area for Army-Naval-Air Force operations and the Guantanamo area for Naval operations. Other objectives such as the Isle of Pines, specific cities, industrial plants or transportation facilities will be designated, depend-ent upon conditions prevailing at the time.

c. Phasing

(1) Phase I

(a) Activation of operating headquarters.

(b) Reinforcement and defense of Naval Base at Guantanamo.

(2) Phase II

(a) Naval Task Force deploys to objective areas.

(b) Army Task Force deploys combat and service units to staging bases, prepared for airborne assault operations; deploys to objective area on order./7/

/7/At the bottom of this page of the Outline Plan McNamara noted: "Too much boiler plate and not enough detailed planning".

(c) Air Force Task Force deploys tactical elements to advanced operating airfields as required and air lifts elements of the Army Task Force to staging bases.

(3) Phase III

Commander Joint Task Force conducts concurrent airborne and amphibious assault operations in the Havana area and supports defensive operations in the Guantanamo area.

(4) Phase IV

(a) Commander Joint Task Force conducts amphibious assault and other operations in the Eastern Cuban area to seize Santiago and other objectives as required.

(b) Offensive land operations will be subsequently conducted to link up Army Forces, Western Cuba and Marine Forces, Eastern Cuba, if required.

4. Administration and Logistics are normal for Joint Operations and will be based on the anticipation of sustained operations for a period of 60-90 days.

5. Command and Signal matters are normal for Joint Operations. Commander Amphibious Force, US Atlantic Fleet will be alternate Joint Task Force Commander to Commander Second Fleet. Communications will be in accordance with current CINCLANTFLT procedures.

Annex A to Appendix D


1. Atlantic Command--CINCLANT

a. US Atlantic Fleet--CINCLANTFLT

b. Joint Task Force--COMSECONDFLT

(1) Naval Task Force--COMSECONDFLT

(a) Striking and covering forces which comprise combatant air and naval elements plus underway replenishment group.

(b) Amphibious Task Force which comprises amphibious shipping, one command ship, eight destroyers and a landing force (II Marine Expeditionary Force) made up of:

Headquarters, II MEF

2nd Marine Division (-)

2nd Marine Air Wing (-)

Force troops, Atlantic

(2) Army Task Force/8/

/8/In the margin at this point McNamara posed the question: "Is this enough?" At the bottom of the page he asked for the total number of men involved in the Army Task Force.

(a) XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters

(b) 82nd Airborne Division

(c) 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment

(d) 4th/68 Tank Battalion

(e) 2nd Infantry Brigade

(f) 56th Artillery Group

(g) Special forces and civil affairs teams

(3) Air Force Task Force

(a) One Command Headquarters

(b) Two Troop Carrier Wings

(c) Four Tactical Fighter Squadrons

(d) One Tactical Control Element

(e) One half Tactical Reconnaissance Sqaudron

c. CIA Force Atlantic (when activated)

d. Special Operations Task Force Atlantic (when activated)

e. On Call Forces

Additional US forces as designated and directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, if required. It is anticipated that "On Call" forces will be the 4th Infantry or 101st Airborne Division, one Armored Combat Command, two additional Tactical Fighter Squadrons and uncommitted forces of the Atlantic Fleet. State of readiness to be determined by JCS.

f. Augmentation of Air and Surface Lift

MATS and MSTS provide air and surface lift as directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Annex B to Appendix D


1. The Castro regime is currently occupied in rounding up those dissident elements which have been exposed or which are in any way under suspicion. Time affords the regime the opportunity of crushing most opposition, imposing tighter control, strengthening its military posture, and propagandizing the public. If time passes without an indication that outside help will be provided to the Cuban resistance movement, the will to resist will be progressively weakened. Time allows world communism to marshall opposition to any move taken by the United States to overthrow Castro.

2. The hurricane season in the Caribbean normally begins in August. A military operation in that area should not be started later than July./9/

/9/A note by McNamara at this point reads: "between 7/15 + 12/1?"

3. National Guard and Reserve Army divisions are brought to active duty for annual training commencing in June. If the Communist Bloc creates incidents in other areas these divisions could remain on active duty and other forces such as the 1st and 2nd US Army divisions released for action in other areas.

4. Subsequent to the overthrow of the Castro government a regime which is satisfactory to US objectives must be established in Cuba. In view of the current disorganization within the Cuban resistance movement, the time required to insure that such a government is prepared to take firm control is unknown. Since the political actions which will follow military operations will probably determine the long-range success or failure of the entire operation, this factor assumes great importance.

5. With no previous warning it will take a period of 18 days from the time preparatory actions are started until the first assault landings can be made in Cuba. Prior warning, permitting preliminary preparation, could reduce this time to ten days without giving advance notice to the rest of the world. Every effort should be made to conceal the purpose of the operation once troop embarkation has commenced.

6. If it is decided to overthrow the Castro government, the operation should be initiated as soon as possible.

Annex C to Appendix D


D-day and A-hour are the day and time of the coordinated airborne and Marine assault on Western Cuba in the Havana area. Specific military actions, in phases, as included in current planning are shown below:

Phase I

Day: D-18/10/

/10/McNamara noted at this point: "could be cut to D-10 with prior warning".

Events: Decision to implement or prepare to implement plan for US intervention in Cuba.

--Alert CINCLANT, CIA, Department of State and other Unified and Specified Commanders.

--CINCLANT notifies his component commanders, forces alterted. Joint Task Force Headquarters activated.

--Implementing forces prepare for deployment.

--Amphibious shipping proceeds to embarkation ports.

--Reinforcement of Guantanamo.

--Evacuation of dependents from Guantanamo.

--Marshalling of supporting MSTS sea lift.

--Commander Special Operations Task Force Atlantic reports to Commander Joint Task Force.

Phase II


--Form and deploy Naval Task Force.

--Deploy Army forces to staging bases and loading out ports. Load and deploy on order.

--Deploy Air Force tactical elements to advanced airfields and prepare for air operations.

Phase III

Day: D-5


--Decision to accomplish plan for US intervention in Cuba, if not previously determined.

--Departure of Army ground forces via sea lift.

--Departure of Marine forces in amphibious shipping.

--Diversions, as may be planned by CINC-LANT concerning weather, and cover activ-ities.

Day: D-day


--Coordinated airborne and Marine assault Western Cuba with supporting air strikes, air reconnaissance and blockade as required./11/

/11/At this point McNamara posed the following question in the margin: "Should not force be expanded to permit simultaneous strikes West and East Cuba?"

Day: D+2 to D+4


--Isolation of Havana.

Day: D+6 to D+8


--Control of Havana.

Phase IV

Day: D+17 to D+19


--Control of Santiago De Cuba.

Day: D+24 to D+34


--East-West Linkup of US forces.


D+30 to D+54


--Cessation of Organized Resistance.

Day: D+60 to D+90


--Withdrawal of combat forces.

Annex D to Appendix D


1. No reliable estimate of either friendly or enemy losses can be stated at this time. Such losses will be directly related to the intensity of Cuban resistance and inversely related to the speed and effectiveness of the assault by US forces.

2. Assuming that Army forces are committed in both the number and manner envisioned in the current operations plan, Army planners have estimated that ground forces would sustain approximately sixteen (16%) percent casualties./12/ This estimate includes casualties of all types and is based upon a thirty (30) day operation with four (4) days of heavy fighting, the intensity of combat tapering off after that time.

/12/McNamara added a marginal note at this point asking for a specific number of pro-jected casualties.

3. In view of the influence of political, psychological, and other similar considerations, the effect of which is unknown at this time, any estimate of Cuban casualties would be so hypothetical as to have little practical value. No estimate of Cuban casualties, therefore, is provided.

[Here follow Appendix E, "Contingencies That the US Should Be Prepared To Face in the Event of Operations in Cuba" and Appendix F, "Residual US Forces".]

179. Memorandum From the President's Assistant Special Counsel (Goodwin) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington, April 26, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 1/61-4/61. Secret. The memorandum is a draft and is not initialed; it was not uncommon, however, for such papers to go forward in draft form.

Here are few scattered thoughts on the "Cuba" problem.

Cuba is a threat to the security of the United States in two basic ways:

1. As a direct military menace in the Caribbean, a menace which will be intensified as communist arms shipments continue. However, even this increased danger will be minimal. Our treaty obligations commit us to the defense of any American nation which is attacked directly. Any military moves by Castro could be met immediately by our forces. Similarly we could intervene in case of Castro military aid to guerilla operations in the Americas.

2. As an exporter of revolution: There is no doubt that Cuba is being used as a base for export of the communist-fidelista revolution. This is done through the actual supply of funds and technical assistance to insurgent elements, through widespread and reasonably effective prop-aganda apparatus including a news service and radio network and through the use of Cuba as an example of the alliance between fidelismo and necessary social reform--identification with the welfare of the people.

This threat is significant--especially in the Caribbean area. However, even here, in the last six months there has been a significant decline in Cuban effectiveness. This has come because of the growing isolation of communist-fidelista elements from the Democratic left as Castro's pro-Soviet bent has become more apparent; and as Castro has become increasingly erratic in his personal behavior. There are signs, in fact, that, the communists are looking for another, more stable, hero--perhaps Cardenas of Mexico.

3. While this means a declining influence of fidelismo over popular movements; it does not necessarily lessen the importance of Cuban-Soviet-Chinese material and technical aid to revolutionary movements. It is important to remember that even if Castro were wiped out tomorrow we would not have solved the problem of communist influence in the Americas. In fact, most of the greatest danger spots (e.g. Northeast Brazil, Colombia back-country, communist dominated student movements, etc.) do not owe either their existence or strength to Castro, but to local and independent leadership. This danger has been steadily growing, and would continue to grow if our only anti-communist move were to knock out Castro. These movements will benefit from material assistance, even if they do not look to Cuba for leadership.

Suggested Course of Action:

Action Aimed at Cuba Directly

1. Before acting directly against Castro, in any fashion, we need a complete reassessment of the vulnerability of his regime--the degree of popular support, the probably declining position of the Cuban economy and its impact on the Cuban people, the efficiency of his police state, the possibilities of underground organization, etc. Without such an assessment it is impossible to realistically determine what alternative courses of action are open to us.

2. To meet the military threat we can work out defense agreements with Central American nations along the lines suggested by Professor Berle.

3. We should approach the government of Chile to call an Inter-American arms limitation conference. This conference should deal with methods of stopping external arms shipments in the context of the over-all limitations which are desperately needed in Latin America. We should decide, before this meeting, whether the risks in an OAS blockade of arms shipments to Cuba are outweighed by the dangers involved in halting and searching international shipping.

4. Immediately consult with heads of major nations in Latin America to see how far they are willing to go in terms of collective action. This should be done via a personal emissary. Although we should have a reasonably clear idea of what we want to do, this should be a genuine consultation among allies. All the myriad proposals for OAS action, etc., depend on the reaction of other Latin nations--a reaction as yet undetermined.

5. Underlying all these proposals is the feeling that we should not move quickly in direct action against Cuba. I do not believe that there is any course of direct action which we can wisely take on the basis of current knowledge and conditions.

Attempts to stop direct export of Castroism

1. We should provide Caribbean nations with the technical help (e.g. radar to spot incoming planes) and navy patrol assistance to meet the dangers of arms shipments from Cuba to insurgent elements in those nations.

2. There are two or three real danger spots (e.g. Dominican Republic and Haiti) where we should now be developing democratic alternatives to the present regime--organizing replacement governments. If we do not do this then the inevitable changes in governments may be followed by Castro-type regimes. When Democratic alternatives are organized we should consider means of precipitating the fall of Trujillo and Duvalier and possibly Somoza. In this way we can exert maximum control over the type of replacement government-- the timing and initiative should be ours.

3. Help provide counter-propaganda assistance to Latin governments--e.g. radio transmitters. The more we can work through Democratic-liberal forces in Latin America, rather than through USIA alone, the more effective will be our propaganda.

General counter-communist operations

Our long-range strategy in the Americas should have two basic elements:

First, the organization of a strong political counter-force. We have a ready instrument in the newly organized League of Democratic Parties. We should assist these parties--financially and technically--to develop progressive political movements (in some cases revolutionary movements, especially in the less progressive countries) through helping them in techniques of organization down to the village level, ideological warfare, etc. U.S. government help should be covert.

Second, the Alianza para el progreso. This program with its emphasis on social and economic advance is the real hope of preventing a communist takeover. The Alianza is proceeding about as rapidly as possible given present organization of effort, and the magnitude of available funds. Both of these elements are unsatisfactory.

A. Funds: Present plans provide for the allocation of 250-350 million dollars worth of economic assistance to Latin America in fiscal 1962. This is out of a total of 2.4. billion. (This sum does not include the social development fund.) One hundred million of this will go to Brazil to get them over their current financial crisis. I am not clear that any substantial re-allocation could be made given the enormous needs in Asia (especially in India and Pakistan)--although I believe there can be some increase. However, these funds are probably not sufficient to make a real and effective start in economic development.

B. Organization: If communist takeover comes in Latin America it probably will not come through guerilla warfare, but through the capture of indigenous revolutionary movements. We cannot meet such a threat effectively--well-organized as it is--when our overseas operations are as diffuse and uncoordinated as they are today. The aid program, the political bureaus of State, the USIA, educational exchange, CIA activities all go, to too great an extent, their own way under separate heads and often in pursuit of separate goals. I believe that diffusion of effort results in great waste of resources and intelligence. We must organize our non-military overseas operation to reflect our basic objective in Latin America--the strengthening of democratic Western-oriented nations and governments so that they have the capacity to resist communist and neutralist attack in all its forms. Those who are charged with the responsiblity for achieving this objective must have control over the instruments which our government provides. Just as we have seen the need for some centralization of command in fighting hot wars--it is needed for effectively waging a cold war. This does not necessaily mean a "Chief of Hemisphere Operations"; but at the very least it means that, within each key country there must be a central operational capacity and authority with direct lines to the levels of action in Washington.

180. Paper Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, April 26, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report. Top Secret. This paper was transmitted from the CIA on April 26 to Lieutenant Colonel B.W. Tarwater.


1. On 8 April 1961 a briefing was conducted for the Deputy Director (Plans), Acting Chief, WH-4, and Acting Chief, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] which outlined the proposed plan of air operations for Project [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and Sub-Project [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Targets were as cited in [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Air Operations Plan 200-1/1/ with the exception that Targets 1, 2, and 3 were to be struck on D-3 as a portion of Project [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Project [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] involved Target 1, San Antonio de Los Banos, two aircraft; Target 2, Campo Libertad, two aircraft; Target 3, Santiago de Cuba, two aircraft.

/1/Not found.

2. On 9 April the briefing team departed Washington for [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. The purpose of this trip was to brief the combat elements of the proposed plan of activities. After two days target study at [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] a recommendation was submitted to Headquarters which recommended assignment of three aircraft each to Targets 1 and 2. This change was effected.

3. On 15 April Project [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] was implemented with strikes occurring at dawn. A 24 hour delay received 13 April changed air strikes from D-3 to D-2. Results of that strike were believed to have been destruction of 70 to 80 percent of GOC's combat air capability. Damages sustained by attacking aircraft were as follows: one aircraft and crew destroyed by anti aircraft fire eventually crashing into the sea approximately 30 miles north of the Cuban coast attempting to reach Boca Chica Naval Air Station. One aircraft landed at Grand Cayman short of fuel. One aircraft landed at Boca Chica Naval Air Station, no battle damage had been incurred. The reason for landing at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station was due to this aircraft attempting to escort a crippled B-26 to Boca Chica which later crashed into the sea. The aircraft which landed at Boca Chica and Grand Cayman were eventually returned to the launch base.

4. On D-1 eleven targets were assigned the B-26 strike force designed to destroy the remainder of GOC operational air capability. Between the hours of 2100 local and 0100 local during the night 16-17 April the target assignment was changed prohibiting air strike of any airfields the morning of D-day. All aircraft were committed to sustain air support over the beachhead area.

5. On D day 5 C-46's and one C-54 successfully dropped the airborne battalion at the appointed DZ's within the objective area. These aircraft returned to the launch base. B-26 aircraft were rotated over the beachhead throughout the day. The B-26 aircraft reported the sinking of one gun boat, the destruction of one Sea Fury and one B-26, numerous strikes on ground targets and one C-46 aircraft by evasive attack caused an attacking Sea Fury aircraft to crash into the sea. Four B-26 were lost late on D day to enemy T-33 aircraft. One aircraft landed at Grand Cayman with one engine shot out. One aircraft landed at Boca Chica due to pilot fatigue. It should be pointed out that all Cuban air crews had at this point been up 36 to 48 hours without sleep. Thirteen (13) actual combat sorties were flown on D day. All sorties were in support of the amphibious landing on the beachhead. At this point it became clear that enemy air activity utilizing T-33 aircraft could destroy the more obsolete B-26 type aircraft with relative ease and a decision was made to attempt to destroy the remaining GOC aircraft at night on the ground through successful bombing raids. Six aircraft were scheduled to strike the main base of operations in two waves of three each during the night of 17-18 April. The aircraft aborted on take off. Heavy haze and low clouds prevented three aircraft from finding target and one aircraft attacked San Antonio de Los Banos.

6. On D plus 1 it became necessary to utilize American civilian pilots to protect the beachhead area due to the fact the Cubans were either too tired or refused to fly. Six sorties were flown during the afternoon of D plus 1. Reported damage by GOC sources indicated 1800 casualties and destruction of seven tanks.

7. On the morning of D plus 2 American pilots again were pressed into service for protection of the beachhead area for two reasons (1) the reluctance of the Cuban pilots to fly more combat sorties without air to air cover and (2) the Americans were attempting to build morale and develop a will to win. Two American crews were shot down with no survivors in the morning of D plus 2. Both aircraft were lost to T-33 aircraft. All sorties flown on the morning of D plus 2 were scheduled during the one hour period Navy air cover was supposed to have been provided the beachhead area.

8. In the afternoon of D plus 2 a radio message was received from the ground Brigade Commander stating that he was destroying his equipment and "heading for the hills". Upon receipt of this message all air activities in support of the beachhead area were terminated.

[end of document]


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

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