46. Paper Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, February 17, 1961.
//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 1/61-4/61. Top Secret. A handwritten notation on the cover sheet of the paper reads "Bissell's View." A copy of the paper in CIA files indicates that it was drafted by Bissell. (Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/DDP Files: Job 78-01450R, Box 5, Area Activities-Cuba)
1. Background: About a year ago the Agency was directed to set in motion the organization of a broadly based opposition to the Castro regime and the development of propaganda channels, clandestine agent nets within Cuba, and trained paramilitary ground and air forces wherewith that opposition could overthrow the Cuban regime. The concept was that this should be so far as possible a Cuban operation, though it was well understood that support in many forms would have to come from the United States. Great progress has been made in this undertaking. A Government-in-Exile will soon be formed embracing most reputable opposition elements. It will have a left-of-center political orientation and should command the support of liberals both within Cuba and throughout the hemisphere. It will sponsor and increasingly control trained and combat-ready military forces based in Central America. A decision must soon be made as to the support (if any) the United States will render the opposition henceforth.
2. Prospects for the Castro Regime: The Castro regime is steadily consolidating its control over Cuba. Assuming that the United States applies political and economic pressures at roughly present levels of severity, it will continue to do so regardless of declining popular support. There is no significant likelihood that the Castro regime will fall of its own weight.
a. The regime is proceeding methodically to solidify its control over all the major institutions of the society and to employ them on the Communist pattern as instruments of repression. The Government now directly controls all radio, television, and the press. It has placed politically dependable leadership in labor unions, student groups, and professional organizations. It has nationalized most productive and financial enterprises and is using a program of so-called land reform to exercise effective control over the peasantry. It has destroyed all political parties except the Communist party. Politically reliable and increasingly effective internal security and military forces are being built up.
b. Cuba is in economic difficulties but the Communist Bloc will almost certainly take whatever steps are necessary to forestall any decisive intensification of these troubles. Economic dislocations will occur but will not lead to the collapse or the significant weakening of the Castro regime.
c. At the present time the regular Cuban military establishment, especially the Navy and Air Force, are of extremely low effectiveness. Within the next few months, however, it is expected that Cuba will begin to take delivery of jet aircraft and will begin to have available trained Cuban pilots of known political reliability. During the same period the effectiveness of ground forces will be increasing and their knowledge of newly acquired Soviet weapons will improve. Therefore, after some date probably no more than six months away it will become militarily infeasible to overthrow the Castro regime except through the commitment to combat of a sizeable organized military force. The option of action by the Cuban opposition will no longer be open.
3. The Nature of the Threat: Cuba will, of course, never present a direct military threat to the United States and it is unlikely that Cuba would attempt open invasion of any other Latin American country since the U.S. could and almost certainly would enter the conflict on the side of the invaded country. Nevertheless, as Castro further stabilizes his regime, obtains more sophisticated weapons, and further trains the militia, Cuba will provide an effective and solidly defended base for Soviet operations and expansion of influence in the Western Hemisphere. Arms, money, organizational and other support can be provided from Cuba to dissident leaders and groups throughout Latin America in order to create political instability, encourage Communism, weaken the prestige of the U.S., and foster the inevitable popular support that Castro's continuance of power will engender. A National Estimate states: "For the Communist powers, Cuba represents an opportunity of incalculable value. More importantly, the advent of Castro has provided the Communists with a friendly base for propaganda and agitation throughout the rest of Latin America and with a highly exploitable example of revolutionary achievement and successful defiance of the United States."
4. Possible Courses of Action: For reasons which require no elaboration the overt use of U.S. military forces to mount an invasion of Cuba has been excluded as a practical alternative. Broadly defined the following three possible alternative courses of action remain for consideration:
a. Intensification of economic and political pressures coupled with continued covert support of sabotage and minor guerrilla actions but excluding substantial commitment of the Cuban opposition's paramilitary force.
b. Employment of the paramilitary force but in a manner which would not have the appearance of an invasion of Cuba from the outside.
c. Commitment of the paramilitary force in a surprise landing, the installation under its protection on Cuban soil of the opposition government and either the rapid spread of the revolt or the continuation of large scale guerrilla action in terrain suited for that purpose.
These alternatives are discussed in the following paragraphs.
5. Diplomatic and Economic Pressure: There is little that can be done to impose real political and economic pressure on the Castro regime and no such course of action now under serious consideration seems likely to bring about its overthrow.
a. A true blockade of Cuba enforced by the United States would involve technical acts of war and has now been dismissed as infeasible.
b. Action to halt arms shipments from Cuba into any other part of the hemisphere would be cumbersome and easily evaded if air transport were employed. While undoubtedly of some value it is difficult to see that the institution of such measures would either impose severe pressure on the Castro regime or effectively insulate the rest of the hemisphere from it. Castro's principal tools of subversion are people, ideology, the force of example and money. The flow of these items cannot be dammed up.
c. Further economic sanctions are theoretically possible but can quite readily be offset by an increase of trade with the Bloc.
d. In any event, it is estimated that the prospects for effective international action are poor.
6. The Middle Course: Careful study has been given to the possibility of infiltrating the paramilitary force gradually to an assembly point in suitable terrain, hopefully avoiding major encounters in the process, and committing it to extensive guerrilla action. This course of action would have the advantage of rendering unnecessary a single major landing which could be described as an invasion. The infiltration phase would take on the coloration of efforts by small groups of Cubans to join an already existing resistance movement. Unfortunately, it has been found to be infeasible on military grounds. Basically the reasons (explained more fully in the attachment) are:
a. It is considered militarily infeasible to infiltrate in small units a force of this size to a single area where it could assemble, receive supplies, and engage in coordinated military action. Such an operation would have to be done over a period of time and the loss of the element of surprise after initial infiltrations would permit government forces to frustrate further reinforcements to the same area.
b. Military units significantly smaller than the battalion presently undergoing unit training would fall short of the "minimum critical mass" required to give any significant likelihood of success. Smaller scale infiltrations would not produce a psychological effect sufficient to precipitate general uprisings of wide-spread revolt among disaffected elements of Castro's armed forces.
c. Actually, the least costly and most efficient way to infiltrate the force into a terrain suitable for protracted and powerful guerrilla operations would be by a single landing of the whole force as currently planned and its retirement from the landing point into the chosen redoubt.
7. A Landing in Force: The Joint Chiefs of Staff have evaluated the military aspects of the plan for a landing by the Cuban opposition./1/ They have concluded that "this plan has a fair chance of ultimate success" (that is of detonating a major and ultimately successful revolt against Castro) and that, if ultimate success is not achieved there is every likelihood that the landing can be the means of establishing in favorable terrain a powerful guerrilla force which could be sustained almost indefinitely. The latter outcome would not be (and need not appear as) a serious defeat. It would be the means of exerting continuing pressure on the regime and would be a continuing demonstration of inability of the regime to establish order. It could create an opportunity for an OAS intervention to impose a cease-fire and hold elections.
/1/See Document 35.
a. Any evaluation of the chances of success of the assault force should be realistic about the fighting qualities of the militia. No definitive conclusions can be advanced but it must be remembered that the majority of the militia are not fighters by instinct or background and are not militiamen by their own choice. Their training has been slight and they have never been exposed to actual fire (particularly any heavy fire power) nor to air attack. Moreover, the instabilities within Cuba are such that if the tide shifts against the regime, the chances are strong that substantial numbers will desert or change sides.
b. There is no doubt that the paramilitary force would be widely assumed to be U.S. supported. Nevertheless, this conclusion would be difficult to prove and the scale of its activity would not be inconsistent with the potentialities for support by private Cuban and American groups rather than by the U.S. Government. It must be emphasized, moreover, that this enterprise would have nothing in common (as would the use of U.S. military forces) with the Russian suppression of Hungary or the Chinese suppression of the Tibetans. This would be a force of dissident Cubans with Cuban political and military leadership.
c. There would be adverse political repercussions to a landing in force but it is not clear how serious these would be. Most Latin American Governments would at least privately approve of unobtrusive U.S. support for such an opposition move, especially if the political coloration of the opposition were left-of-center. The reaction of the rest of the free world, it is estimated, would be minimal in the case of unobtrusive U.S. support for such an attempt. It might produce a good deal of cynicism throughout the world about the U.S. role but if quickly successful little lasting reaction. Generally speaking it is believed that the political cost would be low in the event of a fairly quick success. The political dangers flowing from long continued large scale guerrilla warfare would be greater but there are diplomatic preparations that could be made to forestall extreme adverse reactions in this contingency.
8. Dissolution of the Military Force: A decision not to use the paramilitary force must consider the problem of dissolution, since its dissolution will surely be the only alternative if it is not used within the next four to six weeks. It is hoped that at least one hundred volunteers could be retained for infiltration in small teams but it is doubtful whether more than this number would be available or useful for this type of activity.
a. There is no doubt that dissolution in and of itself will be a blow to U.S. prestige as it will be interpreted in many Latin American countries and elsewhere as evidence of the U.S. inability to take decisive action with regard to Castro. David will again have defeated Goliath. Anti-U.S. regimes like that of Trujillo would gain strength while pro-U.S. Betancourt would undoubtedly suffer. Surely Ydigoras, who has been an exceedingly strong ally, would also be placed in a very difficult position for his support of a disbanded effort. It must be remembered in this connection that there are sectors of Latin American opinion which criticize the U.S. for not dealing sufficiently forcefully with the Castro regime. In fact, one reason why many Latin American governments are holding back in opposing Castro is because they feel that sooner or later the U.S. will be compelled to take strong measures.
b. The resettlement of the military force will unavoidably cause practical problems. Its members will be angry, disillusioned and aggressive with the inevitable result that they will provide honey for the press bees and the U.S. will have to face the resulting indignities and embarrassments. Perhaps more important, however, will be the loss of good relations with the opposition Cuban leaders. To date almost all non-Batista, non-Communist political leaders have been encouraged or offered help in fighting Castro. An abandonment to the military force will be considered by them as a withdrawal of all practical support. In view of the breadth of the political spectrum involved, this will cause some difficulties for the future since it is hard to imagine any acceptable post-Castro leadership that will not include some of the exiles dealt with during the past year.
a. Castro's position is daily getting stronger and will soon be consolidated to the point that his overthrow will only be possible by drastic, politically undesirable actions such as an all-out embargo or an overt use of military force.
b. A failure to remove Castro by external action will lead in the near future to the elimination of all internal and external Cuban opposition of any effective nature. Moreover, the continuance of the Castro regime will be a substantial victory for the Sino-Soviet Bloc which will use Cuba as a base for increased activity throughout the Western Hemisphere, thereby accentuating political instability and weakening U.S. prestige and influence.
c. The Cuban paramilitary force, if used, has a good chance of overthrowing Castro or at the very least causing a damaging civil war without requiring the U.S. to commit itself to overt action against Cuba. Whatever embarrassment the alleged (though deniable) U.S. support may cause, it may well be considerably less than that resulting from the continuation of the Castro regime or from the more drastic and more attributable actions necessary to accomplish the result at a later date.
d. Even though the best estimate of likely Soviet reaction to a successful movement against Castro indicates problems to the U.S. arising from the removal or substantial weakening of the Castro regime, Soviet propaganda and political moves will still be much less prejudicial to the long-range interests of the U.S. than would the results of a failure to remove Castro.
Clandestine Infiltration by Sea of Small Groups (up to 50 men)
1. The only areas of Cuba with mountainous terrain of sufficient extent and ruggedness for guerrilla operations are the Sierra Escambray of Las Villas Province in Central Cuba and the Sierra Maestra of Oriente Province at the eastern extremity of the island. The Sierra de los Organos of Western Cuba do not encompass sufficient area and are not rugged enough to sustain guerrilla operations against strong opposition. Of the two areas with adequate terrain, only the Sierra Escambray is truly suitable for our purposes, since the mountains in Eastern Cuba are too distant from air bases in Latin America available to CIA for air logistical support operations. Primary reliance would have to be placed on this method of supply for guerrilla forces.
2. The Government of Cuba (GOC) has concentrated large forces of army and militia in both Las Villas and Oriente Provinces. Estimates of troop strength in Las Villas have varied recently from 17,000 to as high as 60,000 men, while up to 12,000 men are believed to be stationed in Oriente.
3. While of dubious efficiency and morale, the militia, by sheer weight of numbers has been able to surround and eliminate small groups of insurgents. A landing by 27 men of the Masferrer Group in Oriente, for example, was pursued and eliminated by 2,000 militia. A similar group of insurgents in Western Cuba was attacked and destroyed by six battalions of army and militia (about 3,000 men).
4. A build-up of force in a given area by infiltration of small groups would require a series of night landings in the same general vicinity. Discovery of the initial landing by GOC forces would be almost a certainty, since security posts are located at all possible landing areas. Even if the initial landing were successful, the GOC could be expected to move troops and naval patrol craft to the area making further landings difficult if not impossible. Any small force landed, experience has shown, will be rapidly engaged by forces vastly superior in numbers. Therefore, it is considered unlikely that small groups landing on successive occasions would succeed in joining forces later. A series of surrounded pockets of resistance would be the result.
5. Repeated approaches to the Cuban coast by vessels large enough to land up to 50 men would probably provoke attack by the Cuban Navy and/or Air Force, either of which is capable of destroying any vessels which could be used by CIA for these purposes.
6. In the Sierra Escambray, which is the only area of Cuba in which true guerrilla operations are now being conducted, ill-equipped and untrained groups of up to 200 to 300 men have been hard pressed to survive and have been unable to conduct effective operations. The only worthwhile accomplishment of these bands has been to serve as a symbol of resistance. Smaller groups, even though better trained and equipped, could not be expected to be effective.
7. There are very few sites on the south coast of the Sierra Escambray where small boats can be landed. These are found principally at the mouths of rivers and are all guarded by militia posts armed with machine guns. A small group landing at such a point by shuttling from a larger vessel in small boats would probably receive heavy casualties.
8. Small-scale infiltrations would not produce a psychological effect sufficient to precipitate general uprisings and widespread revolt among disaffected elements of Castro's armed forces. These conditions must be produced before the Castro Government can be overthrown by any means short of overt intervention by United States armed forces. As long as the armed forces respond to Castro's orders, he can maintain himself in power indefinitely. The history of all police-type states bears out this conclusion.
9. The CIA Cuban Assault Force, composed entirely of volunteers, has been trained for action as a compact, heavily armed, hard-hitting military unit, and the troops are aware of the combat power which they possess as a unit. They have been indoctrinated in the military principle of mass and instructed that dispersion of force leads to defeat in detail. They will be quick to recognize the disadvantages of the infiltration concept, and it is unlikely that all would volunteer for piecemeal commitment to military action in Cuba. The troops can be used in combat only on a voluntary basis. The Government of the United States exercises no legal command or disciplinary authority over them.
1. This course of action would result in large scale loss of life, both through military action against forces vastly superior in numbers and as a result of drum-head justice and firing squad execution of those captured.
2. This alternative could achieve no effective military or psychological
47. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy
Washington, February 18, 1961.
//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 1/61-4/61. Top Secret.
Here, in sharp form, are the issues on Cuba. Bissell and Mann are the real antagonists at the staff level. Since I think you lean to Mann's view, I have put Bissell on top./1/
/1/See Documents 45 and 46.
On balance I think the gloomier parts of both papers are right. Diplomatic and public opinion are surely not ready for an invasion, but Castro's internal strength continues to grow. The battalion's dispersal would be a blow to U.S. prestige, but we should today have a hard time at the U.N. if it goes in.
The one hope I see is in an early--even if thin--recognition of a rival regime. I think if a Government-in-Exile can be surfaced promptly we could and should follow Mann's suggestion of working toward its recognition fairly soon. (We could also put in a full trade embargo against Castro, and you could sorrowfully read him out of the liberal family in a strong and factual speech about his outrages.) Then, conceivably, we could hold back Bissell's battalion for about three months and even build it up somewhat. And when it did go in, the color of civil war would be quite a lot stronger.
48. Editorial Note
According to summary notes prepared by General David W. Gray, a meeting was convened at the White House on February 17, 1961, to discuss the differing views held by Department of State and CIA officials on the best way to proceed with the paramilitary operation directed at Cuba. The President's appointment book establishes, however, that the meeting took place on February 18, after McGeorge Bundy passed to President Kennedy the contending memoranda drafted by Assistant Secretary of State Mann and Deputy CIA Director Bissell. (Document 47) (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Book) According to Gray's notes on the meeting:
"Mr. Bissell discussed the status of planning and preparations.
Mr. Bissell also discussed necessity for a decision concerning
the surfacing of political leadership. Mr. Rusk discussed the
fact that it would be much better to delay any action and to attempt
to build up OAS support. He was concerned about charge of aggression
in UN. Mr. Berle believed that support could be generated in Latin
America but not by 31 March. The President asked if there was
anything he could do to develop a political position to support
action such as a speech on traditional liberalism in the western
hemisphere. He also asked if there was any way the build up of
jets and rockets in Cuba could be linked to this operation. Mr.
Bohlen expressed the view that Russia would not react if the operation
was finished quickly but might react if it dragged on. The President
indicated that he would be in favor of a more moderate approach
to the problem such as mass infiltration. No definite decisions
were reached at this meeting." (Summary notes prepared on
May 9, 1961; ibid., National Security Files, Countries Series,
Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)
49. Letter From Secretary of State Rusk to Senator George A. Smathers
Washington, February 18, 1961.
//Source: Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations, 2/16/61-3/23/61. No classification marking. Senator Smathers was Democratic Senator from Florida.
Dear Senator Smathers: As I promised in my letter of January 10, we have studied the recommendation in your letter of January 7/1/ that the provisions of Section 5 of the Trade Agreements Extension Act of 1951/2/ be invoked to prevent the importation of all dutiable Cuban exports in order to deprive the Castro regime of as many United States dollars as possible.
/1/Neither of the letters has been found.
/2/Section 5 of the Trade Agreements Extension Act of 1951 stipulated the withdrawal of all trade concessions as they applied to imports from the Soviet Union, or any other Communist-controlled country or area; 65 Stat. 72.
In fulfilling its responsibility to ensure a reliable source of sugar for the domestic market, the United States Government has, as you know, already taken the major step of eliminating imports of Cuban sugar, which constituted approximately 70% of Cuba's exports to the United States. The principal economic purpose of the application of further measures would, therefore, be to eliminate the remainder of Cuba's exports to the United States, consisting mainly of tobacco, molasses, fruits and vegetables. Toward the end of 1960, Cuba was exporting to the United States at the rate of $65,000,000 a year, virtually all of which consisted of dutiable imports. This rate of export represents a reduction by approximately one-half of the rate of exports of these same products during early 1960, and also reflects the degree to which Cuba has altered its traditional trading pattern with the United States by trade with the Sino-Soviet Bloc.
Sharing your serious concern over the nature and policies of the present Cuban Government, the Department has for some time been studying additional measures, including invocation of Section 5 of the Trade Agreements Extension Act of 1951, as amended, with a view toward achieving the maximum economic effect while at the same time minimizing undesirable repercussions on our relations with other countries. The complexity of this problem is such as to require further study of economic, legal and foreign policy aspects. I am sorry that I cannot give you a final point of view at this writing.
50. National Security Action Memorandum No. 23
Washington, February 21, 1961.
//Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, NSC-5902 Memoranda. Secret.
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
In calling my attention to the letter which Senator George A. Smathers wrote to you/1/ suggesting urgent consideration of placing an embargo on Cuban fruits, vegetables and other commodities imported into the United States, the President said he would like to have from you a memorandum responding to the following three questions:
a. Would an embargo save us dollar foreign exchange?
b. Would it make things more difficult for Castro?
c. Would it be in the public interest?
The President asked that your memorandum to him include the views of the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.
51. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy
Washington, February 24, 1961.
//Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Security, 1961. Secret.
Questions Arising from Senator Smathers' Recommendation that Remaining Exports from Cuba to the United States be Embargoed
Mr. Bundy's memorandum of February 21, 1961/1/ to me asked three questions:
Question: Would an embargo save on dollar foreign exchange?
Answer: Cuban exports to the United States are steadily declining and are presently moving at the rate of $60-70 million annually. An embargo would result in a saving of perhaps only 1/2 of this amount in dollar exchange since some of these items would probably be imported from other sources.
The principal items still imported from Cuba are tobacco, molasses, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Imports of tobacco from Cuba in 1960 amounted to about 27 million dollars. United States cigar manufacturers would have difficulty finding comparable tobacco from other foreign sources, and would be forced to turn to domestically produced cigar filler. This is in surplus supply in the United States, and is higher priced. About 5 million dollars' worth of high quality cigars were imported from Cuba in 1960. An embargo on Cuban cigars would result in considerable inconvenience to United States consumers, as cigars of comparable quality could not be obtained from other sources.
Imports of fruits and vegetables from Cuba (amounting to over 10 million dollars in 1960) occur mainly during the period of December-May. These imports are largely supplementary to our domestic production and for the most part would not be replaced from other sources. Thus some saving in dollar exchange could result, although the 1960-61 season is for the most part completed.
Imports of molasses from Cuba amounted to over 11 million dollars in 1960. In a typical year Cuba provides about 25 percent of our total utilization of molasses. It is likely that an embargo on imports of molasses from Cuba would mean a saving of dollar exchange, as molasses for distillation would probably not be available from other sources. Some replacement supplies for livestock feed probably would be obtained from other sources.
Question: Would it make things more difficult for Castro?
Answer: It will deprive Castro of dollar exchange and to the extent that he is unable to dispose of approximately $60-70 million annually of these commodities in this market or in other markets with convertible currencies, it will deplete his already low foreign exchange position. In my opinion, the economic disadvantage to Castro would outweigh any political advantage which he might gain by charging us with economic aggression and the unilateral application of economic measures.
Question: Would it be in the public interest?
Answer: For the reasons stated in answer to the second question I believe the answer to this is in the affirmative.
Some months ago serious consideration was given to applying the Trading With the Enemy Act./2/ It was decided to postpone applying this Act until Latin American public opinion understood better the true nature of the danger which Castro represents to the Hemisphere, and until the possibility of securing multilateral action against Cuba through the OAS was improved. We therefore decided to rely on the existing authority granted in the Sugar Act/3/ and the Export Control Act,/4/ as interim measures to stop both imports of Cuban sugar as well as most of our exports to Cuba.
/2/See Document 12.
/3/Sugar Act of 1948, enacted August 8, 1947; 61 Stat. 922, as amended.
/4/Export Control Act, enacted February 26, 1949; 63 Stat. 7, as amended.
Several weeks ago it was decided that Latin American public opinion would no longer strongly resist our unilateral application of the Trading With the Enemy Act even though the necessary two-thirds of the member nations of the OAS do not yet appear to be prepared to join in multilateral action. In addition, recent developments in Cuba, such as Cuba's urgent requirement to sell molasses and increased armed resist-ance to Castro, make it important that we act at once to deny the United States market to Cuban exports and to lend moral support and encouragement to those now engaged in resisting the Castro regime. Consequently I believe we should proceed with this action which, in our view, is the most effective measure available. Staff work between State and Treasury has now been virtually completed and I expect to be able to present to you early next week a final recommendation regarding the application of the Trading With the Enemy Act.
52. Telegram From the Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State
Buenos Aires, March 4, 1961, 11 p.m.
//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/3-461. Confidential; Priority.
1011. Arnaldo Musich, Economic Advisor Foreign Office, called Hoyt late this afternoon to inform Embassy "in confidence" action taken by GOA respect Cuban note February 23./1/ Stated telegrams sent directly by Taboada to Rusk/2/ and Roa informing them GOA designating special envoys to Cuban and US Governments because "GOA in its desire to improve relations between states is willing make available its friendly offices to seek formulas which might resolve or alleviate the state of tension originating in the worsening relations between the US and Cuba."
/1/On February 23, Raul Roa Garcia, Cuban Minister for External Relations, sent a note to each of the Foreign Ministers of the Latin American nations warning that the United States was creating conditions to attempt to justify indirect military aggression against Cuba. Roa called upon the Ministers to use their good offices to prevent aggression. A copy of the note was also sent to the United Nations. (U.N. doc. A/4701, February 28, 1961)
Circular telegrams sent to all other American states and Canada telling of GOA action. Press conference held earlier in afternoon gave text note to Cuba.
Musich said envoys not yet named but those under consideration of highest calibre.
Musich instructed by President to emphasize to Embassy GOA had not referred to contents or accusations in Cuba note and in reply had merely repeated Roa's words, i.e., "interponer sus amistosos oficios en la busque dad de formulas que puedan resolver lao aliviarla."
When questioned as to why GOA had decided this course Musich said it based on:
(1) GOA concern that Cuban situation continuing be disturbing influence relations other Latin American states with US;
(2) Solution must be one which will eliminate Soviet and Communist influence Cuba as well as stop exportation Cuban revolution without arousing leftist elements in hemisphere;
(3) Other countries of hemisphere who have offered mediate have done so because of own internal problems, Argentina not in this class.
(4) As President Frondizi had explained Schlesinger, McGovern/3/ Argentina of opinion overthrow Castro by anti-Castro Cuban from US or Guatemala would probably bring about criticism which would worsen Latin American relations.
/3/George McGovern, Director of Food for Peace and Special Assistant to the President, and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., led a Food for Peace mission to Argentina, February 12-16. They met with President Frondizi on February 15. (Telegram 944 from Buenos Aires, February 16; Department of State, Central Files, 800.03/2-1661)
Hoyt pointed out action seems be change from statements made by Taboada to American Ambassador. Embtel 989/4/ and from reply to Chiriboga is that GOA action would seem have effect placing problem as one between US-Cuba rather than hemisphere problem which it is. Musich denied this GOA intent and reiterated banalities re desire be helpful.
/4/Telegram 989 from Buenos Aires, February 28, summarized a conversation between Ambassador Rubottom and Foreign Minister Taboada in which the problem posed by Cuba was discussed as engaging the concern of the entire hemisphere. (Ibid., 303/2-2861)
Also pointed out to Musich Cuba had refused receive committee established by San Jose Conference/5/ and also refused any airing of problem despite US reiterated willingness have charges fully investigated. Hoyt pointed out US had not asked special envoy and in view fact committee created by San Jose available to study question Cuba not sure what attitude US would take toward unsolicited offer send envoy who would seem superfluous as long as committee available. Expressed regret we had not been consulted before action taken.
/5/Reference is to the Ad Hoc Good Offices Committee established on August 29, 1960, at the Seventh Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics at San Jose, Costa Rica. The committee was composed of representatives of the Governments of Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Costa Rica, and was directed to facilitate the settlement of controversies between American states and report to the Council of the Organization of American States. For text of final act of the seventh meeting, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1960, pp. 219-221.
Musich confirmed Amoedo finds situation in Cuba deteriorating. Hoyt then asked him whether it not evident Cuba note sent in desperation and action such as advocated by GOA would only help prolong his existence and hurt action anti-Castro Cuban groups. Musich just brushed question aside.
Comment: This apparently attempt by Argentina retain position leadership Latin America and take any play on Cuba away from Brazil. Furthermore, despite denials it has anything do with Argentina internal situation, it obvious this very definitely involved and that Placios Triumph and UCRI defeats last two elections in mind. May be indication Frondizi belief he can now use Cuban situation to political advantage, or that he at least unwilling permit too sharp a contrast in public eyes between GOA and apparent emerging Brazilian position. Emphasizes increasing importance influence Musich who states was with President and Foreign Minister until 4 a.m. today working out this action.
53. Telegram From Foreign Minister Taboada to Secretary of State Rusk
Buenos Aires, March 4, 1961.
//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/3-1761. No classification marking. The telegram was sent in Spanish via commercial telegraph channels. The source text is a translation prepared by the Department of State Division of Language Services.
Mr. Secretary: I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that I have replied today to the note of February 23 received from Dr. Raul Roa,/1/ Minister of Foreign Relations of Cuba. In my reply I said that the Government of the Argentine Republic, once more confirming its unvarying determination to promote the best relations between states, is prepared to use its good offices to seek formulas to resolve or alleviate the state of tension caused by the worsening of relations between the United States of America and Cuba. To that end, I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that the Government of the Argentine Republic has considered the advisability of appointing a special envoy to the Government of the United States of America and another representative of the same character to the Government of Cuba. This possibility has also been made known to His Excellency Raul Roa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in my reply to the above-mentioned note.
/1/See footnote 1, Document 52.
May God keep Your Excellency
54. Paper Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, March 10, 1961.
//Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files: Job 85-00664R, Box 3, Vol. 4, Ch. 3. Secret. No drafting information appears on the source text. A handwritten note on the source text, in an unknown hand, indicates that this paper was used to brief Director of Central Intelligence Dulles for a meeting with the President.
1. Late in February 1961, at the covert instigation of the Agency, six leading figures of the Cuban opposition met in New York City for the purpose of (a) agreeing to a procedure for the purpose of electing a Revolutionary Council which would subsequently become the provisional government of Cuba and (b) drawing up a minimal political-social and economic program which would spell out the basic political philosophy of that government. These six Cuban leaders were:
Manuel "Tony" Varona: (Center-Autentico-Party-FRD Member)
Manuel Artime: (Left of Center-MRR-FRD Member)
Justo Carrillo: (Left-Montecristi-FRD Member)
Manuel Ray: (Left-MRP)
Raul Chibas: (Left-MRP)
Felipe Pazos: (Left-MRP)
2. While the six men named above do not represent the broad political spectrum from left to right, and thus do not represent all the Cuban political opposition, they nonetheless do represent sectors of the opposition now in militant opposition to Castro. Moreover they are figures who enjoy good reputations and respect inside and outside of Cuba; but being in politics they are also controversial.
3. Following several days of deliberation this informal Committee of Six came up with the following formula for the election of a chairman of the Revolutionary Council. First, they agreed upon six candidates for the chairmanship. These are:
Dr. Felipe Pazos: (MRP-Left)
Dr. Justo Carrillo: (Montecristi-Left)
Dr. Jose Miro Cardona: (Independent-Center)
Dr. Carlos Hevia: (Independent-Right Center)
Judge Emilio Menendez: (Independent-Supreme Court Judge)
Manuel "Tony" Varona: (Autentico-Center)
The above names are currently being circulated among the various political groups both in and out of Cuba to ascertain the degree of acceptability of these individuals as candidates for the chairmanship. In 7-10 days hence, the Committee of Six--which may enlarge itself to eight or ten in order to embrace additional significant sectors of the opposition--will then elect a chairman (Provisional President) from this slate of six.
4. The chairman, once elected, will then appoint a minimum number of members of his council. The complete council will not be named until the government is established in Cuba. In addition to persons who have been active in exile, the full council will include a majority of persons who have fought and served in the Cuban underground and in the hills. The members of the council--which will number some 20 to 24 ministers--will have for the duration of the provisional government both legislative and executive functions.
5. The Program:
The political economic-social program upon which agreement in principle has been reached by the "Committee of Six" includes--among others--the following basic planks:
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.
6. The foregoing was approved by the Berle task force on 7 March.
7. It is anticipated that within approximately 7 days a provisional
Cuban government, in the form of a Revolutionary Council, will
be formed. Hopefully it will merit the confidence and respect
of the Cuban people and other peoples and governments of the hemisphere;
it will be pledged to carry out a political, economic and social
program which will hold forth to the people of Cuba the hope of
a better future.
55. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Schlesinger) to President Kennedy
Washington, March 10, 1961.
//Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Security, 1961. Confidential.
I very much hope that your Saturday/1/ meeting will consider the problem of launching a comprehensive campaign to acquaint the hemisphere with the facts of the Castro situation. Such a campaign would seem an indispensable preliminary to any hard decisions on Cuba.
/1/March 11. See Document 59.
The recent willingness of liberal leaders, like Betancourt of Venezue-la and Haya de la Torre of Peru, to condemn the Castro regime suggests that the time is ripe for a propaganda counter-offensive. A number of Latin Americans urged on me the importance of getting people to understand what has really happened in Cuba.
The campaign should consider the possibility of utilizing a variety of media through the hemisphere to make some sober points about the Castro regime--its Communist character, its provision of facilities to the USSR, its refusal to cooperate with the OAS, its intervention in the internal affairs of other republics, etc.
You might want to put together a group to look into this. I would suggest Berle, Murrow, Mann, Goodwin and myself.
Arthur Schlesinger, jr.
56. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara
Washington, March 10, 1961.
//Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 381 (Sensitive). Top Secret; Limited Distribution.
Evaluation of the CIA Cuban Volunteer Task Force (S)
1. JCSM-57-61, dated 3 February 1961,/1/ which forwarded the conclusions of the Military Evaluation of the CIA Para-Military Plan, Cuba, pointed up the desirability for the conduct of an independent evaluation of the combat effectiveness of the invasion force and detailed analysis of logistics plans by a team of Army, Naval and Air Force officers if practicable without danger of compromise of the Plan.
2. At a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 8 February 1961, the Director of Central Intelligence concurred and requested that such an evaluation be conducted.
3. The report by the inspection team is attached as an Appendix hereto.
a. The conclusions contained in paragraphs 6 through 10 of the report are generally valid. In view of the odds for achieving surprise as expressed in paragraph 10 of the report, CIA should investigate means for improving the security and cover for movement of the Task Force. If this investigation reveals that appreciable improvement in security is not practicable, then the chances of success of the CIA Para-Military Plan should be reevaluated.
b. Implementation of the recommendation contained in paragraph 12 of the report would give more assurance of surprise. However, there are serious drawbacks to a totally airborne operation in these particular circumstances. Any damage to the airstrip or crash of an aircraft on the strip would probably hinder operations for a considerable period of time. This would be particularly serious since no alternate strip is available. Also, if only one Cuban combat plane escapes destruction and interdicts the field, the operation would be seriously handicapped. Therefore, it is not believed that the increased surprise achieved outweighs the risk of possible failure.
4. Based upon a general review of the military portion of the plan, an evaluation of the combat effectiveness of the forces, and an analysis of the logistics plans, the Joint Chiefs of Staff conclude that, from a military standpoint, since the small invasion force will retain the initiative until the location of the landing is determined the plan could be expected to achieve initial success. Ultimate success will depend on the extent to which the initial assault serves as a catalyst for further action on the part of anti-Castro elements throughout Cuba.
5. It is recommended that:
a. The Secretary of Defense support the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as expressed in paragraph 4 above.
b. A decision with respect to the employment of this task force be made at the earliest practicable date in order to initiate final preparation and training.
c. A military instructor, experienced in operational logistics, be assigned to the training unit immediately for the final phase of training.
d. The views expressed in paragraphs 3 and 4 above, and the recommendation contained in subparagraph c above, be transmitted to the Director of Central Intelligence, together with three copies of the report in the Appendix hereto, for his information and consideration.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Joint Chiefs of Staff
1. To inspect the Cuban Volunteer Force in order to evaluate its military effectiveness and determine the adequacy of its logistic support.
2. Approval of paragraph 1-p of JCSM 57-61, 3 February 1961 required an evaluation of the combat effectiveness of the invasion force and a detailed analysis of logistic plans.
3. The evaluation team left CONUS 24 February, spent two days in the training area, and returned to CONUS 27 February 1961.
4. For additional factors, see:
a. Enclosure "A" for air factors.
b. Enclosure "B" for ground factors.
c. Enclosure "C" for logistic factors.
5. a. See Enclosure "A" for a discussion of the military effective-ness of the Cuban Volunteer Air Force.
b. See Enclosure "B" for a discussion of the tactical training of the ground element and its capability to carry out its contemplated mission.
c. See Enclosure "C" for a discussion of the adequacy of logistic support for Cuban Volunteer Forces relative to the assigned mission.
6. By 15 March 1961 the aircrews and support elements of the Volunteer Cuban Air Force will have achieved adequate military effectiveness to permit accomplishment of the air mission.
7. By 15 March 1961, the ground element of the task force will have achieved adequate military effectiveness to permit it to successfully carry out its mission.
8. The Cuban Volunteer Force is not able to sustain itself logistically for an extended operation. There is a marginal capability of operating for a period of thirty days with the present logistic organization.
9. The logistic organization is not well defined, solidly constituted, nor adequately trained. Assignment of a qualified military instructor for logistic training should increase the logistic capability to an acceptable minimum.
10. Surprise is essential to the success of the mission. However, odds against achieving surprise are believed to be about 85 to 15. Loss of surprise would likely create conditions beyond the military effectiveness of the Volunteer Cuban Force. This could lead to the destruction of part or all of the invasion force.
11. It is recommended that a decision to use this force against Castro be made at the earliest practicable date in order to permit final preparation and training to be initiated.
12. It is recommended that serious consideration be given to airlifting the troops of the invasion force, rather than continuing with the amphibious operation, except as it might be used as a cover, and for major logistic support.
13. It is recommended that a military instructor experienced in operational logistics be assigned to the training unit immediately for the final phase of training.
Air Evaluator--Lt Col B.W. Tarwater, USAF/2/
Ground Evaluator--Col J.R. Wright, USA
Logistic Evaluator--Lt Col R.B. Wall, USMC
/2/Printed from a copy on which all the evaluators' names are typed.
1. To evaluate the military effectiveness of the Cuban Volunteer Air Force.
2. Facts--The Cuban Volunteer Air Force has:
a. 16 B-26 pilots, 9 of these have between 1800 and 11,500 hours total flying time, with between 76 hours and 33 minutes, and 99 hours 25 minutes training in the B-26 at Retalhuleu. Each of these pilots has flown approximately 20 strafing sorties, fired 16, 5 inch rockets and dropped 30 bombs--15 skip and 15 glide. The other 7 B-26 pilots have between 1200 and 6000 hours total flying time, with between 20 hours and 10 minutes, and 48 hours and 45 minutes training in the B-26 at Retalhuleu. Each of these 7 pilots has flown approximately 5 strafing sorties, fired 6, 5 inch rockets, and dropped 9 bombs--3 skip and 6 glide.
b. They have 16 navigator-co-pilots for the B-26s with Loran and low level navigation qualifications.
c. They have 7 crews trained in the C-46, and 8 crews trained in the C-54.
d. Nine of the sixteen B-26 crews, three of the C-46 crews, and five of the C-54 crews have flown missions over Cuba from Retalhuleu. As far as is known all these crews successfully reached the assigned drop zones.
e. Except for one ride with a Cuban pilot on a strafing, rocket firing, and bombing mission, evaluation of the combat effectiveness of the aircrews is based on second hand reports.
f. All Americans and Cubans queried as to the operational effectiveness of the aircrews agreed that it was definitely adequate to accomplish the assigned mission.
g. The Volunteer Air Force at Retalhuleu has an overall in-commission rate of approximately 92%.
h. The para-drop personnel at Retalhuleu are daily successfully preparing para-drops.
i. The armorers at Retalhuleu are daily successfully arming B-26 aircraft for strafing, rocket, and bombing training.
j. There are adequate support personnel, aircraft, aircraft parts, P.O.L. and munitions on hand, on the way, or on order, to permit mission accomplishment. (See the Appendix for additional Facts Bearing on the Problem.)
3. Assumptions--on which CIA bases its current plan:
a. The air strikes will be conducted with the benefit of surprise.
b. The combat aircraft of the Cuban Air Force will probably be located on three, and not more than six airfields.
c. Intelligence estimates indicating very poor Cuban air defense capabilities are accurate.
d. The anti-aircraft gunners will continue to be required to receive permission from their headquarters in Havana before firing on unidentified aircraft.
e. The B-26 missions will be flown from Puerto Cabezas.
4. Assumption--of the evaluator:
a. As indicated by personnel in charge of the air operation:
(1) Simulated strikes against an airfield with dispersed aircraft, and a maximum effort refueling and rearming exercise, will be conducted by the B-26 crews during the first week in March, and any apparent weaknesses which may develop will be eliminated.
(2) After the B-26s have moved to Puerto Cabezas nine B-26s will be simultaneously refueled and rearmed in minimum time, and any apparent weaknesses which may develop will be eliminated.
b. As indicated by personnel in charge of the air operation they will have adequate runway clearing equipment available during the air operation.
c. As indicated by personnel in charge, the operation will be conducted during the dry season, or a shelter will be built for the preparation and loading of the para-drops, and pierced steel planking will be provided to assure all weather parking for the aircraft.
5. Due to operational and scheduled training requirements it was impossible to observe the Volunteer Cuban Air Force in simulated tactical operations as requested. Consequently, with the exception of one ride with a Cuban pilot on a strafing, rocket firing, and bombing mission, the evaluation of the combat effectiveness of the aircrews is based on an examination of personnel and training records, and conversations with Cuban and American personnel.
6. In evaluating the military effectiveness of the aircrews the following factors were considered:
a. The pre-flight procedures, air work, gunnery, rocketry, bombing, and emergency procedures of the Cuban pilot, with whom the evaluator flew, were outstanding.
b. The Cuban pilots have much more total time than the average US pilot that went into combat in World War II.
c. Nine of the B-26 pilots have had between 76 and 100 hours in flying, navigation, and gunnery training in the B-26 at Retalhuleu; and the other seven B-26 pilots have received between 20 and 48 hours in flying, navigation, and gunnery at Retalhuleu, and also have more total time than the average US pilot that went into combat in World War II; and henceforth the seven pilots with the least training will be given priority in B-26 training at Retalhuleu until their time in the B-26 equals that of the first nine B-26 pilots.
d. All of the sixteen B-26 navigator-co-pilots are former pilots and have received Loran and low level navigation training at Retalhuleu.
e. The B-26 crews will participate in simulated tactical operations during the first week in March. Any weaknesses which may become apparent will be eliminated.
f. All Cubans and Americans queried as to the operational effectiveness of the aircrews agreed that it was definitely adequate to accomplish the assigned mission.
g. Nine of the sixteen B-26 crews, three of the C-46 crews, and five of the C-54 crews have flown missions over Cuba from Retalhuleu. As far as is known all of these crews successfully reached their assigned drop zones.
h. Aircrew effectiveness can be most realistically evaluated when measured against the mission requirements. The primary mission requirement of the Cuban Volunteer Air Force is the destruction of Castro's combat aircraft. The airstrikes against these aircraft are being planned on the basis of the assumption that surprise will be achieved. As a consequence, Castro's combat aircraft will remain based almost entirely upon three airfields, with possibly a few on three other airfields. Furthermore, with the benefit of surprise the numerous anti-aircraft guns at these six airfields, and other primary targets, will not be used against the initial strike, since Castro's anti-aircraft gunners are under orders not to fire on any aircraft without permission from their Headquarters in Havana. The rest of the air mission includes air strikes against 4 communication centers, destruction of interdiction targets, and other targets that may develop just prior to or during the invasion. Air drops and logistic support on an emergency basis will also be provided by the Volunteer Cuban Air Force.
i. In addition to the Cuban aircrews listed above, 6 American B-26 pilots, with between 3 to 6000 hours total time each, and combat time in World War II or Korea or both, will be given refresher training in the B-26 and used in the initial air strikes. One of the American pilots will be used in the strikes against each of the six airfields on which Castro's combat aircraft are based.
7. On the basis of the factors listed above it is logical to conclude that the aircrews of the Volunteer Air Force have sufficient military effectiveness to achieve the mission requirements.
8. Inasmuch as:
a. The volunteer Air Force at Retalhuleu has an overall in-commission rate of 92%.
b. The para-drop personnel at Retalhuleu are daily successfully preparing para-drops.
c. The armorers at Retalhuleu are daily successfully arming B-26 aircraft for strafing, rocket and bombing training.
d. There are adequate personnel, aircraft, aircraft parts, P.O.L., and munitions on hand, enroute, or on order to permit mission accomplishment. (See the Appendix) In view of the factors listed above, it is concluded that the maintenance, armament, para-drop, and supply capability of the Volunteer Cuban Air Force is adequate to promote military effectiveness to the extent necessary for mission accomplishment.
9. Based on an understanding of Castro's and the USSR's vital concern in maintaining Castro in power, first hand observations of security conditions at both Retalhuleu and Puerto Cabezas, and conversations with people assigned at both bases, it is concluded that the odds are about 85 to 15 against surprise being achieved in the attack against Castro's Cuba. If surprise is not achieved, it is most likely that the air mission will fail. As a consequence, one or more of Castro's combat aircraft will likely be available for use against the invasion force, and an aircraft armed with 50 caliber machine guns could sink all or most of the invasion force.
10. The reasons for believing that the odds are about 85 to 15 against surprise being achieved are as follows:
a. With a communist infiltrated town approximately one mile from the airfield, and a railroad on one side of the base and a highway on the other, and trees surrounding the entire base, all providing a constant opportunity for observation of activities at Retalhuleu, it is believed the Castro-communists will know when the main invasion force is airlifted from Retalhuleu to Puerto Cabezas over a period of three nights.
b. The airfield at Puerto Cabezas is presently being developed as the primary strike base. A tent city has been erected off one end of the main runway with adequate facilities for approximately 160 men. Plastic bags are being filled with aviation gas and placed on parking areas off the main runway. The airfield, which is three miles from the town of Puerto Cabezas, has been placed off limits and is guarded by 60 of President Somoza's best troops, thereby alerting anyone interested that something unusual is happening at the airfield. Furthermore, several commercial flights arrive daily on this same airstrip, and 50 Nicaraguans from the town of Puerto Cabezas are employed in readying the strike base; and of course they return to their homes in town each night. The docks from which the troops will move into ships for transport to Cuba are three miles from the airfield via a road which runs along the town. So again, in view of Castro-communist interest in maintaining Castro in power, it seems likely that they are aware of the present activities at Puerto Cabezas, and will know when the main invasion force goes aboard the ships for their two day trip to Cuba. Knowing this, it then becomes a not too difficult submarine or air search problem, or both, to determine where and when the force will land. Furthermore, once the main force boards the ships, and it becomes obvious the force is on its way, Castro's combat aircraft could be scattered from the six primary airfields, and the anti-aircraft crews alerted, and orders given to shoot unidentified aircraft on sight. These two actions, as well as others that could be taken, could create conditions beyond the military effectiveness of the Volunteer Cuban Air Force. This in turn could lead to the destruction of part or all of the invasion force.
11. A cursory consideration of some of the major factors concerned indicates that the troops of the invasion force could be air rather than amphibious lifted. This would reduce the time necessary to transport the invasion force from Guatemala to Cuba from five days to one day--thereby increasing the chances of achieving surprise by a factor of five to one.
12. Consequently, it's believed serious consideration should be given to airlifting the troops of the invasion force, rather than continuing with the amphibious operation, except as it might be used as a cover, and for major logistic support.
13. If the assumption of surprise is correct, and intelligence estimates of Castro's air defense capabilities are correct, by 15 March 1961 the aircrews and support elements of the Volunteer Cuban Air Force will have achieved adequate military effectiveness to permit accomplishment of the air mission.
14. The odds against achieving surprise however, are believed to be about 85 to 15. Loss of surprise would likely create conditions beyond the military effectiveness of the Volunteer Cuban Air Force. This could lead to the destruction of part or all of the invasion force.
15. It is recommended that serious consideration be given to airlifting the troops of the invasion force, rather than continuing with the amphibious operation, except as it might be used as a cover, and for major logistic support.
Air Evaluator--Lt Col B.W. Tarwater, USAF
1. To evaluate the tactical training of the ground element of the task force and to estimate its capability to carry out its contemplated mission.
Facts Bearing on the Problem
2. For facts bearing on the problem, see Appendix "A".
3. For discussion, see Appendix "B".
4. Based on observations and conversations with trainer personnel on the spot, it is believed that the ground element of this task force has been properly trained to successfully carry out its mission with the exceptions noted below.
5. Additional tactical training is required in defensive operations, coordination, preparation of defensive positions, and counter-attack. These matters are scheduled to be included in the future programmed training.
6. An early decision to proceed with this operation is imperative. The point of no return has been passed and a decision to abandon the scheme is untenable. In the event such a decision should be made, a revolt within the assembled force would probably occur with dire consequences both for the US trainer personnel and for US interests abroad.
7. It is recommended that a decision to proceed with the operation be made at the earliest practicable date.
Ground Evaluator--Colonel J.R. Wright, USA
1. Length of service of personnel:
a. Varies--few days to 8 months.
b. Includes former members of the Cuban Constitutional Army, Rebel Army, militia, and personnel with no previous training.
a. Brig. Hq. (116) and 4 rifle battalions (varies 109-162). T/O for each Bn 150. 1st Bn--parachutists (145).
b. Hv. Gun Bn (104) incl. 4.2 mort., 75 mm recoilless rifles (6-4.2 mort., 3 each RR).
c. Tank Bn (25) now training at Ft. Knox.
a. Guerrilla Opns--by civilian contract pers.
b. Basic military training--some by own personnel, remainder by Special Forces Teams.
c. 40 days at 16 hours per day supervised--additional on own time.
d. Airborne--Physical conditioning, 4 & 8 ft. platform, mock door, harness (chute) control, at least 3 jumps--jumpmaster at least 5 jumps.
e. Infiltration course--day and night--all pers.
f. Reaction course--all personnel.
g. Close combat, unarmed defense--all personnel.
h. Maps and compass--incl. night compass course.
i. Raids, ambushes, patrolling--day and night.
j. Weapons--familiarization firing on all weapons--cross training--field firing exercise.
k. Battalion and Brigade staff procedures and tactical operations including infantry--tank team theory, but no practical work--organization and conduct of the defense.
l. Demolitions and field fortifications.
m. Bayonet training.
n. Communications--nets and procedure.
o. Approximately 25% of all training conducted at night.
p. Physical conditioning stressed in all training.
q. Forward air controllers trained to mark targets and call in air strike, communications adequate.
r. Unit training through battalion (company) completed. Brigade (battalion) level training in progress. Will include simulated beach landings on terrain similar to objective area.
4. Observed Training:
a. Brigade (battalion) in attack;
(1) Included drop of parachute battalion (company) air support (2 B-26), simulated supporting fires by 4.2" and 81 mm mortar sections--blank ammo used.
(2) Use of terrain--good--covered routes used.
(5) Reorganization on objective--good.
(6) Organization of position--good.
b. Battalion (company) in attack;
(1) Live ammunition used in pre-set problem.
(2) Demolition charges used to simulate incoming fire.
(3) Supporting weapons fired live overhead--fire on objective.
(4) Tactics were restricted due to nature of area.
(5) Use of weapons--good to excellent.
(6) Fire and maneuver--excellent.
(7) Evacuation of casualties--good.
(9) Physical fitness--superior.
c. Firing demonstration--Heavy Gun Battalion;
(1) Included 4.2" mortars, 81 mm mortars, 75 mm recoilless rifles and .50 cal MG.
(4) Condition of equipment--superior.
(5) Immediate action--excellent.
d. Individual Training;
(1) Mechanical training, cal 30 light MG, M1917A1, Reaction course, field demolitions.
(2) Instructor personnel--good--used interpreters to communicate with trainees.
(3) Effectiveness of instruction--good--interest was high--almost all practical work.
a. There are no shortages of equipment which adversely effect training except proper maps of the local area.
b. Minor shortages in T/O&E are enroute to area and are arriving as rapidly as air lift permits.
c. Equipment is well cared for and when all enroute is received will be adequate for contemplated mission.
d. Communications equipment is partly military and partly commercial. These are 72 PRC-10's, 10 PE-33's, and 10 TP-1's used for tactical communications within the Brigade. Equipment is in excellent condition and all in working order. There is an adequate supply of batteries on hand.
e. Parachutes are repacked in the area by well qualified riggers. There have been no chute failures to date.
f. 5-M41 light tanks are at Ft. Knox where the tank unit is currently undergoing training. It was reported that driver training was completed and gunnery training was beginning.
6. Future Training Programmed:
a. Brigade exercises;
(1) Brigade in attack--2 ea of 2 days duration.
(2) Brigade in defense--2 ea of 2 days duration.
(3) Simulated beach landing--5 ea--1 day exercises.
b. Brigade march--35 miles cross-country to beach and return--2 days each way.
c. Final shakedown, rehabilitation of equipment, repair and testing of weapons--7 days.
1. Individuals observed demonstrated a high degree of competence, considering the quality of personnel and the amount of time that they have been in training.
2. All personnel observed demonstrated excellent physical condition, high morale, and an apparent desire to get on with the job.
3. The leadership appears to be good. Leaders have been carefully selected and replaced when required by personnel who exhibited better potential than those originally selected. There have been very few leaders replaced in the course of the training. None of the leaders appears to harbor any personal political ambitions, nor a burning desire to make the service a career after the operation is completed.
4. All personnel can fire their weapons effectively, can and do maintain them properly, and are cross-trained on other weapons. Most of them have already fired more rounds than the average US soldier would fire in a two-year term of service.
5. The greatest problem facing the Brigade is the long confinement to the area which, while not now an immediate problem, could lead to a breakdown of discipline and control if prolonged or if the incentive which binds them together is removed.
6. Personnel appear eager to learn and it was reported that they devote long hours outside of training time to study and practice.
7. The quality of the personnel is amazing. College graduates with degrees in engineering are employed in the FDC as computers. All forward observers and their radio operators are qualified to adjust the fire of the mortars. Most of the personnel are young, generally from 18 to 31 years of age, and come from the middle class. There are a few older men in camp, but they are not favored and if they can't keep up are returned to Miami.
a. Every effort has been made to keep this operation secret, but it is obvious that many people in the area are aware of what is going on. Although all troop movements are made at night, firing, explosions, aircraft orbiting over an objective area, parachute drops, and an abnormal number of unfamiliar aircraft in the area are a dead giveaway. A clandestine radio transmitter is known to be operating in the Retalhuleu area. The mayor of Retalhuleu is a card-carrying communist and lives about a mile from the airstrip. Leaflets have been circulated in Guatemala City by the Communist Party giving many of the details of the activity. Although there are some inaccuracies in this material, much of it is accurate. It can therefore be presumed that Castro knows practically all about the operation except when, where, and in what strength.
b. There have been some cases of AWOL among the trainees. At the time of our visit, a group of eight including one company (platoon) commander was missing. On Saturday night, a group of 21 men left the camp and went into a small village nearby to attend a fiesta. By Sunday noon, 19 of this group had returned. Obviously, the presence of Cubans in fairly large groups is known to the people in the area.
1. The Problem
a. The purpose of this inspection was to evaluate the adequacy of logistic support for Cuban Volunteer Forces relative to the assigned mission.
2. Factors Bearing on the Problem
a. Cuban Volunteer Forces are now in a field bivouac situation while conducting training operations.
b. There are no personnel in the training area either in the Special Forces instruction group or within the Cuban Volunteer Forces who are qualified to instruct in operational logistics.
c. Minimal training of Motor Transport drivers is being conducted due to political considerations.
d. No formal training in operational logistics is being conducted.
e. Aerial delivery equipment and capabilities are adequate for emergency air resupply requirements.
f. No significant shortages of equipment and material were evident. Items not in the training area were described by instructor personnel as being in the backlog of material in CONUS. There were no means by which the inspecting officer could verify this assertion.
a. Cuban Volunteer Forces are now in a field bivouac situation. Supply operations within the bivouac area are satisfactory. Supply support from CONUS to the training area is by air. Recent inclement weather caused a backlog of supplies to build up in CONUS. Planes did not fly to the training area for over one week. Airlift has been resumed, however supplies delivered from backlog stocks are not responsive to immediate needs. It appears that planes are loaded with material available and receiving units are unaware of items delivered until they open boxes after delivery. No action was being taken to designate priorities since all items were so considered. There was a lack of logistic coordination in this instance.
b. Personnel are receiving limited logistic training due to the on-the-job situation in bivouac. Preparation of meals, break-down and issue of supplies, and repair and maintenance of equipment are being conducted in camp. No training is being conducted in the amphibious aspects of logistics. No shore party organization has been formed nor is training being conducted in shore party operations. No training is being conducted in the assault aspects of logistics to include: establishment and operation of supply point, inventory control, movement and distribution of supplies to deployed units, or field messing operations. The logistic concept of instructor personnel was that tonnages of supplies could be deposited in the objective area and units could help themselves to fulfill their requirements.
c. The motor transport officer is receiving adequate training in convoy and general operational procedures. Local laws require that vehicles be operated by citizens of that country or by instructor personnel. Cuban Volunteer Force Motor Transport drivers receive no training in night and blackout driving. Actual driver training is extremely limited. In view of the complicated process of backing vehicles over sand and beach matting in to LCU's, this deficiency is considered of major importance.
d. Facilities in the training area for the preparation and packaging of supplies for air drop were inspected. The capability is adequate for operations of an emergency resupply nature. Delivery is limited to parachute delivery or air landing of supplies.
e. The medical organization of the force is well organized and equipped. The planning and procedures to be employed during the operation are simple, clear, concrete, and appear to be understood by all personnel involved. Equipment is adequate, clean, well cared for and properly packed. Personnel appear competent and adequate.
f. Service functions are adequate. Enough trained personnel are available to perform the second and limited third echelon maintenance required. Tools and equipment are adequate.
g. Clothing, weapons, individual, and organizational equipment are in good condition and well cared for. Vehicles utilized in the training area will be replaced for the operation. Rough terrain and maximum utilization have resulted in inordinate wear to tie-rods, springs, and various organic parts of the vehicles. This is understandable since the vehicles are standard, commercial types and are being utilized under field conditions.
h. Morale appears excellent. There was some indication in remarks made by individuals that they were anxious to enter the objective area. Instructors indicated anxiety over the fact that delay in definitely indicating D-day would result in deterioration of morale. Many troops have been confined within the camp area on a rigorous training schedule for six months or more and are living under austere conditions. Their primary incentive is the prospect of moving to the objective area.
i. A decision as to whether or not the operation will take place is necessary in the near future due to the impending rainy season. It is considered that operations during the rainy season would present unsurmountable difficulties in view of the limited equipment available. Logistic requirements for the shipment of supplies by railroad to POE; loading and sailing time for ships; etc., necessitate approximately a three-week leadtime. The estimation of time involved was provided by CIA since they are handling shipping arrangements.
a. The Cuban Volunteer Force is not presently able to sustain itself logistically for an extended operation. It has a marginal capability of operating for a period of thirty days with its present logistic organization.
b. The logistic organization within the Cuban Volunteer Force is not well defined, solidly constituted, nor adequately trained. It needs emphasis to provide a cohesive, effective logistic support capability.
c. It is imperative that an instructor experienced in operational logistics be provided to the training unit at the earliest practicable date.
d. An organized shore party unit needs to be formed and trained as soon as possible.
e. More vigorous action is needed in training motor transport drivers to handle vehicles. This could be partially accomplished by night operations within the camp areas.
f. The Cuban Volunteer Force is adequately supported medically for operational functions well in excess of 30 days.
g. The service capabilities of the Cuban Volunteer Force are adequate for the operation.
5. Action Recommended
a. That a military instructor experienced in operational logistics be assigned to the training unit as soon as practicable.
Logistic Evaluator--Lt Col R.B. Wall, USMC
57. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara
JCSM-149-61 Washington, March 10, 1961.
//Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 381 (Sensitive). Top Secret.
Evaluation of Proposed Supplementary Phase, CIA Para-Military Plan, Cuba (S)
1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have evaluated the military aspects of a supplementary phase to the CIA Para-Military Plan, Cuba, which is being proposed by the CIA to meet certain Department of State objections to the basic plan. The Joint Chiefs of Staff 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/
2. The details of the proposed supplementary phase to the CIA Para-Military Plan, Cuba, are set forth in the Appendix hereto.
3. The conclusions of the evaluation of the military aspects of the proposed supplementary phase are as follows:
a. The selected objective area and the landing beach are suitable and adequate for the proposed operation.
b. In the time available the company can be assembled, organized, and reasonably well trained to accomplish its mission.
c. The company can be transported to and landed in the objective area.
d. The concept of the plan and the known or expected location of Cuban military forces indicate that surprise should be achieved and that the landing will be unopposed.
e. The company will have the capability to protect the provisional government representation and to sustain itself ashore for a minimum of three to four days and will have a good chance of sustaining itself indefinitely.
f. The proposed operation can be supported logistically.
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 for his information.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Joint Chiefs of Staff
1. The purpose of this supplementary phase is to land an element of the provisional government and a Cuban volunteer infantry company of 162 men, in a separate objective area in Cuba prior to the implementation of the basic plan.
2. To accomplish this, CIA proposes to take the following meas-ures:
a. Move 130 of the Cuban volunteers currently recruited in the Miami area to [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] to join a cadre of 32 Cuban para-military trained personnel [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. These 162 volunteers will be organized into a company and receive concentrated training by a cadre of US Army Special Forces personnel, from those currently assigned in Guatemala, for a period of approximately 12 days. The cadre of 32 para-military personnel have received approximately 9 months guerrilla training in Panama as action teams. Some of the 130 recruits have had previous military training.
b. This company will be equipped with small arms, mortars, and 57 mm recoilless rifles.
c. The company, with the provisional government representation, will be loaded [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] on a 1500 ton Cuban commercial ship presently under contract to CIA and transported to the objective area. At the objective area, the landing will be effected at night by using four outboard motor fishing craft transported by the merchant ship. This landing will be made 24-48 hours prior to the implementation of the basic plan. After the main landing has been made this company will continue to act as guerrillas in support of the main effort.
d. The company will be provided with communications equipment for contact with CIA base and aircraft.
e. The CIA plan envisions the company moving onto the high ground approximately two miles from the beach where it will provide protection for the provisional government representation.
f. Plan calls for utilization of airdrop for logistic support.
3. The Cuban provisional government in the US will announce through news media the establishment of provisional government representation ashore in Cuba. The implementation of the CIA propaganda plan will immediately follow.
4. The basic para-military plan, details of which are set forth
in the staff study, subject: "Military Evaluation of the
CIA Para-Military Plan, Cuba," dated 3 February 1961, will
then be implemented. To give the Task Force an increased capability
a fifth infantry company is currently being organized in Guatemala.
This company will have the mission of performing basic logistic
tasks and constitute a reserve element for the Task Force.
58. Paper Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, March 11, 1961.
//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, Cuba, Subjects, Intelligence Material, 1961. Top Secret. A copy of this paper in CIA files indicates that it was drafted by Bissell for the March 11 meeting with President Kennedy. (Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/DDP Files: Job 78-01450R, Box 5, Area Activity-Cuba)
1. Status of Preparatory Action: About a year ago the Agency was directed to set in motion: the organization of a broadly-based opposition to the Castro regime; a major propaganda campaign; support for both peaceful and violent resistance activities in Cuba; and the development of trained paramilitary ground and air forces of Cuban volunteers.
A decision should shortly be made as to the future of these activities and the employment or disposition of assets that have been created. The status of the more important activities is as follows:
a. Political: Over a period of nearly a year, the FRD (Frente Revolucioniaro Democratico), which was created in the hope that it would become the organizational embodiment of a unified opposition to Castro, has proved to be highly useful as a cover and administrative mechanism but important political elements refused to join it.
Accordingly, a major effort was undertaken three weeks ago to form a more broadly-based revolutionary council which would include the FRD, and which could lead to the setting up of a provisional government. Considerable progress has been made in negotiations with the principal Cuban leaders in which great efforts have been made to permit the Cubans to chart their own course. It is expected that the desired result will be accomplished shortly. What is emerging from these negotiations is a provisional government with a center to left-of-center political orientation, and a political platform embodying most of the originally stated goals of the 26 July movement. It is believed that this will command the support of a very large majority of anti-Castro Cubans although it will not be altogether acceptable to the more conservative groups.
b. Military: The following paramilitary forces have been recruited and trained and will shortly be in an advanced state of readiness.
(1) A reinforced battalion with a present strength of 850 which will be brought up to a strength of approximately 1,000 through the addition of one more infantry company to be used primarily for logistic purposes and as a reserve.
(2) A briefly trained paramilitary force of approximately 160 intended to be used for a diversionary night landing to be undertaken in advance of commitment of the battalion.
(3) An air force of 16 B-26 light bombers, 10 C-54s and 5 C-46s.
(4) Shipping including 2 1000-ton ships, 5 1500-ton ships, 2 LCIs, 3 LCUs and 4 LCVPs.
A JCS team recently inspected the battalion and the air force at their bases in Guatemala. Their findings led them to conclude that these forces could be combat-ready by 1 April. Certain deficiencies were indicated that are in progress of correction partly by further training and partly by the recruitment of the additional infantry company referred to above.
c. Timing: It will be infeasible to hold all these forces together beyond early April. They are in large part volunteers, some of whom have been in hard training, quartered in austere facilities for as much as six months. Their motivation for action is high but their morale cannot be maintained if their commitment to action is long delayed. The onset of the rainy season in Guatemala in April would greatly accentuate this problem and the Guatemalan Government is in any event unwilling to have them remain in the country beyond early April. The rainy season in Cuba would also make their landing on the island more difficult.
2. The Situation in Cuba: We estimate that time is against us. The Castro regime is steadily consolidating its control over Cuba. In the absence of greatly increased external pressure or action, it will continue to do so regardless of declining popular support as the machinery of authoritarian control becomes increasingly effective.
a. The regime is proceeding methodically to solidify its control over all the major institutions of the society and to employ them on the Communist pattern as instruments of repression. The Government now directly controls all radio, television, and the press. It has placed politically dependable leadership in labor unions, student groups, and professional organizations. It has nationalized most productive and financial enterprises and is using a program of so-called land reform to exercise effective control over the peasantry. It has destroyed all political parties except the Communist party. Politically reliable and increasingly effective internal security and military forces are being built up.
b. There is still much active opposition in Cuba. It is estimated that there are some 1200 active guerrillas and another thousand individuals engaging in various acts of conspiracy and sabotage, the tempo of which has been rising in recent weeks. Nevertheless, the government has shown considerable skill in espionage and counter-espionage. It is making good use of the militia against guerrilla activities and the infiltration of people and hardware. The militia is relatively untrained and there is evidence that its morale is low but the government is able to use very large numbers against small groups of guerrillas and is able to exercise surveillance of suspicious activities throughout the island. Short of some shock that will disorganize or bring about the defection of significant parts of the militia, it must be anticipated that violent opposition of all kinds will gradually be suppressed.
c. At the present time the regular Cuban military establishment, especially the Navy and Air Force, are of extremely low effectiveness. Within the next few months, however, it is expected that Cuba will begin to take delivery of jet aircraft and will begin to have available trained and well indoctrinated Cuban pilots. During the same period the effectiveness of ground forces will be increasing and their knowledge of newly acquired Soviet weapons will improve. Therefore, after some date, probably no more than six months away it will probably become militarily infeasible to overthrow the Castro regime except through the commitment to combat of a more sizable organized military force than can be recruited from among the Cuban exiles.
3. Possible Courses of Action: Four alternative courses of action involving the commitment of the paramilitary force described above are discussed in succeeding paragraphs. They are:
a. Employment of the paramilitary force in a manner which would minimize the appearance of an invasion of Cuba from the outside.
b. Commitment of the paramilitary force in a surprise landing with tactical air support, the installation under its protection on Cuban soil of the opposition government and either the rapid spread of the revolt or the continuation of large scale guerrilla action in terrain suited for that purpose.
c. Commitment of the paramilitary force in two successive operations: First, the landing of one company without air support in a remote area in which it could sustain itself for some days (hopefully indefinitely), and second, the landing of the main force forty-eight hours later in a widely different location in the same manner as in paragraph 3.b. above.
d. Commitment of the whole force in an inaccessible region where it would be expected to keep control of a beachhead for a long period of time to permit installation and recognition of a provisional government and a gradual build-up of military strength.
4. Covert Landing of the Paramilitary Forces: Careful study has been given to the possibility of infiltrating the paramilitary forces in a night amphibious landing, using man-portable equipment and weapons and taking ashore only such supplies as can be carried by the troops. The force would move immediately in-land to the mountains and commence operations as a powerful guerrilla force relying entirely upon continuing air logistical support. Shipping would retire from the coast before dawn and no tactical air operations would be conducted. Unfortunately, it is believed that such an operation would involve unacceptable military risks.
a. The paramilitary force would run the risk of becoming completely disorganized and scattered in a night landing. (Such an operation is very difficult for even highly trained forces experienced in amphibious operations.)
b. The force would not have motor transport, heavy mortar, 75 mm recoiling rifles, heavy machine guns, nor tanks. Initial ammunition and food supplies would be limited and it would be wholly dependent on air logistical support. If the rainy season commences in April, overcast conditions could prevent effective support. Casualties could not be evac-uated.
c. Since tactical aircraft would not participate, the objective area could not be isolated; enemy forces could move against the beachhead unimpeded. The Castro Air Force would be left intact.
5. A Landing in Full Force: This operation would involve an amphibious/airborne assault with concurrent (but no prior) tactical air support, to seize a beachhead contiguous to terrain suitable for guerrilla operations. The provisional government would land as soon as the beachhead had been secured. If initial military operations were successful and especially if there were evidence of spreading disaffection against the Castro regime, the provisional government could be recognized and a legal basis provided for at least non-governmental logistic support.
a. The military plan contemplates the holding of a perimeter around the beachhead area. It is believed that initial attacks by the Castro militia, even if conducted in considerable force, could be repulsed with substantial loss to the attacking forces. The scale of the operation and the display of professional competence and of determination on the part of the assault force would, it is hoped, demoralize the militia and induce defections therefrom, impair the morale of the Castro regime, and induce widespread rebellion. If the initial actions proved to be unsuccessful in thus detonating a major revolt, the assault force would retreat to the contiguous mountain area and continue operations as a powerful guerrilla force.
b. This course of action has a better chance than any other of leading to the prompt overthrow of the Castro regime because it holds the possibility of administering a demoralizing shock.
c. If this operation were not successful in setting off widespread revolt, freedom of action of the U.S. would be preserved because there is an alternative outcome which would neither require U.S. intervention nor constitute a serious defeat; i.e., guerrilla action could be continued on a sizable scale in favorable terrain. This would be a means of exerting continuing pressure on the regime.
6. A Diversionary Landing: As a variant of the above plan, it would be feasible to conduct a diversionary landing with a force of about 160 men in an inaccessible area as a prelude to a landing of the main assault force. The initial operation would be conducted at night without tactical air support. At least a part of the provisional government would go in with the diversionary landing and presumably the establishment of the provisional government on Cuban soil would thereupon be announced. The subsequent landing of the main assault force would be carried out as outlined in paragraph 5 preceding.
a. This course of action might have certain political advantages in that the initial action in the campaign would be of a character that could plausibly have been carried out by the Cubans with little outside help.
b. There would be a military advantage in that the diversionary landing would distract attention and possibly divide some enemy forces from the objective area for the main assault. If reports had reached the Castro government that troops trained in Guatemala were on the move, the diversionary landing might well be taken to be the main attack, thus enhancing the element of surprise for the main assault force. These advantages would be counterbalanced by the diversion of troops otherwise supporting the main unit.
7. Landing and Slow Build-up: Under this fourth alternative the whole paramilitary force could carry out a landing and seize a beachhead in the most remote and inaccessible terrain on the island with intent to hold indefinitely an area thus protected by geography against prompt or well-supported attacks from the land. This would permit the installation there of the provisional government, its recognition by the U.S. after a decent interval, and (if needed) a long period of build-up during which additional volunteers and military supplies would be moved into the beachhead.
a. A major political advantage of this course of action would be that the initial assault might be conducted in such a way as to involve less display of relatively advanced weaponry and of professional military organization than the landing in force discussed above, especially so as there is every likelihood that the initial landing would be virtually unopposed by land forces. Recognition could provide a suitable political and legal basis for a protracted build-up after the initial assault.
b. Such an operation would, however, require tactical air support sufficient to destroy or neutralize the Castro Air Force. If this were not provided concurrently with the landing, it would be needed soon thereafter in order to permit ships to operate into the beachhead and the planned build-up to go forward. If the initial landing could include seizure of an air strip, the necessary air support could fairly soon be provided from within the territory controlled by friendly forces. There is, however, no location which both contains a usable airstrip and is so difficult of access by land as to permit protection of a slow build-up.
c. This type of operation by the very fact of being clandestine in nature and remote geographically would have far less initial impact politically and militarily than courses two or three.
a. The Castro regime will not fall of its own weight. In the absence of external action against it, the gradual weakening of internal Cuban opposition must be expected.
b. Within a matter of months the capabilities of Castro's military forces will probably increase to such a degree that the overthrow of his regime, from within or without the country, by the Cuban opposition will be most unlikely.
c. The Cuban paramilitary force if effectively used has a good chance of overthrowing Castro, or of causing a damaging civil war, without the necessity for the United States to commit itself to overt action against Cuba.
d. Among the alternative courses of action here reviewed, an assault
in force preceded by a diversionary landing offers the best chance
of achieving the desired result.
59. Editorial Note
According to summary notes prepared by General Gray, a meeting was convened at the White House on March 11, 1961, to discuss preparations for the Trinidad operation, as outlined in the paper prepared in the CIA on March 11. (Document 58) The President's appointment book indicates that the meeting took place at 10:05 a.m. and lasted until 12:15 p.m. The meeting was attended by Vice President Johnson, McNamara, Rusk, Mann, Berle, Dulles, McGeorge Bundy, William Bundy, Gray, and Colonel B.W. Tarwater. (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Book) Although not listed in the appointment book, Bissell called the meeting and no doubt attended and made the presentation for the CIA. According to Gray's notes on the meeting:
"At a meeting with the President, CIA presented a paper which summarized preparations to date for the Trinidad operation. After full discussion, the President stated that he was willing to take the chance of going ahead; that he could not endorse a plan that put us in so openly, in view of the world situation. He directed the development of a plan where US assistance would be less obvious and would like to meet again within the next few days." (Summary notes prepared on May 9, 1961; ibid., National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)
The meeting with the President was preceded by a meeting of Bissell,
Rusk, Mann, and Berle. Mann arranged the meeting between Bissell
and Department of State officials after Rusk discovered that the
meeting with the President to discuss the Trinidad operation had
been called at Bissell's request without prior knowledge of or
discussion with Department officials. Rusk felt that the CIA was
attempting to bypass the Department of State, and he was assured
by McGeorge Bundy that coordination of the planning for the operation
rested with the Task Force on Latin America, under Berle. (Memorandum
from Executive Secretary Lucius D. Battle to Rusk, March 9; Department
of State, Central Files, 737.00/3-961)
60. National Security Action Memorandum No. 31
Washington, March 11, 1961.
//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, National Security Action Memoranda, NSAMs #26-#50. Top Secret.
Memorandum of Discussion on Cuba, March 11, 1961
The President directed that the following actions be taken:
1. Every effort should be made to assist patriotic Cubans in forming a new and strong political organization, and in conjunction with this effort a maximum amount of publicity buildup should be sought for the emerging political leaders of this organization, especially those who may be active participants in a military campaign of liberation. Action: Central Intelligence Agency.
2. The United States Government must have ready a white paper on Cuba, and should also be ready to give appropriate assistance to Cuban patriots in a similar effort. Action: Arthur Schlesinger in cooperation with the Department of State.
3. The Department of State will present recommendations with respect to a demarche in the Organization of American States, looking toward a united demand for prompt free elections in Cuba, with appropriate safeguards and opportunity for all patriotic Cubans. Action: Department of State.
4. The President expects to authorize U.S. support for an appropriate number of patriotic Cubans to return to their homeland. He believes that the best possible plan, from the point of view of combined military, political and psychological considerations, has not yet been presented, and new proposals are to be concerted promptly. Action: Central Intelligence Agency, with appropriate consultation.
[end of document]
to Foreign Relations of the U.S., Vol. X, Cuba.