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Department Seal

Volume X
Cuba, 1961-1962



Cuba, 1961-1962

181. Paper Prepared for the National Security Council by the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, April 26, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Intelligence Material, 1961. No classification marking. Prepared in conjunction with the Joint Staff of the JCS. The CIA also prepared a paper for the NSC on April 27 entitled "Bloc Economic Support for the Castro Regime." (Ibid.)


Bloc Military Aid to the Castro Regime

The Soviet bloc has supplied large quantities of arms and military equipment to Cuba since major shipments began last September. The value of these arms is estimated at between $50 and $100 million. Thus far bloc military deliveries have consisted almost entirely of land armaments, including medium and heavy tanks, self-propelled assault guns, field and antiaircraft artillery, large numbers of military vehicles, and ample quantities of infantry weapons and ammunition.

Although there are occasional rumors, apparently emanating from Cuban refugees, that naval equipment has been supplied, these rumors cannot be confirmed.

Bloc aircraft delivered to Cuba include helicopters and light piston-engine Czech basic trainers. There are some unconfirmed reports of crates of the size which would hold MIG fighters, but there is no corroborating evidence that these aircraft have been delivered to Cuba. It is highly unlikely that MIGs are presently operational with the Cuban Air Force. Cuban pilots are training in the bloc.

Bloc Military Negotiations With Cuba

The Sino-Soviet bloc maintained a cautious attitude toward the Cuban regime for more than a year after Castro's takeover in January 1959. Although intermittent Cuban military contacts were made with the bloc during 1959 and early 1960, these apparently did not result in firm military aid commitments from the bloc until about May 1960. In this period sizable quantities of small arms were procured in Western Europe, primarily in Belgium.

Soviet First Deputy Premier Mikoyan's visit to Cuba in February 1960 signaled the beginning of a series of trade and aid agreements between Cuba and all countries of the Sino-Soviet bloc. As political and economic ties were established, it became clear that Moscow intended to back up its propaganda support for Cuba with a major campaign of material assistance. Following the collapse of the summit and the cancellation of President Eisenhower's trip to the USSR, however, the bloc undertook active military negotiations with the Cuban government which culminated in arms agreements with both the USSR and Czechoslovakia.

By the end of July 1960 Czech small arms and ammunition were in Cuba. Shortly thereafter, the first large group of Cuban military personnel was sent to Czechoslovakia to receive military training.

In September the first large bloc arms delivery was made. Since then military equipment has been regularly supplied to Cuba. In addition, large numbers of military usable vehicles and military-related items have been delivered.

Bloc Military Technicians

A large number of Czech and Soviet technicians currently are working in military capacities for the Cuban government. These technicians are assisting the Cubans in assembling equipment and installing such weapons as antiaircraft batteries. They also are employed as instructors in military courses and as advisers to individual military units. Bloc instructors probably have been participating in flight training being conducted in Cuba on Czech piston trainers.

[Here follow Annex A, a chart illustrating "Bloc Land Armaments and Military Equipment Displayed in Cuba", and Annex B, a chart illustrating "Bloc Aircraft Supplied to Cuba."]

182. Paper Prepared for the National Security Council by the Director of the Department of State Operations Center (Achilles)

Washington, April 27, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Top Secret. According to a note on the source text, the final draft of this paper was prepared by Theodore C. Achilles, but the initial drafts were prepared in ARA in response to a request from Rusk on April 24. (Excerpt from a record of Secretary's staff meeting, April 24; ibid.) The drafts were circulated within the Department for comment by senior concerned officials before the final draft was prepared. (Memorandum from Legal Adviser Chayes to Rusk, April 26; ibid.) A number of other papers were prepared for the April 27 NSC meeting. As a follow-up to the April 22 NSC meeting the Department of State prepared memoranda entitled "Information on Helpful and Unhelpful Governments" and "Strengthening Freedom in the Americas." It also drafted recommendations proposing invocation of the Trading With the Enemy Act and an assessment of the proposed Caribbean Security Agency. (All ibid., S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, NSC 5402-Memoranda) The Department of Defense prepared a paper on the training of Cuban soldiers. (Ibid.)



To remove the threat to the United States and to the hemisphere posed by the Soviet-dominated Castro regime in a manner which will advance rather than injure our other hemispheric and world-wide interests.

Among possible future courses of action toward Cuba, two strategic alternatives stand out. We can adopt a short term strategy of eliminating the Castro regime in the relatively near future, or a long term strategy of isolation and containment which might ultimately lead to change of regime, but would in any case make the present one relatively impotent beyond its own borders.

This paper does not elect between the strategies. It recommends that we undertake painstaking intelligence estimates and other studies before making an irrevocable choice. Such choice need not be made in the immediate future, since it is possible for the time being to prepare for the implementation of either strategy. An ultimate choice in favor of the long term strategy could, however, be prejudiced by the style and precipitateness with which we might implement certain of the paper's recommendations.


The complete defeat of the volunteer Cuban liberation force which had been encouraged by the United States and covertly assisted with training, equipment, and transportation strengthened Castro internally, weakened the morale of anti-Castro forces in Cuba and elsewhere and gravely damaged United States prestige. Part of the lost ground has been recovered by a declaration of President Kennedy on April 20 to the effect that if it should ever appear that the inter-American doctrine of non-interference merely concealed or excused a policy on non-action, and if the nations of the Hemisphere should fail to meet their commitments against outside Communist penetration, the United States Government would not hesitate in meeting its primary obligations, which are the security of our nation. The world is now waiting to see what the United States will do.

Action to correct the intolerable Cuban situation--which for practical purposes means the overthrow of the Castro regime--must be taken if communist penetration of the hemisphere and the disastrous drain on United States prestige in the world are to be stemmed. Yet the situation is not so bad but that ill-considered, poorly-timed action would not make it infinitely worse. It could disrupt the OAS. It could turn most of Latin America against us. It could weaken our position in other areas. It could trigger a World War.

Recommendations Concerning Courses of Action:

Whatever decisive measures may in due course be decided upon to bring about the downfall of the Castro regime it is clear that three courses should forthwith be pursued vigorously:

1) Implementation of the Alliance for Progress.

2) Development of a realistic, sound and honest moral posture based upon the President's April 20 statement, which must be able to withstand before world opinion and in the U.N., the distortions of an all-out Communist propaganda offensive and provide the justification for progressively more drastic actions against Castro.

3) Develop the fullest and most accurate intelligence possible on the attitude of the Cuban people towards Castro. Such intelligence is essential before deciding upon possible courses of decisive action. If a majority is opposed to Castro, we must find the best means of helping the majority to overthrow him. If a majority support Castro and what he stands for, the problem will be far more difficult and military action would be undesirable as leading to a prolonged occupation of a hostile population with serious consequences elsewhere. If that is the case, slower methods such as quarantine and efforts to change the views of the maximum number of Cubans would be indicated.

Individual consultation with the other American Governments has been in progress since April 23 to ascertain their views towards the best means of removing the menace to hemispheric peace and security caused by the intrusion of extra-continental power into Cuba. The consultation is designed to ascertain whether the other Governments recognize the nature of this menace, whether they recognize the distinction between "intervention" in the internal affairs of another state and defense against a widening area of domination by extra-hemispheric powers, and their attitude toward OAS action or possible narrower collective or unilateral action. Effective action through the OAS if it can be secured would obviously be desirable. Many American Governments, however, while privately expressing the hope that the U.S. will act unilaterally, quickly and decisively to overthrow Castro, continue reluctant to stand up publicly and be counted and would in varying measure publicly criticize such U.S. action. Nevertheless, OAS consideration would be desirable provided that we have a clear view of the results desired and reasonable expectations that we would have the votes to obtain them.

If the recommended approach to the OAS yields nothing in the way of tangible support for us on the Cuba problem, we will still be able to consider moving unilaterally against Castro in support of the Cuban rebels, if that is what we want to do. Other recommended actions insure that the intervening time will not be lost.

Courses of Action:

I. U.S. should unilaterally, without awaiting outcome of other actions:

1. Push ahead energetically with the Alliance for Progress, including, as soon as funds are available, implementation of readied housing and other projects giving visible proof that it is being implemented.

2. Establish a strong moral posture commanding the respect of unbiased opinion everywhere based on steady development of the themes in the President's April 20 statement and including the following elements:

a. U.S. love of and willingness to fight for "freedom."

b. Recognition that the U.S. faces a world-wide relentless struggle against an expansionist Sino-Soviet bloc, including its use of non-military aggression.

c. U.S. has long since abandoned "intervention" in the internal affairs of its neighbors and cannot tolerate the intervention of extra-continental powers such as has occurred in Cuba.

d. U.S. objective is to see the Cuban people freed from alien domination and free to choose their own government and forms of economic and social development.

3. Maintain active overt and covert psychological campaign designed to weaken Castro in Cuba and outside.

a. Make an official public statement--to which other American Governments could subscribe--setting forth our liberal aspirations for a post-Castro Cuba in the political, economic and social fields.

b. Formulate and announce concrete measures which the U.S. contemplates to assist the Cuban people and economy after Cuba is again free.

c. See that campaign is fully and continuously coordinated between State, USIA, CIA and DOD.

4. a. Apply the Trading with the Enemy Act to Cuba.

b. Consider gradual reduction, through amendment of existing regulations, of the export of foods and medicines to Cuba.

5. Continue to give open encouragement to the Cuban liberation movement both in Cuba and outside.

6. Continue to assist Cuban liberation efforts by covertly:

a. Training Cuban freedom fighters, especially for guerrilla service in Cuba. (They are the indispensable component for any plan to oust Castro.)

b. Arming Cuban freedom fighters inside Cuba.

c. Supporting Cuban underground capabilities for intensified sabotage of Cuban economy.

d. Encouraging defections.

7. Develop study in depth of vulnerabilities of Castro regime and possible courses of action to exploit them, and of strengths and means of countering them.

8. Develop fullest possible intelligence on:

a. Degree of support Castro enjoys among Cuban people and why.

b. Castro's military strength.

9. Intensify measures to provide assistance to any Latin American country requesting help in defending itself against armed attack or subversion by Castroism. Implement existing programs and accelerate surveys of requirements of governments where this is a particular problem.

10. Establish system of surveillance in Caribbean to identify and frustrate armed assistance to subversive movements in other countries.

11. Deport known non-U.S. Castro agents from U.S.

12. Develop and hold in readiness military plans for forcible overthrow of Castro by:

a. Overt U.S. action, whether alone or assisted by Latin American countries.

b. Covert support of Cuban action sufficient to accomplish objectives.

13. Should any Latin American country offer to mediate differences between U.S. and Cuba, accept offer but only subject to Cuba's severance of relations with Sino-Soviet bloc and agreement to hold OAS-super-vised elections.

II. Redefine and reinterpret what constitutes aggression and what constitutes legal governments. We should elaborate a new doctrine in close association with certain Latin Americans and other friendly powers, which would spell out the concepts embodied in the President's speech of April 20. Such an interpretation of our obligations under the UN and OAS Charters is needed to enable us to justify publicly the actions which might be necessary to deal with Communist takeovers from within a country. In this connection, we should consider recognizing and mobilizing support for a Cuban Government in exile as an alternative to Castro.

III. 1. With all deliberate speed carry on consultations with each Latin American Government regarding a possible Meeting of Foreign Ministers, either under the Rio Treaty or the OAS Charter, to consider a resolution calling on Cuba to:

a. Allow free exercise of normal civil rights and prepare for elections under OAS supervision.

b. Give effect to its OAS commitments with respect to communism.

2. If result of consultation is reasonably promising, request Meeting of Foreign Ministers.

3. Seek in Meeting of Foreign Ministers as wide agreement as possible on a line of specific sanctions, as follows, designed to quarantine Cuba in the Hemisphere, if Cuba refuses to heed call mentioned in 1 above:

a. Breaking of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

b. Expel or exclude Castro regime from OAS.

c. Economic sanctions.

d. Support for armed effort to liberate Cuba if Meeting is willing to [go?] this far.

4. Propose collective OAS quarantine against Dominican Republic similar to that against Cuba on grounds of interventionist activities and manifest suppression of human rights.

IV. If support of collective OAS action under III is insufficient to isolate Cuba in Hemisphere, seek to get informal agreement among as many Latin American countries as possible on course of sanctions mentioned in III-3-a, c, and d.

V. Upon completion of III and IV but not before, unless future developments so require, take decision as to whether danger to U.S. security is sufficiently great to resort to force to overthrow Castro in spite of our international commitments, and if so, whether action should be overt or covert. Then carry out action at earliest possible date.

VI. All planning and operations under this plan should be examined in the light of the repercussions their implementation would have in the U.N.

VII. Keep NATO, or principal NATO allies, informed of major U.S. decisions and actions under I to IV above, and at appropriate time seek their cooperation in the application of economic measures against the Castro regime.

183. Editorial Note

Cuba was discussed under the heading "U.S. Policy Toward Cuba" at the 479th meeting of the National Security Council on April 27, 1961. According to the Record of NSC Actions, approved by the President on April 29, the following decisions were adopted as NSC Action No. 2413:

"a. Noted the President's view that a decision with respect to trading with Cuba should be deferred pending developments in Cuba during the next week.

"b. Noted the President's request that the Attorney General should prepare recommendations regarding control of Cubans entering or residing in the United States.

"c. Noted the President's request that Assistant Secretary of Defense Nitze, in consultation with appropriate agencies, should complete the Defense study of the military training of Cubans and coordinate it with further proposals from the Department of State with respect to the broader aspects of the Cuban problem." (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, National Security Council Meetings, No. 479)

According to the Record of Actions, the following people, in addition to the President were among the participants in the meeting: Robert Kennedy, Dulles, Bissell, Burke, Gilpatric, Stahr, Connally, Zuckert, Nitze, Murrow, U. Alexis Johnson, McGeorge Bundy, Sorensen, Goodwin, and Taylor. (Ibid.)

184. Notes on the 479th Meeting of the National Security Council

Washington, April 27, 1961.

//Source: Yale University, Bowles Papers, Box 392, Folder 154. Personal. Prepared by Bowles who mistakenly dated this NSC meeting as having taken place on April 24.


[Here follow 6 pages of Bowles' notes; see Documents 158 and 166.]

The climate is getting considerably better, and the emotional attitudes are falling back into line. If anyone had not attended the previous meetings, he would have thought the NSC meeting this morning had its share of fire and fury. However, it was in far lower key.

Ted Sorensen called me aside to say that he was glad I had said what I did, and Dick Goodwin called me to say I had shown great courage in the last few meetings and he was grateful for it.

At this stage plans continue for all kinds of harassment to punish Castro for the humiliation he has brought to our door. However, the general feeling is that all this should be handled carefully, that there should not be too much publicity, that attitudes of others should be taken into account.

There was a reference of making up a black list of those nations which had voted against us, such as Mexico and Brazil and of finding some means to punish them. I did not take this too seriously.

It was interesting to see a cablegram/1/ prepared as a result of the meeting, which misrepresented the entire mood of the meeting. The cablegram was prepared for our ambassadors in Latin America and would have dragged reluctant Latin American governments into a show of power and force against Castro, cutting off diplomatic relations, shutting off trade, and so forth.

/1/Bowles may have confused the results of the April 22 and the April 27 NSC meetings at this point. The "cablegram" under reference could be Document 171.

I was rather startled when I saw the cable, particularly since it had already been initialed by Dean Rusk. However, I called Dean at home at 8:00 and told him I thought the cable totally misrepresented the meeting. He agreed that this was so, and I proceeded to have a first and last page written which showed the view of the President, asking the ambassadors to show great discretion, not to get any publicity, and that no government should be pushed or pulled into positions it was not prepared to take, and that the ambassadors should use their own judgments, avoiding reckless statements which would create the impression of the United States being a wobbly, uncertain, and vindictive power.

185. Memorandum on the Substance of Discussion at a Department of State-Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting

Washington, April 28, 1961, 11 a.m.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.00/4-2861. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the Pentagon. The source text is marked: "State draft--not cleared with Department of Defense".

[Here follow a list of participants and discussion of Laos.]

II. Cuba

Mr. Achilles reported that there had been established a task force on Cuba to pull together the current intelligence information on that country in order to enable the President to reach an ultimate decision.

General LeMay remarked that we had pretty good estimates on the basis of our recent experience and that he was certain that the longer we wait the worse the situation becomes.

Mr. Johnson observed that there were two aspects to the problem: (1) To what degree and when does Cuba become a military threat to the US; (2) Castroism as a subversive and political threat to the Latin American countries. On the second aspect the process for dealing with the problem has been initiated and been in train for several months. We have received internal security assessments from the Latin American countries and, at the present moment, there is an interagency team visiting most of the countries in the Caribbean area to consult with US officials on the spot on the nature of the problem and the types of assistance needed by the local governments.

General LeMay stated that he did not believe that Cuba per se would ever become a military threat to the US. If the Russians moved in, however, it would be a completely different story. The big problem, as he saw it, was the fact that all of Latin America might go Communist if Castro is not curbed. He felt we should not just sit back and let that process proceed unimpaired.

General Shoup asked what we were going to do if Soviet military weapon systems were moved into Cuba. As he saw it our security required that Cuba be devoid of missiles and aircraft which had the capability of being used against the US.

General LeMay commented that the present situation in Cuba gives the Communists a leg up on getting control of the rest of Latin America a lot quicker. Mr. Achilles noted that our problem with respect to Cuba would be a lot simpler if Soviet missiles were actually present there. Our problem is that Cuba is being used as a subversive base to enable the Communists to get control of the Latin American area. Cuba as a military threat is a threat in terms of its ability to train guerrillas to be used in the other countries rather than as an invasion threat against these countries.

Mr. Johnson noted that the Department had established an Operations Center which would be under Mr. Achilles. It was designed to be a focal point of information and action on what we are doing as well as an intelligence center on what the Communists and others are doing. He hoped that the JCS would help us in getting this activity established and moving and expected that State people would undoubtedly be in touch with theirs.

[Here follows discussion of Algeria.]

186. Paper Prepared in the Office of National Estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, April 28, 1961.

//Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Nitze Files, Cuba Papers, 1961. Secret. This draft of SNIE 85-61 was apparently circulated for comment at least to the Department of Defense. There is nothing on the source text to indicate reaction to the draft or any subsequent revision of the estimate. SNIE 85-61, as finally approved and circulated, has not been found.


SNIE 85-61: Outlook for the Castro Regime

The Problem

To assess the internal strengths and weaknesses of the Castro regime in Cuba and to estimate its prospects for survival, over the next six months and over the longer term, assuming that the US continues to encourage opposition to Castro but takes no overt military action against him.

Working Outline

I. Basic Strengths and Weaknesses of the Regime

A. On the eve of the abortive opposition landings in Cuba the Castro regime had changed greatly from that which took power some two years earlier with plaudits of all but small proportion of Cuban population. In its transformation from a liberating movement appealing to all classes to a radical revolutionary regime it had lost many of its initial assets and acquired various liabilities. At the same time it had developed new and important sources of strength.

B. Liabilities

1. Progressive alienation of most of those with stake in society, including much of organized labor and students as well as middle and upper classes. Alienation of some of peasantry. Internal and external opposition stirrings.

2. Economic problems and disruptions.

3. Dissipation of initial support in 26th July movement and in military.

C. Strengths

1. Continuing importance of Castro as symbol of authority and prophet of reform--appeal of Castro and program to rural and urban poor.

2. Growing strength, experience and self-confidence of Communist and other activists manning the apparatus--increasing going concern value.

3. Increasingly effective controls over all phases of economic and social life and progressive elimination of dissidents.

4. Development of militia as security arm specifically tied to regime--impact of equipment and training.

5. Impact of Bloc economic, military and moral support, both in meeting specific problems and shortages and in bolstering confidence and prestige of regime.

6. Continuing usefulness of US as scapegoat.

II. Repercussions of Defeat of Opposition Landings--Short Term Prospects

A. Assessment of internal advantages gained, with caveats about continuation of grumbling and opposition, reaction to mass arrests, probable misgivings in militia.

1. Likelihood of stepped up military and security preparations.

B. Outlook over next six months

III. Longer Term Prospects

A. Over next 1-5 years regime likely to face serious problems in consolidating its position:

1. Regime will probably continue to face at least latent hostility of large proportion of population and has still to reconstitute broad, organized following among peasants and urban poor. Possibility of flareup.

2. Problems of adjustment and deferred maintenance likely to plague economy, increasing sources of discontent.

3. Regime still overly dependent on Castro as individual, though growth of Communist apparatus is likely to reduce this.

4. In time coherence, dedication, freedom from corruption and other distractions among those manning the state apparatus may decline--and at least some possibility of dissension at the top remains.

5. Probable decline in usefulness of US as scapegoat.

B. On other hand, Castro regime has important opportunities:

1. In time, economic and social reform program likely to tie well-being of increasing numbers to the state, thus reducing incentives to buck the system.

2. The longer Castro goes on, the more likely the regime is likely to be accepted by Cuban people and rest of hemisphere as a going concern--grumbling (as in Yugoslavia) will not seriously threaten the regime. Impact of indoctrination.

3. Little likelihood of serious slackening in Bloc support.

4. Internal acceptance of exile groups likely to decline.

C. The extent to which latent and active opposition will continue to pose serious problems for the regime will probably depend primarily on:

1. The extent to which the regime does in fact provide a tolerable livelihood for the Cuban people.

2. The extent to which hopes of successful (if eventual) overthrow are kept alive:

a. Ability of opposition elements to maintain at least symbolic opposition in the mountains.

b. Impact of apparent acceptance of regime by its neighbors--whether or not Cuba remains isolated or is accepted by Latin neighbors.

187. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, April 28, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report. Secret; Eyes Only; Ultrasensitive. No drafter is indicated, but it was probably Colonel Tarwater. The meeting was the fifth in the series conducted by the Cuba Study Group and took place at the Pentagon. The participants in the meeting, in addition to Taylor, Kennedy, Dulles, and Burke, included Admiral Dennison, Captain Ferguson, Commander McCauley, King, Mitchell, and Tarwater.

[Here follows testimony from some of the participants in the Bay of Pigs invasion.]

Admiral Dennison

Statement: My first knowledge that something might happen with regard to Cuba goes back to April 1960, when we helped construct facilities on Swan Island. The next indication I had was when the commander of my amphibious force advised me that he had the task of sanitizing some landing craft, as well as transporting these craft in an LSD to Puerto Rico. At this point, I consulted with General Lemnitzer and asked him if the JCS was aware of these activities. General Lemnitzer told me that he knew something of the activities. At that time he called General Cabell and requested that I be informed of the operation. Consequently, a CIA representative came down and briefed me on a portion of the plan. He explained that the planning for the operation was compartmentalized and that no one group knew all about the operation.

Statement: On the 9th of February I had the privilege of talking with the President. I asked him if I would be engaged in any possible bail-out operations. He responded definitely no, that if anything went wrong the force would fade into the hinterland. The JCS Directive of 7 April/1/ set forth the nature of the naval operation that would be required and directed the mission be executed in such manner that the United States could plausibly deny that we had any part in the operation. On 1 April 1961 I issued my own operation order which set up, among other things, the rules of engagement for surface ships and for the air patrol. (Tab B)/2/ On 1 April I received JSM-365-61,/3/ which gave me my basic orders and also indicated that the CIA was responsible for the planning and implementation of the operation with the DOD in a support role.

/1/Document 85.

/2/Tab B was not found attached.

/3/Not printed, but see Document 76.

Statement: As of this date, I have never seen a copy of the Cuban Invasion Plan./4/ As things turned out, it would have been most helpful if I had. For example, when we observed the Perka we thought it was a ship that had been taken over by the refugees. We had no knowledge of the men aboard the Perka. Furthermore, when we were called upon to start the rescue operation, we didn't know how many men were in there, what particular beaches they'd be landing on, where they were likely to be, or any information of this sort. I understand that the reason we probably were not informed of the details of the plan was because it was felt that we had no need for it. But as I say, as it turned out, we certainly did have. On the 5th of April I received a dispatch from the JCS/5/ which postponed D-Day from 10 April by at least 48 and probably 98 hours. (Tab B) In the dispatch which informed me of the new D-Day of 17 April, I was also informed of a change in the concept of the support that I was to provide./6/ Essentially, this change consisted of the fact that instead of convoying the invasion fleet my forces would be called on to provide area coverage.

/4/Not found.

/5/JCS telegram 993422 to CINCLANT, April 5. (Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials)

/6/Reference is to CM-179-61, April 7, Document 85.

Statement: We had a very difficult time communicating with the Cuban invasion force ships. We didn't know the communications circuits of the ships, nor did we have other adequate means of communication. If the invasion force had been attacked, we'd have had a very difficult time communicationwise. At the same time that I received the change in the concept of the support I was to provide, I also received the first major changes in the rules of engagement./7/ (Tab B)

/7/Reference is to CM-179-61, April 7, Document 85.

Question: Who made the decision to change the rules of engagement?

After some discussion of this question, it was decided that the JCS memo of record on the change on the rules of engagement7 should be secured.

Statement: We were also informed that it was desired that the chance of aborting the mission be minimized. I was informed that the Cuban invasion force was prepared to take risks to prevent the possibility of aborting the mission by overly anxious intervention.

Statement: I wanted then, and I still want, more comprehensive, current intelligence on Cuba, particularly photographs. I am particularly concerned about Guantanamo. What Castro's reaction may be in this connection is a great concern to me.

Statement: I am opposed to the use of DOD personnel in a covert operation. I believe that when U.S. forces go into an operation, they should go in under the cover of their U.S. uniform.

Statement: In view of the extent to which we became involved in the Cuban operation, I believe that it should have been conducted by me, through a special task force. I believe that in an operation of this sort the control has to be centralized, and the control should be military. Even in this covert operation, at some stage it should have been handled by the regular military staff rather than a group restricted in size by security considerations.

It was agreed that Admiral Dennison would forward to the Study Group a copy of his record of the operation./8/

/8/A copy of the chronology of the Bumpy Road Operation maintained by CINCLANT, which was provided to the Cuba Study Group, is in the Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials.

188. Memorandum From the Chief of Naval Operations (Burke) to the Director of the Joint Staff (Wheeler)

Washington, April 29, 1961.

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


Landing in Cuba on short notice

1. Yesterday the Secretary of Defense was interested in what we could do in Cuba on five days notice. We were giving him a horseback estimate which is not the best way to do it.

2. Have the Joint Staff and/or CINCLANT come up with an outline plan on what we could get into Cuba five days after the President says go, with an indication of what additional forces we could get if we had three more days. This plan should also indicate how fast we could build up our strength after D-Day.

Arleigh Burke/1/

/1/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

189. Editorial Note

In a speech at a May Day rally in Havana on May 1, 1961, Cuban Premier Fidel Castro stated that there had been a socialist revolution in Cuba and that Cuba was a socialist country. (The New York Times, May 2, 1961) On May 2 Department of State press spokesman Lincoln White interpreted Castro's speech to mean that Cuba had openly become a member of the "Sino-Soviet bloc." He noted that Castro's use of the term socialist was consistent with usage throughout the Communist bloc, where socialism was viewed as a stage in the evolution toward Communism. In fact, White stated, Castro's speech made it appear that "Castro considers Cuba further along the communist road than some other countries in the bloc." (American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pages 306-307)

Secretary of State Rusk confirmed this interpretation in his replies to questions at a press conference at the Department of State on May 4. Rusk noted that Cuba had become, in Castro's own words, "a declared member of the Sino-Soviet bloc." Rusk described the development as a "setback" for the Western Hemisphere. He stated, "the thing to do now is to draw a deep breath and look over the situation very carefully and consider a wide range of problems involved and possible actions which ought to be taken; and, most of all, to stay on the main road of hemispheric development and hemispheric solidarity." (Department of State Bulletin, May 22, 1961, page 762)

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

Washington, May 1, 1961.

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


Cuban Contingency Plans

On Saturday, 29 April, Admiral Burke and I reviewed with the President Contingency Plan 1/1/ for the invasion of Cuba by U.S. troops. As you will recall, the Plan was designed to minimize U.S. and Cuban casualties, minimize the time required for subjugation of Cuba, and maximize the assurance of a successful operation. The Plan provided for the use of approximately 60,000 troops, excluding naval and air units, and required 25 days between the date of decision and D-Day. It was estimated that complete control of the island could be obtained within 8 days, although it was recognized that guerrilla forces would continue to operate beyond the 8th day in the Escambray Mountains and Oriente Province. The land, sea, and air forces required for the invasion were to be secured from existing forces--no additions to existing forces, with the possible exception of a few merchant ships, would be required prior to D-Day.

/1/Not found. This was an apparent revision of the Outline Plan sent by the Joint Chiefs to McNamara in JCSM-278-61, Document 178.

The President concurred in the general outline of the Plan.

Please assign to the Joint Staff and CINCLANT the responsibility for preparing the detailed instructions necessary to implement the Plan. These instructions should be designed to minimize the lead time required, and maximize security during the period between the decision and the invasion.

I want to repeat again that work on these plans should not be interpreted as an indication that U.S. military action against Cuba is probable.

Robert S. McNamara/2/

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

191. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Ball) and the Director of the Operations Center (Achilles)

Washington, May 1, 1961, 5:45 p.m.

//Source: Kennedy Library, Ball Papers, Subject Series, Cuba, 1/24/61-12/30/62. No classification marking. Transcribed in Ball's office.

Referring to paper on Cuba,/1/ Ball asked what the status was. Achilles said the second draft/2/ has been written. Ball asked if it had been sent out of the Department. Achilles replied that it had gone to Defense. Ball said he is going to a meeting tomorrow which [is] of such critical importance that he would like to have another draft and asked Achilles if he could meet with him to get together to agree on some modifications here. Achilles said the paper was originally drafted in ARA and that he redrafted it. He talked to the Secretary yesterday afternoon but the Secretary has not seen it. Achilles said he told the Secretary it would take a lot of pulling and hauling in all directions. Ball thought the paper was too one-sided. Achilles asked which direction Ball thought it was slanted. Ball replied that it was slanted toward intervention. Achilles said he thought it was slanted the other way. Ball said not the way he read it. Achilles said he tried to meet in the middle and state both positions fairly. Defense definitely thinks it is slanted against intervention. Ball said he didn't want to be in a position of attacking a paper State has sent over. Achilles said he would be glad to meet any time with Ball. Ball agreed on 6 p.m./3/

/1/Reference is to the paper originally submitted to the NSC on April 27 as the "Plan for Cuba," Document 182. It was in the process of being revised on May 1 by an interagency Task Force headed by Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Nitze.

/2/Not found.

/3/On May 2 Ball discussed the draft Cuba policy paper with Bowles. Ball expressed the concern that the policy review was moving too quickly and was likely to produce a half-digested product. Bowles agreed and wondered whether it might be possible to postpone the NSC discussion of Cuba policy scheduled for May 5. Ball noted that the administration was confronting a major policy decision on Cuba, and Bowles observed that it could not afford any more mistakes. Ball stated, however, that it would not be easy to delay the policy review because Nitze had been given a deadline to produce the paper and he was working hard to blend the contributions he had received from State and Defense. Ball concluded that the end product would not be bad. (Memorandum of telephone conversation, May 2; Kennedy Library, Ball Papers, Subject Series, Cuba, 1/24/61-12/30/62)

192. Memorandum From Senator Mike Mansfield to President Kennedy

Washington, May 1, 1961.

//Source: Johnson Library, Vice Presidential Security File, NSC III. No classification marking. Senator Mansfield of Montana was the Majority Leader of the Senate.


The Cuban Aftermath

The consequences of the recent incident in Cuba give us some guidelines as to how to proceed in the weeks and months ahead. The principal consequences would appear to be the following:

(1) Responsible world opinion was, to say the least, somewhat shocked by this episode.

(2) Significant Latin American opinion was hard-put to express a reaction which would not alienate us by criticizing us but, at the same time, would not put the Latin Americans in the position of endorsing our course in this incident. For this restraint on their part, the promise of the Alianza para Progreso deserves full credit. Without that promise, Mexico, Brazil and others might have been vehement in their criticism.

(3) The most articulate support at home for our role in the course leading to the episode and the episode itself was Republican and the clamor for further action is largely Republican and, significantly, not the Senate Minority Leader or Governor Rockefeller.

(4) The incident showed Castro solidly entrenched and this was not anticipated. Oddly enough, Castro reacted with comparative mildness to the incident and this was not generally anticipated either. This would suggest that our sensitivity to this personality and to the Cuban people is not what it ought to be. The post-incident reaction of Castro, moreover, suggests that he might have been shocked, at least partially, into a realization of how provocative he had become. The mixed and mild Latin American reaction may have brought home to him the fact that he had alienated some mighty good people in this hemisphere. Finally, he may have been brought to realize how heavily dependent he has become on a far-away country and on a system which has become less and less Cuban and more and more alien.

It should hardly be necessary to add that the above analysis is highly speculative. Nevertheless, it is not an inadmissible hypothesis. The point is that we have not gauged Cuban affairs effectively in the past and we do not now really know the implications of the unexpected Castro reaction. It is highly in our interests to explore this reaction rather than merely to dismiss it curtly.

(5) The Cuban exiles' reaction to the incident is one of bitterness and, as might be expected from our well-intentioned but ineffective involvement we are blamed for their frustrations. It will be a long time, if at all, before this same group is likely to prove effective in any movement to unseat the Cuban government, with or without U.S. financial help and with or without strengthening by U.S. guerrilla-type forces.


Historically, revolutions have been successful in Cuba when a relatively small group of Cubans acting largely with their own blood and fortunes choose that decisive moment when the mass of the Cuban people have had a surfeit of an existing regime. That moment is likely to come for the Castro regime if it continues in its present ways. The small group that will tip the balance will find its own methods. If the circumstances are right, the group will succeed without U.S. help of any significance as, in fact, Castro succeeded and, before him, the revolutionists against Machado.

The problem for us is to face up to the fact that we have made a mistake. If we react in frustrated anger we are likely to intensify the mistake. It will not be easy to face the fact; political pressures at home to the contrary will be applied. Nevertheless, it is the courageous thing to do and the sensible thing to do. For if we yield to the temptation to give vent to our anger at our own failure, we will, ironically, strengthen Castro's position with his own people, jeopardize our relations with much of Latin America and do further damage to our position throughout the world.

This does not mean that the use of force on our part is ruled out in all circumstances. Here are specific situations in which its use would probably be acceptable to Latin America and world opinion:

(1) Guantanamo--Force as a response to a Cuban effort of force to take over this base is essential even though the base may have little military value and, in other circumstances, its relinquishment through negotiation might be indicated.

(2) Force to prevent the establishment of Soviet missile or any other kind of base for Russian forces in Cuba, provided we are seriously re-eval-uating our own base-policies on the rim of the Soviet Union.

(3) Force in support of other Latin American nations subject to a military invasion by Cuba.

The key to the effective use of force in these situations, however, is its restraint. It has got to be clear that the force is adjusted in quantity to the specific acceptable objectives involved in each situation and that we are not using the situations merely as an excuse for a general intervention in Cuba. To those who would suggest directly or indirectly that they be so used, these questions might well be put: What if we do intervene directly and succeed in overthrowing Castro? What have we really achieved beyond, perhaps, a certain measure of self-satisfaction that at least we can stop the Communists in Cuba? If the timing of the intervention is bad, we will have a long drawn-out guerrilla war with substantial casualties and great costs. When it is over we will have to install some kind of government in Havana and prop it up with a costly aid program for a long time to come. We will probably have to reinstate the sugar quota. We will have, in short, a devastated Cuba, no closer to freedom and stability than it has been in the past and, brought to that point at enormous cost to ourselves and to the Cuban people.

If we eschew the temptation to strike back in frustrated anger, then the course of policy which suggests itself is this:

(1) A gradual disengagement of the U.S. government from anti-Castro revolutionary groups; let them proceed on their own if they wish, without blessing or financial support from the United States.

(2) A taciturn resistance to the political blandishments or provocations from those at home who would urge that we act directly in Cuba.

(3) A cessation of violent verbal attacks on Castro by officials of the government, as least pending an evaluation by Latin American friends of his somewhat unusual reaction to the incident of the invasion. And in this connection, a little less vehemence in our refusal to countenance his suggestions for talks about our difficulties is clearly indicated.

(4) If possible, let the lead on condemning the Castro government in inter-American meetings come from friendly Latin American countries rather than from ourselves. Similarly, let the lead on proposals for a boycott or other acts short of war come from them. We should go along with these attempts to pressure Cuba but we should do so with a minimum of ostentation and we should not lose patience if the pressures cannot be built on a hemispheric basis at this time.

(5) For the present, abstain from and stall on but do not condemn in advance, efforts of significant Latin American countries to bring about a partial reconciliation between Cuba and the United States if they feel these efforts are worth making.

(6) Push hard and fast with the follow-through on the Alianza para Progreso. Reorganize the relevant Departments and Agencies in the Executive Branch for this purpose. Assign outstanding men from the White House staff and elsewhere to direct the effort. This is the key to our relations with all of Latin America in the next decade, and unless it is turned, Castroism is likely to spread elsehwere in Latin America whether or not Castro remains in power in Cuba. The best prospect of preventing this spread is to render the soil of the balance of Latin America sterile to the growth of this off-spring of mass discontent. The Alianza para Progreso is a sound concept for bringing about the sterilization. The problem now is to act on its premises rapidly and sure-footedly. If it works, there is a good possibility that Castro will either wither on the vine and [or?] be eventually overthrown by the Cubans themselves. Faced with that prospect it is not inconceivable that he may try to lead Cuba back into the House of the Hemisphere or yield to someone who can./1/

/1/A similar memorandum was addressed to Secretary Rusk by Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island on May 5. Like Mansfield, Pell warned against the dangers of direct U.S. military intervention in Cuba, and suggested that when the time was ripe, the Cuban people would depose Castro themselves. He also stressed the importance of the Alliance for Progress initiative. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/5-561)

193. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, May 1, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report. Secret; Eyes Only; Ultrasensitive. No drafter is indicated but it was probably Colonel Tarwater. The meeting was the seventh in the series conducted by the Cuba Study Group and took place at the Pentagon. The participants in the meeting, in addition to Taylor, Kennedy, Dulles, and Burke, included McGeorge Bundy, Admiral Clark, Captain Crutchfield, Captain Kenscher, Commander McGriffin, Mitchell, and Tarwater.

[Here follows discussion of organizational matters involving a request by Taylor for additional information.]

Admiral Clark

Admiral Clark, the Commander of the Navy Task Group in the operation, was the first person to appear before the Group. In his introductory remarks he made the point that all the orders he had received were good dispatches and clear and that they were all carried out fully; that his evacuation efforts, however, were difficult because he couldn't fire back and because the waters in the Bay were restricted.

Question: With regard to the one-hour period when you were flying CAP for the CEF air unit there is some indication that there may have been a misunderstanding on the time. Please describe what happened.

Answer: Yes. We were ordered to fly cover for the CEF bombers from 0630 to 0730 Romeo/1/ on the morning of the 19th of April. However, I decided to play this one safe and ordered my people to be on station one-half hour early in the event that the CEF aircraft made the trip quicker than they had anticipated. However, they came over our ship one hour early and consequently we launched our aircraft immediately. We arrived over the beach area forty minutes before 0630 Romeo. However, by that time the CEF aircraft had already made their strikes and left.

/1/Romeo is a reference to local time.

At this point Mr. King was requested to check with the CEF air forces and determine what caused the time discrepancy.

Question: Would you describe what you saw on the reconnaissance flights on D+1 and D+2?

Commander McGriffin: On D+1 at approximately 1530 there was lots of traffic moving down the east side of the Bay. There were a number of tanks, trucks and there were six or eight burned-out busses. The tanks were not burned out apparently, however, because while they were stopped on the first flight at 1530, we checked again at 1730 and by that time they had moved. On D+2 we saw some burned-out friendly tanks. The enemy had established a roadblock in an area north of the beachhead. A large number of trucks and forces were converging on the area from all directions. About 1200 on D+2 we saw the CEF all bunched up at the little resort on the beach.

Question: You got the impression that there was a rapid and intensive reaction by Castro?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: Admiral Clark, do you have any recommendations that you'd like to make with regard to the Cuba operation or any future operations of this sort?

Answer: I believe it went better than we had a right to expect. Possibly once the rules of engagement have been established, it would be desirable to give the commander on the spot a freer hand.

Question: What do you think were the reasons for failure?

Answer: One obvious reason was that surprise was not achieved.

Response: All the evidence we have had to date indicates that tactical surprise was achieved.

Answer: Well, the opposition formed awfully fast. I think Castro's people saw the CEF force from a lighthouse and they also could have seen them from the air. Another possible reason for failure was that the beach was not as advertised. It was supposed to be a sandy beach, whereas it was coral. Furthermore, the opposition was not as advertised.

Question: Could they have been seen by the lighthouse?

Answer: Yes, sir, they could have seen us very clearly from the lighthouse.

Mr. Dulles: We have no evidence of any reports originating from this lighthouse. I'll have to talk to Mr. Lynch.

Statement: With regard to the evacuation of the CEF force, on the last day we couldn't have evacuated the force unless were prepared to fight our way in. If we'd been allowed to use counterforce we could have taken them all out. On D+3 we started our destroyers cruising along the beaches a couple of miles from shore at night and five miles from shore during the days so that the survivors could see us and would come out. A group of refugees of the invasion force did make their way to the keys west of Cochinos Bay and we picked them up. However, we picked up no one on the east side of the Bay. Without using counterforce it was impossible to move in to pick up survivors during the daylight because we were straddled by artillery fire at three miles offshore.

Question: With regard to the possibility of the invasion forces having been sighted from the air, did any aircraft fly over or did you pick up any airliners?

Answer: Yes. Furthermore, since the convoy formed in the daylight, it could have been seen from the air.

Statement: Well, let's ask Colonel King to check with the people that planned the naval portion of the operation and determine whether or not this lighthouse had been considered as a factor in the operation, and whether or not the force was supposed to come within sight of the lighthouse.

Lieutenant Colonel Egan

At this point Admiral Clark and the officers of his command left and Lieutenant Colonel Egan appeared before the Group. Colonel Egan stated that he was the operations officer for the project.

Statement: Prior to September the Cubans were being trained as guerrilla teams. I went down on an inspection trip, during which the Guatemalan revolution broke out. We were concerned about the possibility of losing our bases. President Ydigoras requested that we make an airborne landing, which we did. I was in command of the outfit. Washington gave us permission to do this, but I operated under the Mission Chief in Guatemala.

Mr. Dulles: We can give you the facts on this.

Colonel Egan: Following the Guatemalan revolt I was sent down to organize the brigade. On the 20th of November 1960 we had about 420 members in the Cuban force. During this period we were trying to build up our brigade and by the 8th of December we initiated a seven-week training program with approximately 575 to 600 troops.

Question: Who were the trainers?

Answer: At this time I had five American trainers and Cuban officer personnel to assist in the training. However, it must be remembered that we weren't dealing with raw recruits.

Question: How did you determine the background and potential leadership capabilities of the various persons in the brigade?

Answer: We had background files on each man. However, the actual selection for leadership positions depended on the performance of the men in the field.

Question: Did you have political problems?

Answer: At first, yes. However, as it became obvious that no one received any special privileges and that all ranks were only temporary, and that if a man selected for a position of leadership couldn't handle the position he went back to the ranks, when these factors became evident the political problem subsided.

Question: Tell us something of Pepe./2/

/2/Jose Perez San Roman, commander of the CEF brigade.

Answer: He came from a long line of military officers. His father was a General in the Cuban Army. Pepe was a Captain in the Cuban Army. He had trained at Fort Benning, Georgia. He could work with anyone. He was earnest, proud, self-sacrificing and a natural born leader.

Question: Did you say you had ample leadership and training?

Answer: Adequate leadership and training, yes, but not experience. Twenty per cent of our troops, however, were former soldiers.

Question: Did you have any reservations as to the readiness of this force?

Answer: No. I felt that each week they delayed would bring a retrogression in the force.

Question: Was there ever any discussion of U.S. participation or direct assistance in this operation, militarily speaking?

Answer: Yes, there were rumors, but we carefully pointed out that diplomatic and logistical support would be given, and the lines of communication would be kept open. Beyond this, however, no support could be expected from the United States.

Question: Did they feel betrayed when the United States aircraft didn't come in?

Answer: Yes. It was obvious that the enemy was using jets and the United States jets were visible to them and, of course, they couldn't understand why they didn't come to their assistance.

Question: Then it was a natural reaction rather than their having been told that the United States would enter on their behalf?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Did you think that the United States aircraft would come in and support the force?

Answer: I hoped so, but I didn't believe so.

Question: Were instructions given as to what to do if the operation failed?

Answer: Yes.

Question: What?

Answer: There were several contingencies: (1) If we passed the code word they were not to make the landing. (2) If the landing malfunctioned due to heavy surf or enemy opposition they were to disperse according to plan. They were to be evacuated by boat, and as a last resort they were to disperse and continue guerrilla operations in the swamp.

Question: Were any specific areas in the swamp assigned for guerrilla operations?

Answer: No, sir.

Question: Then when they fell back to Blue Beach they were doing what they were supposed to do so that they could be evacuated?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Could a man penetrate and live in the swamp?

Answer: Yes, a man could penetrate, but a unit couldn't, and there was enough small game, fish and fresh water in the swamp that men could survive.

Question: If you had to evacuate the men by sea how would you have moved them out?

Answer: By the same boats that brought them in. We had 36 18 1/2-foot aluminum ships. As I recall, I thought he mentioned that the men were searching for and using indigenous boats.

Question: Do we have any evidence that Pepe ever gave the command for the force to become guerrillas?

Answer: No.

Question: Do you believe that some of the men of the force could have come through the swamp?

Answer: Yes.

Colonel Egan: The pilots of the aircraft carrying the airborne troops said that the troops at DZ-1 were attacked by approximately 800 militia.

Question: Do you believe that the landing was a surprise?

Answer: Yes, sir, because the time it took Castro to get tanks and artillery to the beachhead area were the exact times that we thought it would take to move this equipment from known positions.

Question: Did you like the terrain for this operation in the Zapata area?

Answer: On the basis of the restrictions, yes. This would have worked. These boys were good. The only thing they lacked was ammunition.

Statement: Four out of five drops were successful. We don't know what happened to one drop over Red Beach.

Question: How many instructors did you end up with?

Answer: Forty-four.

Statement: I didn't have one AWOL for three weeks before the landing, and no one failed to go with the force, nor failed to jump with the airborne unit.

Question: Who screened the people assigned to this force?

Mr. Dulles: First the Cubans and then our Counterintelligence people.

Colonel Egan: We had four double agents.

Question: Do you think that agents got word back to Castro as to what you were doing?

Answer: Yes. Retalhuleu had 120 card-carrying Communists, including the Mayor. However, in an attempt to maintain security, I stopped all out-going mail three weeks before the operation, and all incoming mail was stopped for seven days prior to the operation. Of course, these troops had a number of secret channels.

Question: Was your camp adequate?

Answer: It could have been better, but it was adequate.

Question: Why wasn't it possible to rehearse the amphibious landing?

Answer: We did have a partial rehearsal, but we couldn't bring the vessels to the Pacific side where our camp was for this would have meant bringing them through the Panama Canal.

Question: I want to go back to the guerrillas. Who might have eluded capture?

Answer: A number of men from most of the positions. All these men were given compass and map reading and other guerrilla training.

Statement: To sum up the guerrilla situation then, there was no particular training directed toward it, as such, primarily because you had pretty good guerrillas to start with.

Colonel Egan: Yes, sir.

Statement: Also, for morale reasons you had not briefed the entire force on the possibilities of having to take to the swamps as guerrillas. However, the day before the force left you did brief the commanders on guerrilla operations and the fact that you felt that the primary means of evacuation was seaborne and airborne evacuation, and only if all other things failed would the force attempt to operate as guerrillas.

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: What would have been the consequences if, just before this invasion was launched, the men had been directed to conduct guerrilla type operations?

Answer: They probably would have revolted.

Question: But I understood that they initially wanted to go in as guerrillas?

Answer: Yes, but we showed them the advantages of mass firepower, and I believe that they were convinced that the shock action against Castro's forces in meeting this firepower would cause the militia to break and run, and spark mass defections.

Question: Then while the Cuban exiles originally wanted to conduct guerrilla operations they had been convinced that this was a rather unremunerative approach to the problem?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: Where are the refugees being debriefed?

Answer: At Miami, Puerto Cabezas, Norfolk and Vieques.

Statement: While we don't want to get into the matter in too much detail here, it seems that for historical reasons it would be a good thing if CIA would prepare an after action report on the over-all operation.

Answer: Yes, we are doing that.

Question: What would have happened if the operation had been called off after the first part of April?

Colonel Egan: It would have depended upon the posture they were in at the time. If it had been called off after they were actually on the way they would have taken over and kept going. I was informed that if the operation was called off they would take over. They said that as a friend we want you to direct all your people not to resist if this comes about, because we don't want anybody to get hurt. Consequently I had all our people turn in their side arms. I would say that after the 1st of April it was a go operation.

Statement: With regard to the merchant ships that went into the beachhead area, let's determine just what orders were given to the ships and by whom. Also, let's look into Lynch's story about the fact that they were going to take ammunition into the beachhead area in an LCI, but by the time the operation could be undertaken it would have been daylight before they arrived, so the mission was cancelled.

[Here follows testimony by McGeorge Bundy, which was deleted at Bundy's request as not adequately representing his point of view on several points. Bundy replaced this portion of the memorandum for the record with a May 4 letter to Taylor, Document 201.]

194. Report Prepared by a Combined Working Group From the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the Department of State and the Office of National Estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, May 2, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, S/P-NSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Secret. A note on the source text indicates that an initial draft of the report was prepared on May 1.



I. The Present Situation in Cuba

A. The Armed Forces

The armed forces of the Castro regime number some 250,000, of whom some 200,000 are militia. The regular forces--army, navy, air, and national police--have been shaken by purges of officers and men who previously supported Castro against Batista but later became disillusioned by events in Cuba. Castro distrusts the armed forces and has built up the militia, thereby reducing his dependence on the military.

Bloc arms deliveries and intensive training have increased the military capabilities of the army, but its tactical training is still deficient. The militia is composed of people who generally serve only part-time, subject to call in an emergency, but some full-time militia units are now being formed and trained. The latter are, in effect, units of a second, more politically-reliable army. The air force and navy suffer from a lack of professionally trained and technically qualified personnel.

B. Control Mechanisms

In little over two years the Castro regime has established a complex of interlocking mechanisms enabling it to control virtually every phase of life in Cuba. This has been accomplished by imposing leadership loyal to the regime on every local and national organization of any importance, by regimenting the economy, by creating an elaborate internal security apparatus, and by seizing all major newspapers and radio and TV stations.

C. Attitudes of Key Individuals

Every key national figure in Cuban society, with the notable exception of the Catholic hierarchy, is by now either a dedicated supporter of communism and the Castro regime or a non-Communist so deeply committed to the regime as to be unlikely to turn against it.

D. Class and Regional Attitudes

The upper class has been destroyed as an effective political or economic force in Cuba. The middle class, which has suffered most from deteriorating economic conditions and the increasingly tight controls imposed by the government, provides the principal organized opposition to the Castro regime.

Attitudes of the lower class toward the regime are dependent upon the degree to which Castro has fulfilled his promises, the degree of hope remaining for the future realization of as yet unfulfilled promises, and the extent of psychological identification with the Revolution. It is that part of the newly self-conscious lower class which has already received positive benefits from the Revolution, or still hopes for future improvement in conditions, that now provides the real mass support for the Castro regime. This group of perhaps 25 percent to 30 percent of the total population probably constitutes the poorest segment of the large Cuban lower class.

By no means all of the Cuban lower class can be considered to favor the Castro regime. The failure of the government to carry out many of its earlier promises has led to increasing disappointment and dissatisfaction. This does not mean, however, that there has been an equal increase in willingness to act against the regime.

E. Economy

The Cuban economy continues to deteriorate both in terms of physical output and in living levels. Output in the industrial sector has been adversely affected by parts and raw material shortages, although sugar production may match or exceed last year's level and the regime is making strenuous efforts to expand agricultural production. Cuba's trade has been redirected largely to the Soviet Bloc, whose economic support is vital for the Castro regime.

II. Probable Trends Within Cuba, Assuming No Major US Intervention

A. Political Prospects

Six Months. The position of the Castro regime has been strengthened by the recent invasion victory. It is probable that there will be no major change in internal political conditions during the next six months. Anti-Castro activity within Cuba will be muted as a result of the defeat of the invasion force. Castro may take advantage of his recent victory to organize a full-scale campaign against anti-Castro forces, or he may use the coming period of relative calm as a means of establishing a reputation for forbearance in the face of armed provocation. Indications are that he will probably follow the latter course. He will, in the immediate future, take advantage of his increased strength within Cuba to seize the Church's educational system, and banish two-thirds of the clergy (the non-Cuban proportion).

One Year. The psychological impact of the recent Castro victory will have worn off and living conditions will not have improved perceptibly. Organized anti-Castro opposition will probably have stepped up its sabotage activities, but morale may be weakened (depending upon the extent of US support) by the apparent hopelessness of the battle against the regime.

Castro will have strengthened his position within the military and extended his control over the Cuban people. Police state methods will have become more effective. The Cuban Communist Party (PSP) will play a more open role in the government, but will not attempt to attain the open exercise of total power.

Five Years. All effective opposition to the regime will probably have been eliminated. Popular attitudes will also have changed. As economic conditions improve, the population will more easily reconcile itself to repugnant political controls. In addition, an extended period in which to indoctrinate the populace will almost certainly result in a significant increase in emotional and psychological identification with the regime.

Governmental controls will have become pervasive and effective. Increased efficiency of control agencies plus an extension of these controls into all aspects of Cuban life will make dissidence almost totally ineffective irrespective of any possible rise in popular antipathy for the regime beyond that foreseen.

B. Probable Trends in the Armed Forces

With continuing material and technical assistance from the Bloc and with further military training and political indoctrination, under Bloc tutelage, the combat effectiveness of the Cuban armed forces will substantially increase. The Bloc will probably provide some MIG-17's when Cuban pilots training in Czechoslovakia return home. However, the buildup of a sizable jet air force in Cuba will probably be a slow process as compared with the improvement of the army. Nonnuclear air defense missiles may be supplied to Cuba, but the Bloc will not supply offensive type missiles nor nuclear weapons. The solution of the navy's immediate problem depends on the pace at which politically reliable personnel can be technically trained with Bloc assistance. That will take time, and it appears that nothing much is being done about it now.

C. Economic Prospects

Six Months. The economy will deteriorate further, although not sufficiently to jeopardize the regime's stability. The end of the sugar season will mean a general decline in economic activity. Problems in selling sugar in the world market, other than the Bloc, may cause further foreign exchange problems, although the Bloc will move to supply essential requirements.

One Year. Another sugar season and anticipated expansion of industrial plants with Bloc assistance will bolster the economy, although Cuba will still be heavily dependent upon its foreign sugar sales, as yet unpredictable.

Some of the major supply and technical problems will have been overcome, and aggregate production may be on the upswing. Consumer austerity will still be in force, although consumption levels of the lower classes especially the rural population may increase slightly.

Five Years. Cuba's natural resources and Bloc economic assistance form the basis to permit Cuba to accomplish much of its five-year plan. This would mean greater economic independence, through increased self-sufficiency, less dependence on sugar, near-full employment, and gradual economic growth.

III. Cuban Vulnerabilities

A. Economic

Economic vulnerabilities of the Castro regime include its foreign exchange position, spare parts and raw materials shortages, lack of sufficient technical and managerial personnel, declining per capita income, and consumer shortages and the growing black market. Imposition of the Trading with the Enemy Act against Cuba (which would inter alia reduce Cuba's foreign exchange earnings from the US and would extend the US export embargo to all products) and a campaign of limited sabotage against Cuba's industries and utilities would aggravate these problems, though not sufficiently, by themselves, to jeopardize the regime's stability. The Bloc would act to assist Cuba by providing minimum essentials and possibly supplying some foreign exchange. A program of extensive sabotage or a complete blockade would cause serious economic breakdowns, especially in the urban and industrial sectors. In the case of extensive sabotage the Bloc again could be expected to provide the minimum essentials to maintain the Cuban economy. The possibilities of a direct Soviet-US confrontation in the event of a blockade, and the impact of such action on our international position, are not considered in this paper.

B. Political

If Fidel Castro were to be eliminated from the scene the regime might collapse for lack of this central rallying point. On the other hand, the bureaucracy may now be so firmly entrenched that it could operate without him.

Popular resentment against the totalitarian controls imposed by the regime has steadily increased. This resentment is open to exploitation through a psychological warfare campaign or a program of reprisals against members of the control apparatus, e.g., informers.

The hold of the regime depends in large part on control of mass communications media. Sabotage of these facilities would deprive the regime of this advantage; sabotage of other communications would impair the effectiveness of police controls.

IV. Relations of Castro With Latin America

A. Nature and Extent of the Threat Posed by Castro

The threat posed by the Castro regime in Latin America stems from its inherent appeal to the forces of social unrest and anti-Americanism at a time when most of the area is in the throes of a fundamental transformation. Castro and the Communists have made assiduous efforts to capitalize on this situation. Cuba has become the center of a propaganda and subversion campaign of unprecedented proportions in Latin America. Both Castro and the Communists see the Cuban revolution not as an end in itself but as the prototype of a transformation which will eventually sweep over all of Latin America. Given the chaotic stage of Latin American politics pro-Castro elements have a significant capability for stirring up demonstrations and disorders in a number of countries, and in a few an outside chance of gaining power in the next few years.

B. Present Attitudes Toward Castro

In the aftermath of the recent invasion of Cuba, Latin American attitudes toward Castroism have become more fluid. Ruling groups are temporarily more fearful of the Soviet thrust in the hemisphere and less fearful of popular reaction in support of Castro.

The OAS is now less hostile to US intervention in Cuba than before the invasion, but a majority of its members is still not prepared to intervene in Cuba.

C. Probable Developments in the Absence of US Intervention

The danger is not so much that subversive apparatus centered in Havana will be able to export the revolution directly as that increasing misery and discontent among the mass of the Latin American people will provide opportunities for pro-Castro elements to act. The Cuban-Communist political warfare apparatus can obviously do much to further the process, however.

In the absence of direct Cuban intervention in the internal affairs of neighboring states, the present fears of Castroism among Latin American ruling groups will wane and the traditional nonintervention policies will be reasserted.

The Soviet Union is expected to counsel Castro to avoid overt actions which would provoke US counteraction or which could be interpreted by other Latin American governments as Cuban intervention in their domestic affairs.

D. Effect on the US Position

The continued existence of the Castro regime would fundamentally alter the terms of Latin American relations with the US. US restraint would be interpreted by Latin American ruling groups as evidence of weakness.

Aside from its direct effect on US prestige the survival of Castro would profoundly affect Latin American political life. It would set the stage for political struggle in terms long promoted by Communist prop-aganda in the hemisphere, with the issue drawn between "popular" anti-US forces and the ruling groups allied with the US.

The US would have to be prepared to underwrite huge welfare and economic development programs and to involve itself directly in their success, always under some threat of withdrawal of cooperation by the Latin American governments.

On the other hand, if Castro were eliminated, the US would be in a much stronger position to insist upon adoption of a program of moderate, evolutionary change by the ruling groups in Latin America.

The expulsion of Cuba's Soviet-controlled regime would deprive the USSR of its bridgehead in the western hemisphere and would remove the model for action by extremist groups. However, the Soviets would still have a multitude of weaknesses to exploit, and would have achieved real gains over their early 1959 position.

[Here follows the 61-page body of the report.]

195. Memorandum From the Secretary of the Air Force (Zuckert) to Secretary of Defense McNamara

Washington, May 3, 1961.

//Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 381 (Sensitive). Top Secret. A note on the source text indicates that McNamara saw the memorandum.

This is a follow-up to our discussion on Cuba yesterday morning. The Air Staff, in conjunction with the Tactical Air Command, has prepared a plan which would airdrop six Army battle groups plus necessary support (roughly two Airborne Divisions) into Cuba. This operation could start within 28 hours after receipt of the order of execution and would require 114 hours to complete. Fifty-seven squadrons of troop carrier airlift would be used, including 16 squadrons of Reserve Forces C-119's. The use of the Reserve squadrons is consistent with their combat capability and is necessary to preclude stretching out the assault time and thereby reducing surprise and shock effect.

The plan is now in being in outline form/1/ and work is underway in developing the details. It is being coordinated with the Army.

/1/Not found.

I recommend you consider the type operation envisaged in this plan before any firm Department of Defense decision is made in this regard.


[end of document]


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

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