318. Memorandum From the Coordinator of Cuban Affairs (Cottrell) to the Special Group0
- Proposed New Covert Policy and Program Towards Cuba
- The following guidelines are being used in our present covert policy
towards Cuba: [Page 770]
- Producing comprehensive intelligence related to our basic policy objectives. (No offensive weapons reintroduced into Cuba, removal of Soviet forces, no aggressive Cuban military action, reducing subversion in the hemisphere, divorcing Castro from USSR, replacing present regime, maximizing cost to USSR, political isolation of Cuba and preparing for military contingencies.)
- Intensifying covert collection of intelligence within Cuba, especially within the regime.
- Supporting the efforts of certain Cuban exiles, who are associated with the original aims of the 26 of July Movement and who believe that the Castro regime can be overthrown from within in order that they may: a) cause a split in the leadership of the regime at the national or provincial levels; and b) create a political base of popular opposition to the regime; and c) secure intelligence.
- The use of variety of propaganda media to stimulate passive resistance and low-risk, simple, sabotage actions by the populace of Cuba.
- The placing of incendiary devices and/or explosives with suitable time delay within the hull or cargo to disable or sink Cuban vessels and/or damage their cargos while on the high seas.
- Introducing abrasives or other damaging materials into the propulsion, communication and other systems of the ship to inactivate the ship.
- The questions now to be decided are:
- Should the U.S. move beyond the above policy to a program of sabotage, harassment and resistance activities?
- What kind of effective action can be taken?
- What capabilities do we possess?
- What repercussions can we expect?
- With respect to (1.) above, the following considerations apply:
- U.S. policy statements have consistently reiterated the view that the liberation of Cuba is primarily a function of the Cuban people themselves.
- The absence of continued harassment against the regime inside Cuba will consolidate its control and indicate the success of Castro in imposing Communism upon the Cuban people.
- The absence of U.S. assistance inside Cuba to those who desire the overthrow of the Communist regime will deny an important asset.
- The U.S. effort to assist the fighters for freedom inside Cuba will involve expense and risk of lives to those Cubans who are trained for this purpose.
- The risk of U.S. involvement through confessions of captured personnel is a continuing one. However, world opinion in the event of such exposure is not likely to be severely damaging to the U.S. position.
- With respect to (2.) (3.) and (4.) above, the following additional
proposals are submitted for consideration (see Annex for details).1
The placing of explosive devices with suitable time delays on the outside of ships either in Cuban or non-Cuban ports.
Considerations: UDT teams can be ready by June for attack in July on a once monthly basis. This measure would place increased strain on Cuban shipping and demoralize Cuban crews. Soviet reaction is likely in form of propaganda and UN demarche. Retaliation in kind or forceful reactions are probably unlikely.
Surface attacks by maritime assets firing on Cuban ships in Cuban waters. When the maritime asset cannot reach the target, shore based attacks on shipping in port or passing the offshore keys will be undertaken.
Considerations: Attack craft from the sea would be manned by Cubans. Shore based attacks by paramilitary trained Cubans firing on ships with recoilless rifles, rocket launchers or 20mm cannon. First sea attack in May and once monthly thereafter. First shore based attack in June. These operations would disrupt coastal commerce. US would probably be blamed. Cuban reprisal measures possible. Soviets likely allege US culpability. Probably no direct Soviet counter-action outside Cuba. Soviets would probably supply additional hardware to Cubans but caution against too aggressive Cuban response.
Externally mounted hit and rUN attacks against land targets. Examples: molasses tanker, petroleum storage dumps, naval refueling base, refineries, power plants.
Considerations: Operations conducted by Cubans with paramilitary training. High possibilities of complex operations going awry. First attack in April with one per month thereafter. Effects would be increased exile morale, some economic disruption. Repercussions would include charges of U.S. sponsorship, and increased Cuban security force activities. Soviet reaction likely to be propaganda-political moves and support to Cuban patrol activity but caution to avoid escalation.
- Support of Internal Resistance Elements, providing materiel and personnel to permit them to undertake a variety of sabotage and harassment operations.
Considerations: The internal elements being supported will attack targets of their own choosing in their own manner. They will be targets of [Page 772] opportunity in line with their capabilities. Effect could be cumulative and snow-balling. The materiel will be introduced by maritime infiltration, diplomatic channels and concealment in open mail. Indigenous materials will be used and instructions provided. Initial sabotage results within 30 days. This program could produce major economic damage, lift morale and keep resistance alive. Repercussions would involve increased security measures. Soviet reaction largely propaganda and supplies.
- Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files:FRC 77-01131, Sabotage/Destruction. Secret; Eyes Only. A note on the bottom of this memorandum indicated it was prepared for the April 18 meeting of the Special Group, which deferred consideration of this paper until April 25. (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, S.G. 84 B, April 25, 1963)↩
- The annex, April 17, entitled “Prospects for and Limitations of a Maximum Covert Action Program Against the Castro Communist Regime,” is not printed. (Ibid., Book I, Special Group) See the Supplement.↩