THE MILITARY BUILDUP IN CUBA

Created: 9/19/1962

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SPECIAL fpfe NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE^TIMATE

Supplemenh)

The Military Buildup in Cuba

- by Ih* DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

Concvmd in by Ih* UNITED STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD

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APPROVED

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Di/ector ofand Rnea/eh.Defer.ie- Intelligence.-"

Asiiiianr Chief of Staff for IntoJEgaeice. Oeporirnent'o) tho

Asvi/art Chief of Narol Ofniorioni {Intelligence),of Ai'Chief ofn'eitigertt, USAFfor Intelligence,

Direcior of the Notional Security' Auittonl Director, Fcdoral Bureau ol Heoiilgafion

Afasfoining;

Atomic Energy Commiulon Ri Out lids of hit jurlidktion.

SPECIAL

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

The Military Buildup in Cuba

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

I. CONSIDERATIONS UNDERLYING SOVIET POLICY IN

n. THE BUILDUP TO

Implications of the Current

in. POSSIBILITIES FOR EXPANSION OF THE. 6

Use of Cubaoviet Strategic Missile

TV. LATIN AMERICAN REACTION AND ITS

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if

THE MILITARY BUILDUP IN CUBA

THE PROBLEM

To assess the strategic and political significance of the recent military buildup in Cuba and of the possible future development of additional military capabilities there.

CONCLUSIONS

believe that thc USSR values its position infor the political advantages to be derived fromconsequently that the main purpose of the presentbuildup in Cuba is to strengthen the Communistagainst what the Cubans and the Soviets conceivea danger that the US may attempt by one means orto overthrow it. The Soviets evidently hope tosuch attempt by enhancing Castro's defensiveand by threatening Soviet military retaliation. Attime, they evidently recognize that the developmentoffensive military base in Cuba might provoke USand thus defeat their present purpose.

terms of military significance, the currentare substantially improving air defense andcapabilities in Cuba. Their political significanceIn conjunction with the Soviet statementhey are likely to be regarded as ensuring theof the Castro regime in power, with consequentto the opposition at home and in exile. Thein these developments is that, to the extentCastro regime therebyense of security at home,

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it will be emboldened to become more aggressive in fomenting revolutionary activity in Latin America. )

the buildup continues, the USSR may beestablish in Cuba other weapons represented to bein purpose, butore "offensive" character:bombers, submarines, and additional types ofsurface-to-surface missilesecisionsuch weapons will continue to depend heavilySoviet estimate as to whether they couldS military reaction. )

USSR could derive considerable militaryfrom the establishment of Soviet medium andrange ballistic missiles in Cuba, or fromoviet submarine base there. As betweenthe establishmentubmarine base would belikely. Either development, however, would bewith Soviet practice to date and with Sovietwe presently estimate it. It wouldarto increase the level of risk in US-Sovietthe USSR has displayed thus far, andhave important policy implications with respectareas and other problems in

Latin American reaction will be to thean increased Soviet commitment to Cuba, rather thantechnical implications of the military buildup.Americans will fear andoviet militaryinto the Hemisphere, but will regard the problem asbe met by the US and not their responsibility. Wethe chances are better now than they were atEste to obtain thehirds OASsanctions and other steps short of direct militaryat Cuba. If it became clear that the USSRan "offensive" base in Cuba, most Latingovernments would expect the US to eliminate it,means were necessary, but many of themseek to avoid direct involvement. )

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DISCUSSION

CONSIDERATIONS UNDERLYING SOVIET POLICY IN CUBA

We believe that the USSR values itsin Cuba primarily for the politicalto be derived from it. and that the main purpose of the present military buildup Ln Cuba is to strengthen the Communistthere against what the Cubans and the Soviets conceive toanger that the US may attempt by one means or another toit. The Soviets evidently hope to deter any such attempt hy enhancing Castro'scapabilities and by threatening Soviet military retaliation. At the same time, they evidently recognize that the development of an offensive military base in Cuba mightUS military intervention and thus de-leat their present purpose.

The Soviets consider that the Cuban Revolution and their association with it have severely damaged the prestige of the US and greatly enhanced that of the USSR,the world. They see in the case of Cuba an effective demonstration that, anywhere in thecolonial" people can throw off the "imperialist yoke" and. with theaid and protection of the USSR, successfully maintain Its Independence againstcounteraction. They especially value the effect of this demonstration in Latin America and also value Cuba asdvanced base for the support of radical revolutionary elements In Latin America.

Although initially the Soviets were guarded in their relations with the Castro regime, in the past year both they and Castro have undertaken moves which make their ties much closer. Thus Moscow's commitment to the survival and success of the Cubanis deepening. The Soviets have appar-

ently concluded that they must invest more heavily to protect their stake In Cuba.

Because of heightening Soviet concern over the state of the Cuban economy, Moscow last spring agreed substantially to expand and liberalize its economic assistance program to Cuba. Indeed, Soviet economic aid to Cuba now involves an extensive program planned to sustain and gradually to develop theThe Soviets have thus clearlytheir belief that Cuba, with Soviet support, can achieve sufficient progress to servetimulus for revolutionariesin Latin America.

During roughly the same period (lasthe Soviets also apparently concluded that the Castro regime would have to bewith accelerated military aid. Castro almost certainly had longuch more substantial Soviel program. Morehowever, we believe the decisionSoviet concern that its expanding role in Cuba might be terminatedS move to overthrow the Castro regime. The rapid military buildup in Cuba was thus intended in large part to impress the US with thecosts and risks of any attempt to overthrow the Cuban regime by force.

In line with this objective, the Soviet statement ofeptember was in partto dissuade the US from making any decision to intervene in Cuba. By stressing the "defensive" nature of theuildup, it sought to convince the US (and the world at large) that the military buildup in Cuba does nothreat. At the same time, however, by raising the spectre ofwar, it stressed the gravity of the risks involved in US Intervention. The statementhole isubstitute for the

which the Castro regime almost certainly has demanded. While It carefully avoids an explicit commitment to defend Cuba in the event of US attack, it does furtherSoviet prestige to ensuring the survival of the Castro regime.

absence of such an explicitreflects the Soviets' basichazard their own safety for the sakeThey are willing. Indeed anxious,US prestige and power in Latinopinion and to provide the Cubanseconomic instruments of survivalbut they remain wary ofof allowing Castro to provokegoing too far and too fast with abuildup. In theireptemberthey sought to undercutSoviet missile bases in Cuba foragainst the US by. inter alia,defensive nature of armamentsand by denying any military needbases in view of their capability to'he US Irom their own territory.

Soviet policies in Cuba maybeen devised almost entirely InCuba and Latin America. Moscow nowthe situation in terms of thestruggle. They relish thcthat Soviet power can be extendedarea adjacent to the US. and are usingUS reaction to Justify their ownof lhe "oflensive" US bases on the Further, inhe Soviets Implied that USCuba would be countered byelsewhere In the world and fortime publicly linked the Berlin and The Soviets are also aware thatheightening of tension over Cubaimportant factor in their generalthe US and has an Impact on issues. Thus developments tn situation probably influenced the re-

cent Soviet decision to let the Berlin situation simmer, rather than boil, for the time being.

The current Soviet buildupramatic change of pace In Soviet operations, probably occasionedeappraisal ofand Increased detenrunation to insure the survival of the Castro regime. However, we believe that the military buildup which began In July does notadically new Soviet policy toward Cuba, either In terms of military commitments or of the role of Cuba in overall Soviet strategy. Without changing the essentially defensive character of thebuildup in Cuba and without making an open pledge to protect Cuba under allthe Soviets have enhanced Cuban military capabilities, repeated In stronger terms their warnings to the US, and tied the Cuban situation to the general question of the East-West confrontation.

The Soviets themselves are probably still uncertain about their future military program for Cuba. Indeed, they probably Intend to test US and Latin American reactions as they proceed. At the same time they are obliged to tailor their policy to minimize risks ofwith the US, avoid friction with Castro, and maintain the best possiblestance In the eyes of Latin America and the world In generaL

The analysis of Soviet policy toward Cuba given here is based on an overallof Soviet interests and intentions and on evidence of Soviet actions ln and with respect to Cuba to date. While it is our Judgment that, even In the light of recent developments. Soviet policy remains fundamentallywe cannot exclude the possibility that Moscow Is at leasthange in this policy. Consequently. In the sections which follow, we examine in some detail not only the Soviet military buildup In Cuba to date and possible developments in that buildup which might follow, but also the nature and implications of military assistance which the

Soviets could provide Cuba in the eventajor change of pobey.

II. THE BUILDUP TO DATE

n the first phase of the provuton of military supplies,0 tohe Soviets concentrated on substantial amounts of ccr.Ter.t'.onal combat weapons for the groundumber of Bloc technicians were suppliedraining pro-am for Cuban military personnel was inaugurated. The buildup proceededeliberate pacs and eventually, after some training of Cuban pilots, aboutet fighter aircraft wereto Cuba. In addition, some submarine-chasers and motor torpedo boats wereThis phase was largely completed by2 with the result thai Cuban forces were much better prepared to handle incursions upon their territory.

n July the Sovietsapid efforttrengthen Cuban defenses against airand major seaborne invasion. Between mid-July and early September some TO ships have delivered various types of militaryand construction equipment, and more ships are en route. These new shipments have consisted In part of further deliver.es of types of weapons already available to Cuban forces. More tanks, self-propelledand other ground force equipment have been supplied. But the bulk of the material delivered Is related to the establishment ofurfacs-to-air missiles (SAMsi. which win form the bastsew air defense system.

hus far.AM sites have been installed tn the western half of the island. It Ls likely that similar coverage will bein the eastern half. Some missile sites could now be operational. Tne Soviets are alsoumber of more advancedInterceptors;ozens may hive been delivered. The standardfor this type of aircraft includes two

infrareU homing air-to-air missilest Is Ukely that such missiles havethes to Cuba.

he current buildup also reflects ar. effort to improve Cuba's coastal defenses For this purpose, the Soviets have provided the "Korr.ar" class glided-missile patrol boats which -arr/ tworuise-type missiles, primarily for use againat shipping. This boatange ofut is designed primarily for use In coastal waters. Eight "Komar" class beats have already been delivered and other similar craft may be on the way Inased craisc-type missile installation hasbserved^neir Bines.

ange is likely to be limited. by its radar honzon. This range might be extended by installing tht radareight, or by employing ships or aircraft for forward observation. Wetha: this will prove tooast defense mstallition and that others of this| be deployed, but we cannot estimate at present the ultimate size of this program.

qually important, particularly in terms of overall Soviet involvement, is theincrease in the number of Soviet military specialists tn Cuba, fromarly this year to the current level of. We anticipatearge proportion of this group win remain in Cuba for some time. SLx monthsear would be required before thend other sites could be operated solely by Cuban personnel.

ecause of the extent and rapidity of current deliveries and limitations in ourcoverage, we cannot yet Identify all of the new equipment which has beesRecent shipmentsreat deal of electronic gear, with many vans, crates, and large boxss which could contain various types of tha equipment. There ts tenuous evidence of the presence of air defense ECM

Although we have no specificol it. we cannot exclude the possibility that CO MINT and EL INT equipment ts also now present in Cubx

Implications of tha Current Buildup

IB. In terms of their military significance, the current Soviet deliveries are substantially improving capabilities ln Cuba for air and coastal defense and defensive surface naval operations. When operational, the SAMs will assure that Interception can be attempted under any weather condition, at altitudes up0 feet, with more limited effectiveness up0 feet. The system is probably not effective beloweet. Theas generally better performancethan the earlier MIG models, and will considerably augment defenses againstflying at medium and high altitudes.1

The large number of Soviet military personnel in Cuba will provide the technical assistance and training necessary to bring the newer weapons to operational readiness in the near future. If necessary, Soviet personnel could be employed to operate them before Cuban personnel are fully prepared to do so. It is likely that training and experience have already raised the proficiency of Cuban Air Force personnel somewhat above the low level noted in. 'The Situation and Prospects In. Soviet guidance andwill continue to raise the combatof all branches of the Cuban military establishment.

Some of the new weapons in Cuba could be used for offensive as well as defensiveMIG fighters can be equipped for ground attack operations and antiship mis-

ore detailed description of thecharacteristics of these weapon systems, see the forrhcomlng, "Soviet Blocnd Missile Defense CapabiUUes throughcheduled for USD) considerationeptember.

sites can be employed against well-defined land targets. Indirectly, the presence of SAMs could release some fighter aircraft for ground attack missions. Nevertheless, the pattern of Soviet military aid to date appears clearly designed to strengthen the defenses of the Island, thereby protecting the Communist political beachhead in the Westernand raising the price the US would have to pay to eliminate It by military action. The overall composition of the Cubanestablishment remains essentiallyin character; it has not yet been providedignificant strike capability.the Cuban armed forces stui lack the air and sealift necessary for militaryon any significant scale in neighboring territories.

as the offensive capabilitiesforces In Cuba are, an increased senseinstilled by Soviet publicby the presence of new weapons maythe Cuban regime to engage infilibustering expeditions. It mightthem to make new demands onregarding the naval base atto engagerogram of harassmentbase.

III. POSSIBILITIES FOR EXPANSION OF THE BUILDUP

The Soviets could expand the present buildup to include additional types ofHowever, they are well aware that the question of offensive as opposed to defensive weapons in Cuba hasajor political issue. Their recent statement indicates that theytrong poutical case can be sustained for supplying "defensive" weapons in Cuba. Conversely they seem to realize that to provide certain other types of weapons to Cuba wouldhallenge to which the US might forcefully respond.

Among the weapons which the Soviets might believe they could add to the Cuban

without creating thc appearance of an open defiance of US warnings on offensive weapons,ow altitude SAM defenseand jet Interceptors more advanced than thcowever, both o; these areto be in short supply within the USSR itself, where they are in the early stages of deployment. Moreover, the military potential of these weapons can be fully realized only in conjunction with the USSR's closelysystem of air defense warning,and control.

part from such examples, however, the distinction between defensive and offensive weapons ls ambiguous. The Soviets might consider supplying BEAGLEight bombers, for example, which they have already provided to several non-Bloc states These aircraft can be represented by the Sovietsdefensive" weapons, particularly if present only in small numbers. On the other hand, theould reach targets In thepart of the US and could cany nuclear weapons If these aircraft appeared In Cuba, the US would have to decide whether or not they were to be taken aserious "offensive" capability. On the whole wethe Soviets might calculateodest number ofs could be supplied to Cuba without senous risk of US counteraction.

ADGERedium bombers might also be supplied to Cuba, ostensibly for such "defensive" uses as armed reconnaissance against invasion shipping, but the offensive capabilities of these aircraft are considerably more obvious than In the case ofs. We believe the Soviets would not supply them to Cuba.

t is possible that the Soviets wouldplacing other short-range surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) In Cuba. Theallistic missileangeould not threaten US territory other than Key West, but. range of theallistic missile would extend to Cape

Canaveral. The Soviets also. cruise-type missile available. These weapons could employ conventional or nuclearIt Is possible that the Soviets would believe that some SS-2's would be tolerated by the US. On the other hand, any real military usefulness they might have to the Cubanestablishment would be marginal, and the Soviets could not exclude that the US would react very strongly to their presence.

nother possibility is the provision of submarines and destroyers. Wo believe this may eventually be done. Some conventional submarines have already been supplied to non-Bloc countries, but the Soviets certainly realize that such action in Cuba could be Interpreted by the US as violating their stated intention of limiting supplies to defensiveHowever, the level of Soviet navalto Cuba will probably remain relatively high In coming months. Soviet merchant ships and trawlers will continue their frequent calls. The Soviets could test the US reaction to visits by Soviet naval ships to Cuban ports. Depending on US reactionseriod of time, the Soviets might then consider whether to turn over some destroyers and submarines to Cuba.

hus the Soviets may experimentumber of further steps in the military buildup. They may feel that some of these are necessary, if only to demonstrate their continuing support to Castro and refusal to be deterred by the US. Theefensewillew degree of protection and secrecy for masking additional supplies. But the Soviets would be proceeding overground and could not be sure of US knowledge of or reaction to each new move, or that the gains of each further step would be commensurate with the risks. They would also have to consider that Bloc personnel would be required to operate many of theweapons.ecision to provide such weapons as bombers, submarines, or ad-

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types of short-range missiles depends greatly on whether the Soviets estimate that these weapons can be introduced withoutS Intervention. They will realize that the nature of the US reaction will depend not only on types and numbers of weapons, but also on the offensive capability of the toLal military establishment In Cuba.

of Cubaoviet Sfrafegic Mitsila Base

he establishment on Cuban soil ofnuclear striking forces which could be used against the US would be incompatible with Soviet policy as we presently estimate it. It wouldar greater willingness to increase the level of risk in US-Sovietthan the USSR has displayed thus far, and this would have important policyin other areas. However. Soviet military planners have almost certainly considered the contribution which Cuban bases might make to the Soviet strategic posture and. in that connection, the feasibility and utility ofnuclear delivery systems to Cuba. Therefore this contingency must be examined carefully, even though it would run counter to current Soviet policy.

oviet planners might see some utility in deploying MRBMs and IRBMs to Cuba in order to supplement the limited number of ICBMs now believed to be operational In the USSR and to reach targets beyond the range of submarine-launched miss ties. Cuban-based MRBMsange. could reach targets as far north as Philadelphia and Cleveland and as far west as Oklahoma City;. IRBMs could reach all USexcept some points in the Pacific North-nest All of these targets can now be covered by ICBMs launched from the USSRRBMs or IRBMs deployed in Cubapermit nuclear blows at an increased number of targets and would increase the total weight of the attack which could be delivered agajnjt the US in the event of general war

establishment on Cuban soil ofstrike capability with suchwouldharp departurepractice, since such weapons havenot been Installed even in SatelliteSerious problems of command andwould arise. There would also havea conspicuously larger number otin Cuba, which, atolitical liability in LatinSovieU might think that the politicalof defying the US by stationingstriking power in so menacing awould beood deal If theyaway with it. However, they wouldestimate that this could notangerous US reaction.

Soviet submarine base ln Cubaof considerable military value to theoperatingubanbe maintained on station off thefor much longer periods than cansustained in operations frombases. orward base wouldSoviet missile and torpedo attackboth conventional and more readily to conductoff the US coast. It is possibleSoviets might seek to establish suchin connection with the provision of to the Cubans. Theythat even when Soviet use becamethe US. with naval bases at HolyGuantanamo. would beoorprotest. In terms of both feasibilitythe establishmentovietbase appears more likely than theof Soviet nuclear-armedto Cuban soil. Even so. theprobably calculate the risk of USas too great for such anthe present time.

lthough the Soviets may see someadvantages in Cubatrategic strike base, the risks would be great and the political

implications would run counter to the kind of policy they are actually pursuing in Latin America. They do not propose to win the region for communism by military conquest They count insteadrocess of poUtical action which willass following for Communist or Communist-allied leaders who would then be capable of replacing existing governments.

IV. LATIN AMERICAN REACTION ANO ITS IMPLICATIONS

uch of the Latin American public will react to the military buildup in Cuba and to evidences of Soviet intent to protect Castro without taking account of the particular weapons involved or of their capabilities and without reading between the lines of Soviet statements. Most of these Latin Americans will consider this intrusion of an extra-continental power toad thing in itself, but at the same time will regard thc problem as one to be met by the US and not theirAny disposition on the part of the Latin American governments to doabout it would depend greatly upon the lead given by the US. and this disposition would tend to fade u* the US failed to come up with feasible courses of action Some Latin Americans, of course, will be quick to note that the Soviets had intruded into theand will infer that the US had failed lo rebuff this intrusion because it lacked the power or the will to do so.

In the Caribbean states there willuch more pronounced tendency thanto interpret the military buildup in Cubairect threat. They are not likely to expect that missiles will be flred at them, but that Soviet weapons and Soviet support will encourage Castro to Intervene in their countries on behalf of radical revolutionists.

Among Latin American governments there are wide differences of opinion as to the role they as individual governments and as members of the OAS should play in thesituation. We estimate the chances are better now than they were at Punta del Este to obtain tho two-thirds majority In the OAS required for sanctions and other steps short of direct military action aimed at Cuba. If it became clear that the Soviets werean offensive base in Cuba most Latingovernments would expect the US toand eliminate it. but many of them would still seek to avoid direct involvement.

In the longer run. if the Castro regime remains securely in power and the Cuban economy Is developed substantially withhelp, the cohesion of the mter-American system will probably weaken further.countries would probably assume anposition like that of Brazil. They would thereby position themselvesloser accommodation with the Soviet Bloc, if and when desired, and would attempt to obtain assistance from both sides, in the manner of India and Indonesia.

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