Created: 8/31/1967

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Cuba: Likelihood of an Attempted Shootdown




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SAM) system had beenfrom Soviet to Cuban control. Fidel Castro and Nildti Khrushchevfor some monthsampaign of speeches and diplomatic maneuversto raise such political pressure as would compel the US to endofut the US repeatedly made clear Its Intention to continueoverflights, aad, after Khrushchev's removal from power. Castro nothe issue.' Indeed his public references to the oversights becameand retrained. Until recently, moreover, the Cuban air defense lys-behaved passively in regard toissions. Radar tracking wasmore often than not. but interception by aircraft was not attempted. were not allowed to advance their condition of readiness, and any sitecondition because of training exercises was orderedpproached. ;


Recent Reactions of jCubo'sAIr I .

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"incehere have beenverflights of Cuba.onarch,ighter aircraft have five times been scrambled from San Antonio de los Bands Airbase. southwest of Havana, for the purpose oflight In the first case it is not clear that Cuban air defense personnel realized that the overflying plane; in thearch, and IIis quite clear that they did, -'No order or Instruction was communicateduggesting that It was to Cry to shoot downnd in no ease, as far as we can determine,igh enough altitude to Intercept

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. In only one cue was an element of the SAM system ordered to improvetate of readiness. In connection withverflight on LI July, the Campo j! Florido SAM nte was iniormed by its regional command that by order oligher up it should proceedtate of personnel readiness without turningoo its equipment. It was further told that this order hnd nothing to doreviously-scheduled training exercise, but rather with, Althoughommunication soundedt contained no specific indication olo attempt was actually made by this site toissile ator even to track It with the Fan Song missile guidance radar.

O these recent Cuban' reactionsverflights took place in Cuba's Western Air Defense Zone.issions In the Central and Eastern Zones haveelicited no unusual Cuban responselight increase in radary the air surveillancend themissions flown in the Western Zone.

unusual. response.

could simply reflect "live* traininghigh-altitude flghter interception. This rather sophisticated type ofprobably be carried out In the Western 2one: most of Cuba'sbased at Son Antonio de los.Banos. the Air Defense Command is In that

Zone, and the Cuban airstationed there appear to be more

roficient than in the other Zones. An additional possibility, consistentthis training explanation, is that the Cubans also want closehotograph of the.overflying 'j' fc! 1 i

[ t Is also postible that the Cubans have sent up thein the

'uly Incident, even indulged in some mild chicaneryAMharasstbend see if. they could induce it to abort. In fact,issionsdy were discontinued after theere scrambled. The flight onuly did (press on to completion, arid, possibly In consequence, tbe five missions that have flown over the Western Zone since then have evoked


. jWe do not think these air.defense reactions had the purpose ofhotography of some secret or sensitive activity in the western part of Cuba. If this.had been their serious purpose, we believe the effort would have been greater. Moreover, we cannot identify anything that would seem to require such protection. For example, we have not noted any ocean shipments of suspect cargo arriving at the port of Havana or at other ports in western Cuba at or about 'che dates indicated. 't-:

!inally, we do not believe that these departures fromsual behavior of Cuban air defens- either represent preparatory moves to shootr indkata an intention to do so. The SAM system Is by far the Cubans' best I. j! .waipon tohootdown; yet had its use beenumber of1 would almost certainly have been brought to an^increased state of readiness.

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On the other hand, the-ood weapon against: Itperformance limitations ats' operating altitudesandeach such altitudesoom climbvery difficult tactic In'. function with the successful launch of an air-to-nlr missilitn audition to these considerations. Iho conllnning absence ofcntionverflights is striking. Castro has made no recent to the subject, even in his vitriolic anti-US speech at the closing sessionatin American Solidarity Organization. Yet he has, in recentriedpropaganda capital over other matters involving USthe Cuantanamo base. Were Castro considering an effort to shoot down aaircraft, we think that he would probably first be agitating the Issue publicly,only to condition thj Cuban people for the possible military consequence:such an action. 1 1 i

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-Tha Prospect

t Is likely that from time to timeircraft will again be scrambled III In responseverflights, .ind, since some of these aircraft are now based atHotguin, this may occur In the Eastern as well as the Western Zone. ubans may seek to harass the overflight*reater degree In variouss an extreme example, they could order oneumber of SAM sites to assume full readiness, and activate the Fan Sung missile guidance radar aiomesear. This might causes to abort their flights, but it. would greatlyrease the risk that asite commander might go ahead and flro without au-

[IL.Whether or not1 the Cubans try further harasimentverflights,believe that the same basic factors which In the past have deterred the Castro i

government from attempting an actual shontdown will remain operative Inforeseeable future. We think Fidel would stilltrong military responseon the part of the US to such an action, and we think he has becomecoo'inced that he could not count on effective Soviet support In. these ctrcum-stances. Id speeches in lataoth Fidel and bis brother RaulMinister of Armed Forces) told the Cuban people that they must be preparedfight alone In the event of hostilities with the:

The Cuban Covomment Is presently reraiphaalzlng its policy ofand supportingviolent revolution ebewhere. portl.ulorly In other Latin Americanhis policy bos already led to friction in Its relations with the Soviet Union. It obviously will also tend to add to the conflict between Cuban and USt least for some tune to come, Castro will probably prefer to confine his risky moves to this sphere of revolutionary support,hontdown or other action which wouldirect challenge to thel Clearly, the rational consideration! which should dissuade Fidel Castrohootdown attempt'are strong ones. We eannut. however, jentirely rule out"It il I'



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pauibillty of an Irrational act, particularly in soma crisis situation. As wc pointed out in our Last estimate onastro's emotional make up includes strong aggressive and vindictive tendencies, and he il more disposed than most men to alternating states of depression and exhilaration. While these mental attitudes almost certainly affect his administration ofn the record so far he has typically shown himself cautious and calculating In major policyThus, while dangerously irrational or impetuous actions on hissuchthe shootdown of anot inconceivable, we do not think they



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