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Department Seal

Volume X
Cuba, 1961-1962



Cuba, 1961-1962

236. Informational Memorandum

Washington, June 22, 1961.

//Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Box 12, Cuba, A Item 8. No classification marking. No drafting information appears on the source text, but it was initialed as seen by General Taylor, indicating that the memorandum may have been prepared in response to the continuing interest of the members of the Cuba Study Group in the subject. The memorandum was apparently drafted in the Central Intelligence Agency.


Comments by Fidel Castro 14 and 15 June on the Invasion of 17 April 1961

1. The airborne battalion was dropped in at points too close to the landing beaches. If they had been dropped at a more remote point of the causeways and had cut these, Castro could not have moved in his tanks, motorized artillery and "10,000 rockets". Apart from lack of air cover, the invaders' main errors were this failure to drop the airborne battalion far enough inland and this failure to cut the causeways to Playa Giron and Playa Larga. Also, the paratroopers did not engage the enemy until approximately 0800 on D-Day. Castro was mystified at the delay in entering into action. The invaders did not know of certain special trails by which Castro had been able to infiltrate men (not heavy stuff) into the Cienaga de Zapata.

2. After the Houston was sunk about five miles south of Playa Larga, the Battalion which it was carrying got ashore and bivouacked. Castro could not understand why it did not march to Playa Larga and join the forces which had been landed and were in combat.

3. Castro himself was in the second or third tank that advanced from Australia to Parite (which Castro said should be called "Palite") and the tank in front of him was knocked out.

4. The invading forces fought very well as long as they thought they had air cover. After it failed, it was an easy matter to get them to surrender.

5. Castro said 15 June that his air force consisted of four T-33's and two Sea Furies and one B-26. 14 June he had said, "We dispersed my T-33's, Sea Furies and F-27's and we dispersed them very well," with the apparent intended implication that a second strike would not have gotten all of them. He also said 14 June: "I had a few more aircraft than I had pilots, and I had nine pilots and lost two." Castro said he was mystified that no additional effort was made to get the planes.

6. Castro said the Cienaga de Zapata area was "ideal ground" from the military viewpoint and that if the causeways had been cut the invasion force could have accomplished the mission of holding a piece of Cuban territory long enough to establish a base for ships and air and for proclamation of a provisional government which could be overtly supplied. At Parite ("Palite") at 1500 on 15 June Castro said: "Right here I would have used four or five of the 75 mm. anti-tank guns if I had been an invader. I also would have used a couple of their 81 mm. (4.2 in.) mortars, and the paratroopers, with the 75 mm. anti-tank guns and the mortars could have controlled this entrance, which is where we came through. I could, in the invaders' position, have held the place, and at this particular place it would have been almost impossible for us to flank them."

7. The invasion had a "good plan, poorly executed". If the invaders had had good air cover, sent the paratroopers farther inland, and cut the causeways, the story would have been different.

8. Castro's air force concentrated on attacking enemy shipping whereas the invasion force planes engaged in ground attacks.

9. Castro knew the time but not the place of the invasion. At first he thought it might be near Baracoa where the U.S. Navy was engaged in simulated operations.

10. On 15 June, on the beach at Playa Giron, Castro said: "Tuesday afternoon 18 April we stood at Playa Giron. We had won after 36 hours of combat."/1/

/1/A note on the source text at this point, in an unknown hand, reads: "He must have been confused as to the date."

237. Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Coerr) to Secretary of State Rusk

Washington, June 22, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, NSC 5902 Memoranda. Top Secret. Drafted in ARA by Frank J. Devine. Cleared in ARA, INR, and with U. Alexis Johnson. A memorandum for the files attached to the source text indicates that the memorandum, which was marked to be sent to the Secretary through Under Secretary Bowles, never went beyond Bowles. Bowles was "handling a good deal of the covert-type operations on Cuba" and he was deemed by S/S to be the proper recipient. When Bowles initialed the approval lines on the memorandum, he used the initials "DR," but there is no other indication that he cleared the approvals with Rusk.


United States Government Relations with Cuban Exile Groups


Item No. g of the NSC Record of Actions of May 5, 1961:/1/

/1/Document 205.

"Agreed that relations with the Revolutionary Council should be improved and made more open, and while it cannot be recognized as a government-in-exile, support should be given to it insofar as it continues to represent substantial Cuban sentiment."

Dr. Morales-Carrion has been designated as the official point of contact for the Cuban Revolutionary Council within the United States Government. At the suggestion of Mr. Richard Goodwin of the White House Staff, the CRC has now presented its budget to Dr. Morales-Carrion. The fact that funds presently available to the CRC continue only through June 30 faces us with the necessity for early and highly significant decisions. Dr. Morales-Carrion is scheduled to meet with Mr. Goodwin at the White House in the immediate future, and I believe it is essential that he be in a position to reflect the Department's views with regard to our Government's relationships--including financial--with Cuban exile groups.

Without at this point entering into an exhaustive discussion of the pertinent details, many of which are already known to you, I would like to call attention to the following points:

(1) The Cuban Revolutionary Council no longer has the same composition as it did at the time of the abortive invasion of Cuba or when the above-quoted NSC action was written. Withdrawal of Manolo Ray deprived it of its most liberal--and so far left as to be quite controversial--element and has shifted its center of political gravity appreciably to the right.

(2) It is far from certain that the popular acceptance or the political prospects of the CRC in Cuba are such as to make it an ideal group with which too closely to associate and/or identify the US Government.

(3) The "military" portion of the CRC's budget contemplates continuing financial provisions for veterans, survivors, and dependents of participants in the Bahia de Cochinos invasion effort. Despite the aura of general confession which has come into existence, I consider it completely inappropriate for financing of this sort to be presented to or handled by the Department of State. This merely provides public and official confirmation of US Government complicity in the invasion attempt.

(4) The "civil" portion of the CRC budget includes administrative, operating, propaganda and other types of contemplated expenses. They are rather clearly based upon Dr. Miro Cardona's contention that our assistance to anit-Castro groups must be limited to or channelled through the CRC. I am not convinced that we should accept any such limitation or that the Department of State or any other overt agency of the USG should necessarily engage in financing of all the types of activities which are contemplated.


/2/Bowles initialed approval of each recommendation with Rusk's initials on June 30.

That in his conversation with Mr. Goodwin, Mr. Morales-Carrion be authorized to present the following views:

(1) That in the implementation of item g of the NSC Record of Actions of May 5, the United States should treat the CRC in friendly, sympathetic and a somewhat favored manner but should refrain from agreeing or acting to deal exclusively with that body or to channel its dealings with other exile groups through it.

(2) That the Department should not become involved with the military portion of the CRC budget; that payments to surviving relatives of those killed in the invasion attempt should be handled exclusively in a covert manner and with definite terminal cut-off date; that payment to dependents of any invasion captives who continue to be held in Cuba should continue to be funded until their release through covert channels; that all payments to members of the invasion forces who have returned or would return to the United States should be shifted from covert channels into the overt procedures applicable to regular Cuban emigres and funded by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

(3) That financial provision for expenses listed in the "civil" portion of the CRC budget be most carefully reviewed and of those which are approved it be determined precisely which, if any, are appropriate for overt funding by our Government and which must be handled in a covert way in order not to be self-defeating.

(4) That future dealing with anti-Castro Cuban groups on a covert basis be made contingent upon more effective cover arrangements and include provision for assistance to all acceptable groups (not including Batistianos) displaying a willingness and a capacity to contribute to agreed upon objectives.

238. Memorandum for the Record

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, June 23, 1961.

//Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Box 12, Cuba, Bay of Pigs. Secret. Drafted by Taylor. Taylor and Dulles briefed Eisenhower at President Kennedy's request. This was the last task associated with Taylor's responsibilities on the Cuba Study Group. On June 26 President Kennedy addressed a letter to Taylor asking him to become Kennedy's military adviser in the White House with the title of Military Representative of the President. Taylor accepted and began to exercise his new responsibilities on July 1. (Taylor, Swords and Plowshares, pp. 196-197)


Meeting with General Eisenhower at Gettysburg, June 23, 1961


General Eisenhower

General Taylor

Mr. Allen Dulles

1. The purpose of the visit to Gettysburg was to brief General Eisenhower on the findings of the Cuban Study Group in particular relation to the contents of an article by Stewart Alsop in the Saturday Evening Post of June 24, 1961. In the course of the meeting the following points were discussed and the findings of the Cuban Study Group on these points were explained to General Eisenhower.

a. The Alsop article allegation contained in the following paragraph:

"That plan (the Eisenhower plan), like the final Kennedy plan, was based on the assumption that there would be widespread anti-Castro uprisings and defections. It was hoped that these would make any overt American military intervention unnecessary. But the Eisenhower plan also envisaged American intervention on a `contingency basis.' American aircraft would intervene, either openly or in unmarked planes, if necessary to maintain control over the beachhead and prevent destruction of the anti-Castro forces."

In response to questions, General Eisenhower emphasized that there never had been an operational plan presented to him, hence no "Eisenhower plan" could have existed. He does not believe that he ever knew of the proposal of an amphibious operation, and certainly was not aware of any plan approximating the Trinidad Plan.

b. The role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to include their attention to logistics.

c. The air strike plan and the circumstances surrounding the cancellation of the D-Day strikes.

d. The cause of the ammunition shortage and the effectiveness of the T-33's.

e. The loss of communications equipment. General Eisenhower had the impression that all of the communications equipment was in one ship, which was sunk through air attack. It was explained to him that communications equipment was on two ships, and an auxiliary means of communication to Washington existed from the Brigade Commander by way of the landing craft.

f. The eleven conclusions reached by the Cuban Study Group.

2. General Eisenhower listened to the presentation, took issue with none of the points raised and appeared to indicate general approval. He observed that the over-all lesson seemed to be the danger of changing an operational plan at the last minute. This observation led him to discuss the pressure placed upon him just prior to D-Day in Normandy to cancel the airborne landings.

3. One reaction on General Eisenhower's part was to suggest the need for a public statement which would correct some of the misapprehensions about the Cuban affair. However, after discussing the difficulties inherent in such an action, he withdrew the suggestion.

4. He recognizes the need for improving governmental machinery for handling complex interdepartmental operations such as the Cuban affair. In the course of discussing this point he expressed some concern over the present status of the National Security Council resulting from the elimination of the Planning Board and the OCB. He agreed that some new agency was probably necessary to fill the gap, and that the 5412 Committee with an expanded charter might provide the vehicle.

5. He commented upon his closeness to the 5412 Committee and the support given him in covert matters by the Presidential Board on Intelligence.

6. The entire discussion was most cordial. I received the impression that General Eisenhower perceives the need of suppressing further public debate of the Cuban operation. He expressed disapproval of the recent TV appearance of Mr. Miller and Senator Clark in which the Cuban operation was argued./1/

/1/Taylor added a final handwritten paragraph to the typed text that reads:"7. General Eisenhower expressed the feeling that the U.S. would have to get rid of Castro--preferably using as a reason for intervention some Castro mistake. As the visitors left, he reiterated his appreciation to President Kennedy for arranging the briefing." The final sentence had been typed as the closing sentence of paragraph 6 before Taylor crossed it out and revised the text.


239. National Security Action Memorandum No. 54

Washington, June 26, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Countries Series, Cuba--Security, 1961. Confidential.


The Secretary of Defense


Service of Cuban Volunteers in U.S. Armed Forces

The President has noted and concurred in your proposed program to enable Cuban volunteers to serve in the U.S. armed forces, as stated in the attachment to your memorandum of June 8, 1961./1/

/1/Document 227.

It is assumed that you will inform the Departments of State, Justice and Health, Education and Welfare, and the U.S. Information Agency of the part each will play in carrying out this program.

It is requested that after a suitable interval has elapsed the Department of Defense prepare a report on the results of this program for transmittal to the President through this office.

McGeorge Bundy/2/

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

240. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy

Washington, June 28, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 6/61-12/61. No classification marking.

Present trade with Cuba

The first four months of 1961 show that trade with Cuba is running at an annual rate of about $35 million each way. About nine-tenths of our exports are food and medicines, and nearly all of the imports are foods and textile fibers. This level of trade compares with an annual rate of half a billion dollars in normal times (57-59). This trade thus has no strategic significance and very little general economic significance. To invoke the Trading with the Enemy Act at this time would be a gesture with no real significance. The matter is under constant review, however, and if the situation changes a different decision can be made.

McG. B./1/

/1/Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.

241. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, June 29, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. 2, July 20, 1961. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Parrott.


Minutes of Special Group Meeting, 29 June 1961


Messrs. Bowles, Gilpatric, Bundy, Dulles

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

2. Cuba

The State Department position on the official attitude that should be adopted vis-a-vis the Cuban Revolutionary Council was agreed to by the Group (i.e. that in effect the CRC not be treated as a U.S. instrument, exclusive channel, or point of approval). It was noted that the other three papers/1/ tabled at last week's meeting (covering propaganda, depend-ency payments, and Radio Swan) were agreed between State and CIA, as the Group had requested, with the exception of the overall matter of financing.

/1/Copies of these papers are ibid., S.G. 1, June 29, 1961.

It was recognized that the financing problem requires further detailed consideration, but that on the other hand certain activities must continue into the new fiscal year and CIA has no funds budgeted to cover them. It was thus agreed that CIA should continue funding dependency payments and certain essential CRC activities for the next month, using this time to try to work out an eventual solution.

On the subject of the projected 1962 budget for clandestine activities,/2/ Mr. Dulles said that he felt some items might be unduly expensive and that he wanted to examine them in further detail, consulting with Defense where appropriate. The Group agreed that the operations proposed in the categories of intelligence, counter-intelligence, covert political action and propaganda appeared to be generally acceptable but that the scope of the proposed paramilitary operations required further study. Mr. Dulles pointed out in the latter connection that although it is not necessary to embark at once on the new recruiting included in the budget, there are some agents on hand who will have to be supported and occupied. It was agreed that a month's advance from the Bureau of the Budget for all these items less paramilitary should be sought at once.

/2/The budget for clandestine activities considered by the Special Group was outlined in an undated 8-page memorandum prepared for the Special Group by the CIA that detailed a program of covert action. The memorandum was supplemented by a 5-page annex that provided a breakdown of the proposed expenditures. On June 28, Thomas Parrott sent copies to J. Patrick Coyne at the White House, Joseph Scott at the Department of State, and General Lansdale at the Department of Defense, under cover of a memorandum that indicated that the Special Group would discuss the proposed program of covert action against Cuba at its June 29 meeting. (Ibid.) For the revised version of this paper, dated July 17 and considered by the Special Group on July 20, see the Supplement.

These decisions were made subject to review by General Taylor next week.

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

Thomas A. Parrott/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Parrott signed the original.

242. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, July 7, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7-761. Secret. Drafted by Hurwitch on July 10.


Cuban Revolutionary Council


Dr. Antonio de Varona, Revolutionary Council Member

Dr. Carlos Piad, Washington Representative, Revolutionary Council

Dr. Morales-Carrion, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

Mr. Robert Hurwitch, Officer in Charge, Cuban Affairs

Dr. Varona expressed his discouragement over the Council's future, the future of Cuba, and said he felt that the U.S. was abandoning Cuba to its fate under Castro.

He continued that Mr. Goodwin had informed Dr. Aragon (Miro Cardona's secretary) that no decision would be reached regarding support for the Council until the Council had broadened its base and achieved greater unity among the exile groups. He said that it would be difficult to include groups such as those led by Sanchez Arango or Marquez Sterling in the Council. Sincere attempts had been made to reach an understanding with the Manolo Ray group; these had failed. He suggested that the U.S. name new Council members.

Varona then turned to the necessity of organizing a new invasionary force. He said that Nicaraguan President Somoza had offered to assist to that end. He urged that all Cuban young men in exile of military age undergo compulsory military training as a first step toward training such a force. When informed that U.S. compulsory military training was for eighteen months, he replied that for his purposes two months were sufficient and that in view of Cubans' special refugee status, special arrangements should be made for them under U.S. law. He stated that once trained the force he envisaged would also require sufficient equipment to overcome Castro's military power. When asked what basis he had for thinking in these terms, Varona replied that he understood that Cubans were to be recruited in the U.S. armed forces on an individual basis and also that Cuban pilots would be given training. Of what purpose were these steps by the U.S. if not to train a new invasionary force, Varona asked.

When Varona received no encouragement for this line of reasoning, he said that he would insist upon clarification of this point in a meeting that might take place soon between Miro Cardona and the President. As far as he, Varona, was concerned, the struggle against Castro to be successful involved three basic aspects, all inter-related and inter-depend-ent: a massive propaganda campaign, sabotage, and a frontal military attack on Cuba.

243. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, July 7, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7-761. Confidential. Drafted by Hurwitch on July 14.


Activities in U.S. of Fair Play for Cuba Committee and 26th of July Movement


Mr. James McDonnell, SCA

Mr. Robert Hurwitch, ARA:CMA/C

I had previously mentioned to Mr. McDonnell ARA's concern over the activities in the U.S. of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the 26th of July Movement. I had observed that while these activities appeared to be primarily of internal security concern, there were foreign policy implications as well. Unlimited activity on the part of these groups served to confuse the American public about the true nature of the Castro regime. Further, Cuban exile groups had expressed concern over these activities as counter-productive to their own efforts to impress the American public with the dangerous threat that Castro presented. I had inquired whether the Attorney General's office was fully aware of the Department's interest in these groups.

In response to this inquiry, Mr. McDonnell consulted with the Office of the Assistant Attorney General, Internal Security Division. Mr. McDonnell reported that that office was keenly aware of public, Congressional and governmental interest in the activities of these groups. The Internal Security Division is following these activities on a day-to-day basis, compiling evidence with a view toward citing these organizations. The registration of the FPCC had already been solicited by that office and had been refused by the FPCC. The Internal Security Division is now examining its information on the FPCC to determine whether to seek court action to force the FPCC to register.


In view of the close and constant attention being paid to both these groups by the Assistant Attorney General's office and Mr. McDonnell's oral transmission of the Department's interest as well, there does not appear any necessity at this time to stimulate the Attorney General's office to further action in this regard.

244. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Schlesinger) to the President's Assistant Special Counsel (Goodwin)

Washington, July 8, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, Papers of Arthur Schlesinger, Cuba 1961, Box 31. Secret.


Cuban Covert Plan/1/

/1/An apparent reference to a preliminary draft of the July 17 program of covert action considered by the Special Group on July 20. (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. 2, July 20, 1961) See the Supplement.

Analysis of this plan shows that it envisages (a) "an island-wide resistance organization responsive to Agency direction"; (b) "support and guidance to those anti-Castro groups who are revealed to have a potential for clandestine operations"; and (c) "primary operations bases" in the US. In short, what is intended is a CIA underground formed on criteria of operational convenience rather than a Cuban underground formed on criteria of building political strength sufficient to overthrow Castro.

Despite the pretense of political impartiality, the effect of these CIA specifications is obviously to favor those groups most willing to accept CIA identification and control, and to discriminate against those groups most eager to control their own operations; i.e., the plan discriminates in favor of mercenaries, reactionaries, etc., and discriminates against men of independence and principle. Thus these criteria eliminate the Manuel Ray group; yet I can find nowhere in the documents any explicit exclusion of pro-Batista people.

Leaving aside the moral merits of this discrimination, the practical effect is to invest our resources in the people least capable of generating broad support within Cuba. The Agency fails to confront the key problem: i.e., that those most capable of rallying popular support against the Castro regime are going to be more independent, more principled and perhaps even more radical than the compliant and manageable types which CIA would prefer for operational purposes.

My recommendation is that you stop this paper in its present form and demand that it be recast to make political sense. The key is the statement that our covert activity "should be viewed only as the covert contribution to any national program designed to bring about the eventual replacement of the Castro government." This is correct; and there follows from it (a) that our covert activity should encourage the spread of the political sentiments within Cuba most likely to rally support for Castro's overthrow (which means, for example, Ray rather than Batista), and (b) that our covert activity should harmonize with our basic national policy of rescuing the Cuban Revolution, as set forth in the White Paper./2/

/2/See Document 79.

It is a fallacy to suppose that clandestine activity can be carried out in a political vacuum.

Arthur Schlesinger, jr./3/

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

245. Report Prepared by a Committee of the United States Intelligence Board

Washington, July 11, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, Papers of Arthur Schlesinger, Cuba, White Label, Box 31. Secret; Noforn. The report was approved by the USIB on July 11.


A Report Prepared by an Ad Hoc Committee of the United States

Intelligence Board

[Here follow a table of contents and a definition of the problem addressed in the report, which reads as follows: "To assess the extent of Sino-Soviet Bloc military collaboration with the Castro regime, and to examine in detail the Cuban military buildup since Castro came to power."]


1. The Soviet Bloc continues to extend considerable military assist-ance to Cuba in the form of military equipment, training, and technicians and advisers. Thus far, aircraft consisting of MIG-type jets, some helicopters, light transports, piston trainers, and a wide assortment of armaments ranging from small arms through medium artillery and heavy tanks have been positively identified. There are tenuous indications that Cuba may receive some Soviet jet light bombers. An estimate of the total quantities and types of equipment received thus far is shown in Annexes 1. and 2./1/ Some military equipment--such as a few Soviet T-54 medium tanks--which probably has been received in Cuba but that has not been positively identified or enumerated is not included in Annex 1. There is no evidence that any nuclear weapons or guided missiles are now in Cuba. Military training of Cubans in the Bloc is continuing and some probably have already returned for duty in Cuba. Soviet Bloc military technicians and probably instructor pilots are in Cuba. No Chinese Communist military personnel have been identified as being in Cuba.

/1/Not printed.

2. There is no evidence that any Sino-Soviet Bloc country has dispatched or is organizing a "volunteer" force for military service in Cuba.

3. The Sino-Soviet Bloc has gone a long way toward identifying itself with the maintenance of the Castro regime. The viability of Cuba's economy has become dependent on continued Bloc assistance. The successful Soviet effort to provide Cuba with all its petroleum needs has been at considerable expense and disruption to its normal tanker operations and the Soviet Union has given priority to other Cuban needs even on occasion at the expense of other trading partners.

4. The Sino-Soviet Bloc's support for the Castro regime is part of its larger efforts to isolate the United States and to weaken and eventually destroy its influence throughout the world. The Soviets desire to establish Cuba as a secure base of operations for furthering their aims throughout Latin America. The Castro regime has already become an effective instrument of the Bloc toward achieving these ends in Latin America and, to a lesser extent, among underdeveloped and emerging nations throughout the world. In short, for most practical purposes, the present Cuban Government can be regarded as Communist, and its military dependence on the Bloc is steadily increasing. Cuba, under the present Communist control, provides a better base of operations for subversion and propaganda throughout Latin America than the Soviets have ever had. The strongly anti-United States and pro-Soviet regime of Castro serves their purposes well; it gives a native color to Communist agitation and limits the risk of a hemisphere-wide reaction against outside Communist intervention.

5. The Soviet Bloc military equipment already shipped to Cuba, as well as prior military purchases by Castro from Western sources, have contributed substantially to a major buildup of ground and air forces there. As a result, the Cuban ground forces are probably now better equipped than those of any other Latin American country. The Cuban military buildup is reflected in the great expansion of personnel in the Cuban military and militia forces. The present Cuban ground forces consist of the Revolutionary Army of approximately 32,000, the Revolutionary National Police of 9,000, and the militia estimated at more than 200,000. The combat effectiveness of the combat elements of the army and the militia has greatly improved since November 1960 and together they must now be considered as constituting one of the most effective ground forces in Latin America. Present capabilities of the Cuban Navy are limited to the patrol of selected portions of the coast. The combat capability of the Cuban Air Force is still low, but it can provide limited support to the ground forces and assist in maintaining internal security. However, with the acquisition of MIG aircraft and the return of Bloctrained personnel, the capability of the air force will be greatly enhanced over the coming months. If augmented by aircraft of the civil airline, the Cuban Air Force has a fair troop and cargo transport capability.

6. Initially, the purpose of Cuba's military buildup was self defense. Anti-Castro guerrillas were active in several areas inside Cuba and exile groups had posed a constant invasion threat. However, the current sharpening and strengthening of all the instruments of police state control suggest that the related motive of tightening the dictatorship is an equal, if not presently the prime, purpose of the military buildup. The regime, which is imposing a thorough socio-economic revolution on the country at a faster pace than almost any other government in history, evidently estimates that its domestic objectives can be achieved only through the regimentation of the Cuban people under a police state. This clearly parallels the objectives of the Cuban Communist Party and thus furthers the aims of the international Communist movement.

7. The militia is a primary instrument of the state in strengthening and extending its control. Drawn from rural and urban lower income groups, a hard core of the militia is well-equipped and is organized with increasing efficiency while a larger portion is undergoing regular part time military training. Some militia units have been assigned to duties normally carried out by the armed forces. The militia provides the government with a substantial armed force with which to control the populace as a whole and subjects a relatively large number of Cubans to military discipline and political indoctrination. At the same time, it contributes toward solving the serious unemployment problem. Communist influence in the militia is extensive. The militia has proven an effective fighting force in the anti-guerrilla campaigns in the Escambray mountains early this year and against the anti-Castro force that landed on 17 April. The effectiveness of the militia reflected an improved state of training, acceptable leadership, and generally good morale as well as the regime's ability to mass large numbers of men in critical areas.

8. The Castro regime is convinced that the Cuban revolution is the vanguard of "the anti-imperialist rebellion" that will inevitably sweep all of Latin America. It is actively encouraging and covertly assisting Communist and Communist-influenced revolutionary groups in other Latin American countries at every opportunity. Its methods include intensive propaganda supported by the Castro-subsidized international news agency that has close working ties with Sino-Soviet Bloc news agencies and reflects the propaganda line of Moscow and Peiping. Cuban diplomatic missions have frequently provided Communist-oriented student and labor groups with propaganda material and financial assistance. The arms buildup in Cuba permits the Cubans to supply weapons to pro-Castro groups in other countries. Receipt of Bloc military equipment permits Cuba to furnish Western-manufactured arms now in their possession for this purpose.

9. Cuban subversion is further supported by the Castro-subsidized travel to Cuba of numerous Latin Americans who are exposed there to further political indoctrination and, according to frequent reports, given military training. During the Havana meeting in May and June 1961 of the executive committee of the Communist-front International Union of Students, it was announced that Cuba plans to offer 1,000 scholarships to Latin American students for study in Cuba.

[Here follow a 22-page Discussion section and 5 supporting annexes.]

246. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, July 13, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7-1361. Official Use Only. Drafted by Hurwitch on July 17.


Views of Carlos Lechuga, Cuban Ambassador to the OAS


Mr. Tad Szulc, New York Times

Mr. Robert Hurwitch, ARA:CMA/C

Szulc said that he had recently had a three-hour luncheon conversation with Cuban OAS Ambassador Lechuga whom he had known previous to Castro's rise to power. According to Szulc, Lechuga insisted that he was not a Communist. He inquired whether there was any thinking in U.S. official circles toward resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba which could in turn lead to a general easing of tensions between Cuba and the U.S. He said that he and many others in high places in the Castro regime were becoming increasingly concerned over the degree of Communist influence in Cuba. The bad state of Cuban-U.S. relations left him and his friends no alternative to turning toward the Sino-Soviet Bloc for assistance. A friendlier attitude on the part of the U.S., Lechuga is reported to have said, would assist the non-Communists in Cuba and he felt confident that anti-American propaganda emanating from Cuba would cease. Szulc said he felt Lechuga had a good point and inquired as to my reaction.

I replied that I doubted Lechuga's sincerity. It was, I thought, more likely that Lechuga was conducting a campaign for easing tensions in order that Cuba might remain a member in good standing within the inter-American community and at the same time maintain its political-military ties with the Bloc. Accomplishment of this status for Cuba would, from Lechuga's standpoint probably constitute success in his mission.

247. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Woodward) to the Under Secretary of State (Bowles)

Washington, July 18, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7-1861. Confidential. Drafted in ARA/CMA by Robert A. Stevenson and Edwin E. Vallon, and in L/ARA by Marjorie M. Whiteman. Robert F. Woodward was appointed Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs on July 14 and entered on duty on July 17.


Congressional Resolution Calling for Recognition of a Cuban Government-in-Exile


From a legal position, there is no precedent or authority to grant recognition to an exile group which does not have or has not had control over territory of the State which it purports to represent. Governments-in-exile recognized during World War II by the United States were refugee governments. The granting of recognition to an exile group having no control, past or present, over any of the territory of the State concerned could have serious consequences as to the legality and practicability of the grant. In the question here considered, for example, subsequent to recognition, the United States would have to look to the new government for the fulfillment of Cuban treaty and other obligations including, of course, Cuban obligations with respect to the Guantanamo Base. Correspondingly, the Castro regime would be relieved of fulfillment of Cuban treaty obligations and could, for example, proceed to harass the Base without accountability as the Government of Cuba. It would also no longer be possible for the Swiss Government to represent United States interests in Cuba, which, of course, includes the protection of United States citizens to the degree possible under Cuban and International Law.

From a political standpoint, it is conceivable that a Cuban Government-in-Exile at some stage might play a positive and helpful role in combatting Castro-Communism and in aiding in Castro's downfall. However, to undertake such a development at this time would run counter to our present policy of seeking multilateral action on Cuba within the OAS framework. It would constitute in Latin American eyes an act of unilateral intervention into Cuban affairs. Secondly, there is no indication that the Cuban exile opposition has reconciled its differences or "shaken down" sufficiently to agree upon or pull together in support of a Government-in-Exile. Thirdly, there is no indication that internal opposition groups would support such a move; rather, there is indication that internal opposition is skeptical of all exile opposition efforts.


It is ARA's conclusion that Representative Anfuso's/1/ resolution (copy attached)/2/ is not appropriate at this time. However, we should stress the Department's agreement with the "Whereas" clauses which he cites in justification of his resolution. If possible, it should be emphasized to Representative Anfuso that:

/1/Representative Victor L. Anfuso (D.-New York).

/2/This proposed resolution was not found attached and has not been found in Department of State files.

1. The act would be lacking in legal justification or legitimacy and would relieve the Castro regime from the responsibility for fulfilling its treaty obligations with the United States;

2. It would no longer be possible for the Swiss to represent United States interests in Cuba, including protection of United States citizens;

3. The United States at this time would very probably be almost alone in recognizing such a government, which would tend to emphasize the lack of support for the United States position from its Latin neighbors and might lend itself to exploitation by Communist propagandists; and that

4. It would not be helpful to the multilateral efforts which are now in progress.

248. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, July 19, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Cuba, May 1961-. Secret.


U.S. Government Relations with Cuban Revolutionary Council

The Cuban Task Force had agreed that the President should be advised to meet at an early date with Dr. Miro Cardona and tell him, in essence, that U.S. Government support of the Cuban Revolutionary Council would be phased down and possibly out, unless the CRC could produce evidence of broader-based support than it now appears to have.

General Taylor felt that this was such an important matter, and one so closely allied to Cuban covert operations, that the President should have the benefit of consideration of this projected advice, by the Special Group. Accordingly, I suggested to Richard Goodwin that any such action be deferred, if possible, until after the Special Group meeting of July 20th. He intimated that this was not an entirely controllable situation but undertook to try to hold off such a meeting if possible.

In checking with him on July 17th, Goodwin said that Miro Cardona was in town, that the President had previously agreed to see him any time he wanted to, and it might be impossible to avoid such a meeting in the next day or so. General Taylor then took the position that if such a meeting were unavoidable, he would agree to exclude the problem from the Special Group agenda provided that State (Assistant Secretary Woodward) agreed with the Task Force line. General Taylor recognized that this is essentially an overt political decision and, thus, primarily the responsibility of State.

I explained the situation to Mr. Woodward on July 18th, in the presence of his Special Assistant, Mr. Wollum. Mr. Woodward had not been aware of the discussions in the Task Force, which took place before he assumed his present position. Pending a discussion he proposed to have with Goodwin--he saw no particular objection to the proposed line. He did feel that it might be unwise for exile leaders to have continuing access to the President. I pointed out that this particular connection was probably unique, since it grew out of the President's meetings with CRC leaders immediately after the collapse of the invasion.

Mr. Goodwin informed me on July 19th that on the previous day the President had telephoned him at 10:00 a.m., directing that an appointment be arranged with Miro Cardona at 11:30. Before this meeting, Goodwin gave the President the Task Force line. In the course of the actual meeting, however, the President told Miro Cardona the U.S. would support the CRC and that he hoped it could be so reorganized as to become a useful body. The President also said that he wanted to continue payments to the dependents of members of the strike force who were either killed or captured; no specific duration for this was mentioned, but he said that another look should be taken at some future time.

The President did not precisely say to Miro Cardona (as he had been advised to do by Goodwin) that the U.S. might have to support exile groups other than the CRC.

Mr. Goodwin proposes to see Miro Cardona on July 19th as a follow-up. He will attempt to make sure that the CRC leader does not go away with inflated ideas of what the President told him. On the other hand, Goodwin recognizes that he cannot go as far as he would have liked (specifically on the matter of support to others) so long as the President did not deal specifically with this.

Thomas A. Parrott/1/

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

249. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, July 20, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7-2061. Secret. Drafted by Wollam.


Views on Cuban Revolutionary Council


Mr. Fernando F. Cabada, Jr.; Hotel Dupont Plaza, Room 519

ARA--Park F. Wollam

Mr. Fernando Cabada was referred to this office by Mr. Devine and Mr. Braddock. His background is well known to them and to various others in the Department with whom he is related.

Mr. Cabada stated that he came unofficially but that he felt it was most urgent to convey his views to someone in the US Government. Cabada says he is a member of the Unidad Revolucionaria, a Cuban underground movement. He claims that the MRR, MRP, DR, MDC, Rescate and 30th of November movements and the UR as they operate underground in Cuba are now united in a National Revolutionary Council. He claims that the various organizations are fully coordinated and that they have a potential action capability now and for the future. He further asserts that the underground action movements in Cuba have not been subject to the political wrangling going on among exiles outside of Cuba, and that they have been devoted entirely to militant subversive action.

Cabada states that the underground will possibly be sending two representatives of the directorate to the United States in the near future. These two are among some of the group directors who are in asylum in various embassies in Cuba, although most of the others were jailed or eliminated after the April invasion. When and if the two members come to the United States Cabada may join them "officially". Until such time, however, he said his representations are unofficial.

Cabada stated that in recent weeks the National Revolutionary Council movement has realized that complete unity is absolutely essential and decided that it might well throw in its lot with the CRC and Dr. Miro Cardona; presumably, some preliminary talks on this subject were held in Miami about June 22 at which time Dr. Cardona supposedly sent $10,000 to each of the action groups with no strings attached as some sort of a gesture. The preliminary talks were generally satisfactory although there were still some details to be arranged. The desire of the UR to achieve unity with the CRC is becoming greater all the time and the possible arrival of the delegates from the Cuban underground is supposed to bring this about, according to Cabada, barring some unforeseen difficulties.

A major factor in the underground's decision to join forces with Cardona's Council was the belief that Miro Cardona's group had the full confidence of the United States. The united underground would not unify with the CRC unless it was certain of this fact. This is the most important aspect of the situation as described by Cabada.

Cabada states that many of the Cuban underground people do not have the highest regard for Miro Cardona and some of the others in the CRC, but they feel that united they could be effective with US support.

Cabada had heard that Miro Cardona had been in Washington during the past few days and that it had been reported that Miro had visited with President Kennedy. While reports of this visit were conflicting, many Cubans had gotten the impression that President Kennedy expressed dissatisfaction with the CRC or had in some way indicated that the CRC was losing its importance in the eyes of the United States. This, according to Cabada would be a most unfortunate development at a time when it looks as if unification of all the major groups for the single purpose could be achieved. The underground group, which is already feeling some bitterness and disillusion as a result of the April invasion, would be further disheartened if the efforts at unity failed or if it were found that upon achieving unity, the groups no longer had confidence or support of the United States.

Cabada repeated this argument several times to make certain that he left no doubt as to his idea of the importance of the present "crisis" now facing revolutionary groups.

Additional Comments:

Cabada claimed that the exile groups were now feeling the weight and importance of the underground groups in Cuba and were realizing that political figures in exile as such were impotent without the backing of the underground groups. To illustrate this he claimed that Manolo Ray had opposed the desire of the MRP underground to join with the Revolutionary Council. The MRP, finally determined on unity, had ousted Ray. He claims that Ray was ousted by the MRP some two or three days before Ray claims he was forced out by the CIA.

Cabada stated that after the April invasion roundup everyone thought that their covert resources in Cuba had been destroyed. The UR, however, found that it had about 60 percent of its resources left and other groups also have some things remaining. What is needed is a coordinated action plan taking advantage of all these groups and it is the Cuban underground which will continue to carry on the bulk of the fight against Castro. Cabada thought that the achievement of unity among the seven major Cuban underground groups under the banner of the Revolutionary Council and Dr. Miro Cardona was notable in view of the fact that Miro was not liked by many. He repeated numerous times that it was most urgent that the United States remain in support of Miro Cardona in order that unity could be accomplished. He felt that further splintering would be a most serious set-back.

I told Cabada that I was completely new here and not informed on the matters he discussed, but that I would pass his information along.

250. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, July 20, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. 3, July 27, 1961. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Parrott on July 21.


Minutes of Meeting of Special Group, July 20, 1961


General Taylor, Messrs. Johnson, Gilpatric, Dulles, Bundy (for items 1 and 2, and part of 3)

Mr. Barnes was present for items 1 through 3

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

3./1/ Cuba--Covert Program

/1/Project to be carried forward to higher authority. [Footnote in the source text.]

The DCI introduced discussion of this paper/2/ with the comment that the covert program must be keyed into over-all U.S. policy and that an aggressive set of clandestine actions should not be undertaken until it is clear what the general direction of U.S. policy toward Cuba is going to be. The Group agreed with this. Mr. Johnson expressed his understanding that essentially a stand-by attitude was in effect at the moment. In this connection, reference was made to the recent meeting of top-level authority with Dr. Miro Cardona, which evidently resulted in an understanding that the Revolutionary Council would continue to be supported, for the present at least.

/2/Dated July 17. (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. 2, July 20, 1961) For text, see the Supplement.

Under Objectives, the Group accepted Mr. Dulles' suggestion to reword paragraph 2 a of the paper, to read as follows:

"a. The basic objective is to provide support to a U.S. program to develop opposition to Castro and to help bring about a regime acceptable to the U.S."

Regarding the question of propaganda, Mr. Dulles said that he thought CIA officials should sit down with USIA to coordinate plans to the extent possible; General Taylor agreed that this would be useful. Mr. Dulles cautioned, however, that USIA's appropriations for Latin America had been deeply cut and that, therefore, its capabilities were not very large.

General Taylor then raised a basic question as to where responsibility for approval actually lies, in the case of several possibilities cited under the paramilitary section. After some discussion, it was agreed that any major operations in this field would be subject to further approval by the Special Group.

It was also agreed that sabotage operations, particularly, require a close policy look. In this connection, the second sentence on page 8 of the paper was changed to read: "Actual sabotage operations will be carried out only after policy approval by the Special Group."

There was then a lengthy discussion on guerrillas, the Group finally agreeing that over-all U.S policy must be more sharply defined on this point. It was the opinion of the Group, however, that supply of existing guerrilla elements, to the extent necessary to avoid dispersion, would be in the U.S. interest. This was interpreted to include such items as ammunition, food and clothing. Mr. Dulles undertook to take a sharp look at the recommendations and plans for guerrillas, with a view to discussing this subject at next week's meeting.

The Special Group approved the budget as presented, with the following provisos: only 50% of each major item would be drawn down in the near future; the large item for boats, under Paramilitary, would be eliminated for the time being, before the 50% figure was applied; expenditures for sabotage and guerrilla operations would be deferred, and both activities would be subject to next week's discussion. The DCI said that the Agency would come back to the Special Group with a progress report, across the board, in less than six months, at which time further authorizations would be considered.

It was the consensus that this whole program should be discussed with highest level authority.

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

Thomas A. Parrott/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Parrott signed the original.

251. Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) to Secretary of State Rusk

Washington, July 22, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. 2, July 20, 1961. Top Secret. A handwritten note on the source text reads: "Seen by Secretary."


Special Group Meeting, July 20, 1961

The following items were taken up at the meeting of the Special Group on July 20./1/

/1/For a record of this meeting, see Document 250.

[Here follows a summary of items unrelated to Cuba.]

3. Cuba--Covert Program for FY 1962

A lengthy paper on this subject/2/ was presented by the Agency covering the following activities: (a) intelligence and counter intelligence; (b) political action; (c) propaganda; and (d) paramilitary activities. The budget proposed for FY 1962 to cover these activities totaled $13,778,132. The intelligence and counter intelligence proposals were approved, as were the political action proposals. The objective of the latter is to identify and support opposition groups. The question of how much support and whether it should be provided will be decided at the time of identification. With regard to propaganda, the Group considered the budget high ($4,204,000) and the Group decided to review these activities before fifty per cent of that amount had been spent. In the meanwhile ARA and the Agency will be discussing what USIA can do. With regard to the proposed paramilitary activities the Group agreed that the Agency should continue to plan in this field. In the meanwhile it is understood that policy recommendations should be developed regarding sabotage, terrorist and guerrilla activities. ARA has been asked to take the initiative in this in consultation with Mr. Goodwin of the White House and Mr. Barnes of the Agency. With regard to bases for training purposes it was agreed that nothing would be considered outside U.S. territory. The Agency proposal to purchase ships was deferred./3/

/2/See footnote 2, Document 250. For text, see the Supplement.

/3/After this item, Johnson wrote "President approved." He also added a marginal notation that Joseph Scott had informed ARA on July 22 of the decisions reached by the Special Group and approved by the President.

[Here follows a summary of items unrelated to Cuba.]

252. Editorial Note

On July 24, 1961, an Eastern Air Lines plane, en route from Miami to Tampa, Florida, with 33 passengers aboard, was hijacked at gunpoint by one of the passengers, who forced the pilot to fly to Havana. The Cuban Government released 32 of the plane's passengers and its 5 crew members on July 25, and they were flown to Miami on a scheduled Pan American Airways flight. The only passenger detained in Cuba was the man who had seized the plane, identified by the FBI as Cuban-born Wilfredo Roman Oquendo. On July 26 Castro offered to return the hijacked plane if the United States would promise to return Cuban planes similarly seized and flown to the United States. Secretary of State Rusk rejected Castro's offer on July 27, with the observation that claims relating to seized planes were matters for the courts to decide.

An attempted hijacking on August 3 was foiled when FBI and border patrol officals captured the would-be hijacker, ex-convict Leon Bearden, on the ground at El Paso, Texas, before he could force the pilot to fly a Continental Airlines 707 jet to Havana. On August 9, however, a Pan American Airways flight, en route from Mexico City to Guatemala, was seized by a gunman later identified as Albert Charles Cadon, a Frenchman, and forced to fly to Havana. The plane and passengers, except for Cadon, were returned to the United States the same day.

On August 15 the Eastern Airlines jet that had been seized was released in Havana in return for the release of a Cuban gunboat that had been seized on July 29 by its 3 crewmen, who asked for and received asylum at Key West, Florida. The details of all of these developments were chronicled in The New York Times, July 25-August 16, 1961.

253. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, July 26, 1961.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Confidential. Prepared by Admiral Burke.


Mtg at White House with the President on 26 Jul 61 prior to my receiving DSM on retirement

1. The President talked about Cuba. He asked me if I thought we would have to go into Cuba. I said yes. He asked would Castro get stronger. I said yes. Castro would increase his power over his people. He asked whether we could take Cuba easily. I said yes, but it was getting more and more difficult. He asked what did I think would happen if we attacked. I said all hell would break loose but that some day we would have to do it. The danger would be that Castro would flee and go to some other country--Russia or Brazil. [3 lines of source text not declassified]

[Here follows discussion of unrelated topics.]

Arleigh Burke/1/

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

254. Paper Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, undated.

//Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. 4, August 3, 1961. Secret; Eyes Only. This paper condensed for the President's consideration a July 25 memorandum prepared in the CIA for the Special Group entitled "Internal Action Operations Against Cuba," and an August 1 memorandum also prepared in the CIA for the Special Group entitled "Program of Covert Action Directed at the Castro Regime." (For texts, see the Supplement.) The August 1 memorandum was a revision of the July 17 memorandum on the same subject considered by the Special Group on July 20. (See the Supplement) On August 3, the Special Group considered the condensed set of recommendations and approved them for referral to the President, after reducing the proposed budget to cover 6 months rather than 12 months expenditures. (Memorandum for the files by J.W. Scott, August 4; Minutes of Special Group meeting, August 3; Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. V, 4, August 3 1961, and S.G. 5, August 10, 1961, respectively) On August 4, Parrott sent a memorandum to the Special Group indicting that the covert action program for Cuba had received final approval. (Ibid., August 3, 1961)


It is recommended that the Special Group approve the following covert action program against Cuba:

a) Intelligence and Counterintelligence

Collection of intelligence on the internal Cuban situation and the attitude of the Cuban people, particularly with regard to opposition elements. Improved and expanded collection of operational intelligence on Castro's plans, intentions and capabilities. Penetration of Cuban security services and protection of Agency operations against action by these services.

b) Political Action

Foster support for U.S. national policies with respect to Cuba, throughout Latin America. Combat Castro's subversive efforts in that area. Assist in strengthening unified opposition to Castro among Cubans, inside and outside of Cuba. Identify and support, if found, any such groups or leaders with real potential for overthrowing and replacing the Castro government.

c) Propaganda

Continue to support propaganda assets, including magazines, newspapers, news letters and radio. Conduct continual review of the effectiveness of these media. Attempt to destroy the popular image of Castro in Cuba, and combat his propaganda efforts throughout Latin America.

d) Paramilitary

Expand present personnel and support aspects inside and outside of Cuba, for use in working with or through Cuban groups in developing an underground organization or organizations. Once such a secure organization is established, engage in infiltration and exfiltration of personnel, supplies and materiel, in intelligence collection and propaganda, and in a low key sabotage and resistance program. Large scale sabotage activities may be planned for, but will not be mounted until approved by the Special Group. Provide modest support, as approved by the Special Group, to those guerrilla elements that might arise in Cuba and which are believed worthy of support. Maintain a limited air capability largely through pilot training.

e) Support

Maintain necessary personnel, forward-operating base on U.S. territory, maritime base, operational or training sites and communications facilities.

A maximum of $12,738,132 is authorized for funding of the above program. Only fifty percent of this total will be withdrawn initially from the Bureau of the Budget, with later withdrawals to be dependent on a review, within six months, of the operational progress made.

Budget breakdown (for 12 months) is as follows:

Intelligence and counterintelligence -- 739,132

Political action -- 200,000

Propaganda -- 4,204,000

Paramilitary -- 3,570,000

Support -- 4,025,000

[Total] -- 12,738,132/1/

/1/Johnson crossed out the proposed 12-month total of $12,738,132, and wrote in a 6-month total of $5,360,000.

255. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, August 16, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 6/61-12/61. Top Secret. Prepared by Komer. Another copy of this memorandum has a handwritten notation that indicates the briefing was for President Kennedy, General Taylor, and McGeorge Bundy. (Ibid., Subjects, Guantanamo Base, 8/16/61-10/4/63)


JCS Briefing on Cuban Contingency Planning

The briefing was given by Captain Hadden USN, with General Dean backing up.

I. Contingency Planning Against Violence at Guantanamo Base

It was stated that this plan/1/ had approval of DOD, State and the President. It calls for response appropriate to character of attack. CINCLANT has interpreted this to include returning fire as appropriate if anyone shoots at US, and extending the base perimeter as required. In other words the Base Commander is now authorized to protect himself to the extent necessary, including going out and silencing guns in the hills if they are shooting at him. He doesn't have to check with anybody before he does so. Query--Do we want to leave him this authority? (Wym Coerr says anti-Castro Cubans are reportedly thinking of faking attack on base in order to embroil US.)

/1/None of the plans cited in the memorandum has been further identified.

Water supply seems well in hand; with austere use local stores could last three weeks. By this time tankers available on short notice could bring in more. There are 3100 non-military personnel, mostly depend-ents, on the base. A Marine BLT (1500) afloat is never more than 48 hours away, and usually closer.

II. Contingency Plan for Response to Cuban Provocation Leading to Open Hostilities

In this case CINCLANT will (a) defend Guantanamo; (b) support or re-establish a Cuban government friendly to US; (c) restore and maintain order. The progression of events would be blockade, then reinforcement of Guantanamo, finally air and amphibious attack.

Force tabs include 15,500 Marines and a 9000-man Marine air wing; 23,000 Army, mainly 18th Airborne Corps (82nd Airborne Division and an infantry brigade); a naval covering force, and an air task force including fighters and troop carrier wings.

III. Alternative Contingency Plan for Larger-scale Action

JCS also have a plan which is based on a concept of generating forces far beyond Cuban capabilities to resist. This plan in effect calls for overthrowing the Castro government by an overwhelming land, sea and air operation. It includes the above forces plus substantial add-ons, e.g. a total of 53,000 Army troops (two airborne divisions plus) and overwhelming air strength. JCS estimate these forces could take all of Cuba within ten days and secure it in five days more (though of course guerrillas in hills would take longer to flush).

Reaction Time Needed. Both plans are now based on 18 days total response time from date of decision. However, some forces can be generated much more rapidly:

4-24 hours--can get a 1500 man BLT to Guantanamo.

24 hours--could drop 2 airborne battle groups supported by 7 DDs and 4 fighter squadrons.

48 hours--11,800 man task force of 4 battle groups, backed by 2 carriers, 36 destroyers, and 8 fighter squadrons.

5 days--2 airborne divisions with 23,000 men.

15-18 days--sealift elements come in. Up to this point the forces dropped lack heavy equipment for offensive punch. It (tanks, etc.) comes in by sea and US forces then move out to occupy Cuba.

Assumptions are that the necessary base rights and overflight clearances have been gotten (one airbase in Bahamas is essential and we are checking with UK on it); forces from Puerto Rico must fly over Haiti and Dominican Republic.

All of the above plans are for unilateral US action. Though the JCS hope there would be some OAS support, the underlying thought behind both plans was to be ready to do something overwhelming soon. In this case sizable OAS forces would only slow us down, though the plans do contemplate token contributions. Query--Shouldn't we have alternate plans based on substantial LA contribution, so that in case we want to make it an OAS rather than strictly US operation, we'll have some idea of how to fair [phase?] the LA's in?

Above plans call for only conventional weapons. They are based on immediate neutralization of whatever Cuban air strength exists so no requirement exists for nuclears (it would be a political disaster anyway). There are CIA and military government annexes, but no use of Cuban forces is contemplated. No Soviet reaction is assumed.

One weakness in the plans is that the military will be prepared only to provide five days support for the indigenous personnel, i.e. Cubans in occupied areas. Obviously after five days we will have an awful lot of Cubans to care for. The plan merely says this would be responsibility of the State Department!

R. W. Komer

[end of document]


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

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