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Department Seal

Volume X
Cuba, 1961-1962



Cuba, 1961-1962

376. Letter From the Director of Central Intelligence's Executive Assistant (Elder) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)

Washington, August 15, 1962.

[Source: Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 65 D 438, Mongoose. Top Secret. 3 pages of source text (including 2-page attached memorandum) not declassified.]

377. Memorandum From the Chief of Operations, Operation Mongoose (Lansdale) to the Central Intelligence Agency Operations Officer for Operation Mongoose (Harvey)

Washington, August 16, 1962.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Special Group (Augmented), Operation Mongoose, 8/62. Top Secret; Noforn; Special Handling; Sensitive. Copies were sent to Taylor, Bundy, and Hurwitch. Lansdale sent a handwritten covering note with the copy to Bundy, in which he wrote: "I am really pressing on this one, because I feel we have been settling for an institutional answer which may not be justified. I will need your very strong support in this, if we are to get the fresh and full try that is demanded. If appropriate, a word to John McCone would be timely, since his management officers will be keys to the new effort." (Ibid.) An attached typewritten August 17 note, drafter unknown, reads: "General Taylor asked that action be withheld on this until further word from him." (Ibid.)


Actions by Cuban Refugees

At the Special Group (Augmented) meeting this afternoon, it was specified that the program for Phase II of Operation Mongoose should afford full attention to the desirability of the Cubans liberating Cuba with our help. This is distinguished from the concept of our employing the Cubans in programs where we are seeking to liberate Cuba. Mr. Bundy requested that this field of effort be made a part of the guidelines for Phase II.

This desire on the part of the policy level will require consideration of a new orientation to some degree from the existing approach to the Cuban refugees, as I see it. I suggest that you designate your deputy, Mr. Bruce Cheever, to be responsible for action by CIA on this. This will require an imaginative and bold approach to the whole concept of the management, use, and potential values in the Cuban exiles in the U.S. and other countries. State, Defense, and USIA, along with myself, will afford a top priority to Mr. Cheever if he is assigned this responsibility.

Please advise me on this as a priority matter.

378. Memorandum of Meeting

Washington, August 16, 1962.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files: Job 91-00741R, Box 1, Mongoose Papers. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by McCone.



1. General Lansdale presented his paper of 15 August/1/ expressing the caveats that the program (a) did not place us in a position to take advantage of internal uprisings and (b) the program made no reference to the use of third country assets. The paper was approved subject to the submission by General Lansdale of detailed actions.

/1/Reference is to the memorandum Lansdale circulated to the Special Group (Augmented) on August 14, Document 374.

2. The meeting was generally unsatisfactory from my standpoint. In the first place, the reservations of General Lansdale seem to indicate a difference between Lansdale and CIA growing out of the position that I took on his Plan B Augmented. Secondly, the policy implications were not acted upon: strong opposition to utilization of Guantanamo was expressed by Lemnitzer, and McCone stated that he too was concerned about the use of Guantanamo and he felt that the operation should be planned so that Guantanamo would not be used. Bundy expressed strong reservations concerning use of Navy submarines and some reservations concerning overflights. Alexis Johnson questioned the level of sabotage operations, Taylor favoring approval by the Group of each important sabotage action and Johnson favoring modest rather than violent acts of sabotage. McCone stated that proposal involved substantial sabotage actions and that the Lansdale Task Force should be permitted to proceed without further reference to the Special Group. DCI stated he did not feel we could sit in judgment on each sabotage operation and expect Lansdale with his supporting staff of 500 or 1,000 people to work effectively. Bundy brought up the question of the "noise level". McCone stated that operations anticipated would raise the noise level very substantially and there would be a very considerable attribution. In general the meeting was unsatisfactory, lacked both purpose and direction and left me with a feeling that very considerable reservation exists as to just where we are going with Operation Mongoose.

Action: A detailed plan of operation specifying the acts of sabotage, planned infiltrations, propaganda effort, etc., should be presented by Lansdale at the earliest moment. Any differences between Lansdale and CIA should be straightened out by Harvey with the assistance of Helms or others. McCone should discuss this subject privately with the Attorney General.

3. The attached memorandum to the President and the guidelines on Phase II, dated August 16th,/2/ was approved with only modest modification.

John A. McCone/3/


/2/The memorandum and guidelines were sent to the President on August 17; see Document 380.

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

379. Memorandum From the Central Intelligence Agency Operations Officer for Operation Mongoose (Harvey) and the Acting Chairman of the Board of National Estimates (Smith) to the Chief of Operations, Operation Mongoose (Lansdale)

Washington, August 17, 1962.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/8-1762. Secret. Copies were sent to Hurwitch, Harris, and Wilson.


Operation Mongoose--The Soviet Stake in Cuba

For your information, set out below is the substance of a memorandum dated 15 August 1962 prepared by the Board of National Estimates for the information and assistance of the DCI.

The Soviet Stake in Cuba

1. The USSR's primary stake in Cuba is political. The Soviets regard Castro's revolution, and his subsequent alignment with the Communists, as one of the most telling blows to the prestige of the US which has occurred in the entire postwar period. In their eyes, it is a compelling demonstration of a major thesis which they are urging upon the underdeveloped countries everywhere: that the "colonial" peoples can throw off the "imperialist yoke" and, with the indispensable help of the USSR, successfully maintain their independence against their former masters.

2. In specific application to Latin America, the Soviets value the Cuban example as showing:

a. That a small but dedicated revolutionary group, with the sympathy and support of the oppressed masses, can prevail against the military power of a ruthless dictatorship supported by the Yankee imperialists.

b. That the Bloc will provide such a revolutionary regime with the economic aid required to offset anticipated US economic warfare and to develop the country.

c. That Soviet support, and especially Soviet missile power, will deter the US from military intervention to overthrow the revolutionaries.

d. That Latin American radicals can safely cooperate with local Communists, who will facilitate the securing of Soviet support without insisting upon seizing the leadership of the revolution for themselves.

3. Cuba is also of value to the USSR as an operational base from which the revolution in Latin America can be furthered by propaganda, the indoctrination and training of militants, gun-running, and other clandestine operations. For the Soviets, however, this use is incidental and auxiliary to the political impact of the Cuban revolutionary example.

4. With the passage of time, the Soviet stake in Cuba has come to be defensive as well as offensive. The USSR's prestige has become involved with Castro's fortunes, and Moscow's political commitment to the survival and success of the Cuban revolution is deepening. In the past year the Soviets have reluctantly acquiesced in several moves--Castro's proclamation that he is a Communist, his attack upon Moscow-oriented Communists seeking to undermine his leadership--which have considerably reduced their freedom of maneuver. They have done this in large part because they are not prepared to accept the setback to their policies which would result from a breach with Castro.

5. Cuba could be used by the USSR as a military base from which to threaten the US. With the growth of Soviet strategic capabilities, however, installations on Cuba would add little to the weight of attack which the Soviets could direct against the US. The USSR's chief motive for the establishment of, for example, a medium-range missile base on Cuba would therefore be to deter an anticipated US military intervention against Castro.

6. The USSR almost certainly recognizes, however, that such an undertaking would be as likely to provoke as to deter American intervention. Further, the Soviets would either have to share control of such a base with the Cubans, in which case the risks of war would pass beyond their exclusive control, or affront Cuban sovereignty by denying Havana any role at all. Most important of all, by such an act the Soviets would firmly commit themselves to the military protection of Cuba, a step which they have thus far refrained from taking and which, we believe, they will continue to avoid. In this connection, it is notable that Soviet military aid to Cuba, while heavy, has thus far been confined to the development of essentially defensive capabilities.

7. In sum, we believe that the Soviets' stake in Castro, composed of both the great hopes they place in his revolution and the heavy loss of prestige which they would suffer upon its downfall, is high. They would probably be willing to accept further assertions of Cuban independence, and to increase the scale of their aid if this were necessary to insure the viability of the Castro regime. If its existence were threatened, the Soviets would deploy all the political weapons at their command in its defense. But we think it highly unlikely that they would undertake actions on Cuba's behalf which, in their view, involved any considerable risk of war with the US. Instead, we believe that they would try to make the regime's downfall as costly as possible, in political terms, to the US, and at the same time seek to repair their prestige rapidly with some visible triumph elsewhere in the world.

For the Board of National Estimates:

Abbot Smith/1/

Acting Chairman

William K. Harvey

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

380. Memorandum From the President's Military Representative (Taylor) to President Kennedy

Washington, August 17, 1962.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Special Group (Augmented), Operation Mongoose, 8/62. Top Secret. A note on the source text indicates that copies were circulated by Taylor to Johnson, Gilpatric, McCone, Robert Kennedy, Lemnitzer, Bundy, Murrow, and Lansdale. In a brief covering memorandum, dated August 20 and attached to this memorandum and accompanying guidelines in the Kennedy Library, Taylor wrote: "The attached papers were read and approved by higher authority [President Kennedy] today, 20 August 1962, and are transmitted to you for information." (Ibid.)

The Special Group (Augmented) has reviewed the results achieved in Phase I (March to August, 1962) of the Mongoose program. The priority objective in this period was the acquisition of hard intelligence bearing on the internal situation, accompanied by political, economic and covert actions short of those calculated to inspire a revolt in the target area.

The responsible agencies have worked vigorously to accomplish this objective, generating the largest intelligence effort directed at any Soviet Bloc country and attacking the target country broadly across the political, economic and psychological fronts. However, in spite of some progress in intelligence collection, the Special Group (Augmented) does not feel that the information obtained has been adequate to assess accurately the internal conditions. Nevertheless, from what we know we perceive no likelihood of an overthrow of the government by internal means and without the direct use of U.S. military force.

As we look ahead in the Mongoose program, we have considered several alternative courses of action. We have ruled out those which would commit us to deliberate military intervention although we recognize that an unanticipated revolt might at any time force a decision for or against the support of such a revolt by U.S. forces. For the coming period, we favor a somewhat more aggressive program than the one carried on in Phase I, wherein we continue to press for intelligence, attempt to hurt the local regime as much as possible on the economic front and work further to discredit the regime locally and abroad.

We have approved an outline plan drawn up under the direction of General Lansdale, which is designed to carry out this concept. General Lansdale will work with the Special Group (Augmented) as he has during Phase I, submitting to us for approval schedules of specific actions based on the outline plan. While we believe that this new course of action will create added difficulties for the regime and will increase the visibility of its failures, there is no reason to hope that it will cause the overthrow of the regime from within. Also, the "noise level" of Mongoose operations will probably rise in the course of the new phase and there will always be the chance that the participation of some U.S. citizens may become known. However, the Special Group (Augmented) considers that these are tolerable risks which they will seek to control by close attention to the implementation of the program.

Attached hereto are revised guidelines for Phase II which, with your concurrence, we propose to promulgate for the guidance of General Lansdale and his associates.

Maxwell D. Taylor/1/

/1/Printed from a copy that indicates Taylor signed the original.



(August 1, 1962 until_____________)

Terminal date to be set later

1. While retaining as its eventual objective the overthrow of the target government, the objective of the Mongoose program during Phase II will be the further containment, undermining and discrediting of the target regime while isolating it from other Hemisphere nations.

2. In view of the growing weakness of the economy of the country, special efforts will be directed at accentuating the difficulties in this sector, and at increasing the demands on Bloc resources. Sabotage will be employed for this purpose on a selective basis.

3. Continued priority will be given to the intelligence collection program, with renewed emphasis on the establishment of viable agent assets inside the target country.

4. Efforts will be increased to inspire frictions and schisms both within the target regime and between its leaders and the Bloc.

5. Consideration will be given to assisting Cuban exile groups and other Latin American governments to perform actions and operations in support of the Mongoose program.

6. It is recognized that this program may cause the "noise level" to rise; however, the importance of maintaining non-attributability remains unchanged.

7. While a revolt is not sought at this time, we must be prepared to exploit it should one unexpectedly occur. The JCS will maintain plans for U.S. military intervention.

8. General Lansdale will continue as Chief of Operations during Phase II, following the procedures which have been worked out during Phase I.

381. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence McCone to Attorney General Kennedy

Washington, August 21, 1962.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files: Job 91-00741R, Box 1, Mongoose Papers. Secret.

On August 14th I had a long discussion with Mr. Donovan concerning the ransom of Cuban prisoners. Donovan advised that he had made contact with the Cuban delegate to the UN and had received a response from a Castro confidant that Castro would receive him, Donovan, in Havana at any time.

Donovan is prepared to go to Havana in the interests of: (a) Reducing the Castro asking price now set at $62,000,000, and (b) Determining whether all or a substantial part of the final price can be paid for in food and medicine.

Donovan will not go to Havana unless he has an indication of the United States Government position in this matter, as he feels that there is a very definite risk involved in this negotiation if he is not prepared to "come to terms" if a final negotiation appears possible. The dangers, in his mind, are that Castro will probably attack him, and more particularly the United States Government, for a lack of sincerity, and this will have a most serious damaging effect on the Cuban community in Miami and elsewhere in the United States.

In a telephone call this morning Donovan stated that Castro has indicated that he, Donovan, must be in Havana prior to August 30th; that he is prepared to go if the above conditions are met, and that he would be available in Washington for a discussion with Mr. Hurwitch of State and the Attorney General on Thursday morning, August 23rd.

John A. McCone/1/

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

382. Memorandum for the File

Washington, August 21, 1962.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, Box 2, DCI (McCone) Memo for the Record, 7 April-21 August 1962. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by McCone.


21 AUGUST 1962


Secretary Rusk, Secretary McNamara, Alexis Johnson, the Attorney General, DCI, General Taylor, General Lemnitzer and McGeorge Bundy



McCone stated that the purpose of the meeting was to again review the situation in Cuba in light of the most recent intelligence findings.

DCI recalled that in the August 10th Meeting he had reported such information as was then available on the accelerated Soviet supply of personnel and materiel to Cuba. However, information available to the Agency since August 10th indicated that the extent of the Soviet supply operations was much greater than had been reported on August 10th; furthermore, there were indications that construction work was undertaken by Soviet personnel, technicians with newly delivered Soviet equipment and while the nature of the construction was not known, it was probably either highly sophisticated electronic installations or COMINT and ELINT and possible electro-countermeasure efforts or missile sites, probably ground-to-air.

DCI then stated that on August 10th in discussing the arguments for and against the so-called stepped-up Plan B, or alternatively the modified Plan B, he had stated that if it was decided to accept the modified Plan B and such a course is pursued, it is the opinion of the DCI that continuing Soviet aid and technical assistance will present the United States with a more formidable problem in the future than it now confronts or has confronted in the past. McCone then stated that conclusive evidence indicated such a stepped-up Soviet effort.

DCI then read 21 August paper entitled, "Recent Soviet Military Aid to Cuba"/1/ as prepared by DD/I. He then referred to 21 August paper of the Office of National Estimates, subject, "Soviet View of the Cuban Economy"/2/ emphasizing the conclusion that under energetic Soviet direction, the potential of the Cuban agricultural, industrial and natural resources could be so developed that the economy would be reasonably viable and over a decade might even earn sufficiently from export surpluses to repay credits and advances already made to Cuba by the Soviet Union. Therefore, the CIA's conclusion that Soviet economists in analyzing Cuba would conclude that in supporting Cuba the Soviets were not involving themselves with a permanent liability; furthermore, there was an opportunity of creating a viable and reasonably prosperous economy which, while not a showcase, would always be an annoyance to the United States and a model for all dissident groups in Latin America.

/1/Printed as an attachment to Document 383.

/2/Not found.

DCI then referred to the 15th August paper of the Board of National Estimates, subject, "The Soviet Stake in Cuba"/3/ and read the summary of this paper which is in numbered paragraph 7, page 3.

/3/Document 379.

In support of the above DCI then briefly reviewed a chronology of unevaluated reports on recent Soviet military aid to Cuba, 21 August, and noted my reference to maps; location of the reported activities.

There was general agreement that the situation was critical and that the most dynamic action was indicated.

There was discussion of various courses of action open to us in case the Soviets place MRBM missiles on Cuban territory. There was also discussion of blockades of Soviet and Bloc shipping into Cuba or alternatively a total blockade of Cuba.

Throughout these discussions, it was abundantly clear that in the minds of State, and Mr. Bundy, speaking for the White House, there is a very definite inter-relationship between Cuba and other trouble spots, such as Berlin. It was felt that a blockade of Cuba would automatically bring about a blockade of Berlin; that drastic action on a missile site or other military installation of the Soviets in Cuba would bring about similar action by the Soviets with respect to our bases and numerous missile sites, particularly Turkey and southern Italy. Also, there is a reluctance, as previously, to the commitment of military forces because of the task involved and also because of retaliatory actions of the Soviets elsewhere throughout the world.

McNamara expressed strong feelings that we should take every possible aggressive action in the fields of intelligence, sabotage and guerrilla warfare, utilizing Cubans and do such other things as might be indicated to divide the Castro regime. McCone pointed out that all of these things could be done. Efforts to date with agent teams had been disappointing. Sabotage activities were planned on a priority basis and in all probability, we would witness more failures than successes. To date we had experienced a very tight internal security situation and probably this would become more so in the future.

The Attorney General queried the meeting as to what other aggressive steps could be taken, questioning the feasibility of provoking an action against Guantanamo which would permit us to retaliate, or involving a third country in some way.

It was Mr. Bundy's opinion that all overt actions would involve serious consequences throughout the world and therefore our operations must be covert at this time, although we should expect a high degree of attribution.

The meeting was inconclusive with respect to any particular course of action. It was felt that the President should be informed on the evolving situation and the DCI agreed to brief him at the Meeting on Wednesday, August 22nd at 6 o'clock.

We further agreed that the entire matter should be reviewed with the President by Rusk, McNamara, Bundy and McCone. Mr. Bundy undertook to arrange for this meeting following the Special Meeting scheduled for ten o'clock on Thursday, August 23rd.

Following this discussion, there was a brief discussion of the Donovan matter as covered in DCI's memorandum to Rusk and the Attorney General, copy of which is attached./4/ It was agreed that Mr. Hurwitch would meet with Mr. Donovan on Thursday, together with the Attorney General, and determine the extent of the commitment we would make for the government which would permit Mr. Donovan to engage in the prisoner release negotiations. DCI made it abundantly clear that the existing commitments to Committees of the Congress prevented CIA from using covert resources for this purpose.

/4/Document 381.

McCone stated that in view of these commitments to the Congress he did not feel that he should meet with Mr. Donovan. Furthermore, McCone stated that he felt that if a reasonable deal could be made for the release of the prisoners, the Committees of Congress would change the view expressed a year ago at the time of the tractor negotiation.


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

Washington, August 22, 1962.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Intelligence Material, 1/62-9/62. Secret.

The attached paper sums up the evidence which suggests a striking change in Soviet policy toward Cuba.

Until recently, it had been supposed that the USSR regarded Cuba as a poor field for investment, presumably on the ground that it was too vulnerable to the U.S.

Raul Castro visited Moscow a few weeks ago. No communique was issued, and our intelligence people concluded that his mission had failed. It now appears that Raul succeeded and that the USSR may have decided to make a major investment in Cuba.

Any military construction will probably be defensive in function; a launching pad directed against the U.S. would be too blatant a provocation. Probably they want to listen in on Canaveral--or to shoot down a U-2.

Mr. McCone is going to take this up with the President this afternoon.



Current Intelligence Memorandum

OCI No. 3047/62

Washington, August 22, 1962.


Recent Soviet Military Aid to Cuba

1. Intelligence on recent Soviet military assistance to Cuba indicates that an unusually large number of Soviet ships have delivered military cargoes to Cuba since late July and that some form of military construction is underway at several locations in Cuba by Soviet bloc personnel who arrived on some of these ships and are utilizing material delivered by the vessels. During the period at least 1,500 passengers have debarked from four ships under security conditions suggesting that their mission is related to the construction and military activity; another 1,500 arrived during the period and were greeted with considerable publicity as economic specialists and students. Some still unconfirmed reports suggest that recently arrived Soviet bloc personnel number as many as 5,000. The speed and magnitude of this influx of bloc personnel and equipment into a non-bloc country is unprecedented in Soviet military aid activities; clearly something new and different is taking place. As yet limited evidence suggests that present activities may include the augmentation of Cuba's air defense system, possibly including the establishment of surface-to-air missile sites or the setting up of facilities for electronic and communications intelligence.

2. As many as 20 Soviet vessels may have already arrived in Cuba since late July with military cargoes. Five more Soviet vessels have left Black Sea ports under conditions suggesting that they are en route to Cuba with additional military equipment. Most reports on these shipments have referred to large quantities of transportation, electronic, and construction equipment, such as communications and radar vans, trucks of many varieties, mobile generator units, tracked and wheeled prime movers, cranes, trailers, and fuel tanks. Eyewitnesses who saw the material being transported from the port areas report that much of the transportation was done at night and even that town street lights were turned off as the convoys passed through.

3. Personnel who arrived on the four Soviet passenger vessels--each of which has a normal passenger capacity of 340, though one of them declared 365 passengers when leaving the Black Sea--have been described variously by Cubans who have seen them. Most agree that they were obviously non-Cuban in appearance and were dressed in civilian clothing. A number of independent sources report that the foreign personnel were dressed in dirty, dusty, slept-in, red-checkered shirts and faded blue trousers. The foreign personnel unloaded the vessels themselves; usually Cuban militiamen have been charged with this work even when it was a military cargo. There is no hard evidence that any of these people are in combat military units. There is strong evidence that their mission is related to unidentified military construction.

4. At least a dozen refugees from the area of Matanzas have reported independently on military construction at two sites near that north coast city. Two and possibly more ships arrived in the port of Matanzas and unloaded cargoes under tight security precautions. Cargoes were taken to at least two general areas where construction is underway. Initial construction, according to one of the eyewitnesses, involved the grading and leveling of a naturally level portion of the western slope of a hill by Soviet personnel using heavy equipment. This was taking place at a site just east of Matanzas at a place called El Bongo. Other sources confirmed that material was leaving the docks in the direction of El Bongo. Another source, who left Cuba more recently, reported that by 4 August foreign personnel were assembling what appeared to be a prefabricated curved-roofed structure at El Bongo. The other site of construction activity near Matanzas is apparently just across the provincial border in Havana province at Santa Cruz del Norte, near the former Hershey sugar mill. In this place, too, construction activity initially involved the leveling of a portion of a hill near the coast. Cuban residents had been cleared from the area.

5. There are as yet no confirmed reports of construction activity underway in other parts of Cuba. However, there is considerable reason to presume that such activity is underway or is to be initiated shortly in a number of other locations in Cuba, ranging from Oriente province in the east to Pinar del Rio in the west. A refugee from the port of Antilla in Oriente province reported that a Soviet ship unloaded in late July at nearby Nicaro. The material unloaded, including electronic vans, tracked prime movers, and trailers, was moved through Antilla toward the Peninsula de Ramon, an area where he reported construction work had been underway for some time. Another ship is reported to have discharged a similar cargo as well as foreign personnel in the port of Casilda, in southern Las Villas province. In northern Las Villas, Cayo Esquivel, an island off the coast, has reportedly been evacuated. In the area just south of Havana city, we have numerous independent reports that a number of farms have been evacuated and that the boys' reformatory at nearby Torrens has been converted for living quarters for numbers of foreign personnel. Information from individuals who live near the reformatory indicate that the numerous Soviet personnel who moved in early this month wore "casual, dirty, civilian clothes." Other reports indicate that quantities of equipment such as has been reported elsewhere have been seen on the confiscated farms near the reformatory. Other reports from other parts of the island indicate that Cuban families have been evacuated from an island near Mariel, the port in Pinar del Rio province where much of the equipment was unloaded, and from a farming area near Guatana, Pinar del Rio province.

6. What the construction activity involves is not yet known. The activity in the Matanzas area could be the initial phases of construction of a SAM-equipped air defense system, erection of electronic and communications intelligence facilities aimed at Canaveral and other US installations, or an ECM system aimed at US space, missile, and/or other operational electronic systems. The kinds of equipment described could fit with any of these objectives; the evidence thus far, as well as Soviet practice in other countries receiving bloc military assistance, would suggest, at least tentatively, construction of an air defense system based on the Guideline missile. Information to confirm or refute this should become available within a week.

7. The step-up in military shipments and the construction activity once again provide strong evidence of the magnitude of the USSR's support for the Castro regime. Together with the extraordinary Soviet bloc economic commitments made to Cuba in recent months, these developments amount to the most extensive campaign to bolster a non-bloc country ever undertaken by the USSR.

384. Memorandum From the Chief of Operations, Operation Mongoose (Lansdale) to the Special Group (Augmented)

Washington, August 22, 1962.

[Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Special Group (Augmented), Operation Mongoose, 8/62. Top Secret; Sensitive. 2 pages of source text not declassified.]

385. Memorandum of Meeting With President Kennedy

Washington, August 23, 1962.

//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, Box 6, DCI Meetings with the President, 1 July 1962-31 December 1962. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by McCone. On August 22 McCone briefed President Kennedy on the meeting in Rusk's office on the previous day; see Document 382. The President expressed concern about developments in Cuba and agreed that policy considerations growing out of those developments would be discussed at the meeting at the White House scheduled for August 23. (Ibid.)


Secretaries Rusk, McNamara, Gilpatric, General Taylor, Messrs. Bundy, McCone



1. McCone advised that President had been briefed on the Cuban situation but added the information given [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

Rusk advocated informing Canadians and all NATO allies of growing seriousness of situation; also advocated removal of restrictions on use of Guantanamo by the Lansdale group.

Action: This point not cleared and should be pursued as strongly opposed by Chiefs.

2. The President requested a continuing analysis of the number and type of Soviet and Oriental personnel imported into Cuba; quantity and type of equipment and its probable use; all construction--particularly anxious to know whether construction involving SAM sites might differ from the ground sites. McCone stated we probably could not differentiate between surface-to-air and 350 mile ground-to-ground offensive missiles. McNamara observed portable ground missiles could not be located under any circumstances.

Action: DDCI should have Board of National Estimates working continuously on this analysis.

3. President requested analysis of the danger to the United States and the effect on Latin America of missile installations.

Action: DDCI should arrange for preparation of such estimates.

4. President raised the question of whether we should make a statement in advance of our position, should the Soviets install missiles and the alternative actions open to us in such event. In the course of the discussion, apparent many in the room related action in Cuba to Soviet actions in Turkey, Greece, Berlin, Far East and elsewhere. McCone questioned value of Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Italy. McNamara agreed they were useless but difficult politically to remove them.

Action: He agreed to study this possibility.

5. President raised question of what we could do against Soviet missile sites in Cuba. Could we take them out by air or would a ground offensive be necessary or alternatively could they be destroyed by a substantial guerrilla effort.

6. President raised question of what we should do in Cuba if Soviets precipitated a Berlin crisis. This is the alternative to the proposition of what Soviets would do in Berlin if we moved in Cuba.

7. During the conversation I raised substance of my plan of action as outlined in the attached paper. There was no disagreement that we must solve the Cuban problem. However, we should not start the political action and propaganda effort now until we had decided on the policy of following through to the complete solution of the Cuban problem.

8. After the meeting in a private conversation with Robert Kennedy, I stated that I felt Cuba was our most serious problem; [4 lines of source text not declassified]. I also added, in my opinion, Cuba was the key to all of Latin America; if Cuba succeeds, we can expect most of Latin America to fall.

John A. McCone/1/

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



Washington, August 21, 1962.

Proposed plan of action for Cuba in the light of:

(a) The arrival of four to five thousand Soviet/Bloc technicians and possibly military personnel during July-August.

(b) Arrival of many ship loads of equipment and materiel during July and August.

(c) The conclusion that stepped up plan (b) will not, in the opinion of the National Board of Estimates, accomplish the stated purpose of overthrowing Castro from within, and moreover will be attributable to the United States and cause loss of face by the United States, and

(d) Modified plan (b) will contribute importantly to our intelligence gathering and will impede Castro regime's economic progress but will not be sufficient to frustrate the regime's progress in view of the evidences of substantial Soviet technical assistance.

The above all lead to the conclusion that with the passage of time, it is possible there will evolve in Cuba a stronger rather than a weaker Castro dominated communist state, fully oriented to Moscow, to serve on the one hand as a model for similar actions by disciplined groups throughout Latin America, and on the other as a bridgehead for Soviet subversive activities in Central and South America. Being dominated by Moscow, such a Cuba would also serve as a possible location for MRBMs, for COMINT and ELINT facilities targeted against United States activities, most particularly Canaveral, and finally as an ECM station which might adversely affect our space and missile work.

Therefore it seems to me a more aggressive action is indicated than any heretofore considered, and should be patterned along the following lines:

(1) An immediate continuing aggressive political action designed to awaken and alarm all of Latin America and all of the free world as to the extreme dangers inherent in the present Cuban situation.

Appropriate actions should be taken through domestic and foreign press media to inform and alarm the people, through the United Nations, through the Organization of American States and its subcommittees, by contact with each free world country at the level of head of state, foreign minister and ambassador, and through semi-public or private organizations such as labor, church, farm cooperatives, youth groups, et cetera.

(2) [5 lines of source text not declassified]

(3) The instantaneous commitment of sufficient armed forces to occupy the country, destroy the regime, free the people, and establish in Cuba a peaceful country which will be a member of the community of American states.

It is possible, though in my opinion improbable, that actions taken under (1) above would in themselves be sufficient to cause destruction of the Castro regime from dissension and disaffections within the regime itself which would obviate steps (2) or (3).

Alternatively, actions under (1) above might cause internal strife of sufficient proportion to prompt the action outlined under (3) above with no further provocation.

Concurrently with this plan, we should go forward with all possible activities called for under plan (b).


/2/Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.

386. National Security Action Memorandum No. 181

Washington, August 23, 1962.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, NSAM 181, Cuba (A). Top Secret; Sensitive. A typewritten note at the top of the source text reads: "Individual items to be reproduced for further assignment only by personal decision of addressees--full reproduction prohbited."


Secretary of State

Secretary of Defense

Attorney General

Acting Director, CIA

General Taylor

The President has directed that the following actions and studies be undertaken in the light of evidence of new bloc activity in Cuba.

1. What action can be taken to get Jupiter missiles out of Turkey? (Action: Department of Defense)

2. What information should be made available in the U.S. and abroad with respect to these new bloc activities in Cuba? (Action: Department of State, in consultation with USIA and CIA)

3. There should be an organized effort to bring home to governments of our NATO allies in particular the meaning of this new evidence of Castro's subservience to the Soviets, and the urgency of action on their part to limit their economic cooperation with Cuba. (Action: Department of State)

4. The line of activity projected for Operation Mongoose Plan B plus should be developed with all possible speed. (Action: General Taylor)

5. An analysis should be prepared of the probable military, political and psychological impact of the establishment in Cuba of either surface-to-air missiles or surface-to-surface missiles which could reach the U.S. (Action: White House, in consultation with Department of State, Department of Defense, and CIA)

6. A study should be made of the advantages and disadvantages of making a statement that the U.S. would not tolerate the establishment of military forces (missile or air, or both?) which might launch a nuclear attack from Cuba against the U.S. (Action: Department of State, in consultation with Department of Defense with respect to the study in item 7 below)

7. A study should be made of the various military alternatives which might be adopted in executing a decision to eliminate any installations in Cuba capable of launching nuclear attack on the U.S. What would be the pros and cons, for example, of pinpoint attack, general counter-force attack, and outright invasion? (Action: Department of Defense)

8. A study should be made of the advantages and disadvantages of action to liberate Cuba by blockade or invasion or other action beyond Mongoose B plus, in the context of an aggravated Berlin crisis. (Action: Department of State, in consultation with Department of Defense)

To facilitate coordination of these efforts, I should like to receive an immediate report from action Departments indicating which officer of the Department will be directly responsible for items in which action is assigned to that Department. Insofar as practicable, except for item 1, item 3, and item 5, these assignments should be made from among senior officers already informed of Mongoose.

There will be a further meeting with the President about September 1 to review progress on all these items. In the event of important new information, an earlier meeting will be called.

The President emphasizes again the sensitive character of these instructions.

McGeorge Bundy

387. Memorandum of Conversation

Ottawa, August 24, 1962.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/8-2462. Secret. Drafted by Ivan B. White and approved in S on August 28. Secretary Rusk was in Ottawa August 24-26 for meetings with Canadian officials.




Canadian Prime Minister Diefenbaker

Secretary of State for External Affairs Green

Defence Minister Harkness

Secretary of State Rusk

United States Charge d'Affaires ad interim White

The Secretary opened the conversation on Cuba by saying that the United States Government greatly appreciated the assistance given by Canada in prohibiting trans-shipments of United States goods to Cuba and in its prohibition of shipments of strategic materials. This perform-ance had not been emulated by the other NATO countries. In view of the fact that it was important to put Castro into a position where he has before him clear alternatives, NATO as a whole should be interested in helping with the Cuban problem. The assistance of Canada in developing a more positive attitude within the NATO group would be greatly appreciated by the United States.

In discussing the recent unusual movement of Soviet ships to Cuba, the Secretary said that four of the vessels carried an estimated 340 Soviet personnel each who were disembarked secretly; that it was thought that some of these were for the purpose of assisting in agriculture and some were connected with military installations. Prime Minister Diefenbaker inquired as to the nature of the installations. The Secretary replied that not enough time had elapsed for an intelligence appraisal, but it was known that radar equipment and other communications intelligence equipment were involved. Substantial areas had been cleared of all Cuban personnel. With reference to missile sites, it would be important to know whether they were ground to ground or ground to air. The Secretary pointed out that in United States policy towards Cuba there were only two problems which were clearly non-negotiable: 1) the domination of Castro by the International Communist Movement and, 2) Cuban intervention in the affairs of countries in the Alliance for Progress area.

388. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, August 24, 1962.

//Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Yarmolinsky Files, Cuban Volunteer Program. Secret.


Mr. Paul's Meeting with Dr. Jose Miro Cardona/1/

/1/Norman S. Paul was an Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

At 4:00 p.m. this date, Mr. Paul met with Dr. Cardona to discuss certain matters relative to the enlistment of Cubans into the Armed Forces of the U.S. He considered this a most urgent problem, primarily because of the recent introduction into Cuba of at least 5,000 individuals whom he called soldiers. He was desirous of expediting this training to be completed within the next six months. He considered the latter time figure as very critical.

He desired increased recruiting of enlisted. He desired recruiting officers and recruiting offices to be placed in New York City and Puerto Rico, and he wanted the officers school to be increased in numbers of officers attending. He wanted the length of the school to be reduced. I understood that eighteen weeks was the maximum length for the school, and that he desired to have 120 officers trained--divided 1/3 Army, 1/3 aviators and 1/3 to be miscellaneous young officers. He estimated that by increasing recruiting pressure that approximately 5,000 to 6,000 would join up.

Dr. Cardona was interested in being able to make a statement to the effect that Cubans are being trained by the Armed Forces to fight in Cuba. This type of statement would bring the recruits in. I understood him to be agreeable to a statement to the effect that the Cubans were being trained to fight communism anywhere. If the above former statement was not made, the program would not be satisfactory according to Dr. Cardona.

Mr. Paul provided the following information--that a new program to be announced within the next two or three weeks should increase the number of Cubans interested. Among other things, this program would permit Spanish speaking individuals to be enlisted, and that all instruction would be in Spanish. He advised that the standards were being lowered, and that more would be permitted to be trained in units. He further advised that additional recruiting offices would be opened in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and others. He told Dr. Cardona that he would look into the idea of opening one up in Puerto Rico. Mr. Paul indicated that he was not certain as to the exact number of officers being trained and did not commit himself or the Defense Department to the training of additional officers.

As a result of Dr. Cardona's meeting with Mr. Gilpatric, Mr. Paul advises that Mr. Gilpatric desires that the implementation of the program be expedited.

Two items of interest were mentioned regarding the past program:

(1) They noted that the recruiting offices were turning men down when they had more than one dependent.

(2) Two Cubans had been sent to Germany for duty.

They were concerned about both of the above and both merit attention.

With regard to Dr. Cardona's desire to make a statement that Cubans are being trained to fight in Cuba, Mr. Paul stated that this was a matter that could not be decided by the Defense Department.

Dr. Cardona also stated, at the present time they have 125 pilots, mostly commercial, among the refugees. None of them are qualified in jets.

Mr. Paul prefaced his remarks at the outset of the meeting that the substance of his remarks were not for publication and were for Dr. Cardona's information only. He reiterated this comment in Mr. Gilpatric's office.

Melvin D. Henderson/2/

Military Assistant

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

389. Telegram From the Chief of Naval Operations (Anderson) to the Department of State

Washington, August 24, 1962, 9:07 p.m.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/8-2562. Secret; Priority. Also sent to ACSI, AFCIN, DIA, DIRNSA, CMC, CINCARIB, and CIA.

250207Z. Military activity and foreign personnel in Cuba.

1. Following received from COMNAVBASE GTMO:

A. Persistent reports from numerous sources indicates extensive military construction is in progress in restricted area defined below.

B. The restricted area is reported to extend in general from Gibara (UU820340), Tacajo (VU015055), Guaro (VT185870), to the coast just northeast of Sagua de Tanamo, Cayo Mambi (VT775915).

C. Numerous reports state that approximately 1000 Russian and Czech military personnel and technicians are constructing a rocket and/or missile site somewhere east of Banes (VU250189) between Playa de Puerto Rico (VU365155) and Lucrecia (VU384285).

D. All Cuban army/militia personnel have been withdrawn from this area (para. C) and only high ranking officials are permitted access.

E. Reports further indicate that between 1-4 Aug between 18-50 rockets and/or missiles described as being 20ft-21ft in length and 18 inch in diameter, red in color with yellow nose cones, were off loaded in Nicaro and transferred primarily over secondary roads to Puerto Rico (VU3518). The roads were heavily guarded by army/militia troops. In addition to the rockets/missiles off loaded--aluminum piping, train rails and angle iron were also part of ships cargo off loaded.

F. An undetermined number of Chinese and Soviet nationals performed entire off loading operation. Cuban nationals whether military or civilian were not allowed near the pier and dock facilities in Nicaro during the four day unloading operations.

G. The material was reported to be on two Soviet ships.

H. One report states that approx. 1000 armed personnel described as Orientals were disembarked at landing facilities in Nicaro during same period.

I. On 3 Aug 62, a large number of Orientals in civilian clothes and unarmed were observed at the railroad junction in vicinity of Guardo (VT191857). This group later described by Nicaro radio station broadcasts as rice workers from China to assist in the Cuban rice harvest. Comment: Personnel described in paragraph H could very likely be those indicated as civilian rice workers (para. I).

J. One report is that 2500 Russian military are billeted at Los Pacitos, just west of Lucrecia, they wear dark gray colored uniforms and can be seen frequently swimming in the nude at Punta Gorda beaches.

K. Eggs, meat, and milk are collected in the areas of Antilla, Banes and Puerto Rico to feed the Russian troops stationed at Los Pacitos. Comment: Additional info has been requested from all informants. The present reports are mixed, varied in details and lack precise location of the alleged site. Certain informants have stated that missiles were taken to Mayari Arriba, however, vast majority of informants indicate that the site or sites under construction is located in area mentioned paragraph C. Most reports state that the Chinese troops seen in this area were not disembarked at Nicaro, but disembarked at port in Bahia de Nipe. Therefore two groups--one the Chinese rice workers and the other an armed battalion could have arrived at different locations during same period. Considering reports from all sources involved an overall (B-3) evaluation is given to some extraordinary undertaking in which non-Cuban bloc personnel are engaged.

390. Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman) to Acting Secretary of State Ball


Washington, August 25, 1962.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, NSAM 181, Cuba (A). Secret; Noforn. The source text is marked with a handwritten indication that it was sent to McGeorge Bundy.


Soviet Military Shipments to Cuba

We have examined available evidence on the unusually heavy Soviet shipments to Cuba during the past month.


A large part, possibly half, of the shipments have involved military hardware and Soviet military technicians.

The most likely explanation of Moscow's stepped up military assist-ance is that it is designed to enhance the Cuban regime's defense capabilities against an external threat, and increase the effectiveness of the military establishment for possible internal use.

Because of the lead times involved, the Soviet deliveries to Cuba probably could not have been planned to coincide with the latest Berlin developments. Nevertheless the Soviets may now calculate that US attention to Berlin will be diluted by Soviet activity in Cuba, and that in an atmosphere of generally heightened tension pressures for Western concessions will be enhanced.

Size and Nature of the Shipments. Since the last week in July, in addition to the normal tanker and cargo vessel movements, it is estimated that Soviet ship arrivals to the present, plus ships now enroute, total at least 26 including 5 passenger ships. The shipments are known to contain both military and economic goods and personnel. But information is limited on exactly how the volume is divided between the two; the following breakdown is at best a rough guess based upon available intelligence and some observation by reliable sources.

About one dozen of the cargo ships are believed to be carrying military equipment--electronic equipment such as radar, motor transport, construction equipment, and tracked vehicles--some of which has been observed in Cuba. Information on construction sites in Cuba suggests that surface-to-air missiles may have been included in the military equipment delivered. But there is no hard evidence on this score.

Regarding the personnel on the five passenger ships, 1500 from one vessel landed at the Mariel naval base and are thought to be Bloc technicians and/or Cuban naval personnel returning from courses in the USSR. No breakdown is available. There is less certainty about the numbers and types of additional personnel that may have been debarked or are still on the way. A total of as high as 5,000 bloc personnel--both military and technical, though the proportions are unknown--may be involved.

The remainder of the Soviet shipments, roughly one-half, consist of deliveries--already behind schedule--of equipment and technical assistance personnel under aid and trade agreements.

In sum, while the exact quantities of Soviet material and personnel which have arrived in Cuba are not known, it appears almost certainly to be of such magnitude as to significantly increase Soviet direct military involvement in Cuba.

Soviet Motivation. The most likely Soviet motivation in providing military assistance and personnel to Cuba is to enhance the Cuban regime's defense capabilities against an external threat and increase the effectiveness of the military establishment for possible internal use. The Soviets doubtless recognize that the contributions this level of Soviet military presence makes to Cuban defense capabilities would be of scant aid to Cuba were the United States to decide upon direct military intervention to Cuba. However, by raising the Cuban defense capability the Soviets are raising the military effort required to intervene. Hence, they may calculate that by increasing Cuban defense capabilities in this way they are strengthening the deterrent factors which would enter into US consideration of possible military intervention. Moreover, the Soviets doubtless believe that their military assistance will serve to deter any intervention not overtly involving US forces.

The Soviets have acquired a growing stake in the survival of the Castro regime. After initial hesitations, they viewed the Cuban leader's consolidation of power with elation; and they have been unstinting in proclaiming the Cuban regime as a model for successful, Moscow-supported "national liberation-struggle." In so doing, they have become increasingly committed to the preservation and advancement of the Castro regime. Economic aid designed to keep the Castro regime afloat has been expanded by emergency shipments of consumer goods and the first signs of development projects. Even more important, the Soviets have officially endorsed Castro's claims to communist affiliation and now address him as "Comrade."

It is fairly certain that the Cuban regime fears more than anything else an attack by the US, or other forces strongly, if indirectly, supported by the US. Combined with this concern, and reinforcing it, is the difficult domestic situation presently confronting the Cuban leaders. Active support for the Castro regime has been estimated to include only about 20 percent of the population, with attitudes among the remaining four-fifths of the population ranging from apathy to passive and active resist-ance.

The Soviets may well share the Cuban regime's concern over external and internal threats to its security. They are certainly aware of the regime's domestic economic difficulties. In any event, they would find it difficult to deny Castro's requests for military-economic assistance even if they did not fully share his appraisal of the need. The scale of the current Soviet effort thus reflects the seriousness of the problem faced by the Castro regime, and is renewed proof of Moscow's determination to go to considerable lengths to assure that regime's survival.

It seems likely, at the same time, that the Soviets have undertaken a sizeable military buildup in Cuba with some reluctance. And they would probably like to minimize the extent of their military presence in Cuba. To establish a large and publicly acknowledged Soviet military presence in Cuba would have distinct disadvantages for the USSR.

First, and most important, it would heighten Moscow's commitment to underwrite the Cuban regime's security in circumstances unfavorable to the USSR. Second, it would heighten the threat to that regime's security by giving the US, alone or in conjunction with other American states, added motivation to move against the Castro regime.

It is probably because of these factors that Soviet support is being rendered in the relative absence of bluster and ballyhoo. Also the Soviets would presumably prefer not to be overly "provocative" toward the US. Likewise the Soviets would no doubt be concerned to restrain Castro, at least for some time to come, from direct provocations of the US or other countries. We believe that this restraint will apply also to possible Cuban designs on Guantanamo, though it would not exclude increased harassments and verbal attacks on the US presence there.

Relationship to Possible Moves Against Guantanamo. It continues to be unlikely that the Castro regime will make any direct military move against the Guantanamo Base. However, they may well adopt a more belligerent posture toward the US presence there. Since the beginning of July the Cuban press and other propaganda media have been giving new and extensive coverage to government allegations (over 100) of US air and sea incursions into Cuban territory and to alleged provocations by the US naval base at Guantanamo. The harassment of marine sentries at the base has increased in the same period.

There is a possibility that the regime intends this publicity as part of an overall campaign to impress world opinion with alleged US disregard for Cuban sovereignty. In addition to providing justification for the new Soviet aid and the further militarization of the island it may also be the principal point of attack in a combined Cuban-Bloc move aimed at Guantanamo at the next session of the UN General Assembly.

Cuba and Berlin. We doubt that the immediate timing of the Soviet deliveries to Cuba is specifically related to the latest Soviet moves in Berlin. Because of the lead time necessary to get such shipments en route, the decision to send them must have been made several months ago. We do, however, think that there may be a broad relationship: the Soviets may believe that US attention to Berlin will be diluted by evidence of Soviet activity in another sensitive region and they may calculate that in an atmosphere of generally heightened tension pressures for Western concessions can be stimulated.

We do not believe that the Soviets are toying with some form of quid pro quo gambit involving Western concessions in Berlin in exchange for curtailment of Soviet activities in Cuba. Moscow undoubtedly regards its positions in both these areas as sufficiently strong to make it unnecessary and undesirable to use one as a bargaining counter for the other. In short, Moscow probably believes it can reduce the Western position in Berlin while simultaneously strengthening its own position (and Castro's) in Cuba.

[end of document]


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

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