586. Letter From the Secretary of Defense (Gates) to the Secretary of State1

Dear Chris: With respect to Castro’s recent statements2 indicating that the treaty under which we maintain the Base at Guantanamo may be unilaterally denounced in the near future, I wanted you to know that I have recently reaffirmed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff my instructions that we hold this Base against all forms of harassment, including armed attack. Although we anticipate taking no provocative steps, contingency plans have been prepared under the direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to include defensive actions beyond the perimeter of the Base should this be required to meet armed attack.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas S. Gates
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/10–1460. Secret. A copy was sent to Goodpaster. Also published in part in Declassified Documents, 1981, 144B. In transmitting a draft of this letter to Gates, Irwin wrote in a covering October 4 memorandum that it might not be desirable to suggest, as the Joint Chiefs of Staff had recommended (see Document 584), that “any doubt exists about the matter.” Rather than seek Department of State concurrence for the Joint Chiefs’ proposals, Irwin said it would be better for Gates to send the short letter which OSD/ISA had drafted. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 64 A 2170, 092 Cuba)
  2. See footnote 2, supra .