CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
DATE: DEC 2uu2
FOR THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
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CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
MEMORANDUM: The Soviet Presence in Cuba
withdrawal of Soviet offensiveands fron Cuba still leaves thea substantial military presence onnd II) Although Khrushchev hasto the President that he would withdrawground combat groups and other unitsassociated with protection of thewe have seen no evidence ofcarry this out.
do not have the evidence upon which
toirm judgment as to what disposition the USSR is likely to make of its forces in Cuba. This paper merely examines those factors which might lead tbe USSR toarge military establishment there.
Although Soviet-Cuban relations are now at their lowest point since Moscow recognized the Castro regime, Soviet leaders have no intention of abandoning their earlier conception of Cuba as the bridgehead for extending Soviet Communist influence in Latin America. Mikoyan is reported to have told Soviet correspondents at the UN that Moscow has lost face among neutrals and Its own allies by its withdrawal of strategic missiles but bas achieved its main objective: ommunist regime in the Western Hemisphere. This is the goal that probably remains uppermost in the minds of Soviet leaders as they reassess their Cuban policies.
We expect the Soviet leaders will try now to rebuild their relationship with Cuba. Theyignore the fact that the USSB's prestige Is still committed to protecting Cuba from external efforts to undermine and destroy the Castro regime. This will mean continued and perhaps increased economic assistance and assurances of continued military aid.
At the same time, the Soviet leaders wish toew flareup of the crisis. They probablythat the presence of advanced Soviet "defensiveuch as the SAMs and the personnel to man them, will onstant danger of Involvement wltb the US without any compensating strategicnow that tbe offensive weapons have been
The Soviet leaders, however, may decide toubstantial military presence in Cuba.ecision probably would be governed by two major considerations, the first to improve Soviet-Cuban relations and the second to deter future US pressures against the Cuban regime. In addition, the Soviets would strongly desire not to convey an impression of weakness in response to US firmness by removing their entire military presence from tho Island quickly.
In view of their present strained relations with Cuba, the Soviet leaders are anxious to avoid any appearanceurther major reduction of their commitments in Cuba. They feel obliged toin some way that they remain committed to protecting Cuba against all external pressures, In addition, Moscow stay view the retention of amilitary presence asase for an expanded program of assistance and training for the Cuban armed forces,
The Cubans were not consulted on Khrushchev's decision to withdraw the strategic missiles and they almost certainly resisted the removal of theThey probably would bitterly oppose any future Soviet decision to withdraw the SAM installations, the, the KOMAB-class missile boats, and other The Cubans are likely to press for control of tho SAMs and other equipment now being manned by Soviet personnel. raining program tbat would equip Cubans to operate the SAMs would require tbe continued presence of Soviet SAM technicians for atear.
Cuban leaders, in apparent recognition of their continued dependence on the USSR, have been circumspect In>publie statements critical of tbeof Soviet strategic missiles. The closest any Cuban leader has yet come to public criticism of the Soviet position was an interview given by Che Guevara
orrespondent of the London Daily Worker onovember in which he said: "Some people in Europe are sayingreat victory has been won. We say that the danger ls stillWhile war may have been avoided, that does not mean that peace has been assured. We ask whether in exchange for some slight gain we have only prolonged the agony."
9. In contrast to the restrained public comment, however, there have been strong private expressions of Cuban anger reported bysources. Emllio Aragones is reported to have said that Cuban leaders are "disgusted" with Khrushchev. In an informal talk withat Havana University while Mlkoyan was in Cuba, Castro is reported to).have said that as far as he is concerned, Mlkoyan could go home
10. In addition to their desire to placate Castro, the Soviet leaders probably believe that preservationubstantial military presence in Cuba would enhance their ability to deterUS military pressures. Moscow may alsothe continued presence of the SAMs as anelement in any efforts to discourage the US from continuing Its aerial surveillance of the island. Finally, the possibility cannot bethat the Soviets might look uponubstantial military presence as the foundationuture attempt to re-establish Soviet offensive bases in Cuba.
Soviet Military Forces Still ln Cuba
1. The USSR's presence ln Cuba has been significantly reduced by the withdrawal of the strategic missiles and the "PiUKwi* . We have seen no evidence to date of other Soviet
^'equipment leaving Cuba. Construction continues on barracks In the armored group
We believe tbat at0 Soviet troops are still in Cuba. Our evidence does notead count: we deduce this figure from the number of troops necessary to man the Soviet units and Soviet-operated Installations known to be on the island from photography, communications intelligence, and covert reporting. We expect, however, thatoviet personnel associated withmissiles who are still Id Cuba will Joinoviet troops who have left since the end of October.
The four Soviet armed combat groups ln Cuba are made up of0 troops. Recent photography shows continuing construction or other activity at the bases of all four armored groups. Each of these groups Includes one mediumank battalion and some of the following: armored reconnaissance unitB, armored Infantry units, multiple rocket launchers, FROG artillery rockets, SNAPPER antitankmmm antitank guns, and engineer groups with self-propelled bridging equipment. We have not yet detected the removal of any of these units or equipment.
Theurface-to-air (SAM) missile sites are manned by at0 Soviet troops. High levelof the past week shows that all of these sites are still occupied and operational.
There are also smaller groups of Soviet military personnel ln Cuba, totalling at These groups are flying theighters known to be in Cuba, operating the coastal defense cruise missile sites, and training Cubans to operate the Soviet-installed radartheOMAR missile patrol boats, and other military equipment which has been supplied by Moscow, Aside from
the recent dismantling of one cruise missile site, which may have been moved elsewhere on the island, there Is no evidence of Soviet preparations to remove these personnel from Cuba. Photographyecember shows that the other three cruise missile sites are still operational
7. Another activity requiring an unknown number of Soviet personneloviet communications intelligence radio direction finding net which has been in full opera-tlon in Cuba sinceovember.
The fact that this net became operational well
after the offensive missile bases wore dismantled suggests that Moscow intends it toermanent feature of the
i(lia^tet presence in Cuba.
Soviet Military Personnel Movements to and froa Cuba
1. We have no reliable methods for estimating tbe number of Soviet military personnel who arrived in Cuba during the buildup there from July to October. Judging by the capacities of the Soviet passenger ships which arrived during the buildup, not lessoviet military personnel arrived on these ships. Assuming that at leastersons arrived with each of thooyages to Cuba by Soviet dry-cargo ships during the samean be added. The total number, if based on the troop capacities of the passenger ships, could be as high0 men. The availablefrom all sources suggest that the actual figure lies0ut cannot be determined aore accurately by shipping data.
Photography of ships en route to Cuba does notore precise estimate. Photography neither supports nor conclusively negates personnel movements via freighters or the size of troop loadings onvessels.
PASSENGER SHIPS CARRYING SOVIET MILITARY PERSONNEL TO CUBA, JULY-OCTOBER2
'J Ol' AEUHXr-.
Normal Passenger Troop
addition to these ships believed to be carrying military personnel, three other Soviet passenger shipsombined capacity of0 persons) arrived during this period. These shipsCubans who had trained ln the USSR, students, Latin American delegates homeward bound from the Helsinki Youth Festival, Soviet economic specialists, possibly some Soviet dependents, and other personnel not connectedwith the buildup.
2. The identified equipment and Soviet combat units observed ln Cuba suggest that actual arrivals of Soviet personnel almost certainly were higher than our minimum total. Based on the organizational strength of military units in the USSR, wo estimate that the total amount of equipment present onctober or due shortly thereafter, would haveoviet military force of not less0 and probably closer0 men. We do not believe, however, that all of the personnel were ln Cuba by the tine US quarantine waa announced, or that all of the units were up to full strength.
on the departure of Sovietis equally sketchy. On the same basis usedarrivals, we estimate that on the orderSoviets have (departed :Snnce< early. Novembermore may be leaving shortly.
Sincectober, four Soviet passenger shipsombined minimum capacity ofersons have left Cuba with Soviet military personnel. These ships could carry as manyen If troop-loaded, not cruise passenger loaded. Photography of the ships suggests they are carrying at least normal capacity loads of personnel and possibly substantially more. There Is no way to determine more precisely, however, howhave left Cuba in this way. Two other Soviet passenger ships are now en route to Cuba, possibly to pick up other Soviet personnel.
leastoviet dry-cargo ships haveCuba carrying missiles,ombers, and/or Soviet personnel. shows that on at least one of theseoviets boarded, and tbat many of theatersons each. On the orderSoviets may have left Cuba on these
Theseprobably QO not ewer owj.ee uw^ inthat is, Soviet combatprobably are for Sovietpersonnel providing as-sistance to the Cuban armed forces
November payments totaled more than $1
October and far more
the size of payments
than ever notedwe lack information on what is covered by these payments, they cannot be treated as conclusive evidences of changes ln the number of Soviet military personnel In Cuba. They strongly suggest, however,izeable number of the Soviet military aid personnel remain In Cuba, ln addition to Soviet combat units. Clandestine reporting Indicates that some of the troops who earlier had expected to leave Cuba have not yet departed.