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Something sensational happens Media coverage for a week Press Releases Spun to multiple agendas on talk shows and in op ed pieces CYA for all parties.

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Presentation on theme: "Something sensational happens Media coverage for a week Press Releases Spun to multiple agendas on talk shows and in op ed pieces CYA for all parties."— Presentation transcript:


2 Something sensational happens Media coverage for a week Press Releases Spun to multiple agendas on talk shows and in op ed pieces CYA for all parties and agencies Revisited only for political purposes One liners or one paragraph in history books (maybe) Media coverage becomes popular history via the internet (and Wikipedia)

3 Virtually every time the Kennedy administration is discussed the Bay of Pigs is mentioned It is described as either a sign of naiveté in a new President – or a failure of will/courage The failure is almost universally blamed on the Presidents refusal to commit air strikes promised to the Cuban Brigade The CIAs own Inspector Generals report is rarely mentioned The Presidents inquiry (Taylor commission) is never mentioned CIA officer condemnation of the President appears in numerous books such as Grayston Lynchs Decision for Disaster – Betrayal at the Bay of Pigs

4 That day carries many memories for me, said Bay of Pigs veteran Francisco Pepe Hernandez, 70, who co-founded and now heads the Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation, the most powerful Cuban exile lobby in the world. More than anything, theyre bitter memories because of so many young men who died needlessly because of the extraordinary errors of the Kennedy Administration. The United States never sent the air and naval support it had promised the Cuban exiles. It also failed to gather intelligence about, and prepare for, the numerous obstacles that the fighters encountered. It was a total fiasco, said Frank Argote-Freyre, author of books about Cuba and a professor of Latin American studies at Kean University. It was a terrible, botched job by Eisenhower and Kennedy, one of the worst military operations conceived. Kennedy sent hundreds of Cuban exiles into a hopeless struggle. The fiasco left many Cuban exiles with an enduring lack of trust in Democrats, and a preference for Republicans. A 2004 survey of Cuban-American voters in Florida found that nearly 70 percent identified themselves as Republicans

5 10/31/6011/29/60 1/4/1961 On November 29 1960, President Eisenhower met with the chiefs of the CIA, Defense, State and Treasury departments to discuss the new concept. No objections were expressed, and Eisenhower approved the plans, with the intention of persuading John Kennedy of their merit. On 8 December 1960, Bissell presented outline plans to the 'Special Group', while declining to commit details to written records On 18 August 1960, President Eisenhower approved a budget of $13M for the operation. By October 31 1960, most guerilla infiltrations and supply drops directed by the CIA into Cuba had failed, and developments of further guerilla strategies were replaced by plans to mount an amphibious assault, with a minimum of 1,500 men Further development of the plans continued, and on January 4 1961 they consisted of an intention to carry out a "lodgment" by 750 men at an undisclosed site in Cuba, supported by considerable air power

6 On January 28 1961, President Kennedy was briefed, on the latest plan that involved 1,000 men to be landed in a ship-borne invasion at Trinidad, Cuba When that scheme was subsequently rejected by the State Department, the CIA went on to propose an alternative plan. The deniable effort involved transport ships, landing ships including tank transports, paratroop drops, and over 30 B-26 aircraft Several US Navy destroyers were stationed offshore to give the appearance of an impending invasion fleet. A diversionary landing by some 146 exiles led by Nino Diaz failed on two consecutive nights, April 15 and April 16 – both attempts aborted 1/28/1961 4/15/1961

7 Following the air strikes on airfields on April 15 1961, the Cuban Air Force could still field at least four T-33s, four Sea Furies and five or six B-26s. CIA planners had failed to discover that the US-supplied T-33 jets had long been armed with M-3 machine guns The B-26 pilots claims of success in their strikes gave an initial false confidence to the CIA but U-2 photos on April 16 confirmed that at least half the Cuban Air Force was still operational.........there is no evidence this was communicated to the President nor was this communicated to the Brigade commanders; Air Operations had been totally compartmentalized from them by Bissell Late on April 16 President Kennedy ordered cancellation of further airfield strikes planned for dawn on 17 April 4/16/1961

8 Invasion day plus one April 18 Brigade B-26s attacked a Cuban column of buses and trucks carrying tanks and other armored vehicles Invasion day plus two April 19 During the night a Brigade C-46 delivered arms and equipment to the Girón airstrip occupied by Brigade 2506 ground forces The final air attack mission (code-named Mad Dog Flight) comprised five B-26s. Cuban planes including two armed jet trainers shot down two of the B-26s two of these B-26s, killing four American airmen Combat air patrols were flown by Jets operating off the USS Essex. Sorties were flown to reassure Brigade soldiers and pilots, and to intimidate Cuban government forces without directly engaging in acts of war. 4/18/1961

9 The CIA exceeded its capabilities in developing the project from guerrilla support to overt armed action without any plausible deniability. Failure to realistically assess risks and to adequately communicate information and decisions internally and with other government principals. Insufficient involvement of leaders of the exiles. Failure to sufficiently organize internal resistance in Cuba. Failure to competently collect and analyze intelligence about Cuban forces. Poor internal management of communications and staff. Insufficient employment of high-quality staff. Insufficient Spanish- speakers, training facilities and material resources. Lack of stable policies and/or contingency plans.

10 JFK was not told is that the 1961 operation that the CIA (Helms and Bissell) asked him to sign off on was as a far cry from what his predecessor, President Eisenhower, had initially approved. What Eisenhower had actually approved was covertly landing a force of Cuban exiles to escalate anti-Castro revolutionary activities. The initial plan, as drafted by Jake Esterline (in January 18, 1960) called for infiltrating a very select group of Cubans, training them and putting them back on the island (in the Trinidad area) Esterline has stated that the Trinidad Plan (approved by Eisenhower on March 17, 1960) never had a chance to evolve – It was taken away by the senior CIA officer in charges (Richard Bissells) decision to go for more, much more, and create an invasion force. Bissells operation had become a daylight military invasion with a fleet of boats, WWII era landing ships and landing craft, tanks, paratroop drops, heavy weapons units – something that in no way could have matched the Eisenhowers original stipulation of avoiding any appearance of US intervention

11 An August 60 briefing for Eisenhower and the Joint Chiefs discussed a paramilitary force of some 500 trainees and 37 radio operators. They would be available to use as infiltration teams or as an invasion force. The paper did note that any successful large scale paramilitary operations would be dependent upon widespread guerrilla resistance throughout the area. The Taylor Commission could find no specific date nor set of orders which changed the original Trinidad plan but by November, 1960 a cable from Washington directed a reduction in the guerilla teams to 60 men and the formation of the rest into an amphibious and airborne assault force. Military commander Colonel Hawkins advised the senior operations officer Jake Easterline of the particular emphasis on the amount of air support required for success, including the amount of aircraft and number of missions. He specifically stated that if policy considerations did not permit an aggressive tactical air campaign that the project should be abandoned.

12 Hawkins states that Bissell had made his own military decisions about dramatically increasing the side of the landing force, adding a parachute battalion and even a tank platoon – changes not recommended by either Hawkins or Esterline. Col. Hawkins had specifically warned that the use of parachute troops and tanks would unquestionably brand the invasion as a US undertaking; Bissell remained firm in his decisions and there was no further discussion of the point. Esterline eventually learned that it was Bissell who had banned him from high level Washington meetings and came to the conclusion that Bissell was giving the new President assurances and commitments on deniability that were not being shared with his force commanders. Esterline also concluded that at some point, possibly even before the transition to the Bay of Pigs landing site, Bissell had given a commitment to President Kennedy that the operation would indeed be low key and would use absolutely minimal air power – an agreement not communicated to Esterline or Hawkins

13 Days before the invasion Easterline and Hawkins drove to Bissells home and gave him a detailed account as to why the invasion plan was not adequate to ensure complete destruction of Castros air force - that if any of his fighters and bombers survived the first attack they would make beachhead operations suicidal. defeat the Brigade. They also protested the fact that Air Operations were not under their control. Both officers then stated they would resign if the invasion were not cancelled - Bissell responded by saying that was impossible but made a firm promise that he would gain Kennedys authorization for more aircraft and more strikes. Bissell solemnly pledged to Hawkins and that he would ensure we would get the total number of planes, he would go to the President and explain why it simply had to be Within two days, completely unknown to the two officers, Bissell actually committed to Kennedy that he would cut the attacking B-26 force in half! Bissell was aware that post-strike intelligence confirmed that only something like half of the Cuban fighters and bombers were taken out in the first B-26 strike – he made no response to that information

14 Esterline found most unacceptable that even while the Brigade was going in, Kennedy offered both Bissell and Air Force General (and Air Operations Commander) the opportunity to talk about additional air support Both men elected not to talk to the President At that point Bissell did not even personally communicate with the task force military officers, he sent General Cabell to deliver the bad news and greet the firestorm


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