TABLE OF CONTENTS
. . i
ORGANIZATION. FOR COVERT
ACTION AGAINST THE CASTRO GOVERNMENT , . 1
AND PROCEDURES AT HIGHER
LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT FOR DETERMINATION
OF POLICY GOVERNING THE PROJECT 3
EVOLUTION OF PARAMILITARY CONCEPTS . S
RESULTS OF THE INTERNAL RESISTANCE PROGRAM,
0 to April
DEVELOPMENT OF THE STRIKE FORCE
PREPARATIONS FOR TACTICAL AIR OPERATIONS; . 11
EFFORT OF PARAMILITARY STAFF TO OBTAIN
RESOLUTION OF MAJOR POLICY QUESTIONS
THE PREFERRED PLAN
POSITION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE IN
REGARD TO THE TRINIDAD
REJECTION OF THE TRINIDAD
THE STUDY OF POSSIBLE ALTERNATE LANDING
THE AIR FORCE DEFECTION PLAN
THE DIVERSION PLAN
THE FINAL OPERATIONAL CONCEPT SUBMITTED
TO THE PRESIDENT
TABLE OF CONTENTS (cont'd)
FORCES AVAILABLE FOR THE ZAPATA OPERATION . 25
MAJOR FEATURES OF THE ZAPATA
EXECUTION OF THE
AIR STRIKESpril . 32
THE AMPHIBIOUS/AIRBORNE OPERATION AT
POLICY RESTRICTIONS WHICH LIMITED THE
EFFECTIVENESS OF PARAMILITARY OPERATIONS. 42
ThiB monograph is based upon and primarily consistsemorandum for the Record, entitled "Paramilitary Action Against the Castro Government of Cuba: Recorday 5, prepared by Colonel J. Hawkins,. Marine Corps, who was detailed to the Agency, and as such, served art Chief of the Paramilitary Staff Section of Branchestern Hemisphero Division. In this capacity, he participated in the planning and execution of the ZAPATA Operation, more commonly known as the Bay of Pigs Operation.
Colonel Hawkins' paper records significant information concerning preparation for and execution of paramilitary operations against the Castro Government of Cuba and draws conclusions based upon this experience, which as aand reference document, ho hoped, wouldseful purpose for the future.
Although not written at the request of tho CS Historical Board, this paper meets the basic requirements of apaper and has been included in the Catalog of CS Histories,egment of tho WH Division history.
Executive Secretary' CS Historical Board
Colonel J. Hawkins,. Marine Corps, has furnished in his Memorandum for the Record an account of the preparation for, the planning and execution of the paramilitaryagainst the Castro Government of Cuba The period covered is the latter part of the Eisenhowerand the first six months of President Kennedy's term. Basically, the theme is the paramilitary story and is intended to cover only these facets of the operation. It documents the events leading up to, during and following the Bay of Pigs Operation of
In recounting the facts, policies are reviewed on which the Task Force Headquarters, organized within the Western Hemisphere Division of the Clandestine Services of CIA, based its plan for action. The Task Force contained staff sections for planning and supervision of activities in the intelligence, counterintelligence, propaganda, political, logistical, and paramilitary fields. The need for liaison with the Department of State and the Department of Defense was apparent from the beginning. It had been determined early in the Eisenhower Administration that the highest levels of government would determine policy governing the Cuba project; thus, constant liaison should have been mandatory. CIA was represented on the Specialhich reported to the President,'
and it was to this Group that CIA presented operational matters for policy resolution.
Ho machinery existed for coordinating the project related work of governmental departments and agencies, other than through the Special Group, during: most of the life of the project. There wasormal Task Forcewhich included representation of all departments and agencies which were or should have been concerned,as the CIA, Department of State, Department ol. Information Agoncy, and the Department of Commerce. Instead, the project was the endeavor of CIA in liaison with other departments.
Intelligence information andhad indicated substantial resistance within Cuba to tbs Camlro reglmte. Agents had reported tho developmentidespreadorganization extending from Havana iiuo all the Provinces. Obviously, if tho efforts of these disaffected Cuban leaders, with their followers and other sympathetic individuals in the country had been successful, the effort would have been unnecessary. Realizing that It was not effective, and to circumvent Castro's plan to crush the guerrilla movement, action was begun in0 totrike force, tho paramilitary part of which, for tactical reasons was divided into air and sea force operations.
This strike force would now begin to recruit, organize, equip andarger ground force than the contingency force which was originaliy contemplated. The bulk of the attached paper describesealth of detail the training campy (based in. and in friendly third countries) and support programs necessary for tho ultimate implementation of the operation.
onsidered evaluation of the operation and ln his capacity as Chief of the Paramilitary Staff of Cuba Project, Colonel Hawkins sets forth asorles of conclusions, and presents realistic recommendations for future planning based upon his experiences which were often frustrating. He points outisenchanted fashion, more in sorrow than in anger, that experience indicates that political restrictions upon military measures may result in destroying the effectiveness of such efforts. The end result is political embarrassment coupled with military failure and loss of prestige in the world. If political considerations are such as to prohibit the application of those military steps required to achieve the objective, then such military operations should not be undertaken.
MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD
SUBJECT: Paramilitary Action Against the Castro Government of Cuba; Record of
The purpose of this memorandum issignificant information concerning preparationexecution of paramilitary operations against the Castro
Government of Cuba, and to draw conclusions based upon this experience which, it is hoped, may be useful for the future.
. FOR COVERT ACTIONCASTRO GOVERNMENT.
a. For purposes of thisask forcewas organized within the Western Hemisphere Division of the Clandestine Services of the Central Intelligence Agency. This task force contained staff sections for planning and
/supervision of activities
supervislon of acctvicies In the Intelligence, counter-lntelligenc propaganda, political, logistical and paramilitary fields. The undersigned served as Chief of the Paramilitary Staff Section. The line of command. Headquarters for control of the Cuban operation was from the Director of Central Intelligence, Mr. Allen Dulles, to the Deputy Directorr. Richard M. BLssell, to the Chief, Western Hemisphere Division, Mr. J. C. King, to the Chief of the Task Force, Mr. Jacob D. Esterline.
Task Force Headquarters did not Includeair staff section, although air activity was aand essential requirement throughout theAir Staff, with its headquarterseparateTask Force Headquarters, was responsiblethe Deputy Directorlthough in October,Chief of the Air Section, in addition to his otherplaced under the direction of the Task Force Chiefconcerning the project.
field activities as finally established
A forward operating base at Miami, Florida,atellite communications center for relay of coinounica-tions between Headquarters and the field and facilities in the Florida Keys for launching boat operations to Cuba. Recruiting was handled by the Miami Base.
A base at the former Opa Locks Naval Air Station, which was used for storage of arras and munitions and for originating "black" passenger flights to Guatemala with Cuban recruits.
An infantry training base and an air base in Southwestern Guatemala.
An air and staging base at Puerto Cabezas,
facilities at Eglin Air Force Baseflights to Guatemala and Nicaragua.
training base at Belle Chase NavalNew Orleans (used briefly in March and.
(7) mall maritime training base at Vieques,
Chief of the Task Force did notover field activities, and had authority toconcerning operational matters to the Forwardin Miami only. Cables and other directives to thenormally released at the level of Chief, Westernwhile some directives dealing with majorwere released at the stillel of che(Plans). The Chief of the Air Section wasrelease air operational cables to any field activity, and
in that sense had greater authority than the Task Force Chief, himself.
additional echelon of conmsnd andp^ac^vities in foreign
for. activity within that ccamtry, including in particular, the responsibility for liaison with the host government. Communications personnel and facilities wer<-provided by. Office of Ccramuiications, under the Deputy Directorne of the throe nsjor subdivisions. Headquarters. The Deputy Director (Support) also provided logistical support for the opOY&tfon.
Paramilitary Staff Section of the Tusksubdivisions for intelligence, logistics,internal resistance operations and The table of organizationtaff of
fficers, but the average strength msr ehcuz 2': ofere military. The undersigned, asf this stall section, had no command authority nor authority to release cables or other directives to the field.
a. The Special
(1) During the administration of President Eisenhower, this Group normally neteek to consider matters concerning covert activity in various parts of the
3. ORGANIZATION AND PROCRDURES AT HIGHSR LEVELS OF GOVF.SrareNT FOKIN 0POLICY GOVI-CRNING THE PROJECT.
world. Including Cuba. Principal members of this Group wore che Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Mr. Gray; the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Mr. Douglas; the Director of Central Intelligence, Mr. Dulles; and the Underof State for Political Affairs, Mr. Merchant. The Department of Defense was representedine during the life of the Cuban project by the Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, Mr. Erwin. Other representatives of Departments and Agencies concerned met from time to time with the Group. Mr. Thoma Mann, the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, attended on occasion when Cuba was to be discussed.
It was to this Croup that policy mattersCuban operations were submitted by. forduring the 'previous administration.
In regard to the Cuban project, the Special Group proved tolow and indecisive vehicle for determination of policy. It did not have authority itself to make important policy decisions, nor did itormalized procedure for reaching an agreed Group position on any given question. by one member of the Group could prevent approval of aaction. Proceedings were verbal, and no master record of minutes was kept. Instead, each Department or Agency kept its own minutes as desired, and sometimes there were misunderstandings later as to just what had been said or agreed upon at previous meetings. No written, signed policy directives were everafter Group meetings for guidance of the Cuban project. In fact, throughout the life of the project there were no written policy directives approved at the national level to guide the project other than the original policy paper approved by the President onhich was general in content.
with Department of Defense. The. within the Department of Defense forwas the Office of Special Operationsanuarythatpecial conraittee headed by Brigadier General
D. W. Gray, U. S. Army, was established within the Joint Staff for purpose of liaison. in regard to the Cuba project.
of Governmental Departments No machinery existed for this purpose, otherSpecial Group, during most of the life ofime during the previous administration
Ambassador Wlllauer was appointed by the President to serveoordinator of the Department of State and. There wasormal task force arrangement Includingof all Departments and Agencies which were or should have been concerned, such asepartment of State,of Defense, D. S. Information Agency, and the Department of Commerce. Instead, the projectore or less exclusive endeavorn liaison with other Departments.
d. Policy Determination During the Present Administration. During the present Administration, policy questions concerning the Cuba project were considered directly by the President himself in meetings which normally included, among others, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of Centrol Intelligence, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.
4. EVOLUTION OF PARAMILITARY CONCEPTS.
a. The only approved, written policy governing paramilitary action against Cuba is contained in paragraphf the Policy Paper approved by the President onhis paragraph is quoted as follows:
"d. Preparations have already been made for the development of an adequate paramilitary force outside of Cuba, together with mechanisms for the necessary logistic support of covert military operations on the Island. adre of leaders will be recruited after careful screening and trained as paramilitary instructors. econdumber of paramilitary cadres will be trained at secure locations outside of the U. S. so as to be available for Immediate deployment into Cuba to organize, train and lead resistance forces recruited there both before and after the establishment of one or more active centers of resistance. The creation of this capability willinj. nr. mi of six months and probably closer to eight. In theimited air capability for resupply and for infiltration and cxfiltration already exists. control and can be rather easily expanded if and when the situation required. Within two months it is hoped to parallel thismall air resupply capability under deep coverommercial operation in another country."
b. Early concepts for paramilitary action to implement this approved policy involved:
The recruitment, organization and trainingumber of Cuban paramilitary agent teams. These teams were to Include radio operators and personnel for the development and direction of intelligence, sabotage, propaganda, political and guerrilla activity within the target country.
The introduction of these agent teams into the target country by clandestine or legal means.
The development within the target country, through the medium of agents,arge scale resistance movement, including sabotage, propaganda, political, and guerrilla activity.
The organization and traininguban air transport unit for use in supply overflights and other air operations.
The supply of allltary arms and equipment to guerrilla and other resistance organizations by air drop or maritime delivery.
The organization and traininguban tactical air force equipped6 light bombers.
was undertaken immediately to implementthe above plans. Consideration was also given toofmall infantry0contingency employment in conjunction with other
the period June throughSoviet Bloc poured0 tons of militaryCuba and Castro organized and equipped large forcesand established an effective Communist-stylethe paramilitary staff studied the possibilityan assault force of greater strength than theforce previously planned. It was contemplated that
chis force would be landed in Cuba after effective resistance activity, including active guerrilla forces, had been developed. It should be noted that the guerrilla forces were operating successfully in the Escaiabray "fountains during this period. It was visualized that the landing of the assault force, aftvr widespread resistance activity had been created, would, precipitate general uprisings and widespread defection amour, Castro's armed forces which could contribute materially to his overthrow.
e. The concept for employment oi* Llio fore2 inamphibious/airborne assault was discussed at niti-tiiolSpecial Group during Hovcniber and December. The Group took no definite position on ultimate employment oforce but did not oppose its continued development for possible employment. President Eisenhower was briefed on the concept in late November. representatives. The President indicated that he desired vigorous continuaciur. of all activities then in progress by all Departments concerned.
5. RESULTS OF THSIST/.NCE PROGRAM.0 to
a. Introduction of Paramilitary Asents. Seventy trained paramilitary agents, including nineteen radio operators, were introduced into the target country. Seventeen radio operators succeeded in establishing communication circuits. Headquarters,umber were later captured or lost their equipment.
Supply Operations. These operations weve Ofissions attemptedchieved The Cuban pilots demonstrated early that theyhave the required capabilities for this kind ofrequest for authority to use American contract pilotsmissions was denied by the Special Group,to hire pilots for possible eventual use was granted
Supply Operations. These operationssuccess. Boats plying between Miami andoverons of military arms, explosives.andandexge number of'of the arms delivered were used for partially equipping
an guerrilla force which operatedonsiderable
time in the Escambray Mountains of Las Villas Province. Much of the sabotage activity conducted innd elsewhera was performed with materials supplied in this manner.
of Guerrilla Activity. AgentsCuba succeeded inidespreadextending from Havana into all of thethere was no truly effective guerrillain Cuba except in the Escambray Mountains,ll-equipped guerrilla troops, organized
in bands of from, operated successfully for over six months. . never succeeded inirect radio link with any of these forces, although some- communications with them were accomplished by radio to Havana and thence by courier. . trained coordinator for action in Che Escambray entered Cuba clandestinely and succeeded in reaching the guerrilla area, but he was promptly captured and executed. Other small guerrilla units operated at times in Provinces of Pinar del Rio and Oriente, but they achieved no significant results. Agents reported large numbers of unarmed men in all provinces who were willing to participate in guerrilla activity if armed. The failure to make large-scale delivery of arms to these groups by aerial supplyritical failure in the overall operation.
(1) Sabotage activity during the period0 to1 included the following:
ons of sugar cane destroyedeparate fires.
ther fires, including the burning ofobaccoaperugartores,c^nmunist homes.
ombings, including Ctooxounist Party offices, Havana powertores, railroad terminal, bus terminal, militia barracks, railroad
(d) uisance bombs In
Derailmentrains, destructionicrowave cable and station, and destruction of numerous power transformers.
A commando-type raid launched from the sea against Santiago which put the refinery out of action for about one week.
(2) These sabotage activities had considerable psychological value but accomplished no significant results otherwise.
f. Communist-Style Security Measures. As time went on, the police-state security measures imposed by Castro became increasingly effective, and agencs and other resistance elements were hard pressed to survive. Many were captured, including three of the most important leaders. control. By stationing large numbers of militia and police throughout the country, by imposing curfews, by utilizing block wardens and security check points, and by seizing control of real estate in the cities through the Urban Reform Law, Castro was able to restrict the movements and activities of resistance elementsrippling extent.
6. DEVELOPMENT OF THE STRIKE FORCE.
a. Action was beguno recruit, organize, equip, andarger ground force than thean contingency force originally contemplated. It was planned at that time that this force wouldtrength ofen. As this "Strikes it came to be known, was developed over the ensuing months, many difficulties were encounteredesult of slowness in recruiting, political bickering among Cuban exile groups, lack of adequate training facilities and personnel, uncertainties with regard to whether Guatemala could continue to be usedase, and lack of approved national policy on such questions as to what size force was desired, where and how it was to be trained, and whetherorce was actually ever to be employed. Some of the major problems encountered are described briefly below.
b. Rase for Training.
(1) The base available in Guatemala consistedmall shelf of land on the sideolcano barely large enough for comfortable accommodationen. Camp facilities were non-existent until the Cubans themselves, under American direction, threwew rude wooden buildings. As the population of the camp increased, living conditions became intolerably crowded,erious morale problem among the troops and threatening the health of all. The only approach to the camp wasarrow dirt road which wound its way up the mountainsides. In the dry season, the trip to the camp from the air base at Re ta Ihu leu required about two hours by truck. In the rainy season, the road washed out frequently and became impassable to wheeled vehicles, while the camp itself was literally engulfed in the clouds. In the autumnupplies had to be hauled up the mountain with tractors. There were no areas for infantry maneuver, but weapons could be fired at the camp site. Mortars were set up in the company street and fired over the buildings of the camp into impact areas on adjacent ridges.
(2) It appearedime in0 that even this inadequate base would be lost, as the Department of State advanced the opinion that the presence of these activities in Guatemala would undermine the government of President Ydigoras and perhaps cause his overthrow. While the State Department urged withdrawal from Cuatetnala, it offered no alternative as to where the troops could be relocated. The possibility of using remote, unoccupied military facilities in the United States were raised, but this idea was opposed by the Department of State and was not approved by the Special Group. fhile, consideration was given to moving the troops to fl| t Saipan, but this idea was abandoned on the valid grounds that the project would be delayed and logistical problems magnified. It was finally decided to remain in Guatemala, since this appeared to be the only possible solution.
c. Instructor Personnel. The only qualified instructor personnel available for training at the infantry training base consisted of four CIA civilian employees untilhen two Army officers and one non-commissioned officer from the Project Paramilitary Staff at Headquarters were sent to
Guatemalacop-gap measure pending assigrnoenC of Army Special Forces training teams. These teems had been requested by the Paramilitary Staff onut there uere long delays while policy governing this question was established, and it was1 before thepecial Forces personnel reached Guatemala. It would have been. tc train the Strike Force without the assistance of these Arer/ personnel.
d- Logistical Support for Training. Most of the materials used for support of the infantry training base, including weapons, equipment and training aireuunltion, had to be lifted to Guatemala by air. Thisreat logistical problem, considering the number of aircraft available and distances involved. Shortages of equipment and ammunition sometimes hampered training.
(1) Recruiting in Miami vas very slow until the endesult primarily of politicj1 maneuvering among the members of the Frente Revolucionario Dcmocraticohe political front for the project. Each member of Che FRD desired to accept only recruits loyal to his own political group, and all members of the FRD objected to recruitment of any former Cuban soldier vhoserved during the regime of Batista. Thus, personnel with previous military experience were for the most part denied to out-use. All recruiting stopped for about four wueks during the confusion of an abortive revolution in Guatemala in November. There war. continuing uncercaincy as to whathcr sufficient recruits could ever be obtained totrike Force oi even minimal size until earlyen had been obtained and recruits began arrivingere rapid rateesulC of action taken to break tba Cuban exile political barriers, which were delaying recruitment.
7. PREPARATIONS FOR TACTICAL AIR OPERATIONS.
a. Selection of Aircraft. The decision was reached to use6 light bomber prior to the time when .thejoined the project Alrcra'ft of
b- Tactical Air Base ProbW
this type had been distributed to various "croign countries, including 8one in Latin America, and would, therefore, satisfy the requirement for non-attrlbutability insofar as the United States was concerned. The Navywas consideredime as being superior to6 for project purposes, but these aircraft had not been placed in the hands o: Latin American governments and, therefore, could not meet che non-attributcbilit requirement.
(1) The air base constructed. at Retalhuieu. Guatemala, was at tooistance from0 miles from the central part of the Island) tc serve for tactical air operations6 aircraft. The possibility ofactical air base in Mexico or in the Bahamas was explored with negative results. ime, the President of Mexicoillingness to permit use of the air field at Cozumel for limited staging operations8 hour period. This was, of course, unsatisfactory for project purposes. The British were understandably reluctant to permit use of their territory for origination of tactical air strikes in connectionnited States-supported venture when the United States itself was unwilling to make similar use of its own territory.
(2) In. delegation consulted with President Somoza of Nicaragua, who agreed to assist the project in any feasible way providing he received assurance from proper governmental authority that he would be supported politically by the United States if the question of Nicaraguan participation should ever be brought up for consideration by the Organization of American States or the United Nations. Such assurance was never given to the knowledge of thebut President Somoza nevertheless permitted development and use of Puerto Cabezas as an air and staging base.
(3) The use of facilities in Nicaragua was not looked upon with favor by the Department of State for political reasons, and for some months there was doubt as to whether the base would actually be used. Preparations at the base continued, however, and it was ready for use when the strike operations were launched in
(4) The air base at Puerto Cabezas wasiles of central Cuba, within marginal striking range for6 aircraft.
Pilots. By the end ofircraft were available to the project. Thislater increased to fifteen on recommendation ofStaff. Five6 pilots wereby this time, and six others were in trainingnottate of acceptable proficiency. expressed reservations in writing in Januarythe ability and motivation of the Cubanto accomplish what would be required andof American contract pilots in addition to therecommendation was considered by the Specialauthorized the hiring of American pilots butquestion of their actual employment for later decision.
Crew Training. Adequate U. S. Airwere available early in the life of the6 as well as transport pilots. AboutForce personnel were Involved in the project,duties as training, maintenance, air baseferry work, etc.
8. SEA FORCES.
acquisition of ships and craft forthe amphibious operation proved to be one of theproblems encountered. How this problem wasdescribed briefly in following paragraphs.
Craft. Four LCVP and three LCU,by thewere trained at Little Creek, Virginia, in The Navy moved these craft to Vieques,. operators trained Cuban crews. Utilizing
a landing ship dock, the Navy was to deliver the landingwith vehicles and supplies to the objective areaamphibious
For acquisition of transports'and supplies, two possible courses of action
purchase ships outright andcrews for them, or
an initial experiment with the firstlci's were bought and refittedhip brokerand mixed crews, including american contractkey officers along with cuban crewmen, were placed the use of american personnel in thisapproval of the special group. esult of
the inordinate delays and difficulties experienced in readying these two ships for sea, the idea of acquiring more ships in this manner was abandoned.
way was opened to pursue the secondcontactember of the paramilitary staffeduardouban national who, with hisbrother,hipping company incorporated ingarcia agreed to charter any or all of the six shipshis company for project purposes. five garcia shipschartered foe the operation, including twomotor vessels andon steamships. theof these merchant ships were for the most part cuban mr. garcia made adjustments of all crews,who did not wish to participate in the operationsuspected of being castro sympathizers and replacingcubans recruited in miami. prior tc execution ofeach of these ships was furnished withoats with outboard motors for use ascraft.
two additional ships werethe united fruit company for follow-up deliveryand equipment after the assault phase.
9. effort of paramilitary staff to obtain resolution of major policy
a. by the endhe development of land, sea and air forces for the amphibious/airborne assault had proceeded to an extent which permitted firm planning for conduct of the operation. the paramilitary staff by this time had developed
a concept ln some detail for employment of the force, although the invasion area had not been finally decided upon. Several major questions of national policyorcanc bearing upon the operation were as yet unresolved, however. were:
Uhather the nationaleminent would permit execution of the strike operation.
Whether the national government, if agreeable to the conduct of ths operation, would permit its execution not laterhich was the latest datedesirable by the Paramilitary Staff.
adequate tactical operations would
be permitted in conjunction with thesault.
Whether American contract pilots could be used for tactical and logistical air operations over Cuba.
Whether the base at Puerto Cabezas. Nicaragua, could be used for tactical air operations and staging.
Whether an air base innitedould be used for logistical, flights to Cuba.
b. In an effort to cause resolution of. these questions, the undersigned,orwarded to superior authorityemorandum which outlined the current status of preparations for amphibious/airborne and tactical air operations against Cuba and set forth th^or Dolicy decisions on all of the questions listed stove, opy of this memorandum. It shouldnoted in particular that the undersigned, in this memorandum, recommended:
That the air preparation commence not lateray.
That any move to curtail the number of aircraft to be employed from those available be firmly resisted.
(3) That che operation be abandoned if policy docs not provide for use of adequate air support.
c. None of these policy questions, in the end, was resolved in the manner recommended by the undersigned, except in regard to use of the base at Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.
10. THE PREFERRED PhAN (TRINIDAD).
a. Reasons for Selection of Trinidad as the Preferred landing Area:
xtensive study for four months of the entire littoral of Cuba, including the Isle of Pines, led the Paramilitary Staff to select the Trinidad area of Las Villas Province as by far the best area for purposes of the
amphibious/airborne landing. This area offered the following advantages:
Cood landing beaches with suitable routes of egress from the beach.
An excellent drop zone for parachute troopserrain feature which dominated the town of Trinidad.
Good defensive terrain dominating all approaches into the area.
Excellent possibilities of isolating tho objective area from approach by vehicular traffic. Mountain barriers protected the area from the north and vest. The east flank was protected by an unfordable river with only two access bridges, one highway and one railroad, which could be destroyed by air or parachute demolition teams. The only other approach wasoastal road from the west which crossed several bridges. Destruction of three key bridges could prevent the movement of truck convoys, tanks and artillery into the area.
(c) The areaoot air strip usable6 aircraft (but not6 light bombers)ort facility at Casilda.
The town of Trinidadopulationffering the possibility of immediate expansion of the landing force by volunteers. The people of Trinidad and of the entire area of Las Villas were known to be sympathetic to the anti-Castro guerrilla activity which persisted in the Escambray Mountains for many months.
The objective area was immediately adjacent to the Escambray Mountains, the best guerrilla country in Cuba except for certain mountainous areas in Oriente province of Eastern Cuba. If unable toeachhead, the Landing force would be able to retire to the mountains for guerrilla activity. In these mountains tanks and artillery could not be used against them'.
could be expected from
guerrilla forces, estimateden, which were then operating successfully in the Escambray Mountains.
xpansion of activity in the mountains of Central Cuba offered the possibility of severing the island in the center.
(2) Members of the Joint Staff, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an independent study of Cuba arrived at the same conclusion reached by the Project Paramilitary Staffthat the Trinidad area was the best possible site for landinguban insurgent force.
of the Trinidad Operation. Thethe operation as developed by the Paramilitarys contained in.
of the Plan and of the Force byChiefs of Stall.
(1) eam of officers of the Joint Staff headed by Brigadier General D. W. Gray, U. S. Army, evaluated the complete operation plan for Trinidad during the periodanuary This evaluation resultedavorable assessment of this plan by the Joint Chiefs of
Scaff. Reference (a)eport by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on their evaluation of the plan.
(2) The report mentioned above recommended evaluation of the Invasion forceeam of officers representing the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This was done at the training base in Guatemala in late February and resultedavorable evaluation of the force's combat capabilities. Reference (b) is the Joint Chiefs of Staff report of this evaluation.
d. Major Features of the Plan:
for Landing. The landing plansimultaneous landing at first lightay ofrifle companies ofen eachbeaches southwest of Trinidad and the parachute landing
ompany of equal strength immediately north of Trinidad. The remainder of the force was to land over one of the two beaches in successive trips of landing craft.
Rayal Gunfire. Two LCI each mounting elevenaliber machine guns andm recoilless rifles were to provide naval gunfire support at the beaches.
Tactical Air Operations. The plan providedaximum effort surpriset dawnn ail Cuban military airfields followed by repeated strikes at dusk of the same day and at first lightay against any airfields where offensive aircraft were yet operational. Immediate post strike photography was provided for in tha plan. Tank, artillery, and truck concentrations known to
be at Managua were also to be attackeds were the Havana power plants, in order to deprive the capital of power and interrupt communications. Naval craft in or near the objective area were also to be attacked. each strafeombing, strafing attack on the parachute drop zone were also planned as well as attacks on three key bridges. Armed reconnaissance and all approach roadsD-Day and thereafter was also to be provided. The .first and primary objective of planned air action was to eliminate
complecely all opposing tactical aircraft.
(4) Scheme of Maneuver. The landing force was to seize and defend terrain features east, north and west ol Trinidad dominating all approaches to tho area. If unable to hold the beachhead, the force was to withdraw to the northwest into the Escambray Mountains to continue operationsowerful guerrilla force supplied by air.
11- POSITION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATS INTO T'lJ: TRINIDAD PLAN.
.Secretary of State and the AssistantState for Latin American Affairs consistently opposedPlan on the grounds that the operation would. S. World War II invasion andbeattributable Co the United Stages. Thosethe opinion that execution of the Trinidad Planreactions adverse Co Che Uniced States in Latinin the United Nations, and would possibly causeby the Sino-Soviet Bloc in Laos, Scrlir. or elsewhere.
Mr. Rusk on one occasion stated that tho possibility of air attack by Castro forces against the United States could not be discounted.
Rusk and Assistant Secretaryin particular to che conduct of any tactical Mr. Mann took the position thac there couldtactical air operations unless the CacCicai aircraftbased on Cuban soil. He proposed on onea landing be made in Oriencetaout airthat an airfield be built by the landing force toaircraft, whereupon air operations could co.iunence.
12. REJECTION OF THE TRINIDAD PLAT. After careful consideration of the Trinidad Plan, Che President decided on or about1 that it should not be executed, and directed Chat possible alternative methods of employing che Cuban forces be studied. It was the understanding oi;. officials concerned that any alternate plan produced should have che following characteristics:
a. The landing should be madeore quiet manner, preferably at night, and should not give the appearance
orld War II type amphibious assault. as desired that the operation insofar as possible appear as an uprising from" within Cuba rather than an invasion.
b. It would be necessary to seize an airfield capable of6 operations, to which any tactical air operations conducted could be attributed. No tactical air operations were to be conducted untilield had been seized.
13. THE STUDY OF POSSIBLE ALT SWATS LANDING AREAS.
a. During the periodohe Paramilitary Staff, pursuant to verbal instructions from the Deputy Directoronducted an intensive study of possible alternate areas inanding could be made inay as to satisfy the
limiting requirements mentioned in the preceding paragraph. The entire littoral of Cuba was again examined in the search for an airstrip capable of6 operations, which could be seized and defended by the Cuban assault force. In particular, the Provinces of Oriente, Pinar del Rio, Las Villas and Matanzas were examined, and the Isle of Pines was re-studied. esult of this study, the Paramilitary Staff concluded that the only airstrips in all Cuba capable of6 operations which the Cuban force could have any hope of seizing and holding were the Soplillar fieldew field at Playa Giron, both in the eastern half of the Zapata Peninsula of Central Cuba.
b. In accordance with the instructions of the Deputy Directorhree concepts for possible operations were drawn up. These concepts, which in the short time available for preparation (about three days) could be developed only to the extent ofentative scheme of maneuver on an operations map and preparing brief notes, were based on the following areas:
The Preston area on the north coast of Oriente Province.
The south coast of Las Villas between Trinidad and Cienfuegos.
Eastern Zapata area near Cochinos Bay. .
was recognized by the Paramilitary Stafffirst two concepts mentioned above did not6 airfield, and therefore could notexecuted within established policy parametersentirely without air support. Theadvised higher authority. at this time, as
it had consistently done in the past, that no amphibious operation could be conducted without control of the air and adequate tactical air support.
three concepts were evaluated bygroup from the Joint Staff. Their assessment,by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was that of theevaluated, the Zapata concept was best, but
that none of the three alternatives was as militarily feasible or likely to accomplish the objective as the Trinidad plan. Reference (c) Is the report of this evaluation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
e. The Paramilitary Staff recommended the Zapata Plan to the Deputy Director (Plans) as being the best of the three alternatives, and the only one of these which offered any possibility of conducting tactical air operations within the limits of established policy. The Deputy Director (Plans) was advised, however, that some way would have to be devised to knock out Castro's air force before this or any other landing was attempted.
14. THE AIR FORCE DEFECTION PLAN.
a. In an effort to find some way acceptable to the Department of State and to the President in which air attacks could be conducted for the purpose of destroying the Castro air force, the undersigned with Mr. Bissell and his assistant, Mr. Barnes,lan along che following lines:
(1) Prior6 aircraft painced with Castro air force markings would be flown to Miamiuban who would land soon after dawn and represent himselfefecting pilot of Castro's air force. He would state that he, with cercain companions, hadefection plot, and had attacked other aircraft on the fields from which they had flown.
(2) AC dawn on che day of che6 aircraft would attack: che Chree principal military airfields in Cuba, where all fighters and bombers were believed to be locatedesult of photographic reconnaissance. imitation on numbers of aircraft to be employed was imposed by the Deputy Directorho reasoned that the DeparCmenc of State would notlanarger number of aircraft than could reasonably be attributed to the defection plot. He decided to proposeotal of six aircraft be employed, with two attacking each of three principal fields, Campo Libertad, San Antonio de los Banos, and Santiago. The total number was later raised to eight on recommendation of Che undersigned.
b. IC was believed chac chis actack, followed by dawn attacksay against Chese and all other military
airfields, wouldood chance of destroying all of Castro's operable fighters and bombers, which were believed (correctly) to number no more Chan from fifCeen Co eighteen.
15. THE DIVERSION PLAN.
desirabilicy of conduccing ain an area remote from the main landing had longby the Paramilitary Staff. However,for chis purpose could not be raised, itat the expense of the main landing force which hadreached desired strengch. evelopment in Miamirovided an opportunity tomall Ninouban exile leader in Miami, expressedtomall force composed of his immediateCuba. It was decided to send Diazen toacquired training base at Belle Chase, Newthey could be organized, equipped and given This was done in great haste, and the companyat Belle Chaseeriod of about two weeks prior
to its embarkation for the operation.
were made by Che Forwardin Miamiuban vessel to lift Diaz's group to The plan provided for scaging Diaz chroughAir Scacion ac Key Wesc and loading the forceIsland in the Florida Keys.
C. eachiles east of Guantanaao was selected for the Diaz landing. . paramilitary team with ten menadio operator were operating in this area, and this team was to be instructed to acteception party for Diaz at the beach. This team was in contactan guerrilla group operating in the mountains adjacent to the landing area, and It was planned that Diaz would join forces with this group. Diaz was known toarge political following in Oriente Province.
16. THE FINAL OPERATIONAL CONCEPTO TriSENT.
final concept submitted to the Presidentrovided for:
defection operation, combined withair attacksgainst the three principal military
airfields. No more than two aircraft were to be visible at any one place at one time.
The landing of tlie Diaz group east of Cuantanamo during the night.
The landing of the main force at three- widely separated landing points in Eastern Zapata curing the early morning hoursay. The landing was to be followed by oir attacks on airfields and other military targets at dawnay, by which time the airfield in the objectiveas expected to be In friendly hands. ay air attacks were to be represented, if necessary, as coming from the field seized in Zapata, although plans provided for having only6 aircraft operate from that field, while the remainder of the air force was to continue operations from Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.
President directed that all preparationsoperation, including the staging and embarkation ofcontinue, but that actual execution of the operationsubject to his final decision twenty-four hours before The President also directed that plans bediversion of the ships with troops embarked in the eventshould decide to cancel the operation. Pursuant. planned to divert the ships, if required,Orleans or to Vieques, Puerto Rico, where the force wouldin increments.
17. SUCCESSIVE DELAYSAY.
a. The date originally selected by the Paramilitary Staff for execution of the Trinidad landinghis date was chosen on the basis of the following factors:
Government of Guatemala had expressedto have the Cuban force removed from that country not1 March.
was desired to execute the operation atpossible date in view of the rapid military build-up Great quantities of military equipment, includinganti-aircraft artillery, and tanks, had BeenCuba by the Soviet Bloc, and It was estimated thatunder the tutelage of Bloc advisors, would soonIn the use of this equipment. It was alsoCastro couldet air capability by April,reports were received indicating that cratedhad been delivered, and by1 Cubanto be in Czechoslovakia would have had time totraining.
o) It was desired to land in the Trinidad area before guerrilla forces operating in the adjacent Escambray Mountains could be eliminated by Castro's ever-increasing pressure against them.
(4) The nightarch provided suitable conditions of moonlight to facilitate operations in the transport area in preparation for the landing at dawn.
b. After rejection of the Trinidad Plan, the Paramilitary Staffay for the landing in Zapata. Moon conditions would again be favorable at that time,pril appeared to be the earliest date by which necessary operation and administrative plans could be prepared and other necessary preparations made for the Zapata operation. This date proved to be unacceptable, however, since it coincidedlanned visit to the United States by the Prime Minister of Great Britain. In view of this visit, the President did not
deslre to conduct the operation beforepril. That date was accordingly programmed, although it was made clear to all concerned by the Paramilitary Staff that the lack of adequate moonlight would increase the difficulty of the night landing.ay was again postponed untilpril in order, it was understood, to allow observation of further developments in the Laos situation and in the United Nations with regard to Cuban charges against the United States. The nightpril would be in che new moon phase with no moonlight.
18. FORCES AVAILABLE FOR THE ZAPATA OPERATION.
(1) The Cuban Brigade Included:
Headquarters and Service Company
Heavy Weapons Company
Five Infantry companies
One Airborne Infantry Company
Tank Platoon (These men were trainedighly secure and satisfactory manner at Fort Knox.)
Boat Operator Section
(2) Major Items of equipment included: rowning Automatic Rifles; 0 caliber machine guns; 0 caliber machine guns; m mortars; m mortars; ortars;m recollless rifles; m recoilless rifles; " rockeC
launchers; lamethrowers; anks; on trucks;allon aviation gasoline tanker truck; one tractor crane; one dozer; allon water trailers; on truckson tractors.
Forces. The Cuban Air Force, based atNicaragua, included6 light bombers, tenand6 transports.
Forces. Sea forces included:
LCI, each mounting elevenaliberandra recoilless rifles. (These craft were foras ccmmand and naval gunfire vessels,0 man paramilitary pack in Its hold). Eachtwo high-speed boats.
LCU, each mounting twoaliber machine
LCVP, each0 caliber machine gun.
Seven chartered commercial freighters
*NOTE: Freighters in the assault mounted two to threealiber machine guns. Only four of these ships were to participate in the assault phase. The additional ships were loaded with follow-up supplies for both ground and air forces.
(5) oot Cuban coastal MAJOR FEATURES OF THE ZAPATA PLAN.
a- Staging and Embarkation. The plan provided for airlifting Brigade troops less the airborne company, under cover of darkness, from Guatemala to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, during three successive nights. Upon arrival, troops were to be moved immediately to the Puerto Cabezas dock near the airfield for embarkation before dawn. Supplies were pre-loaded in assault shipping at New Orleans prior to proceeding to Nicaragua.
movement to ehe objective. ships of the task force were to proceed independently over separate tracks in order not to give the appearanceonvoy, and were to arriveendezvous point about forty miles off the cuban coast0 in the afternoon. from this- point they were co proceed in column under cover of darkness to theards off the beach, making rendezvous this point0 with the u. s. navy lsd lifting th'i thrat. pre-ioao'ej 1'ju and four lcvp. one transport, escorted by an lci, wa- co cortinue independently into cochinos bay for landing troops atd of the bay. eception measure, two unitcj. vrust company ships were hired to enter puerto cabezas harbor during thothe assault shipping sailed. the presence of these ships plus the one follow-up garcia vessel lying off t'nc harbor would,as hoped, conceal the fact that the operation ncd been. this deception was apparently successful, for available intelligence indicates that castro was not aware that an invasion force had left nicaragua until after the landing.
plan for landing. the plan provided0pril, at three widely separated beaches
beach. (head of cochinos bay;wo reinforced infantry companies,to land from one transport at this beach, utilizing six
oot and fouroot aluminum craft with outboard motors.
beach (playa giron; center ofiles from red beach). the main body,two infantry companies, the heavy weapons companythe headquarters and service company, tank platoon
and motor transport platoon, were to land here utilizingcvp's and eighteenoot aluminum boats from throe transports. reserveays) were to be unleaded at this beach.
beachanu vf.iles east of blue beach). one reinforced company,men, was to land at this beach fromi utilizing cuethe two launches available in the lct.
demolition team (udt) plan. ubt"to reconnolter and mark each beach with lights prior toof troops.
e- Naval Gunfire. One-LCI, mounting elevenaliber machine guns, fivealiber machine guns andm recoilles-rifles, was to support the landing at Red Beach, while the second similarly armed craft was to support at Blue Beach prior to departing that area for the purpose of landing croops on Creen Beach to the east.
f- Airborne Landing. The airborne company was to land at dawn by paracnute from6 aircraft in five drop zones for the purpose of sealing off the roads crossing the Zapata swamp into the beachhead area from the north.
Scheme of Maneuver.
(1) The beachhead area consistedelt of dry scrub-covered land, about forty miles in length from east to west and from three to six miles in width, separated from the interior of Cubaast swamp impassable to foot troops. The only approaches to the beachhead from the Interior of Cuba consisted of three roads crossing the swamp from the north,oastal road leading to the east flank of the beachhead from Clenfuegos. Movement off the roads in the swamp area was impossible, while the coastal road from the east ledarrow strip of land between the swamp and the sea.
<2) The scheme of maneuver was designed to seize and defend positions dominating the exposed, canalized routes across the swamp and blocking entry into the beachhead at the narrow neck of dry land at the east flank. Outposts beyond the swamp on the three roads leading from the north were to be dropped by parachute.
h. Air Plan.
n , Daw" attacksay were planned against ail airfields revealed by photography to have fighters or bombers still operational after the surprise attacks. Attacks were also to be launched at dawn on naval craft in or near the objective area and against other military targets. 6 aircraft, after completing their attacks, were to land on the airfield near Blue Beach and continue flying interdiction, and
support missions, using ordnance which was to be promptly landed over the beach by an advance aviation party and fuel fromanker to be landed early from an LCU. All available aircraft were to phase back to the beachhead in afternoon sorties for interdiction, close support and other attacks as necessary.
(2) s the target listay extracted from the Zapata plan. Some of these targets were removed from the target list at the last moment in view of the injunction from higher authority that air attacksay would have to be more limited. The targets removed from the list were: Managua Military Base (where tanks and artillery werelaya Baracoa Air Base (used mainly by helicopters andauta International Broadcasting Station; Topes de Collantes Military Base. (Succeeding paragraphs describing the actual operation, will show that none of these attacks planneday were carried outesult of ordexs from higher authority.)
The internal radio communication system of the Brigade was similar to thateinforced United States infantry unit of similar size, but was more extensive in amounts of equipment and number of nets employed. Portable radiosoice range ofiles were used for communication between Brigade Headquarters and the various companies of the Brigade. Nets for tactical and administrative purposes, mortar spotting and air-ground control were provided.
For communication with Headquarters in the United States and the air base In Nicaragua, the Brigade was equipped with two communication trailers which were to be landed from two separate ships. In addition, it was provided with six man-portable setsapable of communication with Headquarters in the United States or Nicaragua. Mechanical cifer equipment
and one-time pads were available for encryption and decryption.
command ship and alternate commandhad direct CW radio links with the United Statesand voice nets for naval command, boat control, and
ship-to-shore liaison and logistical purposes. The Brigade Commander could relay messages to the United States or Nicaragua through either of these ships.
(A) Each troop transport was providedirect radio circuit to the United States and Nicaragua.
The equivalent of two basic loads of ammunition for all units was deck loaded aboard the transports lifting the units concerned. Individuals were to land with three days emergency-type rations and all the ammunition they could carry.
Sevenon trucks, lifted in the three LCU, were pre-loaded with ammunition of all types.
Paramilitary arret packs (arms, field equipment and limited ammunition for outfitting guerrilla forces) wore available in assault shippingCI; ATLAfTICO)en.
days supply of Classes I, III and V
was loaded in the holds of one of the assault ships (RIO ESCONDTDO).
One transport (LAKE CHARLES) with ten days of supply, Classes I, III and V, was scheduled to arrive at the objective area on the morningrom Nicaragua.
A second follow-up ship (ORATAVA) with twenty days supplies. Class I, HI and V, for the landing force, was to be on call in the Caribbean Sea south of Cuba. This ship. In addition to the above,0 bulk rations, medical supplies, aviation gasoline andays aviation ordnance for the entire Cuban air force.
(c) hird follow-up ship (LA PLAYA) with arms aad ammunition0 men, plus vehicles, communication equipment, medical supplies and POL wes alto to be on call south of Cuba.
(3) Air Delivery.
(a) Three days supply of Classes t xilere available at the airfield at Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, for air landing or parachute delivery.
. <b> l'ar*imllitary arms packsavailable for air delivery at three airfields inand Opa
_ W Additional Backup. Arras, equipment and
supplies0 men were positioned by the Defense Department at Anniston.Alabama, as additional backup. Sufficient of the aboveen was prepared for air drop.
(1) Establishmentear medical facility for receipt or casualties evacuated from the objective arearoblem which defied solutionew days before execution ol the operation. Authority could not be obtained for usehe United States. There were no usable facilities atuatemala or Nicaragua, and, ir. any event, che governments of those countries did not wish to have Cuban casualties evacuated there.
of - Finally, it was decided that the Department
ot Defense wouldield hospital at Vieques, Pu-rto Rico to be operational This plan was abandoned, however, and it was agreed in the end that casualties would be- evacuated by air or sea to Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico.
OF THE OPERATION. unaary of the more
significant events of the actual operation is recorded in iollowing paragraphs.
purpose of these strikes was to destroyaircraft, all of which were believed fromto be based at San Antonio, Campo Libertad 6 wore programmed against each of theof these fields and two against the third. ound fragmentation bombs,nchfull ammunition for eightaliber machine guns.
attack was executed at dawn, aspilots reported destruction ofercent ofat Campo5 percent at San Antonio endat Santiago. The readout of photography takenthe strike indicated that pilot reports were optimistic,
onservative estimate was that only aboutercent of Castro's original tactical air force ofo IS serviceable aircraft had been knocked out.
fire fromalibermreported as heavy at Campo Libertad and San Antonio. aircraft was disabled and crashed in the sea north Two other aircraft landed at friendly bases low The aircraft and crews were recovered.
Diaz Croupen was stagedon schedule and proceeded to its objectivemiles east of Cuantanamo in the Cuban coastalANA) chartered for the operation. The Group failedduring the nightpril as planned,that difficulty had been encountered in findingand the reconnaissance boat and two rubber landingbeen lost.
to launching the Diaz operation, theand several other members of the. teamto meet Diaz at the beach were wounded in an accidenthand grenade, and Headquarters contact with theparty was
learning of Diaz's failure to land.ordered him to land on the following night, butfailed to do soumber of excuses. The undersigned
decided ac this time that the real reason for not Landingailure of leadership, and it was believed that Diaz would never land as ordered. Accordingly, he was instructed to proceed to Zapata where he was to join the main force. Diaz did not immediately comply with these sailing instructions, but eventually reached the Zapata area too late for the operation.
d. This abortive effort illustrated one truth in regard to the entire operationthe forces involved were composed of volunteer foreign nationals, all based, with the exception of Diaz's group, ln countries outside the United States, and consequently the United States exercised no legal authority over them. All the Cuban forces except Diaz's, however, voluntarily complied with all instructions issued. Headquarters.
AMPHIBIOUS/AIRBORNE OPERATION AT ZAPATA. a* Embarkation and Movement to the Objective.
operations were smoothlyto plan. (See) The shipsat the planned place and time and made0 with the Navy LSD carrying the three LCU
and four LCVP,ards off Blue Beach (Playahe transport HOUSTON, led by the radar-equipped LCI BARBARA J, proceeded onward into Cochinos Bay enroute to Red Beach.
Is no evidence to indicate thatGovernment was aware of the approach of this forcelanding was commenced.
b. Cancellation of the Air Attacks Against Cuban Military Airfields and Other Targets Planneday. (See
(1) At5 on the night ofas Informed at the Command Post by Mr. Esterline, the Project Chief, that these attacks had been cancelled by order of the President on recommendation of the Department of State. Upon hearingmmediately telephoned Mr. Bissell, the':Deputy Directorho was at the Department of State, and
urgcd In the strongest terns that the President be immediately
requested to reconsider this decision and that the possible
disastrous consequences of cancellingCtncks be
explained to hira. ffered the predictionthis Lime that
shipping, vith the essential supplies on board, would be
sunk, possibly to the last ship, on the iolJoi*ing day, since
it was known that Castro stillangerous fighter
and bomber capability. tated also at this time that if the
decision to cancel the air attacks had been
the Commandew hoursould have strongly
urged that the shipping be withdrawn without attempting to
land the troops. But as it was, the ships were already closely
approaching the transport area off the beaches, and by the time
a message could reach them, the landing operations would be underway.
Mr. Bissell, and General Cabell, the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, conferred with Secretary of State Rusk about the matter, but did not sec the President. It is my understanding that Secretary Rusk, after talking with General Cabell and Mr. Bissell, telephoned the President and recommended that the decision to cancel the air attacks remain unchanged. The President accepted this recommendation.
After it was learned at the Command Post that the decision had not beenessage was sent to the task force9 warning that Castro's air force
had not been destroyed. The task force was ordered to expedite unloading during the night and to sail all transports, except the RIO ESCONDIDO, to the south at best speed. The RIO liSCONDIDO was to remain at Blue Beach to continue unloading its vital reserve supplies under protection of the guns of the two LCI,nd BLAGAR.
c. ay Operations at Bluepril).
(1) UDT Reconnaissance. econnaissance boat with UDT personnel and. operations officer from the Command Ship BLAGAR, Mr. Lynch, landed at Blue Beach shortly after midnight and marked the beach with lights. oral' reef
about one-foot beneath the surface was discoveredyards off the beach. Members of the UDT teamto fireeep which approached theirtrucks promptly arrived carrying troops whoa fire fight with Lynch and his party. Lynch calledsupport from the BLAGAR, which closedardsall opposition from the beach in ten minutes ofthen called for troops to
(2) Landing of Troops.
(a) Troops commenced landing0 There was no opposition in the immediate beach area, but about one hundred militia were encountered in the town of Playa Giron immediately inland. Seventy of these
captured, and the remainder fled leaving their weapons oenmd. Troops continued to land without serious opposition.
- <b) Achannel through the
.. Eaemy AiT Attacks. Enemy air attacks
$ uVacIOn COVCCnd continued all day. ea3 aircraft participated in
the attacks with no more than two aircraf^appearing attime during the day. The BLAGAR shot dcwS one Seain one of these killsriendly*
(*) In view of the enemy air attacks, the Brigade Commander decided to land troops scheduled for Green Beach with the main body at Blue Beach, thus avoiding the danger of loss at sea. Byll troops, vehicles ana tanks were ashore at Blue Beach.
r Loss of RIO ESCONDIDO. This ship, with
ten days reserve supplies on board was sunk by enemy air attack All crew members were rescued.
(6) Enemy air attacks against the ships :'*ontinued as they withdrew to the south.
d. Operations ac Red Beach.
Reconnaissance. Mr. Robertson, theofficer with the LCI BARBARA J,DT team toshortly0 onpril and narked the beach. party silenced enemy automatic weapons firethe left flank.
Landing of Troops. Troops commenced landing without opposition, but encountered fifty militia immediately inland, forty ot whom were captured. Several trucks which approached the beach within the first half hour were successfully attacked and driven off by gunfire from the BARBARA J. Captured militiamen offered to fight against Castro.
Loss of the HOUSTON. The HOUSTON was hit by rockets from enemy aircraftnd beached on the west side of Cochinos Bay. One infantry company, less its weapons platoon, was still on board. These men, with the ship's crew, went ashore but never reached the Red Beach area.
One6 was shot down by machine gun fire from the UDT boat.
Combat Action. Atilitia attacked the Red Beach force from the north and were driven off with heavy casualties. Tanks accompanying this -rorce were either destroyed or stopped by friendly aircraft. ank and two ammunition trucks arrived from Blue Beach in time for action against the next attack0
by anilitia. These troops, who arrived in open trucks and semi-trailers, vere ambushed by the Red Beach force, employing them recoilless' rocket launchers, machine guns, and other available weapons. Enemy troops were caught by this fire before they could dismount, and friendly survivors have estimated that fifcy percent of these enemy troops were killed or wounded. The next attack came in the evening and lasted all night. Five enemy tanks were knocked out by the Red Beach force during the night.
as strafed by anFury during the day, and two enginee were disabled.
A near miss with rockets opened her scams slightly and she began taking water.
Retirement to Blue Beach. On the morning ofhe Redrce, being almost out of ammunition, retired in good order to Blue Beach, utilizing captured trucks, and took up positions in the Blue Beach perimeter. They were not pressed by the enemy during this retirement.
Cooperation of Civilians. Forty civilians in the Red Beach area volunteered to assist the invasion force and were employed as truck drivers and laborers.
e. Airborne Landing. The airborne coopany landed
in all but one of five schedulednes Light resistance was encountered. Little is known of further actions by the airborne company, except that th? force which leaded north of Blue Beach held positions successfully, the iinal day of the operation.
Continued Action at Blue Beach
Air Supply. During tho nightpril4 drop of ammunition was madedand4 drops at Blue Beach. 4 drops were auJe at Blue Beach during the following night, but only two were received.
Combat Action. Reports have indicated that the Blue Beach area was quiet during the morning of DM, but the enemy attacked from west, north and east In the afternoon, employing tanks, artillery, and aircraft. The battle continued throughout the nightpril.
Attempt to Land Supplies. Orders ware issued from Headquarters for ammunition and supplies to be offloaded from the transports CARIBS and ATLANTICC into the three LCU which were to be escorted to the beach during the nightpril. The LCU's were not able to rendezvous with these transports until the evening ofpril. Thewere loaded and the run to the beach was coni.icnc;d, but
r-oorted that due Co Che slow speed of che LCU's, che crate
ouL, and it wasertainty to
^ tnstrutttons Lr'atr supply during the niSht wore 1SSued to che air base In Nicaragua.
Attempt. essage was sentBrigade Commander onpril scaCing Chac ships andcrate
troops, but the convoy reversed course upon learning that the beachhead had fallen.
Davpril). Theto press Blue Beach from three aides vachand artillery during the day. Inorning attach was launched to the west along the coa"al
g. simnary of Friendly Air Action.
(a) 6 were phased over the beachhead for close supportdiccionThese aircrafC attacked ground targets,scort
the remaining four landed at other friendly bases. Some of these^our aircraft, and all the crews, were returnedase late the next day.
(b) Four6 arrived ac Nicaragua from che United Staces that night. During the night,6 were launched against the San Antonio airfielday photography had revealed the opposing aircraft were based. This mission was unsuccessful due to haze and poor visibility.
Five aircraft flew missions over the beachhead during the morning and attacked ground targets.
In theighly successful attack was launched by six aircraft (two flown by Americans)mile-long truck and tank column approaching Blue
Beach from the west. Several tanks and about twenty large troop-laden lorries were destroyed by napalm, bombs, rockets and machine gun fire. (It is noteworthy that an enemy report intercepted on this date indicated that he had alreadyasualties, mostly irom air attack.)
This column was attacked again during the night by
Four additional new aircraft reached the base in Nicaragua during the night.
(a) Five aircraft (four with American crews) were sent in early morning sorties over the beachhead. Three, including two piloted by Americans, were shot downs. Additional sorties were flown during the morning as aircraft could be readied.
(4) It is estimated that only three3 and two Sea Furies were left in actionay. These fighters were sufficient, however, to keep almost continuous cover over the beachhead, making it almost suicidal to attempt operations in the area6 aircraft, which were virtually helpless against fighter attack.
(5) tc seems reasonable to conclude that the attacks on military airfields originally programmed0ay, but which had to be cancelled, would have had an excellent chance of eliminating Castro's offensive air capability or of reducing it to ineffectiveness. If this had been done,6 operations could have been maintained over the beachhead area and the approaches thereto continuously during the day, and ships could have unloaded the supplies needed to sustain the Brigade This could have turned the tide of battle, since Castro's road-bound truck columns proved highly vulnerable when6 were able to locate them, and the Brigade, itself was not defeated until its ammunition supplies were exhausted.
RgSCUE OPERATIONS. Mr. Robertson and Mr. Lynch, with five Cuban UDT men, operated from United States destroyers for several days after collapse of the beachhead and rescued twentv-six survivors from che coastal area west of Cochinos Bay.
25. INTELLIGENCE FACTORS.
a The ultimate success of strike operations against Cuba in causing the overthrow of Castro depended upon the precipitation by these operations of large-scale uprisings among the people of Cuba and widespread revolt within the ranks Oi.rmed forces. The invasion force was never intended to overthrow Castro by itself, and no representations were ever made by the Central intelligence Agency that the force hadotential.
b There was much evidence from available intelligence sources, including agent reports and debriefing of persons recently coming out of Cuba, to indicate that the country was rioe for revolt. An analysis of actual and potential anti-Castro resistance in Cuba made by the Paramilitary Staff in1 is contained in. After this was written, reliable intelligence was received indicating that the entire Cuban Navy wasevolt, which was to take place at about the some time as the planned invasion.
u .C" 0 low esclraa" by the Paramilitary Staff of the fighting qualities and potential of Castro's militia -was
based upon accurate knowledge of militia performance against guerrilla forces in the Escambray Mountainseriod of six months. Some of the guerrilla leaders from the Escambray were exfiltrated and debriefed by the Central Intelligence Agency after resistance in these mountains collapsed, There can be no question of the fact that tha militia pcrforr*ed very poorly in the Escambray, and demonstrated low incrule,f efficiencyarked reluctance to close in derisive ccrabau even with small, poorly armed guerrilla forces. The guerrilla forces in the Escambray were reduced bychf food supplies, and not by direct combat.
d. The military proficiency demonstrated by Ehv militia at Zapata indicated that great progress had been made in integrating Bloc equipment and in the training of Castro's hard-core Communist followers during the early iwnths There was also reason to suspect chui militia operations were being directed by European militory personnel. The tactics employed were Communist-style, and enemy voice transmissionstrange tongue, not Spanisr, were intercepted by the Brigade. Intelligence indicates that these 'elite7 militia forces suffered extremely heavy casualties during the three days of fighting, and they were uot able tothe Brigade until the latterut of MmmlSiouesult of our inability to supply the force against the opposition of Castro's five remaining fighter aircraft. It would seem reasonable to conclude that if the Castro Air Force had been eliminated at the beginning so that uninterrupted unloauLng of supplies could proceed ot the beach and,6 aircrfci't could operate effectively, the Brigade wouldhad an excellent chance of breaking the hard-core mi.litic, which obviously was what Castro used in the battle. :asue!riet, Ln the number being experienced by the militia (estimated) could not hove been sustained moraore days without collapse. The breaking of the hard-core miliLia would probably have been the signal for revolt of theel Army and remaining elements of tho militia, who were known to be of dubious loyalty to Castro. In this re&ard, it Is significant thatilitia prisoners captured byif;ode offered to fight against Castro, and the majority oi able-bodied male civilians in the invasion area did likewise. It Is also
significant that no known Rebel Army units parcicipated in the battle, indicating Castro's lack of faith iu cheir loyalty. It is also significant that Castro's Navy Md nothing of importance against the invasion force.
e. The theory that uprisings and revolt would be triggered did not receive an adequate test in the operation. Agents throughout Cuba were warned shortly before the invasion to make all preparations for action, but the exact invasion area and timing could not be revealed to them in view of the known propensity of all Cubans to tell secrets. There wasossibility that one or more agents would, unknown to us, be doubled (controlled by the enemy). It would not be reasonable to expect revolts to developeriod of two or three days which turned out to be the extent of life of the invasion force, nor could revolt be expected until the invasion force had demonstrated that itood chance of enduring on Cuban soil. There is conclusive evidence that Castro feared revolt in the fact that he promptly0 persons throughout Cuba. . agent reporteden had requested arms from him immediately after the invasion took place, but the invasion did not last long enough to permit supply of arms.
26- POLICY RESTRICTIONS WHICH LIMITED THEPARAMILITARY
a. The most significant policy restrictions which hampered the preparation for and conduct of effectiveoperations are listed below.
(*) The restriction prohibiting use of bases in the United States for training paramilitary forces. (Adequate training base could not be obtained in other countries.)
(2) The restriction prohibiting use of an air base in the United States for logistical ovcrllifihts in support of guerrilla forces and of the strike force when landed. (The Guatemalan base was the only base available for several months, until Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, was put into use shortly before
the invasion in Both were too distant from the target for effective, large-scale logistical flights with the aircraft available. Missions could have been tar more efficiently flown and supported from the United States, with fewer logistical problems, and possibly with less publicity than that which resulted from Guatemalan operations.)
restriction prohibiting use ofpilots lor aerial supply of guerrilla forces. demonstrated at an early date their inability tomissions. American pilots, on the other hand,their ability in this field in many areas ofariety of indigenous forces. The failureguerrilla organizationsritical failure inoperation.)
restriction prohibiting use of athe United States for tactical air operations in supportamphibious landing. (About nine hours were6econd mission over the targetand pilots were physically unable to fly moremission per day. In the actual operation, numerousforced to land in the United States or Britishto fuel shortage, and were out of action during the ase in Florida, the number of sortieshave been doubled or tripled, and fighter aircraftbeen used to protect the bombers. Location of basescountries also complicated security andand increased the likelihood that use of thebe denied soon after commencement of operations.)
(5) The restriction prohibiting use of American controct pilots for tactical air operations. (Authority was granted to hire American pilots, but not to use them. Some American pilots were thrown into the amphibious operation during the second and third days as an emergency measure. Use of adequate numbers of highly skilled, combat-experienced American pilots in the initial air operations could have spelled the difference between success and failure.)
restriction preventing use oi:tactical aircraft than6 bomber.
restrictions preventing theof the tactical air power avai iable. plan presented by the Paramilitary Stafffull-scale air attacks by all available aircraftairfields, as well as against tank, artilleryparks, commencing ac dawnnd involvingeffort at dusk and continuation of full-scaleD-Day and thereafter. Pressure by che Department ofche use of tactical air resulted in the wateringthis plan. See2 Theas made against three airfields only, andof the fifteen available bombers were permitted
(An initial full-scale raid by all fifteen of the available bombers would certainly haveuch greater destructive effect than the raid by eight aircraft, and might have eliminated Castro's tactical air force ac one blow.
(Restrictions on the employment of napalm also reduced the effectiveness of operations. Use of this weapon against concentrated aircraft, tanks, artillery, and trucks clearly visible in up-to-date aerial photographs could haveecisive factor. For example, one photographoncentrated tank park withanksruck parkrucks. Napalm could hove eliminated these, as well as other tank, truck, and artillery parks revealed by other available photography. By limiting the number of aircraft in the initial surprise strike, and leaving these important targets untouched, Castro was given the opporcunity to disperse these concentrations.
(Cancellations at the last moment, while the troops were already off the beaches preparing to land, of the air attacks planned0ay against Castro's remaining tactical aircraft, doomed the operation to failure. See.
(Restrictions which prevented the full application of available alrpower in accordance with sound
tactical principles rouse be regarded as primarily responsible for failure- of the amphibious operation.)
b. The DeparCmenC of Staec was che principal advocate of the restrictions listed above. The rationale of these self-imposed restrictions rested upon what proved to be an unrealistic requirement, impossible of fulfillment under the circumstances, to conduct operations inay as to be non-attributable, to the United States, or, at least, plausibly deniable. In the interest of non-attributability, the requirement for operational effectiveness was so completely subordinated that che end resultoo little, toond the United States had to bear publicly the responsibilityailure rather than the responsibilityuccess. The price paid by the United States in terms of public clamor by our enemies was high enough to have covered the cost of additional measures that could have been taken to ensure success. It seemed to this writer through the many months of chis efforc, thae the United States was trying toery important objectiveery snail cost to itself, while it would have been in ehe national interest to act more boldly end openly and accept more risks as might be necessary co ensure that every needed measure would be taken to win the objective, which had to be won, and still must be won, and soon, if all Latin America is not to be lost to Communism.
27. CONCLUSIONS. The following conclusions arc based upon my experiences of the past eight months ks Chief of the Paramilitary Staff of che Central Intelligence Agency Cuba Project:
a. The Government and the people of the United States are not yet psychologically conditioned to participate in the cold war with resort to the harsh, rigorous, -nd often dangerous and painful measures which must bs caken in order to win. Our history and tradition have conditioned us for all-out war or ail-out peace, and the resort tb war-like measures in any situation short of all-ouc war is repugnant to the American mentality. In order to win the cold war, this inhibition must be overcome.
a cold war paramilitary operation,'there is
a basic conflict of interest between considerations of military effectiveness on the one hand and political considerations on the other. Since in the cold war national survival does not seem to be immediately at issue (although this writer would deem that itolitical considerations tend to dominate, with the result that military measures are progressively restricted and subordinated. Experiences of the past few years indicate that political restrictions on military measures may result in destroying the effectiveness of the latter, and Che end result is political embarassment coupled with military failure and loss of prestige in the world.
operations cannotation-card basis. Therefore, if political
considerations .arc sucli as to prohibit the application of all military measures required to achieve the objective, then military operations should not be undertaken.
officials of the Government shouldCo prescribe the tactics of military or
an effort of the kind made againstpolicy guidance, in writing, is required fromlevel. ational plan should be written atsetting forth the responsibilities and tasks ofand Agency concerned. An organization mustfor directing and coordinating the actions byand Agencies in the economic, political,military fields.
pursuing an operation of the kindCuba, governmental machinery must be establisheddecisive resolution of policy questions as they arise.
operations of any appreciablebe conductedompletely covert basis, andfor non-attributability introducesin the accomplishment of what would otherwise
be simple tasks. Since paramilitary operations on an^increasing
scale will probably be required as we face years of cold war in the future, the United States should be prepared to operate more boldly and overtly in this field, as do our enemies of the Sino-Soviet Bloc.
g. The Central Intelligence Agency docs not have required organization, equipment, procedures, bases, facilities nor staff for the planning and conduct of paramilitary operations It cannot conduct such operations without relying heavily upon the Department of Defense for personnel, equipment, supplies, facilities, and other support.
1. Primary responsibility for all paramilitary matters, including the organization, equipping, training, operational employment and support of indigenous guerrilla forces, should be assigned to the Department oi Defense, which has vast human and material resources and proper organization and procedures for accomplishment of these functions.
j. All military operations of any kind, including thosearamilitary nature, should be under the direction and control of the Unified Commander in whose area the operations are to take place. It would be advisable topecial task force within the Unified Command, withfrom Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force,. as required, for conduct of paramilitary operations.
k. Within the Department of Defense, the responsibility for ground paramilitary matters should be assigned to the Army Special Forces, since these forces are especially trained and organized for such missions.
1. It would be advisable for all members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to attend meetings with the President and Cabinet Officers at which any military matters are to be discussed. It cannot be expected that any single military officer can advise adequately on all the technical aspects of air, sea, and ground warfare. The Cuban operation waseaborne invasion. Such operationspecialty of the Navy and Marine Corps. Therefore, the Chief
of Naval Operations and tho Commandant of the Marine Corps, if present at ail meetings, would have been able to contribute invaluable advice at the proper time.
m. ommunist-style police state is now firmly entrenched in Cuba, which will not be overthrown by means short of overt application of elements of United States military power. Further efforts to develop armed internal resistance, or to organize Cuban exile forces, should not be made except in connectionlanned overt intervention by United States forces.
J. HAWKINS Colonel, U. S. Marine Corps
JCS to Secrrtar of Defonse; Subject: Military Evaluation of. Paramilitary Plan, Cuba.
JCS1 of arch to Secretary of Defense; Subject: Evaluation. Cuban Volunteer Task Force.
(c) JCS1 of to Secretary of Defense; Suoject: Evaluation of Military Aspects of Alternate Concepts. Paramilitary Plan, Cuba.
NOTE: Above references arc not available for
attachment to this paper. If tJio reader desires to read these attachments, approval must utf obtained from the following:
Colonel U. R. Olson, USMC
Executive Officer, SACSA
of Colonel Hawkins Memo1 to Chief,ubject: Policy Decisions Requested for Conduct of Strike Operations Against Cuba
TRINIDAD (Concept of Operation)
Target List) toTactical Air Support) to Operation Plan, ZAPATA
Anti-Castro Resistance in Cuba: Actual and Potential, dated1
"Cuba: The Record Setharles J. V. Murphy, Fortune Magazine,?
Policy Decisions Required for Conduct of Strike Operations Against Government of Cuba
The purpose of this memorandum la to outline the current status of our preparations for the conduct ofand tactical air operations against the Government of Cuba and to set forth certain requirements for
policy decisions which must be reached and implemented if these operations are to be carried out.
asis for the policy requirements to bebelow, it would appear appropriate to review briefly the concept of the strike operations contemplated and outline the objectives which these operations are designed to accomplish.
The concept envisages the seizuremall lodgement on Cuban soil by an all-Cuban amphibious/airborne force ofen. The landings in Cuba will be precededactical air preparation, beginning at dawnay. The primary purpose of the air preparation will be to destroy or neutralize all Cuban military aircraft and naval vesselsa threat to the invasion force. When this task is accomplished, attacks will then be directed against other military targets, including artillery parks, tank parka,vehicles, supply dumps, etc. Close air support will be provided to the invasion forceay and thereafter as long as the force is engaged in combat. The primary targets during this time will be opposing military formations in the field. Particular efforts will be made to interdict opposing troop movements against the lodgement.
The Initial mission of the invasion force will be to seize andmall area, which under ideal conditions will include an airfield and access to the sea for logistic support. Plans must provide, however, for the eventuality that the force will be drivenight defensive formation which will preclude supply by sea or control of an airfield. Under such circumstances supply would have to be provided entirely by air drop. The primary objective of the force will be to survive and maintain its integrity on Cuban soil. There will be no early attempt to break out of the lodgement for furtheroperations unless and until thereeneral uprising against the Castro regime or overt military intervention by United States forces has taken place.
It is expected that these operations willeneral uprising throughout Cuba and cause the revolt of large segments of the Cuban Army and Militia. The lodgement, it is hoped, will serveallying point for the thousands who are ready for overt resistance to Castro but who hesitate to act until they can feel some assurances of success. eneral revolt in Cuba, if one is successfully triggered by our operations,nuy serve to topple the Castro regimeeriod of weeks.
If matters do not eventuate as predicted above, the lodgement established by our force can be used as tho site for establishmentrovisional government which can beby the United States, and hopefully by other American states, and given overt military assistance. The way will then be paved for United States military intervention aimed atof Cuba, and this will result io the prompt overthrow of the Castro Government.
While this paper Is directed to the subject of strike operations, it should not be presumed that other paramilitary programs will be suspended or abandoned. These are being intensified and accelerated. They include the supply by air and sea of guerrilla elements In Cuba, the conduct of sabotagethe introduction of specially trained paramilitary teams, and the expansion of our agent networks throughout the island.
3. Status of Forces:
a. Air. The Project tactical air force includes6 aircraft currently based In Guatemala and at Eglin Air Force Baae. However, there are only five6 pilots
available at this time who are considered to betechnical competence. Six additional Cuban pilots are available, but their proficiency Is questionable.
It is planned that4 andill be available for strike operations. Here again, the number of qualified Cuban crews ls insufficient. There is one4 crew on hand at thlo time, and6 crews.
Aviation ordnance for conduct of strike operations is yet to be positioned at the strike base in Nicaragua. Necessary construction and repairs at this base are now scheduled to commence, and there appears to be no obstacle .to placing this facilitytate of readiness in time for operations as planned.
The number of qualified6 crews available is inadequate for conduct of strike operations.
The number of qualified Cuban transport crews is grossly Inadequate for supply operations which will be required tn support of the invasion force and other friendly forces which are expected to join or operate in conjunction with It in many parts of Cuba. It ls anticipated that multiple sorties will be requiredaily basis.
b. Maritime. Amphibious craft for the operation, including three LCU's and four LCVP's arc now atuerto Rico, where Cuban crew training is progressing These craft with their crews will soon be ready for operations.
Theow enroute to the United States from Puerto Rico, requires repairs which may take up to two weeks for completion. Its sister ship, the BLAGAR, Isin Miami, and Its crew is being assembled. It is expected that both vessels will be fully operational by mid-January at the latest.
In view of the difficulty and delay encountered in purchasing, outfitting and readying for sea the two LCl',s, the decision has been reached to purchase no more major vessels,
but to charter thera Instead. The motor ship, RIO ESCONDIDO (converted LOT) will be chartered this week and one additional steam ship, somewhat larger, will be chartered early In February. Both ships belonganamanian Corporation controlled by the GARCIA family of Cuba, who arc actively cooperating with this Project. These two ships will provide sufficient lift for troops and supplies in the Invasion operation.
Maritime assets required will be available in ample time for strike operations in late February,
c. Ground. There areuban personnel now in training in Guatemala. Results being achieved In the FRD recruiting drive now underway in Miami indicate that extraordinary measures may be required if the ranks of the Assault Brigade are to be filled to Its planned strengthy mid-January. Special recruiting teams comprised of members of the Assault Brigade are being brought to Miami to assist in recruiting efforts in that city and possibly in other countries, notably Mexico and Venezuela. All recruits should be available by mid-January to allow at least four to six weeks of training prior to commitment.
The Assault Brigade has been formed into its basic organizationuadrangular infantry battalion, including four rifle companies,eapons company). Training is proceeding to the extent possible with the limited number of militaryavailable. This force cannot be adequately trained for combat unless additional military trainers are provided.
It is probable that the Assault Brigade can reach Its planned strengthrior to commitment, but it is possible that upwardsf these men will be recruited too late for adequate training.
Unless U. S. Army Special Forces training teams
as requested are sent promptly to Guatemala, the Assault Brigade cannot be readied for combat by late February as planned and desired.
Assault Brigade should not be committeduntil it has received at least four and preferably six
weeks of training under supervision of the u. S. Army teams. This means that the latter half of February is the earliest satisfactory time for the strike operation.
4- Major Policy Questions Requiring Resolution:
In order that planning and preparation for the strike operation may proceed in an orderly manner and correctionlng of hundreds of tons of supplies and equipment can beumber of firm decisions concerning major questions of policy are required. These are discussed below.
discussion. The question of whether the incoming administration of President-elect Kennedy will concur in the conduct of the strike operations outlined above needs to be resolved at the earliest possible time. If these operations arc not to be conducted, then preparations for them should cease forthwith in order to avoid the needless waste of great human effort and many millions of dollars. Recruitment of additional Cuban personnel should be stopped, for every new recruit who Is not employed in operations as intended presents an additional problem of eventual disposition.
Recommendation. That the Director of Central Intelligence attempt to determine the position of the President-Elect and his Secretary of State-Designate in regard to this question as soon as possible.
of the Operation.
If Army Special Forcee training teams are made available and dispatched to Guatemala by mid-January, the Assault Brigade can achieve acceptable readiness for combat during the latter half of All other required preparations can be made by that same time. The operation should be launched during this period. Any delayould bo inadvisable for the following reasons:
(1) It is doubtful that Cuban forces can be
tained at our Guatemalan training baseressure upon the Government of Guatemala may become unroanageable if Cuban ground troops are not removed by that date.
Cuban trainees cannot be held In-training for much longer. Many have been ln the camp for months under moat austere and restrictive conditions. They are becoming restive and if not committed to action soon there will probablyeneral lowering of morale. Large-scale desertions could occur with attendant possibilities of surfacing the entire program.
While the support of the Castro Government by the Cuban populace Is deteriorating rapidly and time Is working in our favor In that sense, it is working toilitary sense. Cuban jet pilots are being being trained in Czechoslovakia and tho appearance of modem radar throughout Cubatrong possibility that Castro may soon have an all-weather jet intercept capability. His ground forces have received vast quantities of militaryfrom the Bloc countries, including medium and heavy tanks, field artillery, heavy mortars and anti-aircraft artillery. Bloc technicians are training his forces ln the use of this formidable equipment. Undoubtedly, within the near future Castro's hard core of loyal armed forces will achieve technical proficiency in the use of available modern weapons.
(A) Castro is making rapid progress inoa-munist-stylc police state which will be difficult to unseat by any means short of overt intervention by U. S. military forces.
Recommendation. That the strike operation be conducted in the latter half of February, and not later
C Air Strikes.
The question has been raised in some quarters as to whether the amphibious/airborne operation could not be mounted without tactical air preparation or support or with minimum air support. It Is axiomatic in amphibious operations that control of air and sea in the objective area is absolutely required. The Cuban Air Force and naval vessels capable of opposing our landing must be knocked out or neutralized before our amphibious shipping makes its final run into the beach. If this is not done, we will be courting disaster. Also, since our invasion force ls very small In comparison to forces which may be thrown against it, we must compensate for numerical Inferiority by effective tactical air support not only during the lanaing but thereafter as long as the force remains in combat. It is
essential that opposing military targets such as artillery parks, tank parks, supply dumps, military convoys and troops in the field be brought under effective and continuing air attack. Psychological considerations also make such attacks essential. The spectacular aspects of air operations will go far toward producing the uprising in Cuba that we seek.
That the air preparation commence not later than dawnay.
That any move to curtail the number ofto be employed from those available be firmly resisted.
That the operation be abandoned if policy does not provide for use of adequate tactical air support.
d. Use of American Contract Pilots.
The paragraph above outlines the requirement for precise and effective air strikes, while an earlier paragraph points up the shortage of qualified Cuban pilots. It is very questionable that the limited number of6 pilots available to us can produce the desired results unless augmented by highly skillful American contract pilots to serve as section and flight leaders In attacks against the more critical targets. The Cuban pilots are inexperienced in war and of limitedcompetence in navigation and gunnery. There is reason also to suspect that they may lack the motivation to take the stern measures required against targets in their own country. It is considered that the success of the operation willew American6 pilots are employed.
With regard to logistical air operations, the shortage of Cuban crews has already been mentioned. There is no prospect of producing sufficient4 crews to man the4 aircraft to be used in the operation. Our experience to date with the Cuban transport crews has left much to be It is concluded that the only satisfactory solution to the problem of air logistical support of the strike force and other forces joining it will be toumber of American contract crews.
That policy approval be obtained for use of American contract crews for tactical and transport aircraft in augmentation of the inadequate number of Cuban crews available.
*. Use of Puerto Cabezas. Nicaragua.
The airfield at Puerto Cabezas is essential for conduct of the strike operationase is made available in the United States. Our air base in Guatemalailes from centraldistant6 operations and for air supply operations of the magnitude required, using66 aircraft. Puerto Cabezas isiles from centralalthough too distant to be6 and transport operations.
Puerto Cabezas will also serve as the staging area for loading assault troops into transports ouch morethan Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, which is exposed to hostile observation and lacks security. It is planned that troops will be flown in increments from Guatemala to Puerto Cabezas, placed in covered trucks, loaded over the docks at night into amphibious shipping, which will then immediately retire to sea.
The strike operation cannot be conducted unless the Puerto Cabezas air facility is available for our use, or unless an air base In the United States is made available.
That firm policy be obtained for use of Puerto Cabezas as an air strike base and staging area.
Use of U. S. Air Base for Logistical Flights.
An air base in southern Florida would be roughly twice as close to central Cuba as Puerto Cabezas. This means that the logistical capability of our limited number ofaircraft would be almost doubled if operated from Florida rather than Puerto Cabezas. Logistical support of the strike
force io the target would be much more certain andflown from Florida.
There isossibility that once the strike operations commence, conditions would develop which would force us out of the Nicaraguan air base. Without some flexibility of operational capability Including an additional logistical support air base with pre-posittoned supplies in the United States, we could conceivably be confrontedituation wherein the Assault Brigade would be left entirely without logistical air support. Supply by sea cannot be relied upon, for the Brigade may be driven by superior forces from the beach area. ituation could lead to complete defeat of the Brigade and failure of the mission.
It seems obvious that the only real estate which the United States can, without question, continue to employ once the operation commences Is its own soil. Therefore, an air base for logistical support should be provided in the United States. This will offer the possibility of continued, flexible operations. If one or both of our bases in Guatemala and/or Nicaragua are lost to our use.
That policy be established to permit use of an air base in southern Florida (preferably Opa Locka which is now avaQable to us and has storage facilities for supplies) forsupport flights to Cuba.
J, Hawkins Colonel, U. S. Marine Corps Chief,M
TRINIDAD (CONCEPT OP
MISSION. Commencingouray, the Assault Force lands, seizes, occupies, andodgement in the TRINIDAD-CASILDA area In order toase from which further land and air operations can be launched against the Castro government of CUBA.
CONCEPT OF OPERATION.
D-day the Assault Force conducts anlanding in the TRINIDAD area.
ay, sabotage activities are directedand destroying the GOC ground, air end
naval capability throughout CUBA, with
emphasis on air, communications, transportation, armor, artillery and POL. Propaganda activities are intensified in order to obtain active support of the Cuban populace.
actical support aircraft attack majorforce installations In order to destroythe ground and to inflict maximum damage tocontrol and communications facilities. also launched against tank parks, artillerytransportation, and other military targets.
actical deception operationin the LA FE area of PI EAR DEL RIO incause movement of enemy forces away from theIntended actual operations.
prior to andour onsupport aircraft provide air support forForce in landing and seizure ofparticular attention to enemy defensiveand troop formation in the immediate Major rail and highway bridges west andof TRINIDAD and along the coastal roadare bombed in order to isolate the objective Daily armed reconnaissance missions areorder to prevent movement of enemy forces against
f. Commencingour, the Assault Force lands by landing craft (LCVP and LCU) over designated beaches,nd by parachute in designated drop zone^ seizes objectives A, B, and C, and on order of Assault Force Commander, seizesnd F.
seizure of Initial objectives, the Assaultto obtain cooperation, assistance andthe local populace In the TONIDAD-CASILDAInside the City of Trinidad issuch as the hospital in TRINIDAD andfacilities and petroleum supplies at CASILDA
are converted to Brigade use.
consolidation of the lodgement. Assaultoperations with local guerrillacivil leaders in the area making maximumorganize, equip and employ additional forcesthem under command of the Brigade Commander.
seizure and preparation of the airfield attransport aircrafttilize thissupply and evacuation operations.
4. Follow-up logistic support ls provided by air landing, air drop and seaborne meanscheduled basis end In response to call of Brigade Commander. In the event the TRINIDAD area cannot be neld, the Assault Brigade, on order of the Brigade Commander, withdraws to the ESCAMBRAY MOUNTAINS in order to continue resistance operations againsc the Castro government. Support for these operations will be provided by aerial means.
Target List) toTactical Air Support) to Operation Plan (ZAPATA)
1. ay, the following targets will be attacked:
Antonio de los Banos Air)
de Cuba Air Base (Antonio Maceo) )
Baracoa Air Base (near Havana)
Air Base (Jaime Gonzalez) )
craft at or near Cienfuegos Naval Station
craft at or near Batabano Naval Station
Geron Airfield (Isle of Pines) )
de Collantes Military Base.
Julian Airose Marti International AirportAirfield.
Anti-Castro Resintance tn Cuba: Actual and Potential
There are nowersons In Cuba engaged in active resistance against the Castro regime. It is our estimate that a' well-organized, well-armed force, successful inodgement on Cuban soil, would receive the active supportf the1 Cuban populace and would be opposed, at tho maximum, by no moref the people. (Ofhe majority would adopt an attitude of neutrality until such tine as theretrong indication of which side had the better chance of victory.)
While Castro has been able to disperse small groups of poorly-armed insurgents, he has been unable to eliminate them or toeneral increase in resistance activities throughout the island. Las Villas,ctive guerrillas, remains the principal center of resistance, but0ama-guey, and Matanzas are increasingly hostile to the regime. In the past six weeks, insurgent groups have been reported from three points In Oriente, one in Camaguey, and three in Matanzas. In Havana itself there was an attempt to assassinate Ernesto Che Guevara and attacks were madeefinery, several tank trucks, and two large stores. lan is underway in Pinar del Rio for seizure of
a major air base with the assistance of Army and Navy personnel from Castro's own forces. Sabotage Is occurringteadily nounting tempo, with cane fields burning at the rate0 tons per week. At Santiago de Cuba an attack on the refinery was mountedby an agent team within the harbor of Raul Castro's stronghold.
forces which remain loyal to Castro are, for theyounger students. Communists, and those whotakeregime. The latter consists of government officials,have benefitted from the distribution of seized properties,who have received, or believe they will receive,(such as new housing and employment). Castro is opposed
by former property holders, business and professional people, the clergy, students ln Catholic schools, most of thoee persons originally ln his own movement, and, increasingly, by the very classes he professes tohe laborers and the peasants. Reasons for this opposition are many. The increasingly virulent attacks on the Catholic Church areeople 9QX Catholic, even those who are only nominal members. Workers have seen their unions become Instrumentalities for Communist propaganda, and their leaders, including many non-Communist leftists, imprisoned and denounced. All classes are aware of the economic deterioration. There are shortages, not only of luxuries, but of such essentials as soaps, fats, automotive parts, salt, eggs, rice, and beans. The increased numbers of Soviet Bloc and Chinese Communist "advisors" and the regime's uncritical acceptance of the International Comau-nist line have alienated, not only the conservatives, but also the non-Communist left and those intellectuals unwilling to serve as toadiesoreign ideology. The regime's disregard for objective justice and the rule of law, the increase In the arbitrary powers and the arrogance of the Security Services, the drum-head execution of young counter-revolutionaries, have convinced many Cubans that beneath the propaganda myth Castro's regime is little different from that of Batista.
4. General discontent disillusionment, however, are ineffectiveoyal, disciplined armed force. The people are ready toew regime, but they will not enjoy that opportunity if the bulk of Castro's military forces will fight for him. It is our estimate that those forces, If confrontedrained opposition element with modern weaponsnified command, will largely disintegrate. It is significant that most of the leaders of anti-Castro Insurgent groups arc Army officers who once fought with Castro against Batista. The Army has been systematically purged, and most of it is now serving in labor battalions or on routine garrison duty. There Is great resentment in the Army at this down-grading, the subordination to the Mllltla, and the imprisonment of such popular leaders as Huber Matos. The Air Force has lost nearly all cf its better pilots and navigators and does not constitute an effective combat force. All of the few senior Kavy officers and many of the younger ones would welcome an opportunity to desert Castro. We estimateignificant) of the Army would Join an opposition force if given the opportunity, and that the remainder would not fight. The Air Force would Likely defect en masse. This would leave as Castro's chief reliance,the Militia.
5. The Mllltla Is well-armed with Individual weapons (rifles and submachine guns) and is receiving increasingly effectflvo
training. Within It are the "hard-core" cf Castro supporters. Despite this, it Is our estimate that not moreould fight to the end for Castro, and then only if they were united in elements made up of similar die-harda, vhich, except In Havana, they are not. While some of the Killtla joined for the glamourniform, most members became co because they had no other choice. In the Escambray one Anuy commander urged Castro to withdraw all the militia because of their ineffectiveness. And it is significant that when the fighting became more serious in that area, three Army battalions were called io despite the presence0 militia who were opposed by no morensurgents. Reports of heavy militia casualties have spread throughout the Island. Where terrain is favorable and opposition light, the militia can be effective through sheer weight ofgainst Captain Clodomiro Miranda and only thirteen followers, Castrosix battalions. In rough terrain or against determinedthat effectiveness becomes minimal.
6, In summary, it is our estimate that conditions within Cuba arc now favorable for the overthrow of the regime if an effective, well-armed opposition force canodgement on the island, that the active resistance to Castro will increase rapidly froa theigure at least ten times than sizeanding is effected, and that the Castro military forces, faced with such opposition, will notaxiffiun0 effectives. It is our further estimate that even the hard-cere prc-Castro forces will not be effective outside the area of Havana, and that any opposition force that can advance as far aa Havana will accrue to It such defectors from the Castro military as will give it superiority In numbers.
Cuba: The Record Set Straightby. Murphy
Not long ago, at President Kennedy's daily staff meeting, the special assistant for national security affairs, McGeorge Bundy, opened the proceedings by noting, "Sir, we have four natters up for discussion this morning." The President was notestful mood. "Are these problemse asked. "Or are they problems of our own making?" "Aofas Bundy's tactful answer.
The exchangeew and saving humility. Some days after this incident, Kennedy addressed the nation on the subject of Berlin. The ebullience, the air of self-assurance that marked his first months in office had gone. He spoke earnestly to his countrymen but his words were also aimed at Premier Khrushchev, who up to this point had appeared not to be listening. This time Kennedy did get through to Moscow; and any lingering doubt about the American determination to defend Berlin was dispelled by the response of the American people. The President's will to stand firm was clear, and the nation was with him.
Nevertheless, in any full review of John Kennedy's first months in office, there must beailure inthat will continue to Inhibit and trouble American foreign policy until it is corrected. This failureair question: whether Kennedy has yet mastered themachinery, whether he is well and effectively served by some of his close advisers, and whether they understand the use of power in world politics. The matter is of vital importance; in the crises that will inevitably arise around thethe Middle East, in Africa, in the Far East, in CentralU.S. Government must be in top form, and possibly even, as Kennedy himself suggested, act alone.
Administrative confusions came to light most vividly in the Cuban disaster. That story is told here for the first time in explicit detail. It is told against the background of. reversal in Laos, which in itselfbo underestinated: Laos, once in the way ofuffer for its non-Comounist neighbors, is all but finished; now, in South Viet-Nam, Ngo Dinhtout friend ofs under murderous attack by Communist guerrillas;. loss of face is being felt from the Philippines to Pakistan, and ln the long run the damage nay prove to be even more costly than that caused by Cuba.
Let us turn back then to the train of events, beginning with Laos, that culminated in the disaster ln the Bay of Pigs. FORTUNE is publishing the account for oneset the record straight for concerned Americans.
Kennedy, from the day he took office, was loath to act in Laos. He was confident that he understood the place and use of power in the transactions of the nation, but he was baffled by this community of elephants, parasols, and pagodas. Then, too, he brought toeneral surnlse that our long-range prospects of holding the new and weak nations of Southeast Asia in tho Western canp were doubtful ln the In this respect, he was leaning toward the Lippmann-Stevenson-Fulbright view of strategy. This school holds. power is overconunitted in Southeast Asia, and that the proper aim. diplomacy there should bo to reduce local frictions by molding the new states as true neutrals.
. position ln Laos had become acute while Dwight Eisenhower was still in office. Eisenhower must thereforeonsiderable part of the blame for. failure; heituation go from bad to worse, and Indeed heto Kennedy for leavingnd that it might take the intervention. troops to redeem it. There hadoment when the struggle in Laos had turned in favor of the. forces under General Phoumi Mosavan, the formerMinister. eries of snail but decisivemore by maneuver than by shooting, Phoual eventually took the capital, Vientiane, early in December, but at this point the Russians intervened openly on the side of thefaction, the Pathet Lao. In concertarge-scale push by well-trained troops fron North Viet-Nam, theyubstantial airlift into northern Laos (anthat still is continuing).
The collapse of the Royal Laotian Army then became inevitable unless. came in with at least equal weight on phoumi's side. One obvious measure was to put the airlift out of business. The job.could have been done by "uolunteer" pilots and tho challenge would at least have established, at not too high an initial risk forow far thewere prepared to go. Another meausre would have been to bring SEATO forces into the battle, as the SEATO treaty provided.
In the end, Eisenhower decided to sheer away from both measures. The State Department was opposed to stirring up India and the other Asian neutrals. Secretary of State Christian Herter agreed in principle that the independence of Laos had to be maintained, yet he was unable to bring to heel his own desk officers and the policy planners, who werethatimited military action would wreck the possibility of some kind of political accommodation with The policy shapers, especially in State, hung back from any sequence of actions that might have. policy on the central issue: that Laos was worth fighting for. Even the modest additional support that the Defense Department tried to extend toequipped battalions in the field during the last weeks of the Eisenhower Administration was diluted by reason of the conflict between Defense and State. Under Secretary of Defense James Douglas was later to say, "By theessage to the field had been composed in Washington, it had ceased to be an operational order and hadhilosophical essay." exed Phoumi was tothat tho reasoning of the American Ambassador, Winthrop Brown, was beyond his simple Oriental mind. "His Execllency insists that my troops be rationed to a few rounds ofper man. He tells meust notorld war. But the enemy is at my throat."
After the responsibility passed to Kennedy in January, Phoumi's position was still not completely hopeless, if he had been able to get adequate help. But early in March aCommunist descent drove himosition commanding the principal highway in northern Laos. That unfortunate action was the turning point in his part of the war. For theease with which it was done raised in Washington the question of whether Phoumi's troops had the will to fight.
By then Kennedy was committed to the Cuba operation. He therefore now had to reckon with the very real possibility,. forces to become involved in Laos, of having to back off from Cuba.
At this juncture Kennedy's foremost needlear reading of Soviet intentions. For this he turned to his
he New Frontier'* affectionate ipin for its Soviet exports. The most influential among tliem--Chnrlosohlen, State's senior Sovietologist, ana Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson at Moscow--wore ayrccd tiictlicvhad too much respect. power to stir Itto action, as Stalin had carelessly done in Korea. Yet, while Khrushchev was plainly indulging his preferencealani" tactics. It was impossible to Judge howlice he was contemplating or whether he was being pushed by Mao Tse-tung. The only reading available to Kennedy was,ord, Maybe Khrushchev was movingacuum in Laos just to keep out Mao. If so, thon the least chancy response for. was to assume that Khrushchev would be satisfiedhin slice in Laos, and to maneuver him toward aa neutral government in which, say, the Pathet Lao would have some minor representation.
This course was urged by Secretary of State Dean Rusk and also was being pressed by Prime Minister Macmillan in London. It came to be known as Track Two. It was intended to leadease-fire followed by negotiation. Oppositely, the Joint Chiefs of Staff still believed, as they did under Eisenhower, that the military challengeillinry showdown: action by the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, underixed allied force, including Americans, would move into Laos and take over the dofense of the imporlnnt cities, thereby freeing tho Royal Laotian Army to move into the field without risk of being sapped by subversion ln the rear. This option was labeled Track One, and it was favored as well by Defense Secretary Robert S. MeNamara and Ms deputy, Roswcll Gllpatric.
While Kennedy favored Track Two nnd supported anote that Macmillan sent to Moscow, he decided ho also had tohow of starting down Track One, in case the political gamble failed. He permittedramatic At his televised press conference one addressed himself somberlyap ofcountry "far away" butorld that is "small." Its independence, he went on, "runs with the safety of usnd in language that all but told Khrushchev that ho was inight, he implied that. was preparing to go to its defense. There was,remendous deployment. forces in the Far East, involving the Seventh Fleet and Marine combat units on Okinawa. The Army's strategic-strike units in. were made ready. elated effort was made to buck up Phoumi's forces with an increased flow of fighting gear. . military "advisers" went into the field with his battalions. Against this background, onennedy went to Key West and met Macmillan, who wasisit to the West Indies. The
move- in Laos therefore seemed hopeless.
The fear of the nuclear escalation factor became the sanction for the policy that was pursued thereafter, in light of this, the scene of Kennedy addressing himself to the map of Laos, in his first public appearance as Commander-in-Chief, is now memorable for its fleeting revelationpirited man who was eager to present himselftrong President, but who all too quickly turned unsure of his principal resource of power.
The chiefs, although they took different views of the risks of the Laos situation, were fundamentally agreedentral point. And that was that. had to be prepared to employ tactical nuclear weapons. But Kennedy and hisstrategists, moving away from the nuclear base of the Eisenhower strategy, road into their professionalankruptcy of means and doctrine. The low esteem in which Kennedy began to hold the military leaders whom he inherited from the Eisenhower Administration has not been concealed.
Secretary of Defense McNamara is rewriting the Eisenhower strategic doctrine, in collaboration with the political scientists at the White House and State. The backing away from nuclear strategy, which ended in. retreat in Laos, is now being formalized by McNamara. (His prescription will callonventional base for NATO strategy in the defense of Berlin.)
So there was, by early April, even as Laos was slipping farther and farther below Kennedy'sreakdown of communication between the political and the military sides of the government, and this would contribute largely to theof Kennedy's next venture.
The Cuba affair has been called the American Suez. In the sense that Suez, too, was an utter fiasco, the bracketing is wryly accurate. There is,lear differencetho two operations. Ill-managed as it was, the Suezasion would have succeeded had not Eisenhower used theof. to bring threeFrance, anda humiliating halt. (It should be recorded that neither Britain, France, nor Israel made any critical comment on. excursion in Cuba.) In Cuba tho defeat was wholly self-inflicted. Even as the expedition was creeping into the Bay of Pigs, just before midnight ofhe political overseers back in Washington were in the process of knocking out of the battle plan the final, irreducible element needed for victory.
If. military areoor ln any one technique of warfare, it is in putting forces ashoreostile beach. For the Bay of Pigs, all the necessary means were at Kennedy's hand. It was, by the standards of General David M. Shoup's Marines, an elementary amphibious operation in less than battalion strength. And, indeed,actical exorcise, it was well devised and daringly and successfully led. But after the strategists at the White House and Stato had finished plucking it apart, it became an operation that would have disgraced even the Albanians. When Kennedy looked around for the blunderer, he found him everywhere and nowhere. Practically everybody in his inner group of policy movers and shakers had beon in on the planning. Only after the disaster was upon them did he and his men realizeenture which wasilitary one had been fatally compromised in order to satisfy political considerations, One notofficial who also served under Eisenhower was later to obsorve: "Cubaerrific Jolt to this new crowdit exposod the fact that they hadn't really begun to understand the meaning and consequences ofuse or misuse of power, in other words. They had blamed Ike'sinaction on Indecision and plain laziness. Cuba taught then that action, any kind of serious action, is hard andno safe business for amateurs."
Tho idea for the invasion had taken root during the early summer By then, thousands of defectors from Castro's Cuba ware in. Many of them were professional soldiers. The job of organizing and training them was given to theIntelligence Agency, as the government's principalfor mounting covert operations of this sort. It became and remained to the end the specific responsibility of one of the CIA's top deputies, Richard M.ormerwho lsighly practical executive. Among his other first-class accomplishments, Blssell had mastermindedperation, which was, until it finally missed, as one day it had to, the most economical and comprehensiveIn espionage in modern times.
Training camps for the exiles were set upistrict in western Guatemala offering some privacy. The original idea was to feed tho recruits back into Cuba, to reinforce the several thousand anti-Castro guerrillas already established in the mountains. Toward the autumn,oroand riskier project came under tentative consideration. Castro was organizing large formations of militia andbent on crushing the counterrevolutionary movement before the Cuban populace caught fire. iew lo saving the movement, it was proposed to build up nn invasion force big enough to seize and to hold on tho Cubanonchhead
sufficiently deep for the expedition to(rovisional government, and soallying base for the By this time, too, the rudiments of an anti-Castro air force were in training nearby. The planes, however, weres, twin-engine bombers of World War II vintage that had been redeemed from the Air Force's graveyard. Associated with themroop-carrying squadron withmall detachment of paratroopers was training.
During the summer and fallisenhower from time to time personally reviewed the scheme. In late November, the last time it came up for his comprehensive review, anplan had not yet crystallized; no timetable for action, had been set. Across the Potomac at the Pentagon, Underof Defense Douglas, who was charged with quasi-military operations under the noncommittal category of collateral cold-war activities, wasatchful eye on tho project, and releasing such military talent and gear as the CIA Neither he nor the Joint Chiefs of Staff (whosewith the project remained informal at this stage) believed that much good would flow from an attack made by Cubans 3lone. For one thing, the resources then available permitted the training ofen or so, and the air unit hadozen planes. This was hardly enough to bringough, well-armed regime, and Douglas repeatedly counseled more realism in the planning. Indeed, it was taken for granted by Douglas and the others directly concernedanding in force could not possibly be brought off unless the expedition was shepherded to the beach by. Navy (either openly or innd covered by air power in whatever amount might be necessary. Eisenhower, the commander of Normandy,this well enough.
"You may have to send troops in"
It became obvious toward the end0 thai Ike would be out of office well before an effective force would be ready So the decision as to how big the show should be, and howshould be. share, and in what role, was no longer his to make. Given the relaxed attitude at the White House, the military chiefs also relaxed; military concern for the enterprise sank to thethe four-star level to the colonels on the Joint Staff who had been advising the CIA in such matters as training and tactics. Bissell wason the one hand, to go forward with preparations for an invasion, but he was cautioned to be ready to fall back to the more modest objective of simplyupply offor the anti-Castro forces in the mountains^
Before Eisenhower was fully rid of his responsibility,umber of disquieting developments combThed toto the enterprise an air of emergency. It was established that Castro was to start receiving, earlyubstantial deliveries of Soviet jet fighters, and that pilots to man them were already being trained ln Czechoslovakia. From allthese would provide him, by early summer, with an air force that vould be more than enough to extinguish the last chanceuccessful invasion by Cuban exiles; it would be by all odds the most powerful air force in Latin America. Two other developments were scarcely less worrisome. Castro was making progress in his systematic destruction of his enemies ln the mountains, upon whose cooperation tho invasion counted, and there was no way, save by an overt air supply to get guns and ammunition to them. The stability of the exile movement itself was, moreover, coming into question. Warring political factions threatened to split their ranks, and men who had trained long and painstakingly were impatient over the failure of thoir American advisers toailing date. The feeling took hold of them and their American sponsors that it was to be in the spring or never.
After his election, Kennedy had been briefed fairly frequently on the Cuba situation, along with that ln Laos. As his hour of authority approached, the question of what to do about Cuba was increasingly on his mind. The problemersonal angle. In his fourth television debate with Richard Nixon, he had sharply blamed the Elsenhower Administration for permitting Communism toase there, "only ninety miles off the coast of He discussed Cuba, along with Laos, at length in both of his pre-inaugural talks with Eisenhower, and by his stipulation. Ike was inclined to rank Cuba below Laos in terms of urgency, but Cuba clearly worried him. In their second conversation Ike said: "It'sad situation. You may have to sond troops in."
The first necessity: control of the air
On taking office, Kennedy at once calledetailed briefing on the condition and prospects offostered operation. This information was supplied by Allen W. Dulles, the director of the CIA, and by Bissell. After Kennedy had heard them out he decided that he had to have from the Joint Chiefs ofechnical opinion of the feasibility of the project. It is at this point that the locus of responsibility begins to be uncertain.
The operation wasepartment of Defense responsibility. Only once before, in early January, had the chiefs formally
reviowed tho plan, at Eisenhower's invitation. Now they were asked only for an "appreciation" of its validity. Themoreover, had expanded considerably in scope and aim in the past few months. With moreuban refugees inecruiting had stepped up, and the organizers were at this point aiminganding force ofen. An operational plananding on the soulh coast of Cuba, near the town of Trinidad, was finally beginning to jell. There the country was open, with good roads leading Into the Escambray Mountains and the needed link-up with the indigenous guerrillas. Also cranked Into the plan were ingeniousa barrage of radiobroadcasts from nearby islands and showers of pamphlets fromto galvanize tho anti-Castro Cubans in the cities and villages into demonstrations as the invaders struck. It was never explicitly claimed by the CIAeneral uprising was immediately in the cards; the intention was to sow enough chaos during the first hours to prevent Castro from smashing the invasion on the beach. Once tho beachhead was consolidated, however, and If fighting gear went forward steadily to the guerrillas elsewhere in Cuba, the planners were confidentass revolt could bo stimulated.
Finally, the plan still assumed. military help would be on call during the landing. Castro's air forceof not quite two-scoreozen or sos, plus about the same number of obsolete British Sea Furies, also slow, propoller-driven airplanes. But inthere were seven or3 jet trainers, the remnants of an. transaction with tho Batista government, so the force was not the pushover it appoarod at first glance. Armed with rockets, those Jets would be moreatchattle for thes. The scheme was to destroy them on the ground in advance of the landing,cries of attacks on Castro's airfields; shoulds escape the firstblow, there would be araple opportunity to catch them later on the ground while they were being refueled aftor an action. In any. carrier would be close by, below the horizon, and one or two of its tactical jets couldsupply whatever quick and trifling help might be required in an emergency.
It stood to reason that, considering how snail tho landing party was, the success of the operation would hinge on6 controlling the air over the beachhead. And the margins that the planners accepted wore narrow to begin with. s were to operatetaging baseentral American country more than five hundred miles from Cuba. The round trip would take better than six hours, and that would leave the planes with fuel for only forty-five minutes of action, for
bombing and air cover over Cuba. In contrast, Castro's air force could be over the beachhead and the invaders' shipsatter of minutes, which would increase his relative air advantage manifold. Hence the absolute necessity of knocking out Castro's air power, or at least reducing it to Impotence, by the time the ground battle was joined.
This, in general terms, was the plan the chiefs reviewed for Kennedy. The assumptions concerning the possibilities of an anti-Castro uprising not being in their jurisdiction, they took these at face value. They judged the tactical elements sound and, indeed, they accorded theighof success. They were allowed to appraise theand the equipment of the forces. eam of officers was sent to Guatemala. On the basis of its report, tho chiefs made several recommendations, but again their assessment was favorable.
Late in January, Kennedy authorized the CIA to lay on the invasion plan, but he warned that he might call the whole operation off if hohange of mind as to itsday was tentatively fixed forut this provedto meet. For one thing, it took some time to organize tho quarrolsome exiles in New York and Miamiorkable coalition that would sponsor the expedition. For another, it was decidedattalion ofen was needed toeachhead, and that the force, which called itself the Cuban Brigade, should be beefed up generally. Inof these developments, the target date kept slipping until it finally came firm as
It has since been reported that the President was inwardly skeptical of the operation from the start but just why has never been clear--whether he judged tho force too small to take on Castro, or because he was reluctante on soasty job that vas bound to stir up anruckus, however it came out. Some of his closestin any case, were assailed by sinking second thoughts. What bothered them was tho "immorality" of masked aggression. They recoiled from having. employ subterfuge indown even so dangerous an adversary as Castro, and they were almost unanimously opposed to having. do the job in the open. Even with the best of luck, there would certainlylutter among the six leading Latin-American states, which, with the exception of Venezuela, had refused to lend themselves to any form of united action against Castro. And thowould scarcely be less embarrassing among tho neutralists of Asia and Africa, whose good opinion Kennedy's advisers were most eager to cultivate. And so the emphasis at the White' House and Stato began to move awayoncern with, the
militarythings needed toenterpriseto become preoccupied with tinkerings they hoped would soften its political impact on the neutral nations.
The dismembering begins
The "immorality" of the intervention found its most eloquent voice before the Presidenteeting in tho State Department on Aprilnly thirteen days before the date set for the invasion. (Stewart Alsop told part of the storyecent issue of the Saturday Evening Post.) The occasion was Bissell's final review of the operation, and practically everybody connected with high strategy was onof State Rusk, Secretary of Defense HeNaniara, Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon, General Lemnttzer, CIA chief Allen Dulles, as well as Bundy, Paul Nilze, Kennedy's specialist on strategic planning at the Pentagon, Thomas Mann, then Assistant Secretary of State for Latin-American Affairs, and three of Kennedy's specialists ir. Latin-AmericanAdolf Berle, Arthur M. Schlesinger,nd Richard Goodwin. There was also one outsider, Senator William Fulbright,of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who had been Kennedy's favorite choice for Secretary of State, and whose support he wanted. After Bissell had completed his.briefing and Dulles had summed up the risks and prospects, Fulbright spoke and denounced the proposition out of hand: it was the wrong thing for. to get involved in.
Kennedy chose not to meet this issue. Instead, he quickly noted certain practical considerations and then, going around the table, he asked various of his advisers whether they thought the operation should go forward. Without the answer was, yes. Berle was particularly outspoken. He declared thatower confrontation" with Communism in the Western Hemisphere was inevitable anyhow. As for this enterprise. 'Xet 'er rip" was his counsel. Mann, who previ-ously had been on the fence, now spoke up for the operation. Rusk, too, said he was for it, in answer to the President's direct question, but as would presently be manifest, liehad no heart for it. Two other men among thesenior foreign-policy advisers, not present at theshared Fulbright's feelings: Under Secretary of State Chester Bowles, and Adlai Stevenson, with the United Nations in New York, who soon came to knoweneral way that distasteful was afoot. In deferencethese views,at the meeting; or soontwo separate rulings that were to- (he. fatal; ,
dismemberment of the whole plan. . airpower would not be on call at any time: thes flown by "our" Cubans would be on their own. Second,s could be used in only two strikes beforeinus-two-daysnd again on the morning of the landing. Although these limitations clearly lengthened the risks, Lcmnitzer did not dispute them, nor did Bissell's own military advisers; they were confident that ifs misseds on tho first go, they would surely catch them on the second.
During tho few remaining days, Kennedy drew his circle of advisers more tightly around him. Apart from Bundy and Rostow, the only White House advisers who remained privy to the development of the operation were the Latin-AmericanBerle and Schlesinger. Lemnitzer and, of course Allen Dulles were in and out of Kennedy's office. But the doubts of Rusk and Fulbright and of others were all the while imperceptibly converging on the President and, bit by bit, an operation that was marginal to begin with was so truncated as to guarantee its failure.
The embarkation of the expedition was scheduled to start on This was, in itself,ob. Some half-dozen small steamers were collected for the first movement, togetherumber of tactical landing craft. Thepointort on the Caribboan, several hundrod miles from the training area ln Guatemala, and the transfer of the Cuban Brigade was done by air and at night, through four nights, in the interest of secrecy. The gear aboard the ships was enough to supply the landing force through ten days ofand also to equip the thousands of guerrillas expected to be recruited after the beachhead was gained.
eek before the embarkation, and indeeday or so before the last go-around at the State Department, another serious change was made in the invasion plan. At the insistence of the State Department, Trinidad was eliminated as the target landing area. State's reasons were complex. Rusk decided that the entire operation had to be keptand minimize the overtness of. role as much as possible. That required shifting the attackess populated and less accessible area, whore Castro's roaction might bo Slower and less effective. Rusk and his own advisers were also anxious to be rid at all possible speed of theof responsibility for mounting the operation in Central America, anxious thats should be based as rapidly as possible on Cuba. The only vulnerable airfield capable of taking the planes was one In poor condition near the BayPigs, on the Zapata Peninsula,iles to the west of
Trinidad. Here the countryside was quite deserted and, to succeed at all, the invaders had to seize and hold twocauseways leadingwamp that was impassable on either side. These actions did not end the last-minutedirected by the White House. Even the arrangements for arousing the Cuban populace and trying to stampedemilitia with leaflet raids and radiobroadcasts were struck from the plan, and again because State was afraid that they would be toohowing of. hand. Onhile the convoy was heading north, Kennedy wasto announceress conference that. would not intervene with force in Cuba. Rusk made sure the idea got home by repeating the same guarantee on the morning of the invasion. The effect of this was to serve notice on the Cubans in Cuba, who were known to be waiting for ansignal fromhat whatever they might be tempted to try would be at their own risk.
The politicians take command
Clear to the end, Kennedy retained tight control of the enterprise. As each new sequence of action came up for his finalGo signal for the embarkation, then forpre-invasion air strike on the morning ofe came to his decisions quickly and firmly. All the way,he reserved the option to stop the landing short of the beach. He kept asking how late the enterprise might bewithout making it look as if Castro had called anbluff. He was told: noon on Sunday,hen the invasion force would be eleven hours of steaming from the Bay of Pigs. The Sunday deadline found Kennedy in the Virginia countryside, at Glen Ora; only then did he raise his finger from the hold button. As he did so, he noted with relief that no other unfavorable factors had materialized. He was mistaken. At dawn of the day before, by the timetable, the s, having flown undetected through the night from their Central American staging base, appeared over Cuba and bombed the three fields on which Castro's ready air was deployed. (The attack was, on the whole, highly successful. Half ofs and Sea Furies, and four of3 je.ts were blown up or damaged and so removed from tho imminenthe story was put out that Castro's own pilots, in the act of defecting, had attacked their own airfields. Thisloss, to say the least; the attackers were indeed defectors from Castro, but they had defected long before. Later thatat the United Nations, after the Cuban Foreign Minister, Raul Roa, had charged that the attackprologue". invasion, Adlai Stevenson arose and swore that the. planes wore Castro's.
From this hapless moment on, Stevenson's role-becomes nclear. Thereubsequent published report that he to block the second strike. Stevenson has flatly deniod, and continues to deny, that he even knew about the second strike, let alone that he demanded that it be called off. Bu* there was littlo doubt about his unhappiness over the'eourse of events in the Caribbean and he conveyed theso feelings to Washington. Before Sunday was over Bundy was to fly to New York, to see Stevenson (Bundy said) and still wearing, in his haste to be off, sneakers and sports clothes. This sudden errandhattering order that went out to Bissell.
It was Sunday evening, only some eight hours after Kennedy had given "the go-ahead." In the first dark, the expedition was even then creeping toward the Cuban shore. In Bissell's office thereall on the White House lino. It was Bundy, being even crisper than usual: s were to stand down, there was to be no air strike in the morning, thisresidential order. Secrotary of State Rusk was now acting for the President ln the situation. If Bissell wished toreclama" (federalese for appeal), it could be done through Rusk.
Bissell was stunned. In Allen Dulles' absence (hee put his problem up to CIA DeputyCabell, an experienced airman. Together they wentState Department to urge Rusk toecisiontheir judgment, would put the enterprise in Cabell was greatly worried about the vulnerabilityattack first of the ships and thon of the troops on Rusk was not impressed. The ships, heunload and retire to the open sea before daylight;the troops ashore being unduly inconvenienced byit had been his experienceolonel in thehe told his visitors, that air attack could bea nuisanceanger. One fact he made military considerations had overruledinus-two strike had been laid on; nowwere taking over. While they were talking,the President at Glen Ora to say that Cabellwere at his side, and that they were worried aboutof the strike. Rusk, at one point, put histhe mouthpiece, and asked Cabell whether ho wishedto the President. Cabell shook his head. Perhapshis mistake; it was certainly his last chance to appealdecision. But Bundy had made it clear thatacting for the President, and Cabell is aman, trained to take orders after the facts hadwith the man in ,
On their return to tho office, Bissell flashed orders to6 commander at the staging fluid, moreiles from the Bay of Pigs. The force got the changed ordersbefore midnight, only half on hour or so before they were scheduled to depart; the bomb bays were already loaded and the crews were aboard. Meanwhile the planes carrying the paratroopers had taken off, and the first assault barges, still unobserved, were even then approaching the beaches.
Tuesday, the turning point
Past midnight, in the early watches, Bissell and Cabell rcstudiod the battle plan, while signals of consternation welled up from their men far to the south. At four o'clock, less than an hour before first light on the Cuban shore, Cabell went back to Rusk with another proposal. It wasimpossible for themall forcefi's (only sixteen were operational) to provide effective air cover for tho ships from their distant base against jets lhal could roach the ships in minutes. Cabell, now asked whether, if the ships were to pull back of the three or twelve-mile limit, whichever. legal doctrine held toie beginnings of international water, . Boxer, aon station about fifty miles free thePigs, could be instructed to provide cover for them. Rusk said no and this time Cabell finally took advantage of the reclama that Bundy had extended to Bissell. Tho President was awakened. Cabell registered his concern. The answer was still no.
Shortly after that, on Monday morning,rigadier General Chester Clifton, the President's military aide, received word that the Cuban Brigade had landed. They had little chance. They were without the ranging fire power thats with their bombs and machine guns had been expected to apply against Castro's tanks and artillery as they wheeled up. Castro's forces came up fast. He still had four Jets left, and they were indeed armed with powerful He used them well against the ships in the bay. Before the morning was done, ho had sunk two transports, aboard which was the larger part of the reserve stocks of ammunition, and driven off two other, with the rest of the stock.
Now Kennedy and his strategists became alaracd. About noon on Monday, Bissell was told thats could attack Castro's airfields at will. Orders went to the staging baseajor attack next morning. But the orders came too late. Most of the pilots had been in the air for upwards of eighteen hours in an unavailing effort to keep Castro's pianos off ihe
troops and the remaining ships. Thatmall force was scratched together. It was over Cuba at dawn, only to find the fields hidden by low, impenetrable fog. Nothing came of the try.
Tuesday, the second day, was the turning point. The men ashore had fought bravely and gained their planned objectives. They had even seized and bulldozed the airfield. But they were desperately short of ammunition and food, and under the pressure of Castro's superior fire power and numbers they were being forced back across the beach;s trying to help them were shot down.
Two small landing craft had made rendezvous with two remaining supply ships and taken on ammunition and rations; but, from where they were, they could not reach the beach until after daybreak, at which time Castro's jots were certain to get them. There remained still one last clear chance to make the thing go. Boxer was still on station. The releaseew of its jots simply for air cover should see tho two craft safely to the shore.
"Defeat is an orphan"
That night Kennedy was caught uphite Housea white-tie affair, for Congress and the members of his Cabinet. He was informed by an aide that Bissell wished to see him. The President asked Bissell to come to the White House. Calls went out to the otherRusk, who had been entertaining the Greek Premierormal dinner at the State Department, to McNamara, General Lemnitzer, Admiral Burke.
They gathered in the President's office shortly after midnight. One of the participants recalls: "Two menthat singularPresident and Bissell, Bissell was in the unhappy posture of having to present the views of an establishment that had been overtaken by disaster. He did so with control, with dignity, and with clarity." Bissell made it plain that tho expedition was at the point of. airpower was brought forward, the men on the beach were doomed. In substance, he asked that the Boxer's planes be brought into the battle to save the opera-tion. Rusk still would not have this. Several others were also opposed, including tho President's personal staffers. Burko vouched for the worth of Bissell's proposition. Thewith the President lasted. Its outcomeingular compromise. Jets from the Boxer would provide cover next morning for exactly
just long enough for tho ships to run into thend start unloading, and for thes to getard blow.
Next morning, through an Incredible mischance,s were over Cuba half an hour ahead of schedule. Boxer's jets were still on the flight deck. But Castro's jets were ready. Two ofs were shot down; others were hit and forced to abort. That was the melancholy end. At two-thirty that afternoon, Bissell received word from one of his menhip in the Bay of Pigs: remnants of the landing force were in the water and under fire. Thereinal message from tho gallant Brigade commander ashore to this effect,ave nothing left to fight with and so cannot wait. Am headed for the swamp." Bissell went'to the White House to report the end. Kennedy gave ordersestroyer to move into the bay and pick up as many men as it could. It was no Dunkirk. ew ofere saved.
ennedy noted some days later,undred fathers, ands an orphan." Yet, for all Kennedy's outward calmness at this moment of defeat, he was never, after it, quite the same. Speaking before the American Society of Newspaperrave President said, "There are from this sobering episode useful lessons for all to learn."