207. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to His Special Assistant (Yarmolinsky)0

Today at the NSC meeting, the Department of Defense recommended against the formation of a “Cuban Freedom Brigade.” Instead, we proposed, and the President approved, the induction of Cuban volunteers into the U.S. military forces.

I should like to ask you to assume the responsibility for working with each of the Services, ISA, Manpower and the State Department to develop a plan for carrying out this policy. The plan should provide for recruiting the Cubans in such a way as to avoid any implication that they would ever participate in an invasion of Cuba. Instead, they should clearly understand that their role would be the same as that of any other individual accepted into the U.S. forces. The Services should:

Consider the possibility of associating with the Cuban volunteers, volunteers from other South American and Central American nations.
Plan to identify the Cuban volunteers in such a way as to permit their consolidation into a Cuban unit, should the need for such a unit ever develop.
Outline the special type of training to which the Cuban volunteers might be exposed, e.g., “special forces” training.
State the changes required in our current recruiting regulations to permit the enlistment of foreigners.

I should like to be kept informed of the progress of your work. By what date do you anticipate it will be possible to present a plan to me which has been coordinated with all the parties concerned? Along with the plan, please send to me a brief memorandum to the President outlining what we propose to do.1

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Yarmolinsky Files, Cuban Volunteer Program. Secret.
  2. In a separate memorandum to the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and the Air Force, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, McNamara instructed the Joint Chiefs of Staff to respond to NSC Action No. 2422 by preparing plans for creating a Caribbean security force, and for initiating a naval patrol to prevent Cuban invasion of other states in the Caribbean. He instructed the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs to work with the Department of State to implement the element of the NSC Action that called for U.S. military officers to be prepared to “discuss the Castro threat to Latin America with Latin American officers.” (Ibid., Cuba 381 (Sensitive))