31. Memorandum for the Record0


  • Cuban Meeting on 28 January 19611

The decisions reached at the meeting were:

To continue all present project activities including propaganda, political action, sabotage, exfiltration and infiltration and overflights both leaflet and supply.
To present, as soon as possible, the project tactical PM plan to a limited number of senior officers designated by General Lemnitzer. These officers should, as soon as possible, report their views of the plan in order that a DOD position may be formulated.

In addition, it was the sense of the meeting that the 5412 Group should probably be reconstituted and should probably take cognizance of the Cuban problem as well as other covert projects as it has in the past. With respect to Cuba, it was also the sense of the meeting that a task force, constituted generally along the same lines as that previously set up under the Special Group, should be reconstituted for purposes of coordinating the U.S. effort and keeping the senior levels of the interested Departments advised as to the status of planning and actions taken, as well as notifying appropriate individuals whenever any important aspect of the plan is in arrears or needs special attention.

There was some discussion, initiated in connection with consideration of Laos, regarding the need for machinery in the government for centralizing governmental control and decisions. The problem in addition to Laos was thought to exist as well with respect to the Congo and to a lesser extent Cuba. Mr. Nitze was asked to work with Mr. Merchant on this problem and to make recommendations at the next NSC meeting as to what might be done.

The Department of Defense clearly has the view that, due to the military build-up which has occurred in Cuba in the last four or five months, a fairly substantial effort will be necessary to overcome the resistance. General Lemnitzer indicated that he is quite prepared to have our tactical plan examined, but his present feeling obviously is that no force of 600 to 800 men is adequate for success. He anticipates, therefore, that final planning will have to include agreed plans for providing additional support for the Cuban force—presumably such support to be U.S.
The State Department agrees with General Lemnitzerʼs views mentioned in the above paragraph. Moreover, State is anxious that no decision be made in favor of any strike force landing until it is quite clear that all other possible steps have been fully pursued. In general, the State Department would advocate taking action to isolate Cuba within the hemisphere. Discussions with Lleras Camargo, Betancourt and Quadros might be initiated for this purpose on the theory that if their support could be obtained, it would go a long way toward lining up other Latin American countries and possibly provide a basis for OAS action. In addition, State would like to examine the possibilities of harassment of Cubans employing action similar to these used against the Nazi penetrations during World War II. Finally, State would favor actions of a covert nature in Cuba itself, including a continuation of all the activities now under way.
Should a strike force effort be made against Cuba, State clearly would want such an effort to obtain a fairly sizable piece of Cuban real estate with an ability to hold it in order to enable a provisional government to be identified and recognized and in order to provide territory from which such provisional government could operate against the Castro regime. The Isle of Pines is an obvious possibility along these lines and it was agreed that it should be so examined. On the other hand, it was recognized that this has been recently further fortified and, in addition, is difficult to get at for hydrographic reasons. Nevertheless, it provides good evidence of the way State is thinking.
There was some discussion of the possibility of using the Cuban strike force as a guerrilla force. Such use would be an alternative to a strike force landing and would assume the use of a greater number of teams and a much longer term approach to the problem.

C. Tracy Barnes2
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/DDP Files: Job 67-01083R, Box 1, C. T. Barnes Chrono, Jan-Jul 1961. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Barnes on January 30.
  2. For another record of the meeting, see Document 30.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.