311. Memorandum From the Chief of Operations, Operation Mongoose (Lansdale) to the Special Group (Augmented)0


  • Policy Questions, Operation Mongoose

As Operation Mongoose goes into the approved activities of Phase I, a number of policy questions have started to arise. Current problems, needing resolution, are listed below. It is requested that the Special Group (Augmented) provide guidance, as a matter of some urgency.


Use of U.S. military installations. CIA desires to train small groups of Cuban nationals on the U.S. Air Force Bombing Range, Avon Park, Florida, immediately. Defense reports that the proposed area is adequate for this training, but that such training of covert agents who will be introduced ultimately into Cuba represents a security problem and a [Page 768]departure from past security procedures, due to the fact that U.S. Government sponsorship will be apparent to trainees. Capture and interrogation of any of these covert agents could result in exposure (in international news media) of U.S. official involvement in efforts to unseat the present Communist Cuban regime. A policy determination is needed as to whether or not agents to be infiltrated into Cuba should be trained on U.S. Government installations.

There are other U.S. military installations and properties, in the Southeastern U.S. and Caribbean areas, which CIA would like to use for similar training and operational purposes in the future. The same policy determination could cover all uses of identifiable U.S. Government properties for training and deployment of Cuban nationals for covert infiltration into Cuba.

Arming of Cuban guerrillas. CIA needs a policy determination on the supplying of arms and equipment to deserving Cuban guerrillas, as they are located, assessed, and request help. Such requests are starting to surface, as the intelligence-collection effort is increased, and it is logical that the number of requests will increase as the operation proceeds. There is a need for clearly defining the limits of arming guerrillas (for self-defense, for training, for purposes short of open actions in revolt), to permit operational judgment to be used by designated operations officers, in Phase I.
Use of U.S. military personnel and equipment. CIA has requested Defense assistance in air and sea capabilities, including supplying equipment and supplying U.S. military crews to operate the equipment. Included in these requests are 2 LSDʼs (or similar ships) to lie off the coast in support of CIA maritime operations, with U.S. Navy crews of 200-300 depending upon the missions, 3 USAF cargo aircraft with “sheep-dipped” USAF crews for air re-supply, 2 amphibious aircraft with “sheep-dipped” USAF crews, and 2 submarines for black broadcast operations. (This is in addition to CIA requests for 6 PT type boats, 3 Helio aircraft, 2 82-foot Coast Guard cutters, and arms, communications equipment, etc.). Again, where U.S. military personnel and equipment are involved in Phase I, there is need for a policy determination which will permit operational judgment to be used by designated operations officers, as well as a need for rules of engagement.
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Special Group (Augmented), Operation Mongoose, 2/62-4/62. Top Secret; Sensitive. An attached distribution list indicates that seven copies of the memorandum were prepared and copies were sent to Robert Kennedy, Taylor, Rusk through Johnson, McNamara through Gilpatric, Lemnitzer through Craig, and McCone through Helms and Harvey. One copy was kept by Lansdale.