245. Report Prepared by a Committee of the United States Intelligence Board0

THE MILITARY BUILDUP IN CUBA

A Report Prepared by an Ad Hoc Committee of the United States Intelligence Board

[Here follow a table of contents and a definition of the problem addressed in the report, which reads as follows: “To assess the extent of Sino-Soviet Bloc military collaboration with the Castro regime, and to examine in detail the Cuban military buildup since Castro came to power.”]

Conclusions

1.
The Soviet Bloc continues to extend considerable military assist-ance to Cuba in the form of military equipment, training, and technicians and advisers. Thus far, aircraft consisting of MIG-type jets, some helicopters, light transports, piston trainers, and a wide assortment of armaments ranging from small arms through medium artillery and heavy tanks have been positively identified. There are tenuous indications that [Page 622]Cuba may receive some Soviet jet light bombers. An estimate of the total quantities and types of equipment received thus far is shown in Annexes 1. and 2.1 Some military equipment—such as a few Soviet T-54 medium tanks—which probably has been received in Cuba but that has not been positively identified or enumerated is not included in Annex 1. There is no evidence that any nuclear weapons or guided missiles are now in Cuba. Military training of Cubans in the Bloc is continuing and some probably have already returned for duty in Cuba. Soviet Bloc military technicians and probably instructor pilots are in Cuba. No Chinese Communist military personnel have been identified as being in Cuba.
2.
There is no evidence that any Sino-Soviet Bloc country has dispatched or is organizing a “volunteer” force for military service in Cuba.
3.
The Sino-Soviet Bloc has gone a long way toward identifying itself with the maintenance of the Castro regime. The viability of Cubaʼs economy has become dependent on continued Bloc assistance. The successful Soviet effort to provide Cuba with all its petroleum needs has been at considerable expense and disruption to its normal tanker operations and the Soviet Union has given priority to other Cuban needs even on occasion at the expense of other trading partners.
4.
The Sino-Soviet Blocʼs support for the Castro regime is part of its larger efforts to isolate the United States and to weaken and eventually destroy its influence throughout the world. The Soviets desire to establish Cuba as a secure base of operations for furthering their aims throughout Latin America. The Castro regime has already become an effective instrument of the Bloc toward achieving these ends in Latin America and, to a lesser extent, among underdeveloped and emerging nations throughout the world. In short, for most practical purposes, the present Cuban Government can be regarded as Communist, and its military dependence on the Bloc is steadily increasing. Cuba, under the present Communist control, provides a better base of operations for subversion and propaganda throughout Latin America than the Soviets have ever had. The strongly anti-United States and pro-Soviet regime of Castro serves their purposes well; it gives a native color to Communist agitation and limits the risk of a hemisphere-wide reaction against outside Communist intervention.
5.
The Soviet Bloc military equipment already shipped to Cuba, as well as prior military purchases by Castro from Western sources, have contributed substantially to a major buildup of ground and air forces there. As a result, the Cuban ground forces are probably now better equipped than those of any other Latin American country. The Cuban military buildup is reflected in the great expansion of personnel in the [Page 623]Cuban military and militia forces. The present Cuban ground forces consist of the Revolutionary Army of approximately 32,000, the Revolutionary National Police of 9,000, and the militia estimated at more than 200,000. The combat effectiveness of the combat elements of the army and the militia has greatly improved since November 1960 and together they must now be considered as constituting one of the most effective ground forces in Latin America. Present capabilities of the Cuban Navy are limited to the patrol of selected portions of the coast. The combat capability of the Cuban Air Force is still low, but it can provide limited support to the ground forces and assist in maintaining internal security. However, with the acquisition of MIG aircraft and the return of Bloctrained personnel, the capability of the air force will be greatly enhanced over the coming months. If augmented by aircraft of the civil airline, the Cuban Air Force has a fair troop and cargo transport capability.
6.
Initially, the purpose of Cubaʼs military buildup was self defense. Anti-Castro guerrillas were active in several areas inside Cuba and exile groups had posed a constant invasion threat. However, the current sharpening and strengthening of all the instruments of police state control suggest that the related motive of tightening the dictatorship is an equal, if not presently the prime, purpose of the military buildup. The regime, which is imposing a thorough socio-economic revolution on the country at a faster pace than almost any other government in history, evidently estimates that its domestic objectives can be achieved only through the regimentation of the Cuban people under a police state. This clearly parallels the objectives of the Cuban Communist Party and thus furthers the aims of the international Communist movement.
7.
The militia is a primary instrument of the state in strengthening and extending its control. Drawn from rural and urban lower income groups, a hard core of the militia is well-equipped and is organized with increasing efficiency while a larger portion is undergoing regular part time military training. Some militia units have been assigned to duties normally carried out by the armed forces. The militia provides the government with a substantial armed force with which to control the populace as a whole and subjects a relatively large number of Cubans to military discipline and political indoctrination. At the same time, it contributes toward solving the serious unemployment problem. Communist influence in the militia is extensive. The militia has proven an effective fighting force in the anti-guerrilla campaigns in the Escambray mountains early this year and against the anti-Castro force that landed on 17 April. The effectiveness of the militia reflected an improved state of training, acceptable leadership, and generally good morale as well as the regimeʼs ability to mass large numbers of men in critical areas.
8.
The Castro regime is convinced that the Cuban revolution is the vanguard of “the anti-imperialist rebellion” that will inevitably sweep [Page 624]all of Latin America. It is actively encouraging and covertly assisting Communist and Communist-influenced revolutionary groups in other Latin American countries at every opportunity. Its methods include intensive propaganda supported by the Castro-subsidized international news agency that has close working ties with Sino-Soviet Bloc news agencies and reflects the propaganda line of Moscow and Peiping. Cuban diplomatic missions have frequently provided Communist-oriented student and labor groups with propaganda material and financial assistance. The arms buildup in Cuba permits the Cubans to supply weapons to pro-Castro groups in other countries. Receipt of Bloc military equipment permits Cuba to furnish Western-manufactured arms now in their possession for this purpose.
9.
Cuban subversion is further supported by the Castro-subsidized travel to Cuba of numerous Latin Americans who are exposed there to further political indoctrination and, according to frequent reports, given military training. During the Havana meeting in May and June 1961 of the executive committee of the Communist-front International Union of Students, it was announced that Cuba plans to offer 1,000 scholarships to Latin American students for study in Cuba.

[Here follow a 22-page Discussion section and 5 supporting annexes.]

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, Papers of Arthur Schlesinger, Cuba, White Label, Box 31. Secret; Noforn. The report was approved by the USIB on July 11.
  2. Not printed.