293. Memorandum From the Chief of Operations, Operation Mongoose (Lansdale) to the Members of the Caribbean Survey Group0

At yesterdayʼs meeting,1 the Attorney General underscored with emphasis that it is your responsibility to develop and apply the maximum effort of your Department (Agency) to win the goal of the Cuba Project.

As he so adequately tasked us, there will be no acceptable alibi. If the capability must be developed, then we must acquire it on a priority basis. It seems clear that the matter of funds and authority offers absolutely no defense for losing time or for doing less than the very best possible effort in your tasks.

In reviewing our program, I appreciate the difficult problems inherent in getting bureaucratic procedures and personnel aroused to do the dynamic thinking and actions demanded by this project. However, I also am very clear about the unreserved requirement laid upon us. You should be equally clear about this. As the Attorney General said, it is untenable to say that the United States is unable to achieve its vital national security and foreign policy goal re Cuba. Castro and his Communist henchmen have many difficult problems to meet in maintaining even a status quo, and we have all the men, money, material, and spiritual assets of this most powerful nation on earth.

It is our job to put the American genius to work on this project, quickly and effectively. This demands a change from business-as-usual and a hard facing of the fact that we are in a combat situation—where we have been given full command.

It is my firm intention to avoid impeding your thinking and actions, except where coordination and constructive direction in the overall interest are involved. In turn, it is your responsibility to keep me informed adequately of your plans and progress. As the Attorney General made plain, you are to call on me, as the Chief of Operations for the Project, at any time for advice and help. He offered the same for himself.

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In the meantime, we must believe that you are getting fully into action on your assigned tasks, and are working towards additional tasks you can come up with to win the Project goal. You were given dead-line dates in the tasks listed in my 18 January paper to the President.2 I trust that you are not merely attempting to just meet those dates, but are making your own time-table and making it with shorter dead-lines. The urgency and importance of our Project must be reflected in the thinking and actions of the U.S. government people who are to help us win—and that is up to you.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1-2062. Top Secret; Sensitive. An attachment to the memorandum indicates that the Caribbean Survey Group was composed of the Project Officers within the Departments of State and Defense, CIA, and USIA who had day-to-day responsibility for the management of Operation Mongoose, under the oversight of the agency principals represented on the Special Group (Augmented). The distribution list for this memorandum indicates that copy 1 went to Assistant Secretary Woodward at State for Goodwin and Hurwitch as well, copy 2 went to Brigadier General Craig at Defense, copy 3 went to Helms at CIA, and copy 4 went to Wilson at USIA.
  2. See Document 292.
  3. Document 291.