28. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara 0



  • U.S. Plan of Action in Cuba
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are becoming increasingly concerned with the situation presented by steadily increasing military strength of the Castro Government and the tight grasp of the Communists over the means of counter-revolution, including the military, the police and governmental financial resources as well as the organs of propaganda. Unless the United States takes immediate and forceful action, there is a great and present danger that Cuba will become permanently established as a part of the Communist Bloc, with disastrous consequences to the security of the Western Hemisphere. Cuba provides a Communist base of operations for export of similar revolutions to an already unstable and potentially explosive Latin America.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the primary objective of the United States in Cuba should be the speedy overthrow of the Castro Government, followed by the establishment of a pro-U.S. Government which, with U.S. support, will accomplish the desired objectives for the Cuban people. Great emphasis is placed on the urgent necessity for the United States to locate, train and support such Cuban nationals as will be capable of establishing a new non-Communist government once Castro is overthrown.
The current Political-Para-Military Plan1 does not assure the accomplishment of the above objective nor has there been detailed follow-up planning to exploit that plan if it succeeds or for any direct action that might be required if the plan is found to be inadequate.
As you recall, at the conference between the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Attorney General, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff on 22 January 19612 this problem was addressed. At the time the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pre-sented a Joint Staff concept of an ascending scale of U.S. supported or directed actions to accomplish the overthrow of the Castro Government. [Page 58] This concept, which is appended hereto, was intended to demonstrate the key elements in the development of an over-all U.S.Plan of Action for the overthrow of the Castro Government. That conference informally agreed that an Inter-Departmental Planning Group should be established to develop a detailed over-all U.S. Plan of Action along the general lines indicated in the Appendix.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, therefore, recommend that:
An over-all U.S. Plan of Action for the overthrow of the Castro Government be developed by an Inter-Departmental Planning Group.
Such an over-all U.S. Plan of Action for the overthrow of the Castro Government include, but not be limited to the following:
Each feasible course of action (as set forth in the Appendix hereto, or as revised by the planners), with sub-elements as follows:
The concept of operations for the course of action.
Specific Tasks required of Executive Agencies concerned to accomplish the course of action.
Coordinating Instructions
Designation of Agency or individual responsible for inter-departmental coordination and arrangement for reviewing and approval of the Plan.
Requirements for supporting plans.
Special provisions for continuous evaluation of the situation as a basis for determining U.S. course of action.
Command relationships for implementation of each course of action.
The resultant over-all U.S. Plan of Action, after review by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other appropriate agencies and approval by the President, be supported by detailed plans by the cognizant Executive Agencies for the implementation of tasks set forth in the over-all U.S. Plan of Action.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are prepared to assign personnel to participate in this Inter-Departmental Planning for the Department of Defense.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
L.L. Lemnitzer
Joint Chiefs of Staffs
[Page 59]



(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
Pressure Internal uprising Volunteer invasion force w/covert support Guerilla force with covert support Volunteer invasion force with overt action Overt U.S. action supported by L.A. volunteers Unilateral overt U.S. action
Concept Economic break dip relations O.A.S. acn. Propaganda & info; Naval/Aerial surveillance; Embargo; Show of force; Comm & trans.; Isolation Foster thru propaganda & pressure a general internal uprising by the Cuban people Train and equip small vol. force Cuban exiles to invade, establish a center of resistance for anti-Castro Cubans to rally to establish pro U.S. Govt. Train anti-Castro Cuban exiles in U.W., insert into Cuba to est. U.W. units, initiate guerilla warfare w U.S. covert support Same as (3) plus planned overt follow up by U.S. forces; Naval blockade Invasion by U.S. military forces in conjunction w L.A. volunteers Naval blockade Invasion by U.S. military forces only; Naval blockade
Mil. Req. Naval/Aerial surveillance; Embargo; Show of force Log. supt. Logistic support Logistic support

Army, Naval & A.F. combat units Logistic units

Supplies Naval blockade

Same as (5)

Naval blockade

Same as (5)

Naval blockade

Status of Mil. Req. Current naval maneuvers No plan; (Plan being initiated) Support provided as required No action No action
(Plan required)
Modification of current cont. plan required est program of L.A. vol. req CINCLANT contingency plan (Being modified)
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 65 A 3464, China-Cuba, 1961. Top Secret.
  2. A summary of this plan, referred to as the Trinidad Plan, is in the Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/LA/COG Files: Job 82-00679R, Box 3, Papers Furnished the Green Committee. See the Supplement.
  3. See Documents 24 and 25.