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Department Seal

Volume X
Cuba, 1961-1962



Cuba, 1961-1962

61. Paper Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, March 15, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Intelligence Material, 1961. Top Secret. A copy of this paper in CIA files indicates it was drafted by Bissell. (Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/DDP Files: Job 78-01450R, Box 5, Area Activity-Cuba)


1. Political Requirements: The plan for a Cuban operation and the variants thereof presented on 11 March were considered to be politically objectionable on the ground that the contemplated operation would not have the appearance of an infiltration of guerrillas in support of an internal revolution but rather that of a small-scale World War II type of amphibious assault. In undertaking to develop alternative plans and to judge their political acceptability, it has been necessary to infer from the comments made on the earlier plan the characteristics which a new plan should possess in order to be politically acceptable. They would appear to be the following:

a. An Unspectacular Landing: The initial landing should be as unspectacular as possible and should have neither immediately prior nor concurrent tactical air support. It should conform as closely as possible to the typical pattern of the landings of small groups intended to establish themselves or to join others in terrain suited for guerrilla operations. In the absence of air support and in order to fit the pattern, it should probably be at night.

b. A Base for Tactical Air Operations: It was emphasized that ultimate success of the operation will require tactical air operations leading to the establishment of the control of the air over Cuba. In order to fit the pattern of revolution, these operations should be conducted from an air base within territory held by opposition forces. Since it is impracticable to undertake construction of an air base in the rainy season and before any air support is available, the territory seized in the original landing must include an air strip that can support tactical operations.

c. Slower Tempo: The operation should be so designed that there could be an appreciable period of build up after the initial landing before major offensive action was undertaken. This would allow for a minimum decent interval between the establishment and the recognition by the U.S. of a provisional government and would fit more closely the pattern of a typical revolution.

d. Guerrilla Warfare Alternative: Ideally, the terrain should not only be protected by geography against prompt or well-supported attack from land but also suitable for guerrilla warfare in the event that an organized perimeter could not be held.

2. Alternative Areas: Five different areas, three of them on the mainland of Cuba and two on islands off the coast, were studied carefully to determine whether they would permit an operation fitting the above conditions. One of the areas appears to be eminently suited for the operation. All the others had to be rejected either because of unfavorable geography (notably the absence of a suitable air strip) or heavy concentrations of enemy forces, or both. The area selected is located at the head of a well protected deep water estuary on the south coast of Cuba. It is almost surrounded by swamps impenetrable to infantry in any numbers and entirely impenetrable to vehicles, except along two narrow and easily defended approaches. Although strategically isolated by these terrain features, the area is near the center of the island and the presence of an opposition force there will soon become known to the entire population of Cuba and constitute a serious threat to the regime. The beachhead area contains one and possibly two air strips adequate to handle B-26's. There are several good landing beaches. It is of interest that this area has been the scene of resistance activities and of outright guerrilla warfare for over a hundred years.

3. Phases of the Operation:

a. The operation will begin with a night landing. There are no known enemy forces (even police) in the objective area and it is anticipated that the landing can be carried out with few if any casualties and with no serious combat. As many supplies as possible will be unloaded over the beaches but the ships will put to sea in time to be well offshore by dawn. The whole beachhead area including the air strips will be immediately occupied and approach routes defended. No tanks will be brought ashore in the initial landing. It is believed that this operation can be accomplished quite unobtrusively and that the Castro regime will have little idea of the size of the force involved.

b. The second phase, preferably commencing at dawn following the landing, will involve the movement into the beachhead of tactical aircraft and their prompt commitment for strikes against the Castro Air Force. Concurrently C-46's will move in with gas in drums, minimal maintenance equipment, and maintenance personnel. As rapidly as possible, the whole tactical air operation will be based in the beachhead but initially only enough aircraft will be based there plausibly to account for all observable activity over the island.

c. In the third phase, as soon as there is adequate protection for shipping from enemy air attack, ships will move back into the beach to discharge supplies and equipment (including tanks). It must be presumed that counter attacks against the beachhead will be undertaken within 24 to 48 hours of the landing but the perimeter can easily be held against attacks along the most direct approach routes. The terrain may well prevent any sizable attacks (providing the enemy air force has been rendered ineffective) until the opposition force is ready to attempt to break out of the beachhead.

d. The timing and direction of such offensive action will depend upon the course of events in the island. At least three directions of break out are possible. Because of the canalization of the approaches to the beachhead from the interior, a break out will require close support by tactical air to be successful unless enemy forces are thoroughly disorganized. The opposition force will have the option, however, of undertaking an amphibious assault with tactical air support against a different objective area if it should seem desirable.

4. Political Action: The beachhead area proposed to be occupied is both large enough and safe enough so that it should be entirely feasible to install the provisional government there as soon as aircraft can land safely. Once installed, the tempo of the operation will permit the U.S. Government to extend recognition after a decent interval and thus to prepare the way for more open and more extensive logistical support if this should be necessary.

5. Military Advantages:

a. This is a safer military operation than the daylight landing in force originally proposed. The landing itself is more likely to be unopposed or very lightly opposed and the beachhead perimeter could be more easily held.

b. There are no known communications facilities in the immediate target area. This circumstance, coupled with the plan for a night landing, increases the chance of achieving surprise.

c. By comparison with any of the known inaccessible parts of the Oriente Province the objective area is closer to rear bases for air and sea logistical support.

d. The plan has the disadvantage that the build up of force can be only gradual since there is virtually no local population from which to recruit additional troops and volunteers from other parts of Cuba will be able to infiltrate into the area only gradually.

6. Political Acceptability: The proposal here outlined fits the three conditions stated in paragraph 1 above for the political acceptability of a paramilitary operation. The landing is unspectacular; no tactical air support will be provided until an air base of sorts is active within the beachhead area; the tempo of the operation is as desired; and the terrain is such as to minimize the risk of defeat and maximize the options open to the opposition force.

a. It may be objected that the undertaking of tactical air operations so promptly after the landing is inconsistent with the pattern of a revolution. But most Latin American revolutions in recent years have used aircraft and it is only natural that they would be used in this case as soon as the opposition had secured control of an air strip. Wherever in the island a paramilitary operation is attempted and whatever its tempo, command of the air will sooner or later have to be established, and aircraft will have to be flown into a beachhead to enable this to be done. Sooner or later, then, it is bound to be revealed that the opposition in Cuba has friends outside who are able and willing to supply it with obsolescent combat aircraft. This revelation will be neither surprising nor out of keeping with traditional practice.

b. An alternative way to handle this problem would be to make a few strafing runs against the Castro Air Force some days before the landing and apparently as an opposition act unrelated to any other military moves.

7. Conclusion: The operation here outlined, despite the revision of concept to meet the political requirements stated above, will still have a political cost. The study over the past several months of many possible paramilitary operations makes perfectly clear, however, that it is impossible to introduce into Cuba and commit to action military resources that will have a good chance of setting in motion the overthrow of the regime without paying some price in terms of accusations by the Communists and possible criticism by others. It is believed that the plan here outlined goes as far as possible in the direction of minimizing the political cost without impairing its soundness and chance of success as a military operation. The alternative would appear to be the demobilization of the paramilitary force and the return of its members to the United States. It is, of course, well understood that this course of action too involves certain risks.

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


Washington, March 15, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report. Top Secret. According to a memorandum for the record prepared by General Gray on May 4, Gray briefed the Joint Chiefs for 20 minutes on March 15 on the three concepts outlined in JCSM-166-61. (Ibid.)


Evaluation of the Military Aspects of Alternate Concepts, CIA Para-Military Plan, Cuba (S)

1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have evaluated the military aspects of three alternate concepts for the CIA Para-Military plan for action to effect the overthrow of the Castro Government. The military evaluation of the basic plan was forwarded to you by JCSM-57-61, subject: "Military Evaluation of the CIA Para-Military Plan, Cuba", dated 3 February 1961,/1/ and the evaluation of the proposed supplementary phase to the basic plan was forwarded to you by JCSM-149-61, subject: "Evaluation of Proposed Supplementary Phase, CIA Para-Military Plan, Cuba", dated 10 March 1961./2/

/1/Document 35.

/2/Document 57.

2. The following CIA alternate concepts of operations were evaluated:

a. Alternative I--Original para-military plan, except main landings at night, without benefit of airborne landing or air strikes. See Appendix A hereto for details and evaluation.

b. Alternative II--At an objective area on NE coast, employment of airborne company at evening nautical twilight to seize key terrain features astride two separate roads leading into objective area to isolate same; this followed by night debarkation of remainder of Task Force; shipping then departs area prior to daylight; aircraft initiate air operations from airstrip within objective area following day. See Appendix B hereto for details and evaluation.

c. Alternative III--At an objective area on the southern coast, amphibious landing of two infantry companies after dark to seize key areas; during the night, land remainder of Task Force; shipping then departs area prior to daylight; aircraft initiate air operations from the airstrips the following day. See Appendix C hereto for details and evaluation.

3. The conclusions of the evaluation of the military aspects of the three alternative concepts are as follows:

a. Alternative I--Without the psychological impact of the original concept, together with the difficulties of landing at night in this area and the lack of ability to initiate air operations, the ultimate success of Alternative I is doubtful.

b. Alternative II--Even though the Cuban Volunteer Force could be landed and sustained for a minimum of 3 days, the distance from the seat of government, together with the problem of continuous resupply over long distances, causes this course of action to be least likely to accomplish the objective.

c. Alternative III has all the prerequisites necessary to successfully establish the Cuban Voluntary Task Force, including air elements, in the objective area and sustain itself with outside logistic support for several weeks; however, inaccessibility of the area may limit the support anticipated from the Cuban populace.

d. Of the alternative concepts, Alternative III is considered the most feasible and the most likely to accomplish the objective.

e. None of the alternative concepts are considered as feasible and likely to accomplish the objective as the basic para-military plan.

4. It is recommended that:

a. The Secretary of Defense support the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as expressed in the above conclusions.

b. The views expressed in the above conclusions be transmitted to the Director of Central Intelligence, together with three copies of the Appendices hereto, for his information and consideration.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

L.L. Lemnitzer/3/


Joint Chiefs of Staff

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

Appendix A

Evaluation of the Military Aspects of the Original CIA Paramilitary Plan for Cuba: With the Changes That the Amphibious Landing Will Be Made at Night, Without Benefit of the Airborne Assault, or Air Strikes

1. The concept of the plan is as follows: Following a deception landing on the night of D-1 the Task Force, accompanied by provisional government representation, will invade at night by amphibious landing on the selected beaches. The force will immediately move around the city to occupy the high ground which dominates the objective area. At dawn control of the beachhead area will be established by seizing and organizing four strong points on key terrain along the perimeter which dominates entrance routes into the area. Contact will be established with guerrilla bands in the general area of operations. The small airstrip will be cleared. Every effort will be made to increase the force by local volunteers for which arms will be provided. The force will establish control within the beachhead area and if driven therefrom, will be prepared to withdraw and link with guerrilla forces to continue guerrilla activities.

2. The enemy forces, terrain, beaches, man-made installations and populace, remain the same as set forth in the original plan; the time and space factors remain the same with the exceptions that:

a. The amphibious landing will be made at night;

b. Immediately upon landing, the force will move around the city to occupy the high ground which dominates the city. Then at dawn they will move out to seize and organize the strong points on key terrain as originally planned;

c. The airborne assault and the air strikes will not be conducted.

3. a. Advantages

(1) The force will move ashore at night, increasing the possibility of achieving tactical surprise.

(2) The landing will be near a mountainous region in the event the force is unable to maintain its lodgement, and it becomes necessary to move out of the beachhead area and conduct guerrilla operations.

(3) The landing area is relatively near the seat of government, thereby making it potentially possible to move upon the ultimate objective area in a relatively short period of time.

(4) Large numbers of the populace in the landing area are believed to be antagonistic to Castro's regime.

(5) The beachhead area is considered to be the best area in Cuba for the accomplishment of the Task Force mission.

b. Disadvantages:

(1) The airstrip is inadequate for B-26 operations.

(2) Without benefit of air operations, elements of Castro's Air Force would be available for use against the force. These aircraft could make it impossible for the force to hold a lodgement in the beachhead area, or virtually any fixed or exposed position, thereby forcing the volunteers to move into the mountains as a guerrilla force almost immediately.

(3) It will be difficult for a force inexperienced in amphibious operations to locate and use the narrow landing beaches at night.

4. Conclusions:

a. Despite the disadvantages enumerated above, this concept would provide a fair chance of success in landing and seizing initial objectives.

b. The lack of air support and the difficulties of supply at night, or under possible air attack if attempted in daylight, indicate small chance of ultimate success for this concept.

Appendix B

Concept of Operation for an Alternate Proposal To Land on the Eastern End of the Island To Accomplish Objectives of the CIA Para-Military Plan, Cuba

1. The concept of operation for landing on the Eastern end of the Island envisages the employment of an airborne company to land during the hours of darkness on D-Day to seize a landing pier in the area together with key terrain features astride two separate roads leading into the area. During the night of D-Day, ships transporting the remainder of the Cuban Volunteer Task Force will dock alongside the landing pier, discharge the personnel and supplies and depart the area prior to daylight. Units of the Task Force will proceed inland, seize an airfield, other strategic terrain features, and establish contact with the Airborne Company to assure protection of the lodgement area.

2. One company of the Cuban military forces is located in the objective area and probably patrols the area. The closest known Cuban Army units which could be used as reinforcements are, one Infantry Battalion and one Field Artillery Battalion located 35 miles away. These units probably could not be assembled and moved to the area in less than 24 hours due to limited transportation available and condition of the roads over which they must travel.

3. The objective area consists of rolling terrain adjacent to the shoreline and backed by swamp lands which extend inland. The terrain features and vegetation can provide adequate protection and concealment for the landing force. Water approaches to the landing pier are protected from the open sea by extensions of land on either side and depth of water will accept all shipping available to the Task Force. However, negotiation of the channels at night will be difficult.

a. There are two improved roads leading into the area; however, connection between them consists of unimproved roads and trails. Absence of a well developed road net combined with the swampy terrain will hamper movement of large military forces.

b. An airfield is located 1.5 miles Southeast of the proposed landing area. Its description is as follows:

Runway dimensions 4000'x120'

Surface construction is asphalt and oiled sand

The field will accept C-47 type aircraft

Runway extensibility, 11,000 ft.

Operations capabilities are negligible and the field can only be classified as a good all-weather emergency strip.

c. Adjacent to the landing pier is a village with approximate population of 18,000. The rural area adjacent thereto is underdeveloped and sparsely populated. Attitude of the local populace toward the Castro Government is not known, however, due to the remoteness of the area it may be assumed that a neutral attitude would prevail during the initial phases of the operation.

4. Conclusions

a. The selected objective area, drop zones and landing piers are suitable and adequate for the proposed operation.

b. The known or expected location of Cuban Military Forces indicates that complete surprise may not be attained.

c. Operational capabilities of the airfield in the area are negligible and can be classified as only a good all weather emergency strip.

d. Given the opportunity to seize its proposed objectives, the Task Force will have the capability to sustain itself without resupply for a minimum of 3 days.

e. A landing in this area would be so far removed from the seat of Government it is doubtful that the desired psychological effect on the Cuban people would be attained.

f. If the Task Force is required to abandon its primary mission, evacuation by sea could probably be accomplished or elements of the force could continue to operate as guerrilla units in the area. The mountainous area approximately 10 miles inland is considered suitable for guerrilla operations.

g. This operation would be difficult to support from a logistic standpoint.

h. The disadvantages outweigh the advantages of this proposed course of action.

Appendix C

Concept of an Alternate Proposal To Land on an Objective Area on the Southern Coast

1. Concept: Under cover of darkness, two companies will land over the two beaches at the head of the bay, rapidly move inland, seize their assigned objectives, and prepare to defend them. A small combat outpost will be landed on the east side of the entrance to the bay to provide warning and block the coast road from the east. A combat outpost will be established to close the road across the swamp to the west of the landing beaches. The remaining four companies will be landed prior to dawn and will proceed to their assigned objectives. All boats will withdraw to sea and be clear of the area prior to daylight. At daylight, B-26 aircraft will land on the seized airfield or airfields and conduct air operations from these locations immediately thereafter.

2. Enemy Forces: There are no known enemy forces in the objective area, although it is probable that militia patrols maintain surveillance over the coast road. The nearest concentration of Cuban Rebel Army forces are located at Managua, near Havana, and at Santa Clara. Rural police posts are located in the villages and towns, but their capability is limited to employment in small groups using small arms. The nearest sizable militia unit is located at Cienfuegos, but there may be smaller militia elements as close as ten miles from the landing beaches.

3. Terrain: The terrain in the objective area is flat, swamp land covered with a dense growth of mangrove, except for a strip east of the landing beaches. This strip rises from 5 to 30 feet above mean sea level and is covered with scrub growth and high savanna grass. Entry into and exit from the area is confined to the established roads and a single track narrow gauge railroad bed. Trafficability off roads is poor except that foot troops may move with difficulty. There are approximately seven possible exits from the area to the north and west.

4. Beaches: The bay has a number of usable beaches located along the east shore, but the best are at the head of the bay. The two beaches selected are each approximately 400 yards long and have easy exits to the coast road which skirts the bay. Seaward approaches are clear and deep water extends to within a few yards of the shore. Beach gradients from available photography appear to be suitable for dry-ramp landings of personnel and light vehicles.

5. Man-Made Installations: There are two airfields in the area, one firmly packed sod strip, carried as approximately 4000 feet long and the other a newly constructed packed coral and sand strip approximately 6000 feet long. Recently it has been reported that the sod strip is being lengthened to over 6000 feet. Both strips are currently in various stages of construction. There has been considerable road building noted in this area in the past year. The coast road has been widened and resurfaced with a concrete surface. A new road has been constructed across the eastern portion of the swamp, but this road has not yet intersected the coast road. There are no roads to the west.

6. Attitude of Populace: The objective area is very sparsely settled with no towns or villages of any size. A few scattered houses, not closely grouped, comprise the only habitations in the area. The attitude of the populace vis-a-vis Castro is unknown.

7. Time and Space Factors: Due to the sparse population, tele-communications in the area are probably poor or non-existent. The area has been an historically suitable guerrilla area. Reaction time for the Cuban Rebel Armed Forces is probably greater than elsewhere on the island due to the distance to be covered, the nature of the terrain, and the relatively poor road net. However, the area is within range of suitable positions for Cuban heavy artillery (122 mm gun). Observation of fire would be restricted to aerial observation by aircraft.

8. Advantages and Disadvantages:

a. Advantages

(1) Two probably usable airfields are in the area.

(2) A remote and inaccessible area making reaction against the invasion force slow and difficult.

(3) No known Cuban armed forces in the area.

(4) Swampy terrain would prevent the use of armor against the invasion force except tank gun fire.

(5) Defectors could join the invasion force, however with difficulty. A small band (approximately 100) of guerrillas are close to the area.

(6) Surprise could probably be achieved if operation was carefully timed.

(7) Relatively close to the seat of government for the resulting psychological effect on the Cuban people.

b. Disadvantages

(1) Resupply, including food, must come from outside Cuba.

(2) Exits from objective area could be sealed off and prevent expansion of operations.

(3) Firm ground in area is within range of suitable heavy artillery positions.

(4) No sizable immediate help could be expected from the local populace.

(5) No civilian hospital facilities available.

(6) All supply must be across the beach.

9. Conclusions:

a. In the absence of significant enemy forces in the area, the invasion force can be landed successfully in the objective area and can be sustained in the area provided resupply of essential items is accomplished.

b. The area meets the requirements imposed including the availability of an airfield, suitability for a clandestine landing, and possibly suitable for extending operations to cause the downfall of Castro.

63. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Schlesinger) to President Kennedy

Washington, March 15, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 1/61-4/61. Secret.



1. Free elections statement. Tom Mann, on further consideration, has backed away from the idea of a demarche on free elections. He argues that the risk is too great that Castro might accept the challenge, stage ostensibly free elections, win by a large majority and thereafter claim popular sanction for his regime. Mann points out that a genuinely free election requires more than freedom of balloting; it requires freedom of press and assembly for some months prior to the election. Without such prior freedom from intimidation, the election itself will not be genuinely free, even with OAS supervision of the actual voting process.

I agree with this view. It does seem to me that setting up free elections as a test might give Castro an opportunity to put on a show and recover prestige.

2. White Paper. I am at work on a White Paper on Cuba. I wonder, however, whether we should not consider issuing at the same time a White Paper on the Dominican Republic. This would emphasize the fact that our opposition is to dictatorship in principle and not just to dictatorships which expropriate US business. Tom Mann agrees that it might be a good idea to issue a simultaneous White Paper on the Dominican Republic.

If you agree, let me know, and I will get someone at State to start putting the material together.

Cuban policy. I thought your response to the proposals submitted last Saturday/1/ was absolutely right. The trouble with the operation is that the less the military risk, the greater the political risk, and vice versa. It seems to me that the utilization of the men under conditions of minimum political risk is clearly the thing to aim at.

/1/March 11. See Document 59.

I had the impression that the military aspects of the problem had received more thoughtful attention than the political aspects. It did not seem to me that the political risks had been adequately assessed or that convincing plans had been laid to minimize them. For example, it was not clear that anyone had thought through the question of our public response if the operation should be undertaken. Do we take the public position that it is a spontaneous Cuban enterprise? Do you say in your press conference, for example, that the US had nothing to do with it? Do we swear this in the United Nations? What happens then when Castro produces a couple of prisoners who testify that they were armed, trained and briefed by Americans? Do we continue to deny this? or change our original story?

It would seem to me absolutely essential to work out in advance a consistent line which can hold for every conceivable contingency. Otherwise we will find ourselves in a new U-2 imbroglio, with the government either changing its story midstream or else clinging to a position which the rest of the world will regard as a lie.

I should add that there seems to me a slight danger of our being rushed into something because CIA has on its hands a band of people it doesn't quite know what to do with. When you were out of the room, Allen Dulles said, "Don't forget that we have a disposal problem. If we have to take these men out of Guatemala, we will have to transfer them to the US, and we can't have them wandering around the country telling everyone what they have been doing." Obviously this is a genuine problem, but it can't be permitted to govern US policy.

Arthur Schlesinger, jr.

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

Washington, March 15, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 1/61-4/61. Top Secret.


Meeting on Cuba, 4:00 PM, March 15, 1961

CIA will present a revised plan for the Cuban operation./1/ They have done a remarkable job of reframing the landing plan so as to make it unspectacular and quiet, and plausibly Cuban in its essentials.

/1/See Documents 65 and 66.

The one major problem which remains is the air battle. I think there is unanimous agreement that at some stage the Castro Air Force must be removed. It is a very sketchy force, in very poor shape at the present, and Colonel Hawkins (Bissell's military brain) thinks it can be removed by six to eight simultaneous sorties of B-26s. These will be undertaken by Cuban pilots in planes with Cuban Air Force markings. This is the only really noisy enterprise that remains.

My own belief is that this air battle has to come sooner or later, and that the longer we put it off, the harder it will be. Castro's Air Force is currently his Achilles' heel, but he is making drastic efforts to strengthen it with Russian planes and Russian-trained pilots.

Even the revised landing plan depends strongly upon prompt action against Castro's air. The question in my mind is whether we cannot solve this problem by having the air strike come some little time before the invasion. A group of patriotic airplanes flying from Nicaraguan bases might knock out Castro's Air Force in a single day without anyone knowing (for some time) where they came from, and with nothing to prove that it was not an interior rebellion by the Cuban Air Force, which has been of very doubtful loyalty in the past; the pilots will in fact be members of the Cuban Air Force who went into the opposition some time ago. Then the invasion could come as a separate enterprise, and neither the air strike nor the quiet landing of patriots would in itself give Castro anything to take to the United Nations.

I have been a skeptic about Bissell's operation, but now I think we are on the edge of a good answer. I also think that Bissell and Hawkins have done an honorable job of meeting the proper criticisms and cautions of the Department of State.

McGeorge Bundy/2/

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

65. Editorial Note

According to summary notes prepared by General Gray, CIA officials returned to the White House on March 15, 1961, to present a revised plan for the operation against Cuba; see Document 64. The President's appointment book indicates that the meeting took place from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. The meeting was attended by Vice President Johnson, McNamara, Rusk, Mann, Berle, Dulles, Bissell, McGeorge Bundy, William Bundy, and Gray. (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Book) Although not listed in the appointment book, it is likely that at least one member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, probably General Lemnitzer or Admiral Burke, also attended. According to Gray's notes on the meeting:

"At this meeting the Zapata plan was presented to the President and a full-length discussion of it followed. The President expressed the belief that uprisings all along the island would be better than to concentrate and strike. The President asked how soon it was intended to break out from this area and Mr. Bissell stated that not before about D+10. The President was also concerned about ability to extricate the forces. The President did not like the idea of the dawn landing and felt that in order to make this appear as an inside guerrilla-type operation, the ships should be clear of the area by dawn. He directed that this planning be reviewed and another meeting be held the following morning." (Summary notes prepared on May 9, 1961; Kennedy Library, National Security File, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)

66. Editorial Note

On March 16, 1961, CIA officials outlined for President Kennedy the revisions to the Zapata plan that the President had called for on the previous day. The President's appointment book indicates that the meeting took place in the White House from 4:15 to 5:23 p.m. The meeting was attended by Vice President Johnson, McNamara, Rusk, Mann, Berle, Dulles, Bissell, McGeorge Bundy, William Bundy, and Gray. (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Book) Although not listed in the appointment book, it is clear from his subsequent debriefing on the meeting that Admiral Burke also attended. According to Gray's notes on the meeting:

"At meeting with the President, CIA presented revised concepts for the landing at Zapata wherein there would be air drops at first light with the landing at night and all of the ships away from the objective area by dawn. The President decided to go ahead with the Zapata planning; to see what we could do about increasing support to the guerrillas inside the country; to interrogate one member of the force to determine what he knows; and he reserved the right to call off the plan even up to 24 hours prior to the landing." (Summary notes prepared on May 9, 1961, by General Gray; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)

On March 17 Admiral Burke provided the JCS with additional details about the discussion of the revised Zapata plan. According to Burke, the President wanted to know what the consequences would be if the operation failed. He asked Burke how he viewed the operation's chance of success. Burke indicated that he had given the President a probability figure of about 50 percent. President Kennedy also inquired what would happen if it developed after the invasion that the Cuban exile force were pinned down and being slaughtered on the beach. If they were to be re-embarked, the President wanted to know where they could be taken. According to Burke's account of the meeting: "It was decided they would not be re-embarked because there was no place to go. Once they were landed they were there." In the course of the discussion, it was emphasized that the plan was dependent on a general uprising in Cuba, and that the entire operation would fail without such an uprising. (Review of Record of Proceedings Related to Cuban Situation, May 5; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials)

67. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Argentina

Washington, March 18, 1961, 11:57 a.m.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/3-1861. Official Use Only. Drafted on March 17 in ARA by C.A. Boonstra and Mann. Cleared in CMA, RPA, in substance with Berle, and by Rusk.

1295. Verbatim Text. Proposed reply from Secretary to FonMin: "I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency's telegram of March 4/1/ concerning your reply of that date to the note of February 23 from the Minister of Foreign Relations of Cuba./2/

/1/Document 53.

/2/See footnote 1, Document 52.

The United States is pleased always to have the views of the Government of the Argentine Republic not only because of the attachment of our two governments to common principles of freedom but also because of the forthright and constructive stand which Your Excellency's Government has consistently taken in defense of constitutional democracy and spiritual and material progress of the peoples of the Americas.

I know that Your Excellency's Government shares fully with the Government of the United States the desire to see the people of Cuba advancing side by side with the peoples of all of the Americas under the banner of human dignity in a great hemisphere movement of economic development and social progress. I venture to express the belief also that Your Excellency's Government recognizes the reality of the capture of the Cuban revolution by the Sino-Soviet bloc and that its concern with respect to this development motivated Your Excellency's telegram of March 4 to me.

If the Government of Cuba should decide to separate itself, in fact as well as in theory, from the imperialistic ambitions of the Sino-Soviet bloc; if it should decide to honor, by its deeds as well as its words, its inter-American commitments and to make it possible for Cuba to regain its historic place within the inter-American family, this would indeed be a cause for deep satisfaction on the part of the Government and people of the United States. If the Government of the Argentine Republic should find it possible to determine whether the Government of Cuba is disposed to take effective steps to achieve these results, the Government of the United States, after such a determination, would be pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with Your Excellency's Government this hemisphere problem./3/

/3/The Embassy reported in telegram 1136 from Buenos Aires, March 22, that Ambassador Rubottom delivered the message transmitted in telegram 1295 to Foreign Minister Taboada. Taboada made no direct response to the Secretary's message, but stated that Argentina had not changed its attitude toward Cuba, and continued to align itself with the United States on major issues. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/3-2261) The Embassy had reported earlier, in telegram 1043 from Buenos Aires, March 9, that Cuba had accepted the Argentine offer of good offices, and that the Argentine Government had released the text of the Cuban response to the press. (Ibid., 737.00/3-961)

Accept, etc."


68. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Schlesinger) to President Kennedy

Washington, March 20, 1961.

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

1. CIA expects agreement on a selection of a Prime Minister tonight. Manuel Ray, the liberal leader, has indicated that he will back Miro Cardona, which makes the latter's selection almost certain. The group will then go ahead and pick up a cabinet.

The group may very likely make an announcement on its own almost immediately. I suggested that some liberal newspaperman, like Arnold Beichmann, be put in charge of its public relations. Everything possible ought to be done in the next few weeks to build up the status and dignity of the Government-in-exile as a functioning organization.

2. On the question of timing of the US White Paper,/1/ both Mann and Tracy Barnes (CIA) think that it should not come on the heels of the Government-in-exile. Barnes feels that the Government-in-exile must be given a little time to take root on its own. Mann feels in addition that the White Paper would constitute, in effect, a rejection of the recent Argentine demarche;/2/ the State Department has been warned that this might lead to an overthrow of the Frondizi government; so Mann would much rather delay the White Paper until there is time to compose the Argentine situation. We should have the draft in nearly final form by Friday;/3/ but release ought to be delayed, it is presently felt, until the end of the month.

/1/See Document 79.

/2/See Document 53.

/3/March 24.

Arthur Schlesinger, jr./4/

/4/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

69. Memorandum From the Assistant Deputy Director (Plans) for Covert Operations (Barnes) to Director of Central Intelligence Dulles

Washington, March 21, 1961.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Exiles, 1961. Secret.


[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Political Events

The following events and actions have occurred over the weekend and yesterday in Miami. Since the procedures have been pretty rapid-fire and since the parties of interest are moving about at the moment, there are a few points which cannot be definitively stated:

1. A meeting was held on Saturday evening, 18 March, attended by 13 of the 15 members of the FRD (the 2 not present were Goar Mestre and Pepin Bosch) both of whom were out of town), plus 5 non-members of the FRD, i.e. Manolo Ray plus 4 other members of his MRP Party; namely, Dr. Felipe Pazos, Jorge Beruff and two brothers, Armando Lora and Raul Lora. For your information the following is the total membership of the expanded FRD with the names of the five original members underlined.



Jesus Fernandez

(Labor, 30 Nov)

Left of center


Collada (Labor for Fraginals)

Miro Cardona




Fernadez Travieso

(Student for Muller)

Alvarez Diaz

Sergio Carbo

Pepin Bosch



Vargas Gomez

Carlos Hevia

Goar Mestre

2. You will remember that it was agreed as a result of a number of meetings between Tony Varona, representing the FRD, and Manolo Ray, the principal non-FRD political leader, that the following procedure should be adopted in the formation of an exile political government:

a. A chairman of a revolutionary council should be selected who, in turn, would select the main membership of the council. After establishment in Cuba, such council would be transformed into a provisional government with the chairman as the president.

b. The selection of the chairman was to be from a panel of six candidates whose names were chosen by an organization committee of six individuals agreed to by Ray and Varona. The two leading candidates were Miro Cardona and Felipe Pazos.

3. After the above Ray/Varona agreements, the Cuban exile groups swung somewhat against Ray with the result that the five-man FRD headed by Varona was expanded to fifteen members in an effort to strengthen Varona's position.

4. At our request, the enlarged FRD agreed to go ahead with the selection of a chairman of the revolutionary council and to include in this process Ray and some of his MRP Party associates. The result was the meeting of 18 Cubans referred to in para. 1 above. Our representative opened the meeting with a prepared speech urging unity, asking the Cubans to assume responsibility in this important task and requesting that a chairman be selected by Monday night, 20 March. He then left the meeting. After two long sessions, the meeting, with everyone voting, unanimously selected Miro Cardona.

5. Miro Cardona is presently on his way to New York accompanied by Tony Varona, Justo Carrillo, Artime, all original members of the FRD; plus Manolo Ray and two of his MRP Party, Felipe Pazos and Raul Chibas. In addition, Rojas, the former Cuban Ambassador to London, is accompanying the party as interpreter. The purpose of the trip is to announce officially the election of Miro Cardona and the formation of a Revolutionary Council. Presumably all of those accompanying Miro Cardona, with the possible exception of Rojas, are members of the Council although this has not been definitively confirmed nor do we have any indication, if they are members, as to whether they have any assigned portfolio. The Miami Herald ran a small story yesterday on the proceedings but it was a pure news story and not in any sense an announcement.

6. We understand that the New York release will also include a statement of principles which is expected to be very close to the points agreed to by Ray and Varona in their talks referred above. A copy of these points is attached. You will remember that they were known to Mr. Berle's State Department Task Force and considered acceptable.

C. Tracy Barnes/1/


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


A. Overthrow of Castro and return to law and order.

B. Re-establishment of Constitution of 1940 with certain amendments.

C. Holding of general elections in eighteen months.

D. The Provisional President will be ineligible to run for elective office in first general elections.

E. Adoption of economic policies designed to increase the national income and raise the standard of living.

F. Stimulation of investments of private capital, both national and foreign, and guarantee free initiative and private ownership in its broadest concept of social function.

G. Establishment of an Agrarian Program which will give full title to the peasants and at the same time provide the former owner a fair price in duly guaranteed bonds.

H. Restore to their legitimate owners the properties seized by the Castro Government, with exception of certain public utilities and other properties which the State considers expropriable in the national interest.

I. Dissolve the Militia.

J. Amnesty for political prisoners.

K. Illegalization of the Communist Party and eradication of Communism and all anti-democratic activity.

L. Denunciation of international agreements and treaties which undermine the national sovereignty and place the peace and security of the hemisphere in danger. Immediate resumption of traditional relations with the democratic countries of the world and the fulfillment of legitimate international pacts.

70. Memorandum From Gerald P. Lamberty of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs to the Officer in Charge of Cuban Affairs (Hurwitch)

Miami, March 22, 1961.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/3-2261. Confidential; Limited Distribution. Lamberty worked in the economic section of the Embassy in Havana until it was closed in January. Thereafter, he and a number of the other members of the Embassy staff were transferred to an office of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, which was established in Miami to maintain liaison with the Cuban exile community.


Miscellaneous Comments on Local Situation

A well-informed, reliable source, who would prefer to remain unnamed, passed on the following information:

1) The Cubans are up in arms about Mr. B./1/ So are some Americans. The complaints are that he is high-handed, refuses to think beyond the military phase, is impatient with economic or political problems, knows nothing about Cuba or Cubans, and speaks with a German accent. There are also complaints he plays favorites and boasts he can make or break any organization or leader.

/1/Frank Bender.

2) Artime is a growing power. Artime's rivals claim he has two main pillars of support--the Jesuits and Mr. B.

Mr. B. is supposed to like Artime because the latter talks military problems rather than political. Mr. B. is supposed to be much more interested in the military aspects of the situation, and thus prefers Artime to his more politically minded companions.

Cubans, including Varona and Miro Cardona, argue that this attitude permitted Castro and the Communists to come to power--that everyone thought that once Batista was out everything would be fine. All Cuban leaders try to explain this to Mr. B. except Artime.

One example of favoritism cited is that when Varona finally was given permission to visit the camps, Artime went along with him, while no other leaders were permitted to go.

Opponents of Artime claim he is trying to make up for his lack of a military organization or mass support by tapping the one source of Cuban manpower that is not being used--the Batistianos. These opponents say some Batistianos already have been recruited for the camps.

3) Miro Cardona was extremely elated following the meeting of March 20 which named him to head the new Revolutionary Council. Miro is quoted as saying "the meeting today will go down as one of the brilliant pages of Cuban history."

Miro said it appears that all difficulties are being ironed out within the Frente and the MRP and between the two groups and that the meeting to be held in New York will probably merely be a formality to put the final stamp on agreements which have already been reached.

Miro said agents who had just arrived from Cuba sat in on the meeting at the Frente, and brought a "vote of confidence" from the underground in the program being pursued here, and in the men who are pursuing it. They also brought a call for the exiles to hurry the attack on Castro.

Miro said "I smell something. The whole thing is coming very fast. It is jumping, not walking."

4) A writer and photographer from Life Magazine are trying to make arrangements to go into Cuba with a small guerrilla unit when the push comes. They already have brought their gear.

5) Many Cuban politicians and diplomats are going into the secret training camps for Cuban guerrillas. They are determined to carry guns in the planned attack on Castro's Cuba. Their reason is their conviction that only those who fight Castro actively, with guns will be listened to by the Cuban people after Castro is gone. Ambassador Guillermo Salazar, who represented Castro in Bern, left for camp on Monday, March 13, to serve as a medical doctor with the troops when they go into Cuba. Ambassador Sergio Rojas Santamaria, who served in London, is leaving within a few days.

71. Editorial Note

The Chronology of JCS Participation in Bumpy Road, maintained in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, indicates that the initial meeting of the inter-agency Working Group established to coordinate planning on the Zapata operation was held on March 22, 1961:

"The first meeting of the official Working Group which consisted of Gen Gray representing the DOD, Mr. Braddock representing State, and Mr. Barnes representing CIA. This group was given the responsibility by the President at the last meeting to coordinate interdepartmental planning and operations for the conduct of `Bumpy Road.' At this meeting, Gen Gray presented a suggested outline operation plan for the agreed upon course of action. It was agreed, however, that time did not permit full implementation of a plan. However, this Working Group would draw up an agreed list of tasks to be accomplished by the agencies concerned and submit same to their bosses for approval." (Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials)

72. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Lemnitzer) to Secretary of Defense McNamara


Washington, March 25, 1961.

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


Tasks, Para-Military Plan, Cuba

1. Recommend you approve the enclosed memorandum which sets forth the tasks to be accomplished by the Department of State, Department of Defense, and Central Intelligence Agency Representatives charged with the coordination of planning and conduct of the subject plan./1/ The memorandum includes a time schedule for the completion of tasks set forth for the Pre-D-Day Phase.

/1/According to the Chronology of JCS Participation in Bumpy Road, maintained in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, on March 28 McNamara approved the agreed list of tasks to be accomplished by the Department of Defense, as outlined in CM-154-61. (Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials)

2. In accordance with your desires, Brigadier General David W. Gray, USA, Chief, Subsidiary Activities Division, J-5, the Joint Staff, has been designated the DOD Representative and has been directed to keep your office informed on the status of plans and operations.

L.L. Lemnitzer/2/

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


Washington, March 23, 1961.


Secretary of State

Secretary of Defense

Director of Central Intelligence Agency


Tasks, Para-Military Plan, Cuba

1. The Working Group assigned to work out the detailed tasks for the planning and conduct of the CIA Para-Military Plan, Cuba, and act as members of a Central Office for the operation, has agreed upon the tasks to be accomplished by the representatives of your respective departments and agency. The tasks are set forth for three phases: Pre-D-Day Phase; D-Day and Post-D-Day Phase until Recognition; and Post-Recognition Phase.

2. The tasks for the Pre-D-Day Phase are set forth in Enclosure A hereto.

3. The tasks for the D-Day and Post-D-Day Phase until Recognition are set forth in Enclosure B hereto.

4. The tasks for the Post-Recognition Phase are set forth in Enclosure C hereto.

5. The proposed time schedule for the Pre-D-Day Phase is attached as Enclosure D hereto.

Department of State Representative

Department of Defense Representative

CIA Representative

Enclosure A


1. Department of State representatives will:

a. Prepare White Paper for Presidential approval.

b. Provide assistance to Mr. Schlesinger in preparation of material for Presidential statements.

c. Provide Working Group with Policy Statement as to what "recognition" really means.

d. Determine action, if any, to be taken regarding disclosures to Latin American countries--e.g.

(1) Guatemala

(2) Nicaragua

and other countries, e.g.

(1) United Kingdom

(2) France

e. Provide policy guidance for all aspects of the development of the Free Cuba Government.

f. Prepare plans for overt moral and other possible non-military support prior to recognition of the Free Cuba Government of the objectives of the Cuban Volunteer Force and of the Revolutionary Council, including possible action in the United Nations or in the Organization of American States.

g. Prepare plans for overt moral and other possible non-military support of the objectives of the Free Cuba Government when established.

h. Provide policy guidance to USIA to support this plan.

i. Prepare plan for Post-D-Day actions.

2. Department of Defense representatives will:

a. Continue to provide training and logistic support to the Cuban Volunteer Force as requested by CIA.

b. Prepare logistics plans for arms, ammunition, and equipment support beyond the capabilities of the initial CIA logistics support.

c. Prepare plans for provision of support from operational forces as required.

d. Prepare letter of instruction to the Services, CINCLANT and CONAD for support of this operation.

e. Keep CINCLANT planners informed.

3. CIA representatives will:

a. Establish a Central Office from which Executive Department and Agency representatives will coordinate planning and conduct operations.

b. Continue to supply guerrilla forces in Cuba as feasible and required.

c. Assist in the organization of a Free Cuba Government.

d. Conduct an interrogation of two or three members of the Cuban Volunteer Force to determine full extent of their knowledge of actual facts and provide information to the President as soon as possible.

e. Finalize detailed plans for the employment of the Volunteer Force in Cuba and follow up plans. Execute these plans on order.

f. Continue to recruit, train and equip the Cuban Volunteer Force.

g. Prepare detailed plans for establishing contact with the internal opposition, establishing such control, coordination and support of this opposition as may be desirable and feasible.

h. Exert effort to arrange defection of key Cuban personnel. (N.B: The defection of the military commander of the Isle of Pines, or at least officers who could control the Isle, would be particularly desirable.)

i. Continue detailed intelligence collection on Castro activities throughout Latin America particularly his efforts to export revolution.

j. Support the preparation of a White Paper to be issued by the Free Cuba Government.

k. Review cover plans.

l. Coordinate with DOD representatives logistic follow-up support requirements.

m. Review and implement a pre-D-Day psychological warfare plan.

n. Review Psychological Warfare Plan for D-Day and Post-D-Day Phase.

o. Intensify UW activities in Cuba.

Enclosure B


1. Department of State representatives will:

a. Take such steps as may be feasible for the protection of U.S. citizens in Cuba.

b. Execute plans for support of the Revolutionary Council or Free Cuba Government in the United Nations or Organization of American States and to counter communist and/or Castro charges in the United Nations or Organization of American States, as appropriate.

c. Lend support to the objectives and actions of the Cuban Volunteer Force and the Free Cuba Government.

d. Revise plans as necessary for support of the Free Cuba Government.

e. Recognize Free Cuba Government as appropriate.

2. Department of Defense representatives will:

a. Provide follow-up logistic support as requested by CIA and/or in accordance with logistics plan.

b. Provide support from operational forces as directed.

c. Prepare detailed plans to support the U.S. aid plan for the Free Cuba Government for implementation when overt support is given.

d. Coordinate support by DOD agencies and commands.

3. CIA representatives will:

a. Execute and support over-all para-military plan.

b. Inform DOD representatives of logistics requirements.

c. Continue execution of psychological warfare plan.

d. Be responsible for the continuous operation of the Central Office and present briefings of the situation as required or directed.

e. Introduce representatives of the Revolutionary Council and of the Free Cuba Government into Cuba at an appropriate time.

Enclosure C


The Departments and the Agency will prepare, coordinate and execute, as appropriate, such contingency plans as may be required and will, moreover, plan for the resumption of their regularly assigned functions in relation to the new Cuban government.

Enclosure D


1. D-14

a. Department of State Representatives:

(1) Complete White Paper for Presidential approval.

(2) Provide policy guidance for all aspects of the Free Cuba Government (continuous).

b. Department of Defense Representatives:

(1) Continue to provide training and logistic support to the Cuban Volunteer Force as requested by CIA.

c. CIA Representatives:

(1) Establish a Central Office.

(2) Continue to supply guerrilla forces in Cuba as feasible and required (continuous).

(3) Assist in organization of Free Cuba Government.

(4) Continue to train and equip the Cuban Volunteer Force.

(5) Coordinate with DOD representatives logistic follow-up support requirements (continuous).

(6) Intensify UW activities in Cuba.

2. D-11

a. Department of State Representatives:

(1) Provide assistance to Mr. Schlesinger in preparation of material for Presidential statements (continuous).

(2) Complete plans for overt moral and other possible non-military support of the objectives of the Free Cuba Government when established.

3. D-10

a. DOD Representatives:

(1) Complete letter of instruction to the Services, CINCLANT and CONAD for support of this operation.

4. D-9

a. Department of State Representatives:

(1) Provide Working Group with Policy Statement as to what "recognition" really means.

(2) Have approved policy position regarding action, if any, to be taken regarding disclosures to foreign countries.

(3) Complete plans for overt moral and other possible non-military support prior to recognition of the Free Cuba Government of the objectives of the Cuban Volunteer Force and of the Revolutionary Council, etc.

(4) Complete plans for Post-D-Day actions.

b. DOD Representatives:

(1) Complete logistics plans for DOD follow-up support.

c. CIA Representatives:

(1) Finalize detailed plans for the employment of the Cuban Volunteer Force.

(2) Complete detailed plans for establishing contact with the internal opposition and for establishing such control, coordination and support of this opposition as may be desirable and feasible.

(3) Initiate effort to arrange defection of key Cuban personnel.

(4) Complete review and implement a pre-D-Day Psychological Warfare Plan for D-Day and post-D-Day phase.

(5) Complete review of Psychological Warfare Plan for D-Day and post-D-Day phase.

5. D-8

a. CIA Representatives:

(1) Complete support of a White Paper to be issued by the Free Cuba Government and arrange to have that Government issue same.

6. D-7

a. CIA Representatives:

(1) Complete review of cover plans.

7. D-6

a. CIA Representatives:

(1) Conduct an interrogation of two or three members of the Cuban Volunteer Force to determine full extent of their knowledge of actual facts and provide information to the President as soon as possible.

8. D-5

a. DOD Representatives:

(1) Brief CINCLANT and CONAD planners.

b. CIA Representatives:

(1) Complete contingency plan for the disposition, if necessary, of the Cuban Volunteer Force.

(2) Complete preparation of final briefing on entire operation.

9. D-3

a. Department of State Representatives:

(1) Provide policy guidance to USIA to support this plan.

b. CIA Representatives:

(1) Complete detailed intelligence collection on Castro activities throughout Latin America.

10. D-2

a. DOD Representatives:

(1) Complete plans for provision of support from operational forces as required.

b. CIA Representatives:

(1) Present final briefing on entire operation (if not given prior to this date).

73. Memorandum From the Commander in Chief, Atlantic (Dennison) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Lemnitzer)

Norfolk, Virginia, March 28, 1961.

//Source: Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials. Top Secret; Sensitive; Limited Distribution.


CIA Operation Crosspatch


(a) Your memo CM-152-61 of 24 Mar 1961/1/

/1/Not found.

1. I will be prepared to execute the missions directed in enclosures A, B and C of reference (a). I will be prepared also to reinforce the Naval Base at Guantanamo with a reinforced Marine Battalion Landing Team from the Caribbean Amphibious Squadron.

2. I intend to provide at least two destroyers instead of one for the convoy. The purpose of providing two is for mutual support, defense against possible coordinated surface and air attack, and in case units of the convoy become separated.

3. The following is a summary of forces in the area and their planned employment:

a. The antisubmarine carrier Essex with seven destroyers is scheduled to be conducting ASW operations in the Gulf of Mexico during the period 3-18 April. About 7 April a squadron of jet aircraft will be flown aboard Essex. The ASW group will then proceed to an area southwest of Cuba. The convoy destroyers and combat air patrol will be provided from this group. The control of the combat air patrol may be exercised from the ships best situated and equipped at the time and as directed by the Commander of the ASW Group or Essex.

b. There will be 18 destroyer types conducting routine training operations in the Guantanamo area during the two week period commencing 3 April.

c. PHIBRON-2 with BLT 1/6 embarked will be operating in the area south of Guantanamo preceding a scheduled visit to Jamaica 13 April.

d. One jet fighter or attack squadron will be conducting routine training operations in the vicinity of each of the following bases:


Key West

4. I request that the JCS inform CINCNORAD of these plans in order that Florida may be protected from possible retaliatory attack.

5. There is a necessity for issuing specific "rules of engagement" orders to units involved. Therefore, with your concurrence, I intend to issue the following instructions:

a. In executing the destroyer mission a DD commanding officer will:

(1) Place his ship between the convoy and any suspicious or Cuban surface craft sighted.

(2) Warn the craft not to approach within gun range of the convoy.

(3) If the surface craft persists in closing the convoy, fire a warning shot across his bow.

(4) If he continues to close the convoy to 2000 yards or he opens fire on the convoy, open fire on him, persisting until he surrenders, retires, or is destroyed.

b. In executing the combat air patrol mission pilots and air controllers will be instructed as follows:

(1) Any unidentified aircraft approaching within radar range of the convoy and closing will be investigated.

(2) If investigation reveals the aircraft to be Cuban the investigating aircraft will make successive close passes ensuring that the Cuban aircraft is aware of his presence.

(3) If Cuban aircraft maintains course to close the convoy CAP will continue to make close passes in an attempt to divert.

(4) If Cuban aircraft insists in closing and takes position to attack the convoy it will be fired on until it retires or is destroyed.

6. It is noted that the subject of your memorandum is "CIA Operation Crosspatch." Since a number of my staff and various others in the Atlantic Command associate this code name with establishment of Swan Island radio last year it is suggested that this term not be used by DOD personnel when referring to the current operation./2/

/2/Crosspatch was the early CIA operational name for what later became known as Operation Bumpy Road. The operation codename was changed to Bumpy Road effective April 1 at the request of the Department of the Navy. (JCS 2304/26, April 1, Tab B, Annex 29, Taylor Report Part III; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)/2/

Robert L. Dennison

74. Editorial Note

On March 29, 1961, President Kennedy held a meeting at the White House at 4:15 p.m. and discussed the Zapata plan for over an hour with McGeorge Bundy, McNamara, Dulles, Bissell, Bowles, Mann, Schles-inger, and William Bundy. (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Book) Although not listed in the appointment book, it is clear from the notes taken at the meeting that General Lemnitzer and General Gray also attended the meeting. According to summary notes on the meeting prepared by General Gray on May 9:

"Mr. Bissell discussed the results of photo reconnaissance, the possible use of a small diversionary force of 150 and a plan to obtain key defections. The President inquired whether there had been any statements by Castro indicating knowledge of the plan and answer was in the negative. Mr. Bissell presented the plan as to the disposal of the force in the event the operation was cancelled. The general idea was to bring the force into Belle Chase, debrief them, give them leave and then reassemble those who wished to continue at some other training base. The President also questioned whether the force could fade into the brush and not look like a failure and also the possibilities of diverting the force while still at sea. Mr. Bissell indicated that if the operation failed, the force would probably have to be withdrawn. At this meeting the tentative D-Day of 5 April was postponed and the next tentative date set as 10 April. The next decision meeting was set as 4 April." (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)

General Lemnitzer's notes on the meeting list, under the heading of main developments, "change in timing, later at night, ships do not approach until after dark, build-up of small para-mil force--diversionary--east end," and "Cover plan. If failure--must be re-landed in Cuba." (National Defense University, Lemnitzer Papers, Notes, Miscellaneous Meetings, 1961)

Secretary of Defense McNamara later recalled that the President issued instructions at this meeting that prior to the invasion the brigade leaders were to be informed that U.S. strike forces would not be allowed to participate in or support the invasion in any way. McNamara wrote that Kennedy asked that the brigade leaders be queried as to whether they believed the operation would be successful with this restriction and whether they wished on that basis to proceed. McNamara recalled that the President was subsequently informed that the brigade leaders indicated that, despite the prohibition on the use of U.S. strike forces, they wished to proceed with the invasion. McNamara noted that his recollection of these details was confirmed in discussions with McGeorge Bundy and Bissell. (Notes Relating to Instructions on Bay of Pigs Invasion, February 9, 1963; Washington National Records Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71 A 3470, Cuba)

75. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Bowles) to Secretary of State Rusk

Washington, March 31, 1961.

//Source: Yale University, Bowles Papers, Box 300, Mansfield, Folder 536. No classification marking.

On Tuesday, April 4th, a meeting will be held at the White House at which a decision will be reached on the Cuban adventure.

During your absence I have had an opportunity to become better acquainted with the proposal, and I find it profoundly disturbing.

Let me frankly say, however, that I am not a wholly objective judge of the practical aspects.

In considerable degree, my concern stems from a deep personal conviction that our national interests are poorly served by a covert operation of this kind at a time when our new President is effectively appealing to world opinion on the basis of high principle.

Even in our imperfect world, the differences which distinguish us from the Russians are of vital importance. This is true not only in a moral sense but in the practical effect of these differences on our capacity to rally the non-Communist world in behalf of our traditional democratic objectives.

In saying this, I do not overlook the ruthless nature of the struggle in which we are involved, nor do I ignore the need on occasion for action which is expedient and distasteful. Yet I cannot persuade myself that means can be wholly divorced from ends--even within the context of the Cold War.

Against this background, let me suggest several points which I earnestly hope will be fully taken into account in reaching the final decision.

1. In sponsoring the Cuban operation, for instance, we would be deliberately violating the fundamental obligations we assumed in the Act of Bogota establishing the Organization of American States. The Act provides:

"No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements.

"No State may use or encourage the use of coercive measures of an economic or political character in order to force the sovereign will of another State and obtain from it advantages of any kind.

"The territory of a State is inviolable; it may not be the object, even temporarily, of military occupation or of other measures of force taken by another State, directly or indirectly, on any grounds whatever . . . ."

I think it fair to say that these articles, signalling an end of US unilateralism, comprise the central features of the OAS from the point of view of the Latin American countries.

To act deliberately in defiance of these obligations would deal a blow to the Inter-American System from which I doubt it would soon recover. The suggestion that Cuba has somehow "removed itself" from the System is a transparent rationalization for the exercise of our own will.

More generally, the United States is the leading force in and substantial beneficiary of a network of treaties and alliances stretching around the world. That these treaty obligations should be recognized as binding in law and conscience is the condition not only of a lawful and orderly world, but of the mobilization of our own power.

We cannot expect the benefits of this regime of treaties if we are unwilling to accept the limitations it imposes upon our freedom to act.

2. Those most familiar with the Cuban operation seem to agree that as the venture is now planned, the chances of success are not greater than one out of three. This makes it a highly risky operation. If it fails, Castro's prestige and strength will be greatly enhanced.

The one way we can reduce the risk is by a sharply increased commitment of direct American support. In talking to Bob McNamara and Ros Gilpatric at lunch Tuesday at the Pentagon, I gathered that this is precisely what the military people feel we should do.

3. Under the very best of circumstances, I believe this operation will have a much more adverse effect on world opinion than most people contemplate. It is admitted that there will be riots and a new wave of anti-Americanism throughout Latin America. It is also assumed that there will be many who quietly wish us well and, if the operation succeeds, will heave a sigh of relief.

Moreover, even if the reaction in Latin America is less damaging than we expect, I believe that in Europe, Asia, and Africa, the reaction against the United States will be angry and the fresh, favorable image of the Kennedy Administration will be correspondingly dimmed. It would be a grave mistake for us to minimize this factor and its impact on our capacity to operate effectively in cooperation with other nations in other parts of the world.

4. If the operation appears to be a failure in its early stages, the pressure on us to scrap our self-imposed restriction on direct American involvement will be difficult to resist, and our own responsibility correspondingly increased.

5. A pertinent question, of course, is what will happen in Cuba if this operation is cancelled and we limit ourselves to small and scattered operations?

There is the possibility that the Castro effort will be a failure without any further intervention from us. It is not easy to create a viable Communist state on an island, totally dependent upon open sea lanes, with a large population, and inadequate resources. As Castro applies more and more pressure, the spirit of rebellion is likely to grow.

6. It appears more likely that Castro will succeed in solidifying his political position. Although this would be sharply contrary to our national interest, it does not mean that we would be impotent to deal with him.

If the Soviets should attempt to provide Castro with substantially larger amounts of arms, including naval vessels, we have the power to throw a blockade around Cuba and to extend it, if necessary, to petroleum supplies. This could bring the Cuban economy to a grinding halt within a few months.

Technically, this would be an act of war. However, I believe we would find it vastly easier to live with direct action of this kind in the face of what we could fairly describe as an open Soviet move to establish Cuba as a military base than with the covert operation now under consideration.

7. Another possibility is that Castro, once he has created sufficient military power, will move against a neighboring area, such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, or perhaps into Central America. If this occurs, we can move to block him with whatever force is required, presumably through the Organization of American States and with the full support of the people in Latin America and elsewhere.

Since January 20th our position has been dramatically improved in the eyes of the world vis-a-vis the Soviet Union.

The Kennedy Administration has been doing particularly well in Africa and Latin America, and with a little luck in Laos and more affirm-ative policies, we may soon be able to improve our position in East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Within the next few months we can also begin to strengthen our relations with Western Europe.

I believe it would be a grave mistake for us to jeopardize the favorable position we have steadily developed in most of the non-Communist world by the responsible and restrained policies which are now associated with the President by embarking on a major covert adventure with such very heavy built-in risks.

I realize that this operation has been put together over a period of months. A great deal of time and money has been put into it, and many able and dedicated people have become emotionally involved in its success. We should not, however, proceed with this adventure simply because we are wound up and cannot stop.

I believe that it is important for you to discuss this venture with people who can bring to it a fresh and objective view; for instance, Ed Murrow, Abe Chayes, Harlan Cleveland, Phillips Talbot, George McGhee, Soapy Williams, or Phil Coombs.

If you agree after careful thought that this operation would be a mistake, I suggest that you personally and privately communicate your views to the President. It is my guess that your voice will be decisive.

In that event he may decide to call off tomorrow's meeting and transmit his decision directly to Allen Dulles, Bob McNamara and other interested people.

[end of document]


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

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