CLANDESTINE SERVICES HISTORY
RECORD OF PARAMILITARY ACTION AGAINST THE CASTRO GOVERNMENT OF CUBA1
Controlled by: WH Division Date prepared: 1 Written by : Colonel J. Hawkins
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ORGANIZATION. FOR COVERT
ACTION AGAINST THE CASTRO GOVERNMENT . . 1
AND PROCEDURES AT HIGHER
LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT FOR DETERMINATION
OF POLICY GOVERNING THE 3
EVOLUTION OF PARAMILITARY CONCEPTS . 5
RESULTS OF THE INTERNAL RESISTANCE PROGRAM,
0 to April
DEVELOPMENT OF THE STRIKE
PREPARATIONS FOR TACTICAL AIR OPERATIONS. . 11
EFFORT OF PARAMILITARY STAFF TO OBTAIN
RESOLUTION OF MAJOR POI.ICi 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
THE FINAL OPERATIONAL CONCEPT SUBMITTED
TABLE OF CONTENTS (cont'd)
FORCES AVAILABLE FOR THE ZAPATA OPERATION
MAJOR FEATURES OF THE ZAPATA
EXECUTION OF THE
THE AMPHIBIOUS/AIRBORNE OPERATION AT
POLICY RESTRICTIONS WHICH LIMITED THE
EFFECTIVENESS OF PARAMILITARY
Tills monograph is based upon and primarily consistsemorandum for the Record, entitled "Paramilitary Action Against the Castro Government of Cuba: Recordayrepared by Colonel J.. Marine Corps, who was detailed to the Agency, and as such, served as Chief of tbe Paramilitary Staff Section of Branchestorn Hemisphere Division. In this capacity, bo participated in the planning and execution of the ZAPATA Operation, more commonly known as the Bay of Pigs Operation.
Colonel Hawkins' paper rocords significantpreparation for and execution ofagainst the Castro Government of Cuba andbased upon this experience, which as aand reforenco document, ho hoped, would servepurpose for tho
Although not written at the request of tho CS Historical Board, this paper meets the basic requirements of apaper and lias boon Included ln the Catalog of CS Histories,egment of the WH Division history.
Kenneth K. Addicott Executive Secretary CS Historical Board
Colonel J.. 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 of8
In recounting the facts, policies are reviewed on which the Task Force Headquarters, organized within the Western Hemisphere Division of tho 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 oarly in tho Eisenhower Administration that the highest lovols 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 lt was to this Group that CIA presented operational matters for policy resolution.
No machinery existed for coordinating the project related work of governmental departments and agencies, other than through the Special Group, during most of the lilc of the project. Thero wasormal Task Forcewhich included representation of all departments and agenclos which wero or should have been concerned, such as the CIA, Department of State, Department of. Information Agoncy, and the Department'of Commerce. Instead, the project was the endeavor of CIA in liaison with other departments.
Intelligence information and estimates had indicated substantial resistance within Cuba to the Castro regime. Agents had reported the developmentidespreadorganization extending from Havana into all tho Provinces. Obviously, if the efforts of these disaffected Cuban leaders, with their followors and other sympathetic individuals ln tho country bad been successful, the effort would have boon 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.
Thia strike force would now begin to recruit, organize, equip andarger ground force than the contingency force which was originally contemplated. The bulk of the attached paper describesealth of detail the training camps (based in. and in friendly third countries) and support programs necessary for the ultimate implementation of the operation.
onsidered evaluation of the operation and in his capacity as Chief of the Paramilitary Staff of Cuba Project, Colonel Hawkins sets forth aseries of conclusions, and presents realistic recommendations for future planning based upon his experiences which were often frustrating. Ho points outisenchanted fashion, more in sorrow than in anger, that experience indicates that political restrictions upon military measures may result in destroying tho 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
PURPOSE. Tho purpose of this memorandum is to record significant information concerning preparation for and execution of paramilitary operations against the Castro Government of Cuba, and to draw conclusions based upon this experienco which, It is hoped, may be useful for tho future.
ORGANIZATION. FOR COVERT ACTION AGAINST THE CASTRO GOVERNMENT
a. For purposos of thisask forcewas organized within the Western Hemisphere Division of the Clandestine Services of the Central Intelligence Agency. This task force contained staff sections *er planning and
/supervision of activities
supervision of activities In the intelligence, counter-intelligence 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. Bissell, 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 headquarterseparatefrom Task 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 ccxomunications center for relay of communica-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 Locka Naval Air Station, which was used for storage of arms and munitions and for originating "black" passenger flights to Guatemala with Cuban recruits.
An infantry training base and an air base in Southwestern Guatemala.
air and staging base at Puerto Cabezas,
facilities at Eglin Air Force Baseflights Co Guatemala and Nicaragua.
(6) raining base at Belle Chase Naval Ammunition Depot, New Orleans (used briefly in March and.
mall maritime training base at Vieques,
Chief of the Task Force did notover field activities, and had authority toconcerning operational matters Co Che Forwardin Miami only. Cables and other directives' to ihenormally released at the level of Chief, Westernwhile some directives dealing with majorwere released at the sclll higher lavel of the(Plans). The Chief of the Air Section wasrelease air operacional cables to any field activity, and
in chac sense had greater auchority Chanask Force Chief, himself.
in each country Che responsibility
additional echelon of command and control was
countries in chac
Che responsibility for liaison with the host governmenc. Communications personnel and facilicies were provided by. Office of Comnauiications, under the DepuCy Directorne of.the three major subdivisions. Headquarters. The Deputy Director (Support) also provided logistical support for the operation,
f. The Paramilitary Staff Section of Che Task Force included subdivisions for intelligence, logistics, maritime operations, internal resiscance operations and military operations. The Cable of organizaciontaff cffficers, buC the average sCrength was aboutfere military. The undersigned, as chief of this staff section, had no command auchority nor auchority to release cables or other directives to Che field.
3. ORGANIZATION AND PROCEDURES AT HIGHER LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT FOR DKTEHKINATION OF POLICY GOVERNING THE PROJECT.
a. The Special
(1) During che administration of Presidenc Eisenhower, chis Group normally raeeeek Co consider maccers concerning coverc acCiviCy In various pares of the
world. Including Cuba. Principal members of this Group were the 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. Hie Department of Defense was representedime 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.
was to this Group that policy mattersCuban operations were submitted by. forduring the previous administration.
regard to the Cuban project, theproved tolow and Indecisive vehicle forpolicy. It did not have authority itself to makedecisions, nor did itormalized procedurean agreed Group position on any given question. by one member of the Group could prevent approval of aaction. Proceedings were verbal, and no master recordwas kept. Instead, each Department or Agency kept itsas desired, and sometimes there wereas to Just what had been said or agreed upon at No written, signed policy directives were everafter Group meetings for guidance of the. In fact, throughout the life of the projectno written policy directives approved at the national level
to guide the project other than the original policy paper approved by the President onhich-^ras general in content.
with Department of Defense. The. within the Department of Defense forwas the Office of Special Operationsanuarythatpecial committee headed by Brigadier General W. Gray, U. S. Army, was established within the Jointpurpose 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 Willauer 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, U. 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 ln meetings which normally included, among others, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of Central Intelligence, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.
EVOLUTION OF PARAMILITARY CONCEPTS
a. The only approved, written policy governing paramilitary action against Cuba is contained in paragraphf tho Policy Paper approvod 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. umber 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 tho establishment of one or more active centers of resistance. The creation of this capability willinimum of six months and probably closer to eight. In theimited air capability for resupply and for infiltration and exfiltration 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 military 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
this 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 Escambray Mountains during this period. It was visualized that the landing of the assault force, after widespread resistance activity had been created, would, precipitate general uprisings and widespread defectionastro's aroed forces which could contribute Materially to his overthrow.
e. The concept for employment of the force in an amphibious/airborne assault was discussed at ineetir-gs of tho Special Group during November and December. The Group took no definite position on ultimate employment oforce but did not oppose its continued dovelopnwnt for possible employment. President Eisenhower was briefed on the concept in late November. representatives. Tbe President indicated that he desired vigorous continuation of ail activities then in progress by all Departments concerned.
5. RESULTS OF THE INTERNAL RESISTANCE PROGRAM.0 to
of Paramilitary Agents. paramilitary agents, including nineteen radiointroduced into the target country. Seventeensucceeded in establishing communication circuitsHeadquarters,umber were later capturedtheir equipment.
Suppily ere 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 andandarge number ofof 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 in Havana and elsewhere was performed with materials supplied in this manner.
d. Development of Guerrilla Activity. Agents introduced into Cuba succeeded inidespread underground organization extending from Havana into all of the Provinces. However, there was no truly effective guerrilla activity anywhere in Cuba except in the Escambray Mountains, where anll-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 the 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,ommunist homes.
ombings, Including Coinmunist Party offices, Havana powertores, railroad terminal, bus terminal, militia barracks, railroad train.
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-Stylo Security Measures. As time wont on, the police-state security measures imposed by Castro became increasingly effective, and agents and other resistance elements were hard pressed to survive. Many were captured, including threo of the most important leaders. control. By stationing large numbers of militia and police throughout the country, by imposing curfows, 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 grouTTd 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 tho major problems encountered are described briefly below.
ii. Base for Training.
base available in Guatemala consisted
mall 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 Retalhuleu 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.
appearedime inhis inadequate base would be lost, as the Departmentadvanced the opinion that the presence of theseGuatemala would undermine the government of Presidentperhaps cause his overthrow. While the Statewithdrawal from Guatemala, 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. For aconsideration was given to moving the troops to ] ]
|at 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 ncm-comraissioned officer from the Project Paramilitary Staff at Headquarters were sent to
Guatemalatop-gap measure pending assignment of Army Special Forces training teams. Those teams had been requestedby the Paramilitary Staff onut there were long delays while policy governing this question was established, and it was1 before thepecial Forces personnel reached Guatemala. It would have been Impossible. to train the Strike Force without the assistance of these Army personnel.
d- Logistical Support for Training. Most of tho materials used for support of the infantry training base, including weapons, equipment and training aixrmunition, had to be lifted to Guatemala by air. Thisreat logistical problem, considering tha number of aircraft available and distances involved. Shortages of equipment nnd ammunition sometimes hampered training.
(1) Recruiting in Miami was very slow until the endesult primarily of political maneuvering among the members of the Frente Revolucionario Democraticohe political front for the project. Each member of the FRD desired to accept only recruits loyal to his own political group, and all members of tlie FRD objected to recruitment of any former Cuban soldier who had served during the regime of Batista. Thus, personnel with previous military experience were for the most part denied to our use. All recruiting stopped for about four weeks during the confusion of an abortive revolution in Guatemala in November. There was continuing uncertainty as to whether sufficient recruits could ever be obtained totrike Force of even minimal size until earlyen had been obtained and recruits began arrivingoro rapid rateesult of action taken to break the 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 Aircraft of
chls type had been distributed to various foreign countries, including some in Latin America, and would, therefore, satisfy the requirement for non-attrlbutability insofar as the United States was concerned. The Navyas consideredime as being superior to6 for project purposes, but these aircraft had not been placed in the hands of Latin American governments and, therefore, could not meet the non-attributability requirement.
b. Tactical Air Base Problem.
air base constructeduatemala, was at tooistance frommiles from the central part of the Island) to serveair operations6 aircraft. actical air base in Mexico or in the Bahamaswith negative results. ime, theillingness 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.
. delegationPresident Somoza of Nicaragua, who agreed to assistIn any feasible way providing he receivedproper governmental authority that he would beby the United States if the question ofshould ever be brought up for considerationOrganization 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 nn air and staging base.
use of facilities in Nicaragua wasupon with favor by the Department of State forand for some months there was doubt as to whetherwould actually be used. Preparations at the baseand it was ready for use when the strikelaunched ln
(4) The air base at Puerto Cabezas wasiles of central Cuba, within marginal striking ranee for6 aircraft.
c Tactical Pilots. By the end of6 aircraft were available to the project. This number was later increased to fifteen on recommendation of the Paramilitary Staff. Five6 pilots were considered proficient by this time, and six others were in training but had nottate of acceptable proficiency. The undersigned expressed reservations in writing inoncerning the ability and motivation of the Cuban tactical pilots to accomplish what would be required and recommended use of American contract pilots in addition to the Cubans. This recommendation was considered by the Special Group, which authorized the hiring of American pilots but reserved the question of their actual employment for later decision.
d- Air Crew Training. Adequate U. S. Air Force personnel were available early In the life of tho project for training6 as well as transport pilots. ir Force personnel were involved in the project, performing such duties as training, maintenance, air base management, logistical ferry work, etc.
8. SEA FORCES.
a. The acquisition of ships and craft for execution of the amphibious operation proved to be one of the most difficult problems encountered. How this problem was solved is described briefly in following paragraphs.
LCVP and three LCU,,
b. Landing Craft ditioned by the Navy,I
personnel were trained At Little Creek, Virginia, use. The Navy moved these craft to Vieques, Puerto Rico, where. operators trained Cuban crews. anding ship dock, the Navy was to deliver the landing craft, pre-loaded with vehicles and supplies to the objective area for the amphibious operation.
c. Transports. For acquisition of transports for troops and supplies, two possible courses of action were considered:
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 StaffKduardouban national who, with hisbrother,hipping company incorporated inGarcia agreed to charter any or all of the six shipshia company for project purposes. Five Garcia shipschartered for 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 to execution ofeach of these ships was furnished withoats with outboard motors for use ascraft.
two additional ships weretho United Fruit Company for follow-up deliveryand equipment after tha 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 In some detail for employment of tho force, although the Invasion area had not been finally decided upon. Several major questions of national policy having important bearing upon the operation ware as yot unresolved, however. These were:
Whether the national government would permit execution of the strike operation.
Whether the national government, if agreeable to the conduct of the 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 In the united States could be used for logistical flights to Cuba.
b. In an effort to cause resolution ot these questions, the undersigned, forwarded to superior authorityemorandum which outlined the current status of preparations for amphibious/airborne and tactical air operations against Cuba and set forthrequirement for policy decisions on all of the questions listed above. opy of this memorandum. It should bo noted in particular that the undersigned, in this memorandum, recommended:
That the air preparation coromence not lateray.
That any move to curtail the number of aircraft to be employed from those available be firmly resisted.
(3) That the operation be abandoned If policy does noC 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 PLAN (TRINIDAD).
a. Reasons for Selection of Trinidad as the Preferred Landing Area:
(1) Extensive 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:
Good landing beaches with suitable routes of egress from the beech.
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 the objective area from approach by vehicular traffic. Mountain barriers protected the area from the north and west. 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.
(e) The areaoot air strip usable6 aircraft (but not6 light bombers)ort facility at Casllda.
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 Eustern 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 expectedforces, estimateden, whichoperating 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.
b- Concept of the Trinidad Operation. The concept of the operation as developed by the Taramilitary Staff durings contained in.
c Evaluation of the Plan and of the Force byChiefs of
(1) eam of officers of tho 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
Staff. 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:
(!) Plan for Landing. The landing plan provided for simultaneous landing at first lightay of two reinforced rifle companies ofen each over two beaches southwest of Trinidad and the parachute landingompany of equal strength irtrmediately north of Trinidad. The remainder of the force was to land over one of the two beaches in successive trips of landing craft.
Naval 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 all 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 che 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 tho capital of power and interrupt coaimuni cat ions. 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 cacclcal aircraft.
(4) Scheme of Maneuver. Tho landing force was to seize and defend terrain features east, north and westTrinidad dominating all approaches to the area. Tf 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.
OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATSOPLAN.
Secretary oC State and tho AssistantState for Latin American Affairs consistently opposedPlan on the grounds that the operation would. S. World War II invasion an" would beattributable to the United States. Thesethe opinion that execution of tho Trinidad Planreactions adverse to the United States in Latinin the United Nations, and would possibly causeby the Sino-Soviet Bloc in Laos, Berlin or elsewhere.
Mr. Rusk on one occasion stated that the possibility of air attack by Castro forces against the United States could not be discounted.
Rusk and Assistant Secretaryin particular to the conduct of any tactical Mr. Mann took the position that there couldtactical air operations unless the tactical aircraftbased on Cuban soil. He proposed^.on onua landing be made in Oriente Province wltuouc airthat an airfield be built by the landing force toaircraft, whereupon air operations could coinmence.
OF THE TRINIDAD PLAK. Afterof the Trinidad Plan, the President decidedabout1 that it should not be executed,that possible alternative methods of employingforces be studied. It was the understanding ofofficials concerned that any alternate planhave the 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. It was desired that the operation insofar as possible appear as an uprising from within Cuba rather than an invasion.
b. It would be necessary to seise 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 ALTERNATS LANDING AREAS.
the periodohepursuant to verbal instructions from the Deputyconducted 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.
accordance with the instructions ofhree concepts for possible operationsup. These concepts, which in the abort timepreparation (about three days) could be developed onlyextent ofentative scheme of maneuver onmap and preparing brief notes, were based onareas:
The Preston area on tho north coast of Oriente Province.
The south coast of Las Villas between Trinidad and Cienfuegoe.
(3) The Eastern Zapata area near Cochinos Bay.
C. It was recognized by the Paramilitary Staff that the first two concepts mentioned above did not satisfy the requirements6 airfield, and therefore could not have been executed within established policy parameters unless attempted entirely without air support. The Paramilitary Staff advised 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 thaevaluated, 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.
Paramilitary Staff recommended theto tho Deputy Director (Plans) as being the bost ofalternatives, and the only one of these whichpossibility of conducting tactical air operationslimits of established policy. The Deputy Directoradvised, however, that some way would have to beknock out Castro's air force before this or anywas attempted.
14. THE AIR FORCE DEFECTION PLAN.
a. In an effort to find some wfly" 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 Hr. Bissell and his assistant, Mr. Barnes,lan along the following lines:
(1) Prior6 aircraft painted 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. Ho would state that he, with certain companions, hadefection plot, and had attacked other aircraft on the fields from which they had flown.
(2) AC dawn on the day of the6 aircraft would attack the three 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 Department 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 the undersigned.
b. It was believed that this attack, followed by dawn attacksay against these 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 than from fifteen to eighteen.
15. THE DIVERSION PLAN.
a. The desirability ofiversionary landing in an area remote from the main landing had long been recognized by the Pflrarr.ilitary Staff. However, sufficient troops for this purpose could not be raised, lt appeared, except at the expense of the main landing force which had not yet reached desired strength. evelopment in Miami in laterovided an opportunity tomall diversionary force. Ninouban oxile leader In Miami,esire tomall force composed of'feis immediate followers into Cuba. It was decided to send Diazen to the recently acquired training base at Belle Chase, New Orleans, where they could be organized, equipped and given minimal training. This was done in great haste, and the company was formed at Belle Chaseeriod of about two weeks prior to its embarkation for the operation.
.b. Arrangements were made by the Forward Operating Base In Miamiuban vessel to lift Diaz's group to the objective. The plan provided for staging Diaz through the Naval Air Station at Key West and loading the force out of Stock Island in the Florida Keys.
c. eachiles east of Guantanamo 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 Che landing area, and it was planned thac Diaz would join forces with this group. Diaz was known toarge political following in Oriente Province.
16. THE FINAL OPERATIONAL CONCEPT SUBMITTED TOPRESIDaff.
final concept submitted to the Presidentrovided for:
The defection operation, combined with surprise dawn air 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 the Diaz group east of Guantanamo during the night.
The landing of the main force at three widely separated landing points In Eastern Zapata during the ^arly morning hoursay. The landing was to be followed by air attacks on airfields and other military targets at dawnay, by which time the airfield in the objective area was 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 remaJ.itrter 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 to. planned to divert the ships, if required,Orleans or to Vieques, Puerto Rico, where the force wouldin increments.
17. SUCCESSIVE DELAYSAY.
date originally selected by thefor execution of the Trinidad landingarchdate was chosen on the basis of the following factors:
The Government of Guatemala had expressed its desire to have the Cuban force removed from that country not laterarch.
It was desired to execute the operation at the earliest possible date ln view of the rapid military build-up in Cuba. Great quantities of military equipment, including field artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, and tanks, had been delivered to Cuba by the Soviet Bloc, and It was estimated that Castro's forces, under the tutelage of Bloc advisors, would soon achieve proficiency in the use of this equipment. It was also estimated that Castro couldet air capability bynconfirmed reports were received indicating that crated MIG aircraft had been delivered, and by1 Cuban pilots known to be in Czechoslovakia would have had time to complete jet training.
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.
The nightarch provided suitable conditions of moonlight to facilitate operations In the transport area in preparation for the landing at dawn.
rejection of the Trinidad Plan,ay for the landing 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
destre Co conduce Che operation beforepril. That dace was accordingly programmed, although it was made clear Co all concerned by Che Paramilitary Staff that Che lack of adequate moonllghc 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 tho United Nations with regard to Cuban charges against the United States. The nightpril would be in the new moon phase with no moonlight.
18. FORCES AVAILABLE FOR THE ZAPATA OPERATION, a. Ground1 men)
Cuban Brigade included:
Headquarters and Service
One Airborne Infantry
Tank These men were trained in a
highly secure and satisfactory manner at Fort Knox.)
items of equipment included: Rifles; 0 caliber machine guns; uns; m mortars; m mortars; " mortara;
ra recoilless rifles; m recoilless rifles; " rocket
launchers; lamethrowers; anks; % ton trucks;allon aviation gasoline tanker truck; one tractor crane; one dozer; allon water trailers; on trucks and 9ton tractors.
b. Air Forces. The Cuban Air Force, based at Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, included6 light bombers,4 transports and6 transports.
c. Sea Forces. Sea forces included:
(1) Two LCI, each mounting elevenaliber machine guns andecoilless rifles. (These craft were for use primarily as command and naval gunfire vessels, although each0 man paramilitary pack in its hold). Each LCI carried two high-speed boats.
LCU, each mounting twoaliber machine
LCVP, each0 caliber machine Seven chartered commercial freighters (average
Freighters ln 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 coae-eal steamer.
19. MAJOR FEATURES OF THE ZAPATA PLAN.
a. Stafiinp; 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 ln assault shipping at New Orleans prior to proceeding to Nicaragua.
to the Objective. Ships of the taskto proceed independently over separate tracks in ordergive the appearanceonvoy, and were to arrive atpoint about forty miles off the Cuban coast at
n the afternoon. From this1 point they were Co proceed in column under cover of darkness to tho transportards off the beach, making rendezvous this point0 with the U. S. Navy LSD lifting Che threw pre-loaded L'JU and four LCVP. One transport, escorted by an LCt, waj to continue independently into Cochinos Bay for landing troops at the head of the Bay. eception measure, two United Fruit Company ships were hired to enter Puerto Cabezas harbor during tho night Che assault shipping sailed. The presence of theHO ships plus the one follow-up Garcia vessel lying off the harbor would, it was hoped, conceal the fact that Che operation heel been laumhe<'. This deception was apparently successful, for available Intelligence indicaces that Castro was not aware chat 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 wich oucboard moeors.
Beach (Playa Giron; cenCer ofiles from Red Beach). The main body,cwo infantry companies, the hcquy weapons companythe headquarters and service company, tank platoon
and motor transport platoon, were to land hero utilizingCVP's and eighteenooC aluminum boats from three transports. Reserveays) were Co be unloaded at this beach.
Beachank ufiles east of Blue" Beach). One reinforced company,men, was Co land ac this beach from an LCI utilizing onecho Cwo launches available in Che LCI.
Demolition Team (UDT) Plan. UDTto reconnoiter and mark each beach with lights prior toof troops.
o. Naval Gunfire. One-LCI, mounting elevenaliber machine guns, fivealiber machine guns andm recolllesi 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 troops on Green Beach to the east.
Landing. The airborne company was todawn by parachute from6 aircraft in five dropthe purpose of sealing off the roads crossing theinto the beachhead area from the north.
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.
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 cast flank. Outposts beyond the swamp on the three roads leading from thejjorth were to be dropped by parachute.
h. Air Plan.
(1) Dawn attacksay were planned against all 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 Co 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 andauca International Broadcascing Station; Topes de Collantea Military Base. (Succeeding paragraphs describing the actual operation, will show that none of these attacks planneday were carried outesult of orders from higher authority.)
internal radio communication systemBrigade was similar to thateinforced Unitedunit of similar size, but was more extensive inequipment and number of nets employed. Portable radiosvoice range ofiles were used for communicationHeadquarters and the various companies of thofor tactical and administrative purposes, mortarair-ground control were provided.
cemmunication with Headquarters inStates and the air base in Nicaragua, the Brigadewith two communication trailers which were to betwo separaCe ships. In addition, it was provided withsetsapable of communication withthe 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-Bhora liaison and logistical purposes. The Brigade Cotnmander could relay messages to the United States or Nicaragua through either of these ships.
(4) Each troop transport was providedirect radio circuit to the United States and Nicaragua.
(a) 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 arumunltion they could carry.
Cb) Sevenon trucks, lifted in the three LCU, were pre-loaded with ammunition of all types.
Paramilitary arms packs (arms, field equipment and limited ammunition for outfitting guerrilla forces) were available in assault shippingCI; ATLANTICO)en.
Ten days supply of Classes I, IIIas loaded in the holds of one of the assault ships (RIO ESCONDIDO)
One transport (LAKE CHARLES) with ten days of supply, Classes I, III and V, was scheduled to arrive at the objective area on the morning ofrom Nicaragua.
A second follow-up ship (ORATAVA) with twenty days supplies, Class I, III 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) hlrd follow-up ship (LA PLAYA) with arms and ammunition0 men, plus vehicles, communication equipment, medical supplies and POL was also to be on call south of Cuba.
Three days supply ofIIere available at the airfield at Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, for air landing or parachute delivery.
Paramilitary arms packsen were available for air delivery at three airfields in Guatemala. Nicaragua, and Opa Locka.
Backup. Arms,0 men were positioned by the DefenseAnniston, Alabama, as additional backup. Sufficienten was prepared for air drop.
ear medical facilityof casualties evacuated from the objective area waswhich defied solutionew days beforethe operation. Authority could not be obtained for use of
a facility In the United States. There were no usable facilities at bases in Guatemala or Nicaragua, and, ir. any event, the governments of those countries did not wish to have Cuban casualties evacuated there.
it was decided chat theDefense wouldield hospital at Vieques,to be operational by Dt-5. This plan was abandoned,It was agreed in the end that casualties would beair ot sea to Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico.
EXECUTION OF THE OPERATION. ummary ot the more significant events of the actual operation is recorded in following paragraphs.
21. AIR STRIKES.
purpose of these strikos was co destroyaircraft, all of which were believed fromto be based at San Antonio, Campo Libertad 6 were 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 andat 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 ofoerviceable 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.
22. THE DIVERSION OPERATION.
Diaz Groupen was stagedon schedule and proceeded to Its objectivemiles east of Guantanamo 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 lost.
learning of Diaz's failure to land.ordered him to land on the following night, butfailed to do soumber of excuses. The undersigned
declded at 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 operationhe forces involved were composed of volunteer foreign nationals, all based, with the exception of Diaz's group, in countries outside the United States, and consequently the United States exercised nouthority over them. All the Cuban forces except Diaz's, however, voluntarily complied with all Instructions issued. Headquarters.
23. THE AMPHIBIOUS/AIRBORNE OPERATION AT ZAPATA.
and Movement to the Objective.
operations were smoothlyto plan. (See) The shipsat the planned place and time and made0 with the Navy LSD carrying tho 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 thet" this forcelanding was commenced.
of the Air Attacks AgainstAirfields and Other Targets Planned (See paragraph
(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
urged in the strongest terms that the President be immediately requested to reconsider this decision and that the possible disastrous consequences of cancelling these attacks be explained to him. ffered the prediction at this time that shipping, with the essential supplies on board, would bo sunk, possibly to tho last ship, on the following 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 communicated to 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 theessage 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 see 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 RIOo the south at best speed. The RIO ESCONDIDO 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 aftor midnight and marked the beach with lights. oral reef
about one-foot beneath the surface was discoveredards off the beach. Members of the UDT team were forced to fireeep which approached their position. Three trucks promptly arrived carrying troops who engagedire fight with Lynch and his party. Lynch called for fire support from the BLAGAR, which closedards and drove all opposition from the beach in ten minutes of firing. Lynch then called for croops to land.
Troops commenced landinghere 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 were captured, and the remainder fled leaving their weapons behind. Troops continued to land without serious opposition.
Athannel through the coral reef was located and marked, and LCU's began to land vehicles
Enemy Air Attacks. Enemy air attacks against the invasion force conmencad0 and continued all day. ea3 aircraft participated in the attacks, with no more than two aircraft appearing at any one time during the day. The BLAGAR shot down one Sea Fury and6 (assisted in 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. ll troops, vehicles and tanks were ashore at Blue Beach.
Loss of RIO ESCONDIDO. This ship, with ten days reserve supplies on board was sunk by enemy air attack All crew members were rescued.
Enemy air attacks against the ships continued as they withdrew to the south.
d. Operations at Red Beach.
UDT Reconnaissance. Mr. Robertson,. operations officer with the LCI BARBARA J,DT team to Red Beach shortly0 onpril and marked the beach. The reconnaissance party silenced enemy automatic weapons fire coming from the left flank.
Landing of Troops. Troops coninenced 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 wore 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 Cochlnos 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.
Ono6 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 force were either destroyed or stopped by friendly aircraft. ank and two anniunlclon trucks arrived from Blue Beach In time for action against the next attack0
by anilitia. These troop's, who arrived in open trucks and semi-trailers, were 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 tho Red Beach force during the night.
as strafed by anFury during Che day, and two engines were disabled.
A near miss with rockets opened her seams slightly and she began taking water.
Retirement to Blue Beach. On the morning ofhe Red Beach force, being almost out of aroriiur.ition, 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.
Landing. The airborno companyall but one of five scheduled drop zones was encountered. Little is known of furtherthe airborne company, except that tho force whichof Blue Beach held positions successfully until
the final day of the operation.
Action at Blue Bench.
Air Supply. During the nightpril4 drop of ammunition was maded Beach and4 drops at Blue Beach. 4 drops were made at Blue Beach during tho following night, but only two wero received.
Combat Action. Reports have indicated that the Blue Beach area was quiet during tho ^morningut 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 were issued from Headquarters for arnrounition and supplies to be offloaded from the transports CARIBE and ATLANTICO 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 tho evening ofpril. The LCU's were loaded and the run to tho beach was comiiicncjd, but the BLAGAR
reported Chat due to the slow speed of the LCD's, the craft could not arrive at the beach until after daylight. Enemy fighters by this time were over the beach continuously during daylight hours, and it wasertainty that the craft would be sunk before they could reach the beach to unload. Accordingly, the mission was cancelled by Headquarters, and instructions for air supply during tho night were issued to the air base in Nicaragua.
Evacuation Attempt. essage was sent to the Brigade Commander onpril stating that ships and craft would be moved to Blue Beach to evacuate troops that night if he so recommended. He replied that he would never be evacuated.0 onpril, the two LCI and three LCD headed for the beach, in accordance with orders from Headquarters, to evacuate troops, but the convoy reversed course upon learning that the beachhead had fallen.
Final Day ofpril). The enemy continued to press Blue Beach from three sides with tanks, infantry and artillery during the day. In theounter attack was launched to the west along the coastal road by abouten and two tanks. The tanks returned later in damaged condition, but the Infantry force was not heard from again. In the course of the day's battle, ammunition supplies were exhausted, and at0 in the afternoon organized resistance ceased. Survivors have stated that
the lines did not collapse until all ammunition was expended.
Friendly Air Action..
(a) 6 were phased over the beachhead for close support and interdiction during the day. These aircraft attacked ground targets,atrol escort shipnch gun) near the Isle of Pines, and one aircraft attacked the airfield at Cienfuegos. Only three of these eleven aircraft returned to base. Four were shot down, while the remaining four landed at other friendly bases. Some of these four aircraft, and all the crews, were returned to base late the next day.
(b) Four6 arrived at Nicaragua from Che United Scacea that night. During the night,6 were launched against Che San Antonio airfielday photography had revealed che 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 from 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 tne beachhead. Three, including two piloted by Americans, were shot downs. Additional sorties were flown during the morning as aircraft could be readied.
is estimated that only three enemytwo Sea Furies were left in actionay. were sufficient, however, to keep almostover the beachhead, making it almost suicidal toin the area6 aircraft, which wereagainst fighter attack.
(5) IC seems reasonable Co conclude Chac Che attacks on milicary airfields originally programmed0ay, buC which had Co be cancelled, would have had an excellent chance of eliminacing Cascro's offensive air capabllicy or of reducing ic Co ineffecCiveness. If this had been done,6 operations could have been maincained 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 che Cide of baccle, since Castro's road-bound cruck columns proved highly vulnerable when6 were able Co locate chem, and the Brigade, itself, was noc defeaced until Its ammunition supplies were exhausced.
RESCUE OPERATIONS. Mr. Robercson and Mr. Lynch, with five Cuban UDT men, operated from Uniced SCaces descroyers for several days afcer collapse of che beachhead and rescued Cwenty-six survivors from che coasCal area wesc of Cochinos Bay.
25. INTELLIGENCE FACTORS.
ulCtmaCe success of strike operationsin causing the overthrow of Castro depended uponby these operations of large-scalethe people of Cuba and widespread revolt withinrmed forces. The invasion force was neveroverthrow Castro by itself, and no representations wereby the Central Intelligence Agency that the force hadpotential.
was much evidence from availableincluding agent reports and debriefing ofcoming out of Cuba, to indicate that the country wasrevolt. An analysis of actual and potentialin 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 same time as the planned invasion.
low estimate by the Paramilitary Stafffighting qualities and poCenCial of Castro's rotlicia 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 tfscambray were exflltrated and debriefed by the Central Intelligence Agency after resistance in these mountains collapsed. There can be no question of the fact that the militia performed very poorly in the Escambray, and demonstrated low morale, lack of efficiencyarked reluctance to close in decisive combat even with small, poorly armed guerrilla fovecs. Tlie guerrilla forces in the Escambray were reduced by seige, which cut off food supplies, and not by direct combat.
d. The military proficiency demonstrated by the 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 durin- Che early months There was also reason to suspect that militia operations were being directed by European military personnel. The tactics employed were Comrriunist-stylo, and enemy voice transmissionstrange tongue, not Spanish, were intercepted by the Brigade. Intelligence indicates chat these "elite" militia forces suffered extremely heavy casualties during the three days of fighting, and they were not able to overcome the Brigade until the latter was out of arroniniLiouesult of our Inability to supply the force against the opposition of Castro's five remaining fighter aircraft. It wouldiv. reasonable to conclude that if the Castroorcc had been eliminated at the beginning so that uninterrupted unloading of supplies could proceed at the beach and,6 oircraiit could operate effectively, the Brigade would have had an excellent chance of breaking the hard-core fttlitia, which obviously was what Castro used in the battle. Casualties in the number being experienced by the militia) could not hove been sustained moreew more days without collapse The breaking ot the hard-core militia would probably have been the signal for revolt of the Rtrbel Army and remaining eleniento of the militia, who were known to bo of dubious loyalty to Castro. In this regard, it is significant thatilitia prisoners captured by tho Brigade offored to fight against Castro, and the majority of able-bodied male civilians in the invasion area did likewise. It Is also
signiflcant Chat no known Rebel Army units participated in the battle, indicating Cascro's lack of falch in their loyalty. It Is also significant that Castro's Navy did nothing of Importance against the invasion force.
e. The theory chat uprisings and revolt would be triggered did noc receive an adequate test in che operation. Agents throughout Cuba were warned shortly before the invasion to make all preparations for action, but che 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 throe days which turned out to be che extent of life of che invasion force, nor could revolt be expectod 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 THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PARAMILITARY OPERATIONS.
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 lorces. (Adequate training base could not be obtained in other countries.)
The restriction prohibiting use of an air base in the United States for logistical overitr. ir. 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 inco 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 far 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.)
the restriction prohibiting use of american contract pilots for aerial supply of guerrilla forces. (cuban pilots demonstrated at an early date their inability to perform these missions. american pilots, on the other hand, have proved their ability in this field in many areas of the world, workingariety of indigenous forces. the failure to supply guerrilla organizationsricical failure in the overall operation.)
the restriction prohibiting usease in tho united states for tactical air operations in support of the amphibious landing. (about nine hours were required to turn6econd mission over the target from nicaragua, and pilots were physically unable to fly more than one mission per day. in the actual operation, numerous aircraft were forced to land in the united states or british territory due to fuel shortage, and were out of action during the critical period. ase in florida, the number of sorties flown could have been doubled or tripled, and fighter aircraft could have been used to protect the bombers. location of bases in third countries also complicated security and logistical problems and increased the likelihood that use of the bases would be denied soon after commencement of operations.)
(5) the restriction prohibiting^ use of american contract 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 oftactical aircraft than6 bomber.'
restrictions preventing theof the tactical air powerplan presented by the Paramilitary Stafffull-scale air attacks by all available aircraftairfields, as well as against tank, artilleryparks, commencing at dawnnd involvingeffort at dusk and continuation of full-scaleD-Day and thereafter. Pressure by the Department ofthe 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 at 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 havo eliminated these, as well as other tank, truck, and artillery^parks revealed by other available photography. By limiting the number of aircraft in tho initial surprise strike, and leaving these important targets untouched, Castro was given the opportunity to disperse these concentrations.
(Cancellations at the last moment, while the troops were already off the beaches preparing to land, of tho air attacks planned0ay against Castro's remaining tactical aircraft, doomed the operation to failure. See.
(Restrictions which prevented the full application of available airpower in accordance with sound
tactical principles must be regarded as primarily responsible for failure of the amphibious operation.)
b. The Department of State was the 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 result was "too little, toond the United States had to bear publicly the responsibilityailurehan the responsibilityuccess. The price paid by the United States in terms of public clamor by our onemies was high enough to have covered the cost of additional measures that could have been taken to ensure success. Ithis writer through the many months of this effort, that the United States was trying toery important objectiveery small cost to Itself, while it would have been in the national interest to act more boldly and openly and accept more risks as might be necessary to ensure that every needed measure would be taken to win the objective, which had to be won, ond still must be won, and soon, if all Latin America is not to be lost to Communism.
27. CONCLUSIONS. The following conclusions aremy experiences of the past eight months as Chief ofStaff of the Central Intelligence Agency
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, and often dangerous and painful measures which must bj caken in order to win. Our history and tradition have conditioned us for all-out war or all-out peace, and the resort to war-like measures in any situation short of all-out 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 the end result is political embarassment coupled with military failure and loss of prestige in the world.
operations cannotation-card basis. Therefore, Ifare such as to prohibit the application ofmeasures required to achieve the objective,operations should not be undertaken.
officials of the Government shouldto 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 theu-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 does not have required organization, equipment, procedures, bases, facilities nor staff for che 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 of 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 che operations are co cake place. IC would bo advisable Copecial cask force wlchin Che Unified Command, withfrom Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force,. as required, for conduct of paramilitary operations.
k. WiChin che Department of Defense, the responsibility for ground paramilitary matters shouldsigned to the Army Special Forces, since these ibrces 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 maccers are Co be discussed. Ic 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
Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, if present at all 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 Corpc
28. REFERENCE LIST
(a) JCSo Secretary of Defense; Subject: Military Evaluation of. Paramilitary Plan, Cuba.
(b) JCS1 of to Secretary of Defease; Subject: Evaluation. Cuban Volunteer Task Force.
(c) JCS1 of to Socretary of Defense; Subject: Evaluation of Military Aspects of Alternate Concepts. Paramilitary Plan, Cuba.
NOTE: Abovo references are not available for
attachment to this paper. If tho reader desires to read these attachments, approval must be obtained from the following:
Colonel M. R. Olson, USMC
Executive Officer, SACSA
of Colonel Hawkins Memo1 to Chief,ubject: Policy Decisions Requested for Conduct of Strike.Operations
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,7
MEMORANDUM FOR: Chief, WH/4
Decisions Required for Conduct
of Strike Operations Against Government of Cuba
The purpose of this memorandum is 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 la accomplished, attacks will then be directed against other military targets, including artillery parks, tank parks,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 selsa 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 tha 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 ba 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, may 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 the 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 In the prompt overthrow of the Castro Government.
While this paper Is directed to tte 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 Eglln Air Force Base. However, there are only five6 pilots
available at this tine who are considered to be of high technical competence. Six additional Cuban pilots are available, but their proficiency is questionable.
It is planned that4 andill be available for strike operations. Here again, tha number of qualified Cuban crewsnsufficient. There is one4 crew on hand at this 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 cine 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 inadequaCe for supply operations which will be required in support of che invasion force and other friendly forces which are expected to join or operate in conjunction with it In many parts of Cuba. It is anticipated that multiple sorties will be requiredaily basis.
b. Maritime. Amphibious craft for the operation, including three LCU's and four LCVP's are now at Vieques, Puerto Rico, where Cuban crew training Is-progressing These craft with their crews will soon be ready for operations.
Theow enroute to che United states from Puerto Rico, requires repairs which may Cake up Co two weeks for compleClon. ics slscer ship, che BLAGAR, is outflC-Cing in Miami, and Its creweing assembled. IC Is expecced chac boch 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 LCI's, the decision has been reached to purchase no more major vessels,
but to charter them 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 are 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.
is probable that the Assault Brigade canplanned strengthrior to commitment, but itthat upwardsf these men will be recruitedfor adequate training.
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 tha latter half of February Is the earliest satisfactory time for the strike operation.
A. Major Policy Questions Requiring Resolution:
In order that planning and preparation for the strike operation may proceed in an orderly manner and correctof 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 are 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. Thut the Director of Central Intelligence attempt to determine the position of theand his Secretary of State-Designate in regard to this question as soon as possible.
of the Operation.
If Army Special Forces 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 be Inadvisable for the following reasons:
(1) It is doubtful that Cuban forces can beat our Guatemalan training baseressure upon the Government of Guatemala may become unmanageable if Cuban ground troops are not removed by that date.
Cuban trainees cannot be held in training for much longer. Many have been In the camp for months under most 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 the 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 in 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 inommunist-style 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 is 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 landing but thereafter as long as the force remains in combat. It Is
essential that opposing military targets such aa 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 in 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 stem 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 la 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
crrnn* OUiRBI -
That policy approval ba obtained for use of American contract crews for tactical and transport aircraft in augmentation of the Inadequate number of Cuban crews available.
e. 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, using64 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 much morethan Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, which is exposed to hostile observation and lacks security. It Is planned that troops will be flown ln 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 tn the target would be much more certain and efficient if flown from Florida.
There laossibility 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-positioned 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 avaffable to ua and has storage facilities for supplies) forsupport flights to Cuba.
J. Hawkins Colonel, U. S. Marine Corps Chief,M
TRINIDAD (CONCEPT OF OPERATION)
x" 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.
2. CONCEPT OF OPERATION.
D-day the Assault Force conducts anlanding in the TRINIDAD area.
ay, sabotage activities are directedand destroying the GOC ground, aircapability throughout CUBA, withon air, communications,artillery and POL. Propagandaintensified in order to obtain activethe 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 PIKAR DEL RIO incause movement of enemy forces awaytheintended 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 Daily armed reconnaissance missions areorder to prevent movement of enemy forces against
our, the Assault Force lands by(LCVP and LCU) over designated beaches,nd by parachute in designated drop zone,A, B, and C, and on order of Assaultseizesnd F.
After seizure of Initial objectives, the Assault Force attempts to obtain cooperation, assistance and good-will of the local populace in Che TRINIDAD-CASILDA area. Combat inside the City of Trinidad is avoided. Facilities such as the hospital in TRINIDAD and the port facilities and petroleum supplies at CASILDA are converted to Brigade use.
After consolidation of the lodgement. Assault Force coordinates operations with local guerrilla leaders and civil leaders in the area making maximum efforts Co organize, equip and employ additional forces and incorporate chem under command of Che Brigade Commander, i. Upon seizure and prepnrnclon of che airfield at
TRINIDAD, transport aircrafttilize this base for supply and evacuation operations. 1. Follow-up logistic support is provided by air landing, air drop and seaborne meanscheduled basts and in response to call of Brigade Commander, k. In the event the TRINIDAD area cannot be held, Che AssaulC Brigade, on order of che Brigade Commander, withdraws to the ESCAMBRAY MOUNTAINS in order to continue resistance operations against the Castro government. Support for these operations will ba provided by aerial means.
Target List) toTactical Air Support) to Operation Plan (ZAPATA)
1. the following targets will be attacked:
Antonio de los Banos Air)
de Cuba Air Base (Antonio Macao) )
Baracoa Air Base (near Havana)
Air Base (Jaime Gonzalez) )
craft at or near Cienfuegos Naval Station
craft at or near Batabano Naval Station
Gorem Airfield (Isle of Pines) )
de Collantes Military Base.
Julian Airose Marti International AirportAirfield.
Anti-Castro Resistance In Cuba: Actual and Potential
1. There are nowersons in Cuba engaged in active resistance against the Castro regime. It is our estimateell-organized, well-armed force, successful inodgement on Cuban soil, would receive the active supportf the Cuban populace and would be opposed, at the maximum, by no more. of the people, (Ofhe majority would adopt an attitude of neutrality until such time as theretrong indication of which side had the better chance of victory.)
2* 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 Plnar-del Rio for seizureajor air base with the assistance of Army and Navy personnel from Castro's own forces. Sabotage Is occurringteadilyrmunting 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,
3. The forces which remain loyal to Castro are, for the most part, younger students. Communists, and those whotake in the regime. The latter consists of government officials, persons who have benefitted from the distribution of seized properties, and those who have received, or believe they will receive, various benefits (such as new housing and employment). Castro is opposed
by former property holders, business and professional people, the clergy, students In Catholic schools, most of those persons originally in 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 tha Catholic Church areatholic, 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 Internationalline 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.
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 are 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 qr. on routine garrison duty. There is great resentment in the Army at this down-grading, che subordination to the Militia, and the imprisonment of such popular leaders as Huber Matos. The Air Force ha3 lost nearly all of its better pilots and navigators and does not constitute an effective combat force. All of the few senior Navy 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. Thia would leave as Castro's chief reliance,the Militia.
The Mllltla Is well-armed with individual weapons (rifles and submachine guns) and is receiving increasingly effective
training. Within it are the "hard-core" of Castroespite 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-hards, which, except in Havana, they are not. While some of the Militia joined for the glamourniform, most membersecause they had no other choice. In the Escambray one Army commander urged Castro to withdraw all the militia because of their ineffectiveness. And lt Is significant that when the fighting became more serious in that area, three Army battalions were called in 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 are 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 from theigure at least ten times that sizeanding Is effected, and that the Castro military forces, faced with such opposition, will notaxiimzi0 effectives. It is our further estimate that even the hard-core" pro-Castro forces will not be effective outside the area of Havana, and that any opposition force that can advance asill accrue to it such defectors from the Castro military as will give it superiority in numbers.
Cuba: The Record Sety. Murphy
Not long ago, at President Kennedy's daily staff meeting, the special assistant for national security affairs, McCeorge Bundy, opened the proceedings by noting, "Sir, ve have four matters up for discussion this morning." The President was notestful mood. "Are these problemso 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 addressod the nation on the subject of Berlin. The ebulllonce, 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 tho nation was with him.
Nevertheless, ln any full review of John Kennody's first months in office, there must beailure lnthat will continue to Inhibit and trouble American foreign policy until lt is corrected, fills failureair question: whether Kennedy has yet mastered themachinery, whother he is well and effectively served by some of his close advisers, and whether they understand the use of power in world politics. Tho matter is of vital importance; ln the crises that will inevitably arlso around thethe Middle East, In Africa, in the Far East, in Central Europe--the CS. Government must be in top form, and possibly even, as Kennedy himself suggested, act alone.
* Fortune,ages, passim.
Administrative confusions came to light moat 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 Itself should not be underestimated: Laos, once In the way ofuffer for its non-Comnunist neighbors, is all but finished; now, in South Viot-Nam, Ngo Dinhtout friend ofs under murderous attack by Conaunist guerrillas;. loss of face Is bolng felt from the Philippines to Pakistan, and in the long run the damage may prove to be even more costly than that causod by Cuba.
Let ua turn back then to the train of events, beginning with Laos, that culminated in the disaster in the Boy of Pigs, FORTUNE Is publishing the account for oneset the record straight for concerned Americans.
Kennedy, from tho day he took office, was loath to act In Laos. He was confident that he understood the place and use of power in tho transactions of tho nation, but he was baffled by this community of elephants, parasols, and pagodas. Then, too, he brought toeneral surmise that our long-range prospects of holding the new and weak nations of Southeast Asia in the Western camp wero doubtful in the In this rospoct, he was leaning toward the Lippmann-Stevenson-Fulbright view of strategy, This school holds. power is ovcrcommltted in Southeast Asia, and that the propor elm. diplomacy there should bo to reduce local frictions by molding tho new states as true neutrals.
. position in Laos had become acute while Dwight Elsenhower was still In office. Eisenhower must thereforeonsiderable part of the blame for the I'.S- failure; heituation go from bad to worse, and indeed heto Kennedy for leavingnd that lt might tuko the Intervention. troops to rodu&jn It. There hadoment when the strugglo in Laos had turned in favor of the. forces under Gonoral Phoumi Mosuvan, the formerMinister. eries of small but decisivemore by maneuver than by shooting, Phoumi eventually took the capital, Vientiane, early in December, but at this point the Russians intervened openly on the side of thet faction, the Pathet Lao. In concortarge-scale push by well-trained troops from North Viet-Nam, theyubstantial airlift into northern Laos (anthat still is continuing).
Tho 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 havo been done by "volunteer" pilots and tho challonge 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 forcos Into the battle, as the SEATO treaty provided-.
In the end, Eisenhower dectdod to sheer away from both measures. The State Department was opposed to stirring up India and tho other Asian neutrals. Secretary of State Christian Herter agreed in principle that the indopondence of Laos had to be maintained, yet be 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 uf actions that night have. policy on tho central issue: that Laos was worth lighting for. Even the modest additional support that the Defense Department tried to extend to. -equipped battalions in the field during the last weeks of the Elsenhower Administration was diluted by reason of the conflict between Defense and State. Under Secretary of Defense James Douglas wns later to say, "By theessage to tho field hod been composed in Washington, lt had ceased to be an operational order and hadhilosophical essay." exod Phoumi was tothat tho reasoning of the American Ambassador, Winthrop Brown, was beyond his simple Oriental mind. "His Execlloncy insists that my troops be rationedew rounds ofper man. He tolls 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. BuX early in Varch aCommunist descent drove himosition commanding the principal highway in northern Laos. That unfortunnte action was the turning point in bis 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 involvod 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
"demonologists,"New Frontier's affectionate term for its Soviet experts. The most influential amongE. Bohlen, State's senior Sovietologist, und Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson atagreed that Khrushchevhad too much respect. power to stir it into action, as Stalin had carelessly done in Korea. Yet, while Khrushchev was plainly indulging his preference for "salami" tactics, it was impossible Lo judge howlice he was contemplating or whethor he was being pushod 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, then the least chancy response for. was to assume that Khrushchov 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 Husk and also was being pressed by Prime Minister Macmillan in London. It came to bo known as Track Two. It was intended io leadease-fire followed by negotiation. Oppositely, the Joint Chiefs of Staff still bolieved, as they did under Bisenhower, that the military challengeilitary showdown: action by the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, underixed alliedAmericans, would move into Laos and take over the defense of ihe important cities, thereby freeing the Royal Laotian Army to move into tho field without risk of being sapped by subversion in the roar. This option was laboled Track One, and it was favored as well by Defense Secretary Robert S. McNeunara and his deputy, Roswcll Gilpatric.
While Kennedy favored Track Two and supported anote that Macmillan sent to Moscow, lie decided ho also had tohow of starting down Track One, in ease the political gamble failed. He permittedramatic At his televised press conference onie. 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 he was inight, he implied that. was preparing to go to its defense. There was,remendous deployment. forces in the Par 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 tho field with his battalions. Against this background, onennedy went to Key West and met Macmillan, who wasisit to the West Indies. The
Prime Minister made it clear that Britain considered Laos hardlyar, and wanted no partEATO action. (De Gaulle,eparate exchange, had told Kennedy flatly that France would not fight in Laos.)
From that point on, the ideailitary showdown in Laos looked less and less attractive to the President. Be did issue one warning to the Russians that might have beenasilitary tone. Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko called at the White House and Kennedy took him into the rose garden, beyond earshot of his staff, and said,. does not intend to stand idly by while you take over Laos." But that was the last run along Track One.
By then, Rusk was in Bangkokeeting of the SEATO powers, still hoping to extract from the meeting attrong statement that would condemn the Soviet intervention in Laos and reassert the determination of the SEATO powers to defend the new nations of Southeast Asia. In this mission Rusk failed. None of the ranking Democratic Congressmen, or. Republican, spoke up in favor of intervention. Moreover, when Kennedy pressed the military chiefs for specifiche got divided answers. General Thomas White, then Air Force Chief of Staff, and Admiral Arlclgh Burke, then Chief of Naval Operations, were both confident that thepenetration could be defeated and Laos saved. They said that since the Communists could throw far more manpower into the battle,. war plan would have to include the possible use of tactical nuclear weaponsimited scale. They maintained, however,. resolution tonuclear weapons, if thereeed, might in itself discourage further Communist penetration. General Lyman L. Lomnitzor, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, andGeorge H. Decker, Army Chief of Staff, bad much lessin. ability to stop the Communists. Lemnitzer expressed the apprehension. military action in Laos might be matched by Red China and Russiaast reopening of the war in Korea. Two such wars, byhis calculation, might require no fewer than. divisions, more than the Army had in its entire order of battle, as woll as general mobilization to support them.
"Inennedy demanded, "you're telling mean'tuclear war?" This, he swore, he'd never do, which by Itselftartling reversalundamental premise of the Eisenhower strategy: . forces would have recourse to nuclear tactical weapons on whatever scale the pursuit. objectives required. The White House, while conceding to the Communists the option of uninhibited escalation, would not tolerateimitedon the nuclear side by our own forces. Any military
e 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, tho scene of Kennedy addressing himself to the nap of Laos| in his first public appearance as Commander-in-Chief, is now memorable for its fleeting revelationpirited man who was eagor to present himselftrong President, but who all too quickly turned unsure of his principal resource of
The chiefs, although they took different views of the risks of the Laos situation, were fundamentally agreedentral point. And that was that. had to bo prepared to employ tactical nuclear weapons. But Kennedy and hisstrategists, moving away from the nuclear base of the Eisenhower strategy, read into their professionalankruptcy of means and doctrine. The low euteem in which Kennody began to hold tho military luuders whom he Inherited from the Elsenhower Administration has not been concealed.
Secretary of Defense McNamara is rewriting tho Eisenhower strategic doctrine, in collaboration with tho 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 wan nlipplng farther and farther belowreakdown of communication between the political and the military sides of the government, and this would contribute largely to theof Kennody's next venture.
The Cuba affair has boon called tho* American Suoz, In the sense that Suez, too, was an utter fiasco, the bracketing is wryly accurate. There is,lear differencethe two operations. Ill-managed as it was, the Suezwould have succeeded had not Eisenhower used theof. to bring threeFrance, anda humiliating halt. (It should be recorded that neither Britain, Franco, nor Israel made any critical comment on. excursion in Cuba.) In Cuba the 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 olemont needed for victory,
IfU.S. military areeer in any one techniquo of warfare, it Is in putting forces ashoreostile beaoh. For the Bay of Pigs, all the necessary moans were at Kennedy's band. It was, by tho standards of General David M. Shoup's Marines, an elementary amphibious oporation in less than battalion strength. And, Indeed,actical exercise, lt vas well devised and daringly and successfully led. But after tho strategists at the White House and State 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 bis inner group of policy movers and shakers had been in on tho planning. Only after the disaster was upon them did ho and his men realizeonturo which wasilitary one had been fatally compromised in order to satisfy political considerations. One notofficial who also served under Elsenhower was later to obsorvo: "Cubaerrific jolt to this new crowdit exposed the fact that they hadn't really begun to understand tho meaning and consequences ofuse or misuse of power, in other words. They had blamed Iko'sinaction on indecision and plain laziness. Cuba taught them that action, any kind of serious action, is hard andno safe buslnoss for amateurs."
The idea for the invasion had taken root during the early summer By then, thousands of defectors from Castro's Cuba were in. Many of them were professional soldiers. The job of oi'ganizing nnd 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 isighly practical executive. Among jus other first-class accomplishments, Bissell had mastermindedperation, which was, until it finally missed, as one day it had to, the most economical and comprehensivein espionage in modern timos.
Training camps for the exiles wore set upistrict in western Guatemala offering some privacy. Tbe original idea was to feed the rocrults back into Cuba, to reinforce the several thousand anti-Castro guerrillas already established in the mountains. Toward the autumn,oreand riskier project came under tentative consideration. Castro was organizing large formations of militia and wasbent on crushing the counterrevolutionary movement beforo tho Cuban populuco caught fire. iew to saving the movement, it was proposed to build up an invuslon force big enough to seize and to bold on tho Cubaneachhead
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 wero in training nearby. The planes, however, weres, twin-engine bombers of World War II vintage that had been redoomed from the Air Force's graveyard. Associated with themroop-carrying squadron withmall detachment ol paratroopers was training.
During the summer and fallisenhower fromtimo personally revlowed the scheme. In late November,tine it came up for his comprehensive review, anplan had not yet crystallized; no timetable Torbeen set. Across the Potomac at tho Pentagon, Underof Defense Douglas, who was charged withunder the noncommittal category of collateralactivities, wasatchful eyo on the project,such military talent and gear aa the CIA Neither he nor the Joint Chiefs of Staff (whosewith the project remained informal at thisthat much good would flow from an attack made by For one thing, the resources then availabletraining ofen or so, and tho air unit had butplanes. This was hardly enough to bring down aregime, and Douglas repeatedly counseledin the planning. Indood, it was taken for grantedand the others directly concernedandingcould not possibly be brought off unless thoshepherded to the beach by. Navy (eithernd covered by air power In whatever amount;necessary. Elsenhower, the commander ot Normandy,this well
"You may havo to sond troops in"
It became obvious toward the ond0 that 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 hia to make. Given the relaxed attitude at the While House, the military chiefs also relaxed; military concern for tho enterprise sank to thethe four-star level tocolonels 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 tho more modest objective of simplyupply offor the anti-Castro forces in the mountains.
Before Eisenhower was fully rid of his responsibility,umber of disquioting developments combined toto the enterprise an air of emergoncy. It was established that Castro was to start receiving, oarlyubstantial deliveries of Sovlot jet fighters, and that pilots to man them were already being trained in Czechoslovakia. From allthese would provide him, by early summer, with an air force that would 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 Amorica. Two other developments were scarcely less worrisome. Castro was making progress In his systematic destruction of his enemies in tho mountains, upon whose cooperation the invasion countod, and thore 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 threatenod to split their ranks, and men who had trainod long and painstakingly wore impatient over the failure of their American advisers toailing date. Tho fooling 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 in 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, ho had sharply blamed the Eisenhower 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 Elsenhowor, and by his stipulation. Ike was Inclined to rank Cuba below Laos in terms of urgency, but Cuba cloarly worried him. In their second conversation Ike said: "It'sad situation. You may have to send troops In."
The first necessity: control of the air
On taking office, Kennedy at onco calledetailed briefing on the condition and prospects offostorod operation. This information was supplied by Allen W. Dulles, the diroctor of the CIA, and by Bissell. After Kennedy had heard them out he docided that he had to have from the Joint Chiefs ofechnical opinion of the feasibility of the project. It is at this point that tho locus of responsibility begins to be uncertain.
The operation wasepartment of Defense responsibility. Only onco before, in early January, had the chiefs formally
reviewed the plan, at Elsenhower'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 wore at this point aiminganding force ofen. An operational plananding on tho south coast of Cuba, near the town of Trinidad, was finally beginning to Jell. Thorp the country was open, with good roads leading into tho Escambray Mountains and the needed link-up with the indigenous guerrillas. AIbo cranked into the plan were ingeniousarrage of radiobroadcasts from nearby islands and showers of pamphlets fromtohe 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 tho first hours to prevent Castro from smashing the invasion on the beach. Once the beachhead was consolidated, however, and if fighting gear went forward steadily to the guerrillas elsewhere In Cuba, the planners were confidentass revolt could be stimulated.
Finally, the plan still assumed. military help would be on call during the landing. Castro's air forceof not quite two-scoredozen or sos, plus about the same number of obsolete British Sea Furlos, also slow, propeller-driven airplanes. But inthere wore seven or3 Jot trainers, the remnants of an. transaction with the Batista government, ao tho force was not the pushover it appeared at first glance. Armed with rockets, theso Jets would be moreatchattle for thes. The scheme was to destroy them on the ground ln advance of the landing,eries of attacks on Castro's airfields; shoulds escape the firstblow, there would bo ample opportunity to catch them la*er on the ground while thoy were being refueled after an action. In any. carrier would be close by, below the horizon, and one or two of its tactical Jots couldsupply whatever quick and trifling help might be required in an emergency.
It stood to reason that, considering how small the landing party was, the success of tho operation would hinge on6 controlling tho air over tho beachhead. And tho margins that the planners accepted were 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 planer 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 tbe plan the chiefs reviewed for Kennedy. The assumptions concerning the possibilities ol 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 tbeighof success. They wore allowed to appraise theand the equipment of the forces. eam of officers was sent to Guatemala. On the basis of its report; the 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 hehange of mind as to its wisdom. ay was tentatively fixed forut this provedto meet. For one thing, it took some time to organize the quarrelsome 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 itsolf the Cuban Brigade, should bo beefed up generally. In conse-quenco of 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 beenhe judged the force too small to take on Castro, or because ho was reluctant to take on soasty job that was bound to stir up anruckus, however it came out. Somo of his closestin any case, were assailed by sinking second thoughts. What bothered them was the "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 thewould scarcely be less embarrassing among the neutralists of Asia and Africa, whose good opinion Kennedy's advisors were most eager to cultivate. And so the emphasis at the White House and State began to move awayoncern with the
militarythings needed to mako tho enterpriseto 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 mast eloquent voice before the Presidenteeting In the State Department on Aprilnly thirteen days before the date sot for the invasion. (Stewart AIsop told part of tho storyecent Issue of the Saturday Evening Post.) Tho occasion was Bissell's final review oF"the operation, and practically everybody connected with high strategy was onol State Rusk, Secretary oi DuI'oiiho McNainurn, Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon, General Lcmnitzor, CIA chief Allen Dulles, as well as Bmidy, I'nul Nitze, Kennedy's specialist on strategic planning at the Pentagon, Thomas Uann, then Assistant Secretary of Stato for Latin-Americanis. and three of Kennedy's specialists in Latin-AmericanAdolf Berle, Arthur M. Schlesinger,nd Richard Goodwin. There was also ono outsider, Senator Willinm Fulbright,of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who had boon Kennedy's favorite choice for Secretary of State, and whose support he wanted. After Bissell had complotod his briefing and Dulles had summed up the risks and prospects, Fulbright spoko and denouncod the proposition out of hand: it was tho 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, ho asked various of his advisers whether thoy thought the oporation should go forward. Withoutthe answer was, yes. Berlo was particularly outspoken. He declared thatower confrontation" with Communism In the Western Hemisphere washow. As for this enterprise. "Let 'or rip" was his counsel. Mann, whohad been on tho fence, now spoke up for the operation. Rusk, too, said ho was for it, In answer lo the President's direct question, but as would presently bo manifest, hehad no heart for it. Two other men among thesenior forolgn-policy advisers, not present at theshared Fulbright's feelings: Under Secrutary of Stato Chester Bowles, and Adlai Stevenson, with ihe United Nations in New York, who soonto knoweneral way thatdistasteful was afoot. In deference to those views,at the meeting or soontwo separate rulings that were to contribute to the fatal
dismomberment 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 before the invasion--firstlnus-two-days (April IS) and again on the morning of the landing. Although those limitations clearly lengthened the risks, Lomnitzer did not disputo them, nor did Bissell's own Military advisors; they were confident that its misseds on the first go, they would surely catch thorn on the second.
During the few remaining days, Kennedy drew his circle of advisers more tightly around him. Apart from Bundy and Rostow, the only White House advisors who remained privy to the development of the operation wore the Latin-AmericanBcrle 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 oxpedltion was schedulod to start on This was, in itself,ob. Some half-dozen small steamers were collected for tho first movement, togetherumber of tactical landing craft. Thepointort on the Caribbean, several hundred miles from the training area in Guatemala, and the transfor of the Cuban Brigado was done by air and at night, through four nights, in the interost 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, Tr*nidad was eliminated as the target landing area. State's reasons were complex. Rusk decided that tho 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, where Castro's reaction might be 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 bo based as rapidly as
possible on Cuba. The only vulnerable airfield capable of taking the planes was one in poor condition nearoi
Pigs, on the Zapata Peninsula,iles to the west
Trinidad. Here tbe countryside was quite deserted and, to succeed at all, the Invaders nnd 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 tho arrangements for arousing the Cuban populace and trying to stampedemilitia with leaflet raids and radiobroadcasts wero struck from the plan, and again because State was afraid that they would bo toohowing of. hand. Onhile the convoy was heading north, Kennedy wasto announceress conference that. would not interveno with force in Cuba. Rusk made sure tho idea got homo by repeating the same guarantee on the morning of the Invasion. The effect of this was to serve notice on tho Cubans in Cuba, who were known to be waiting for an oncourag-lng signal fromhat whatever they might bo temptod to try would be at their own risk.
The politicians take command
Clear to the ond, Kennedy retained tight control of tho enterprise. As each new sequence of action came up for his finalGo signal for the embarkation, then for the pre-lnvasion air strike on tho morning ofe cume to his decisions quickly and firmly. All the way,he reservod the option to stop the landing short of the beach. Ho kept asking how late tbe enterpriso might bewithout making lt look as if Castro had called anbluff. He was told: noon on Sunday,hen the Invasion force would bo eloven hours of steaming from the Bay of Pigs. The Sunday deadline found Kennedy In the Virginia countryside, at Glen Orn; only then did he raise his finger from tho 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,s, having flown undetectednight from their Central American staging base, appeared over Cuba and bombed the three fields on which Castro's ready air was deployed. (Tho attack was, on tho whole, highly successful. Half ofs and Sea Furies, and four of3 jets were blown up or damaged and so removed from tho imminonthe 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 dofected long before. Later thatat the United Nations, after tho Cuban Foreign Minister, Raul Roa, had charged that tho attackprologue". invasion, Adlai Stevenson arono and swore that the planes were Castro's.
From this haploss moment on, Stevenson's role becomes unclear. Thereubsequent published roport that heto block the second strike. Stevenson has flatly denied, and continues to dony, that he even knew about the second strike, let alone that he demanded thut it be called off. But there was little doubt about his unhappiness over tho course of events in the Caribbean and he convoyod these feelings to Washington. Before Sunday was over Bundy was to fly to New York, to nee Stevenson (Bundy said) and still wearing, in his haste to bo off, sneakers and sports clothes. This sudden errandhattering order that went out to Bissell.
It was Sunday evening, only some eight hours after Kennody had given "the go-ahoad." In the first dark, the expedition was even then creoplng toward tho Cuban shore, in Blssell's office thereall on the White House line. It was Bundy, being even crisper than usual: s wore to stand down, there was to be no air strike in the morning, thisresidential order. Secretary of State Rusk was now acting for tho President in the situation. If Bissell wished toreclama" (federalese fort could bo done through Rusk.
Bissell was stunned. In Allen Dulles' absence (he was in Puertoe put his problem up to CIA Deputy Director Charles Caboll, an experienced airman. Together thoy went to the State Department to urge Rusk toecision that, in their judgment, would put the enterprise in irretrievable peril. Cabell was greatly worried about the vulnerability to air attack first of the ships and then of the troops on tho beach. Rusk was not Impressed. The ships, he suggested, could unload and retire to the open sea before daylight; as for the troops ashore being unduly inconvenienced by Castro's air, lt had been his experienceolonel in the Burma theatre, ho told his visitors, that air attack could be moreuisanceanger. One fact he made absolutely cloar: military considerations had overruled the political wheninus-two strike had been laid on; now political considerations were taking over. While thoy were talking, Rusk telephoned the President at Glon Oru to say that Caboll and Bissell wero at his side, and that Ihey were worried about the cancellation of the strike. Rusk, at one point, put his hand over the mouthpiece, and asked Cabell whethor he wished to spoak to tho President. Cabell shook his huad. perhaps that was his mistake; it was certainly his last chance toamentable decision. But Bundy had made it cloar that Rusk was acting for the President, and Cabellrofessional military man, trained to take orders after the facts had boon argued with the man in command.
On their return to the office, Bissell flashed orders to6 commander at the staging field, moreiles from the Bay of Pigs. The force got the changed ordersbefore midnight, only half an hour or so before they were scheduled to depart; tho bomb bays wore already loaded and the crews were aboard. Meanwhile tbe 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 restudied 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 tho Brigade's small force's (only sixteen were operational) to provide effective air cover for the ships from their distant base against jets that could reach the ships in minutes. Cabell now asked whether, if the ships were to pull back of the three or twelve-milo limit, whichever. legal dO'-1rine held lo bw the beginnings of international water, . Boxer, aon station about fifty miles from the Hay of Pigs, could bo 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. The President was awakened. Cabell registered his concern. The answer was still no.
Shortly after that, on Monday morning,rigadier General Chostor 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 uj> 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 tho 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 alarmed. About noon on Monday, Bissell was told thats could attack Castro's airfields at will. Orders went to the staging baseajor attack noxt 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 planes off the
troops and tho remaining ships. Thatmall force was scratched together. It waa over Cuba at dawn, only to find the fields hidden by low, Impenetrable fog. Nothing camo of the try.
Tuesday, the second day, was the turning point. The mon 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 pressuro of Castro's superior fire power and numbers they were being forced back across the beach;s trying to help thorn were shot down.
Two small landing croft had made rendezvous with two remaining supply ships and taken on ammunition and rations; but, from where they wero, they could not reach the beach until after daybreak, at which time Castro's jots were certain to get them. Thore remained still one last clear chance to make the thing go. Boxer was still on station. The releaseew of Its Jots simply for air covor should see the two craft safely to tho 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 wishod to see him. The President asked Bissell to como to the White House. Calls wont out to tho otherRusk, who had been entertaining the Grook Premierormal dinner at the Stato Department, to McNamara, General Lomnitzer, Admiral Bu rke.
Thoy 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 boon overtaken by disaster. He did so with control, with dignity, and with clarity." Bissell made it plain that the expedition was at the point of. airpowor 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 tho opera-tion. Rusk still would not have this. Several others were also opposed, including the President's personal staffers. Burke vouched for the worth of Bissell's proposition. Thowith the President lasted. Its outcomeingular compromise. Jets from the Boxer would provido cover next morning for oxactly
just long enough for the ships to run into the shore and start unloading, and for thes to getard blow.
Next morning, through an incredible mischance,a 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 molancholy 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 the gallant Brigade commander ashoro 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 ordorsestroyer 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, and defeat is 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 opisode useful lessons for all to learn."