159. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Lemnitzer)0

The President has asked that the Defense Department develop a plan for the overthrow of the Castro government by the application of U.S. military force. The plan should include:

An appraisal of the strength of the Cuban military forces.
An appraisal of the probable behavior of the Cuban civilian population during the period of military action.
An analysis of alternative programs for accomplishing the objective; e.g., a complete naval and air blockade vs. an armed invasion.
For the recommended program:
A detailed statement of the U.S. forces required.
A timetable and a description of the specific actions considered necessary to accomplish the objective.
An estimate of the potential U.S. and Cuban casualties.
An estimate of the time required to accomplish the action.
A list of contingencies which we should be prepared to face during the action.
A detailed statement of the U.S. air, ground, and sea forces available for action elsewhere in the world during the period of the Cuban operations, and an appraisal of the extent to which such forces could cope with potential military conflicts in Laos, South Viet-Nam, and Berlin.

The request for this study should not be interpreted as an indication that U.S. military action against Cuba is probable.

By what date may I expect to receive a draft of your report on this subject?

Robert S. McNamara1
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 381 (Sensitive). Top Secret.
  2. Printed from a copy that indicates McNamara signed the original.