Created: 9/1/1964

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TITLB: The Missiles In Cuba

AUTHOR: J. J. Rumpelmayer




A collection ol articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspecls ol intelligence.


All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Imclligence aie those of

the authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations

Probing for some profitast mistake.


J. J. Rumpelmaver

Mr. Sbertnan Scat's thoughtfulf the USIB'imate ofor"fci corjolusion thai the Soviet! would he unlikely to install strategic missilesuba leave the clandestinemint neceiunly be at the same time romethmg of an analyst andtwo kinds of reservation mvolvmg principles which v. ill remain of Importance fn tbe future work of the community. Tben alternative reconstruction of the Soviet attitude toward the opportunity and haxardi of this move, and by crtcn'iiiii toward any future rucbnity and aggressive moves fa general Here wc are clearly intruding into the professionalbusiness,resh view from outside their circle may be of usebem. Theatter close to the collectorsrecognition of the quality of bis information and the putting it to proper use.

The Soviet Potition

Mr. Kent'1 centralhat the Soviet readers, urirarpectedlytlie severity of tbe potential US. reaction,eriousin trying to put the missiles fax lie writes:

Onntebw [when thawerefiedhotoerapba] we realized that ear eetrraeta of the Sevteta' uoJentaodlog of the roood ot the Uotted State* aad tu probebU raecttea waaactober (wUaaareed to withdrawained mat tha Soviets bad realized that they hado United Slate*.

We rubmit that neither the US. estimate of the Soviet view of VS. reaction nor that Soviet view need bave been wrong. On the contrary,vidence that the Soviets did show, as tbe estimate put greater willingness to increase the level of risk in US-Soviet reUbons than the USSR has displayed thusthe stakes were higher than everwere prepared to back down if

radel EfUmatotwfce*.


in Cuba

A Urge democratic country like the United States cannot take an adventurous position in foreign affairs if only because of tbe heavy Inertia! factor which makes it to difficult torogram of foreign action or. once having mounted one, to call it off. The Soviets, not noting to worry about this inertial factor, can with minimal hazard to political integrityesired courseere probing action.

di can tbat tbey were prepared to pull out of Cuba if detected lies in the promptness with which they eswaitodjhe disengagement operation BS toon as they were convinced that the United States was ready to aot They recalled to Soviet ports all vessels suitable for missile loadings and began wtiding the missiles without even waiting for the blockade to be put Into effect, evidently actingontingency plan they would presumably not have bad ready If they had really underestimated the probable alternative explanation, then, which "might lessen the ehinot* of our misestimating the Sovietsutures that they fudged the United States correctly but were not taking Irrevocable action and considered the possibility ofradical improvement In their strategic posture worth the risk involvedrobe.

The Soots* Decision

Turning now to the quality of the reporting, we note Mr. Kent'i statement:

There waa of com* do lrionnattoo that thaad decided tomluflo to Cuba and Indeed dodediloo.

There was doubtless no firm information or verified indication, but there were reports first hinting at and finally almost spelling outecision. Consider the following series from the networkingle clandestine source on the island diisertxlnateduryctober.

f.Porerxtbee HATOelt of ban taxr-roundrag the Soviet Union and ray* that to Seartetnbarotor, to be me bncal* to. (SpeakerkMd aad cmi. Or**of Oa Cuovara rays "be" [pceslbly F, Ul] haalan to art tho Sovietooto ta Cub* an atomic base wrdoh would beicU* tof bue*he USSR.*


uly: Coevaja, tUU vary wtnried, had no receww but inCaatro lo SovMb lo Sod out whir aid CubataLaMM and frkmd of Mae, dan nottn Bar Soviets batbar Cuba baavalue lot tba Bloc Bator* making any 4ttttMto know all theAugust: Sovtet ihips unloaded al Mark] tarra quantitytubular five Barters wldo and

aehar* acasiekeauar due* by tea Mancirbatla aaSd-Juiyot abaaa received ardanapaadbad-tag aaad wkaiSaaai Bad lam Cubact-temberi Sea of Cuban CP rmntdent aayi OErtaln officer bad accorn-paniad Guevara oa raeaat trip to Moacow bmna b* aerted ai tlalaau officer oa "rocketO Satmbor. FhdaTi pancee! peVMka addltk* torwlxtiadar tyitrrn] anaaw mobfla raaasM (or bs*afstwdiatc-caar* rockets. Tbey don't known aton for tbesx"'

VIuban war plans chief (ays. "Wa wffl fiab* to DSa cWds and parkap*can wbi baeaoae wst have averydiba; tortudicg atcaok-irt bchaaobsai are wwklcg day seal aifbt to baoU tba aniaw -aapoaa ban*.'*

0 October; Tba Oataasa, bavtof. tba buckla to tba beat at* atomic baaoa(be Soviet Union, can loose the belt and aave

lb* USSR from Hi.ncul.Uon.-

hat tbe viewpoint in tbe belt-and-buckle rnetapbor Is Soviet:be USSR that Is to be saved, tbe enemy is NATO, not Yankee imperialism. These ideas of Soviet origin were reflected In theproposals to trade the Cuban foothold for Turkish bases. It Is true that tbe unequivocal spelling out of tbehe last of these reports was much too late for tbe crucial estimate, but it still came moreeek ahead of the photographic evidence that was regarded as decisive.

ct that these reports were lost is the mass of Intelligencecoming in; they were brought to the particular attention of the analysts. It must be simply that they were not taken seriously enough. We know by hindsight, both from the ooufuuaarioo of their

SO, paragraph 3.

si-oae. 1MMAWI

Mittitts in Cubo

main purport and from intensive debriefing and testing of tbe source, that he was giving US strategically important information with noor eaaggerabon. the failure of the warning function was not in the observing or reporting but in interpretation. the problem is one of how to get the right valuation put on this kind of material when it comes in.

Signs of Deployment

with respect to "evidence that the nussllci were In fact movingemplacement" mr. Kent

with the benefit of hlodnghi ooe can go back over tee tbouaand ear) more bus of baioruutkHi roTJectod from human observer* la the att snoetbs endingctober and pickaryindicated the possible piewoco of strategic mieslles.

certainly they woe comparatively few, but when you actually read them they seem mora impressive than when you just count them. we sample ln tbe abstractsalf-dozen disseminated before'the date of the estimate and four others put out before photography at List convinced the analysts.

ugust; Describing the exceedingly secure unloadingoviet ship at atarbdugust, aooro* nays mat bucks unloaded who. eitreme care probably carried rockets, ocee eonta, or meet probably atomic bombs.-

ugust:ugust0 Soviets arrived at Carflda with long and abort range rockets, contraction eqnlprocof. and ei-tremely large tanks.otal of five tbipa had arrived at Caidda."

ugust: Since raid-August no ncairthortred perwrnnd hare been allowed at tbe Haririi. it oooorete wall was built around the port In leat thanours. Among cargo unloaded were prefabricated concrete blocks two by four rootersoot thick with tpeclal hooks ot roetal base* on the cods. These arc welded together and cement poured between eedioos to form pbtforma for rocket launch pads. Rocketseet longeet In cUametrr have alto beenNote that the blocks described bad beenone of the specific indicators for balliosc nlssfln of median) or longer lange.]


ogual Sonne uw kn ouktaiyPaler verifiedMRBMtrack loaded wvntbity foot khig rig thai lookedauacba. On the (round aaarby ware tsor*kaaM dark nwtal cyUadtnWt loar andoeethes aceoa.."

i Source oUervnd at owtala kxation {lata verified a> MRBM

a Wrra Soviet- ayaardod prrtmrto than had aver before bea eetmbilancU.-

aptrtnberi la enity Aturoat afar Sovtet nul.Uiy tecbnlrtenasintua baae at Moot* da Soroa taw two vary huge spaattjas being Iranaportod

Dartag woe hooaaplnahiiaw tnaaah traoVn

act long being polled weal toward Ceaapo labotad. believea ourvia-eovatnd loada rirtaactmg over and* were large

Septrtnba: Source law on Port, BO Beta!oat long by about fret d1 eUatoctrr. Lata QMM war* healed away onctober: la anld-September ma bbw two cybodrtcal otyecqat long by dune- feet la diameter loaded oa aach ea* rU teaal-

bawW aouroa dackuwl about SO September. "Cuba aowoviet tmmfhiange af

These are tbe kind of reports which, perhaps out of skepticismthe capabilities of human observation, were set aside In the absence of confirming photographic evidence.


Although Mr. lent did not intend tbe implication and wouldit, it is an infelicitous fact that many of his expressions and metaphors tend to imply that intelligence conclusions are controlled by numbers of reports rather than the rjuality of individual reports:

Aggregate meaning of tba

A pirthora af raw

Soolume of

Tbe iji:.ii- r,

ormidable amount of

Wa watgaH asad


irt Una.


The hat cornea to

No soore than two or poeeOJy rhree should bave Hopped tbef cndence would prooehlyakeo la (be context of the onSer

Toil quantitative approach would explain bow the needleey itrategic report might be smothered, and lost under the bayttackoan of otber ^formation; but It ii Dot an eaplanatioa that we can restgTreaJjy accept and live with. It Is diametrically opposedasic doctrine of the clandestinethe ideal item ofingle nugget of great worth recognized and pulled out of the general mass of indifferent Information. Certainlyhe concept under which the roil eets done.

Perhaps oureculiarly American one, paralleling our faith In governmentoncensus of the majority and our belief In the mtrinslc desirability of mass production. Perhaps, as suggested above, ft comes from having more confidence In machines than human observation. Tbe clandestinerepared to tight for tbe recognition of his rare nuggets against the tons of dross, but be needs help from tbe analyst In pinpointing where the trouble lies. If we are to learn from our historical mistakes and so be saved from repeating them, this problem must be solved. The writer feels there areto be found.

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