19. Staff Study Prepared in the Department of Defense0


The Problem

1. To evaluate possible military courses of action to overthrow the Castro Government in Cuba in the event currently planned political and paramilitary operations are determined to be inadequate.

Facts Bearing on the Problem

2. The basis of the problem was a request by the Department of State for an evaluation of the following possible military courses of action in Cuba.

U.S. unilateral action with U.S. Air, Naval, and Army forces.
Invasion by a U.S. trained and supported volunteer Army composed of Cubans and other anti-Castro Latin Americans.
Invasion by a combination of a and b above.

3. The estimated strength and capabilities of Cuban Armed Forces are as follows:



Revolutionary Army—32,000; capability low, except for guerrilla type operations.
Revolutionary National Police—9,000; capable of security only.
Militia—200,000 to 300,000; capability low except for guerrilla type operations.

Strength, 4 to 5,000 personnel; 3 PF, 2 PCE and 43 smaller craft; capabilities very low.

Air Force

The Revolutionary Air Force, from which almost all the rated pilots were purged by Castro, has almost no combat capabilities at this time. However, reports indicate that as many as 100 pilots are undergoing flight training in Czechoslovakia. Also, the Air Force has received several Czech trainees and 6-10 helicopters recently.

4. In the military field, the Soviets have delivered to Cuba in the past five months, at least 20,000 tons of arms and equipment, including small arms, armored vehicles, personnel carriers, helicopters, trainer aircraft, a variety of artillery, and large quantities of ammunition. So far, the U.S. has no evidence of the Soviets providing Cuba with sophisticated weapons such as missiles or nuclear devices, or MIG jet fighter aircraft.

5. There are fifteen airfields in Cuba which are capable of handling jet aircraft.

6. The U.S. has available on the East Coast of the U.S. the following combat forces.

U.S. Atlantic Fleet, including at least two attack carriers, a Marine Division, and a Marine Air Wing.
The Strategic Army Command.
Elements of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command.

7. Mr. Tracy Voorhees, Special Advisor to the President on Cuba, has reported that approximately 40,000 anti-Castro refugees have entered the U.S. in 1960.

8. From 1950 through 1959, approximately 70,000 Cubans entered the U.S., 10,000 of whom have been naturalized.

9. The CIA estimates that there has been a total of 65,000 anti-Castro Cuban exiles of all classes of which 3,000 are Cuban males capable of performing military service. Of these 3,000, CIA estimates that 750 are willing to perform military service in a Volunteer Army.

10. That an adequate number of troop age (18-65) physically able male Cuban exiles are available in the U.S. to form a Volunteer Army of sufficient strength to have the capability of establishing and holding a lodgement on the Island of Cuba.

11. That it is impossible to train covertly, in the Free World, a force adequate to assure a successful permanent lodgement in Cuba.

12. Massive internal popular support by the Cuban people of action to overthrow the Castro Government cannot be assured.

13. That the Soviet Bloc will continue its assistance to Cuba, but will not openly intervene on behalf of the Castro Government.


14. U.S. Unilateral Action: [Page 38]

The Commander in Chief, Atlantic Command, has a contingency plan2 prepared and approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff which provides for the employment of Army, Naval and Air Forces for the overthrow of the Castro Government in Cuba. This contingency plan is currently undergoing revision in view of increased capabilities of the Cuban Armed Forces and militia. This revision generally reflects only an increase in U.S. Military Forces to be employed.
If U.S. unilateral action were directed the forces assigned for commitment to this operation are considered adequate and on an emergency basis could begin commitment within a matter of hours. If circumstances prove this force to be inadequate the proximity of Cuba to the U.S. simplifies the problem of rapid reinforcement of the Task Force from other U.S. based forces. This reinforcement would be directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as required.
Unilateral action in Cuba by the U.S. would have a tremendous impact on U.S. prestige in the Caribbean and Latin America (as well as the rest of the free world) unless it had strong support of Latin American public opinion and, preferably, token Latin American participation. It would therefore be desirable that, prior to the implementation of this course of action, a concerted effort be made either through the OAS or through selected Latin American countries, to obtain condemnation of the Castro regime and open Latin American support for action to eliminate that regime.
This course of action could also be justified if Castro attacked Guantanamo Bay or if such an attack were “staged”. With prior propaganda effort by the U.S., Free World opinion could be sufficiently swayed, or the facts sufficiently “muddled”, that U.S. unilateral action in response to such an attack, actual or “staged” would have less impact on U.S. prestige in the Free World.

15. A second possible course of action would be invasion by an overtly U.S. trained and supported Volunteer Army, adequate in size and capability to assure a successful lodgement in Cuba.

This force would be trained in both guerrilla and battalion type tactics. It would not be organized above the level of reinforced battle group combat teams.
The training would be conducted at bases presently on a caretaker status, in Southeastern United States or Puerto Rico, and which could be made available.
It is believed this force could be trained to minimum standards in seven months with time phases as follows: 8 weeks for the initial planning, assembly of equipment, instructors and trainees; 8 weeks basic; 6 [Page 39] weeks advanced individual training and small unit training; and 6 weeks unit training. During the 2 months basic training phase potential leaders and technicians would be identified. Their training, to a minimum acceptable level, would be conducted during the five months remaining in the basic training period outlined above.
Refresher and/or advanced flying training, to minimum acceptable standards, can be provided former Cuban pilots on bases in Southeast United States during the seven month training period envisioned above.
Dependent upon the size of this force, and the degree of direct U.S. participation, provision of adequate amphibious lift would be a problem. Crews necessary to operate these craft can be trained during the seven month training period at bases in Southeastern United States or on Islands in the Caribbean.
A force adequate in size to assure a lodgement in Cuba would require a sustained source of supply in such quantity, and by such means, that it would obviously be beyond the capabilities of Cuban exiles and beyond U.S. capability to provide covertly. Consequently, logistic support would have to be provided overtly by the United States unilaterally, or in conjunction with one or more Latin American countries. In either event, adequate logistic support would be assured.
In training and committing a Volunteer Army certain problems arise which are beyond the present resources and purview of the Department of Defense. For example: (1) The pay of the Volunteer Cuban Army; (2) The costs of the training, equipment, and logistic support; (3) Care for the dependents of these forces; (4) Hospitalization facilities and costs, and (5) Indemnities for casualties. These problems are not insurmountable but must have early consideration in planning.
The problem of maintaining the lodgement and assuring supply would be complicated somewhat if the Castro regime obtains jet aircraft prior to the invasion by the Volunteer Army. Once jet aircraft are seen in Cuba, a jet capability must be assumed. However, this problem could be reduced to manageable proportions if prior to the invasion a limited number of B-26 aircraft made a surprise attack on the fifteen Cuban airfields capable of handling jet aircraft. It is believed such an attack would destroy all, or nearly all, of their aircraft, and render their airstrips inoperable. On the basis that such a surprise attack did not destroy Castroʼs jet capability, it would be desirable to have the immediate participation of jet aircraft from Latin American countries as part of the OAS contribution. If used these aircraft would have to operate from U.S. bases.
The capabilities of this Volunteer Army to take and hold a lodgement in Cuba would be dependent on opposition to Castro within Cuba, and the popular attraction of the leaders of the Volunteer Army, and of the provisional government. Both of these factors will be subject to [Page 40] change before and after the envisaged invasion. Unless extensive internal popular support is received, a force based upon the personnel availability estimate in paragraph 9 could hold a lodgement for only a very brief time. To hold a lodgement for any appreciable period without massive popular support would require a minimum force of 5,000.

16. Invasion by a combination of possible courses of action a and b.

The possible third course of action would involve the employment of a U.S. trained Volunteer Army and U.S. Army, Naval and Air Forces for invasion. Such a course of action would have as its objective the overthrow of the Castro Government and control of the Island of Cuba. This U.S. participation could range in scope from the provision of Army, Naval and Air Force combat units to logistical support only.
This course of action from the viewpoint of operational planning would involve only a downward revision of forces allocated to CINC-LANTʼs contingency plan comparable to the strength and capability of the Volunteer Army.
As in the case of unilateral U.S. action this course of action would accomplish its objective; for, if circumstances indicate a requirement for additional forces, the proximity of U.S. military bases to Cuba and the availability of additional U.S. based forces simplify the problem of rapid reinforcement of the Task Force. Such reinforcement, as required, would be directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The problems facing the employment of this course of action are a combination of those for courses of action a and b.


17. Courses of action a and c are the only courses of action which assure success.

18. Course of action b will require, as a minimum, U.S. logistic support and will not necessarily accomplish the mission of overthrowing the Castro Government.

19. Course of action c will be subject to the same objections as course of action a, however would have a better chance of obtaining Cuban popular support.

20. Since courses of action b and c could not be accomplished covertly and would take at a minimum 7 months to prepare, the U.S. would have to face a long period of world condemnation, as compared to course of action a which could be accomplished expeditiously without prior world knowledge of U.S. intentions.


21. It is recommended that the above conclusions be considered by the Group in any further evaluation of plans for action aimed at the overthrow of the Castro Government.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI Files: Job 85-00664R, Box 1, Source Documents-DCI-8, Vol. I, Part III. Top Secret. The source text has a handwritten date of January 16 on a cover sheet. A handwritten note on the cover sheet, in an unknown hand, confirms that the evaluation was discussed on January 16 by the Interdepartmental Working Group on Cuba; see Document 20.
  2. According to a chronology prepared in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, General Gray received informal approval of the evaluation on January 19 from General Lemnitzer and Joint Staff Director General Earle Wheeler. (Chronology of JCS Participation in Bumpy Road; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials) On January 22 General Lemnitzer used the evaluation in a briefing on the Cuba project at the Department of State for several members of the new Kennedy administration. (Memorandum No. 1 from the Cuban Study Group to the President, June 13; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)
  3. Not found.