Bay Of Pigs Term Paper

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Bay Of Pigs




The Bay of Pigs Invasion. The story of the failed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs is
one of mismanagement, overconfidence, and lack of security. The blame for the failure of
the operation falls directly in the lap of the Central Intelligence Agency and a young
president and his advisors. The fall out from the invasion caused a rise in tension
between the two great superpowers and ironically 34 years after the event, the person that
the invasion meant to topple, Fidel Castro, is still in power. To understand the origins
of the invasion and its ramifications for the future it is first necessary to look at the
invasion and its origins.


Part I: The Invasion and its Origins. The Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961, started a
few days before on April 15th with the bombing of Cuba by what appeared to be defecting
Cuban air force pilots. At 6 a.m. in the morning of that Saturday, three Cuban military
bases were bombed by B-26 bombers. The airfields at Camp Libertad, San Antonio de los
Ba¤os and Antonio Maceo airport at Santiago de Cuba were fired upon. Seven people were
killed at Libertad and forty-seven people were killed at other sites on the island. Two of
the B-26s left Cuba and flew to Miami, apparently to defect to the United States. The
Cuban Revolutionary Council, the government in exile, in New York City released a
statement saying that the bombings in Cuba were ". . . carried out by 'Cubans inside Cuba'
who were 'in contact with' the top command of the Revolutionary Council . . . ." The New
York Times reporter covering the story alluded to something being wrong with the whole
situation when he wondered how the council knew the pilots were coming if the pilots had
only decided to leave Cuba on Thursday after " . . . a suspected betrayal by a fellow
pilot had precipitated a plot to strike . . . ." Whatever the case, the planes came down
in Miami later that morning, one landed at Key West Naval Air Station at 7:00 a.m. and the
other at Miami International Airport at 8:20 a.m. Both planes were badly damaged and their
tanks were nearly empty. On the front page of The New York Times the next day, a picture
of one of the B-26s was shown along with a picture of one of the pilots cloaked in a
baseball hat and hiding behind dark sunglasses, his name was withheld. A sense of
conspiracy was even at this early stage beginning to envelope the events of that week. In
the early hours of April 17th the assault on the Bay of Pigs began. In the true cloak and
dagger spirit of a movie, the assault began at 2 a.m. with a team of frogmen going ashore
with orders to set up landing lights to indicate to the main assault force the precise
location of their objectives, as well as to clear the area of anything that may impede the
main landing teams 2:30 a.m. and at 3:00 a.m. two battalions came ashore at Playa Gir¢n
and one battalion at Playa Larga beaches. The troops at Playa Gir¢n had orders to move
west, northwest, up the coast and meet with the troops at Playa Larga in the middle of the
bay. A small group of men were then to be sent north to the town of Jaguey Grande to
secure it as well. When looking at a modern map of Cuba it is obvious that the troops
would have problems in the area that was chosen for them to land at. The area around the
Bay of Pigs is a swampy marsh land area which would be hard on the troops. The Cuban
forces were quick to react and Castro ordered his T-33 trainer jets, two Sea Furies, and
two B-26s into the air to stop the invading forces. Off the coast was the command and
control ship and another vessel carrying supplies for the invading forces. The Cuban air
force made quick work of the supply ships, sinking the command vessel the Marsopa and the
supply ship the Houston, blasting them to pieces with five- inch rockets. In the end the
5th battalion was lost, which was on the Houston, as well as the supplies for the landing
teams and eight other smaller vessels. With some of the invading forces' ships destroyed,
and no command and control ship, the logistics of the operation soon broke down as the
other supply ships were kept at bay by Casto's air force. As with many failed military
adventures, one of the problems with this one was with supplying the troops. In the air,
Castro had easily won superiority over the invading force. His fast moving T-33s, although
unimpressive by today's standards, made short work of the slow moving B-26s of the
invading force. On Tuesday, two were shot out of the sky and by Wednesday the invaders had
lost 10 of their 12 aircraft. With air power firmly in control of Castro's forces, the end
was near for the invading army. Over the 72 hours the invading force of about 1500 men
were pounded by the Cubans. Casto fired 122mm. Howitzers, 22mm. cannon, and tank fire at
them. By Wednesday the invaders were pushed back to their landing zone at Playa Gir¢n.
Surrounded by Castro's forces some began to surrender while others fled into the hills. In
total 114 men were killed in the slaughter while thirty-six died as prisoners in Cuban
cells. Others were to live out twenty years or more in those cells as men plotting to
topple the government of Castro. The 1500 men of the invading force never had a chance for
success from almost the first days in the planning stage of the operation. Operation
Pluto, as it came to be known as, has its origins in the last dying days of the Eisenhower
administration and that murky time period during the transition of power to the newly
elected president John F. Kennedy. The origins of American policy in Latin America in the
late 1950s and early 1960s has its origins in American's economic interests and its
anticommunist policies in the region. The same man who had helped formulate American
containment policy towards the Soviet threat, George Kennan, in 1950 spoke to US Chiefs of
Mission in Rio de Janeiro about Latin America. He said that American policy had several
purposes in the region, . . . to protect the vital supplies of raw materials which Latin
American countries export to the USA; to prevent the 'military exploitation of Latin
America by the enemy' [The Soviet Union]; and to avert 'the psychological mobilization of
Latin America against us.' . . . . By the 1950s trade with Latin America accounted for a
quarter of American exports, and 80 per cent of the investment in Latin America was also
American. The Americans had a vested interest in the region that it would remain
pro-American. The Guatemalan adventure can be seen as another of the factors that lead the
American government to believe that it could handle Casto. Before the Second World War
ended, a coup in Guatemala saw the rise to power of Juan Jose Ar‚valo. He was not a
communist in the traditional sense of the term, but he ". . . packed his government with
Communist Party members and Communist sympathizers." In 1951 Jacobo Arbenz succeeded
Ar‚valo after an election in March of that year. The party had been progressing with a
series of reforms, and the newly elected leader continued with these reforms. During land
reforms a major American company, the United Fruit Company, lost its land and other
holdings without any compensation from the Guatemalan government. When the Guatemalans
refused to go to the International Court of Law, United Fruit began to lobby the
government of the United States to take action. In the government they had some very
powerful supporters. Among them were Foster Dulles, Secretary of State who had once been
their lawyer, his brother Allen the Director of Central Intelligence who was a share
holder, and Robert Cutler head of the National Security Council. In what was a clear
conflict of interest, the security apparatus of the United States decided to take action
against the Guatemalans. From May 1st, 1954, to June 18th, the Central Intelligence Agency
did everything in its power to overthrow the government of Arbenz. On June 17th to the
18th, it peaked with an invasion of 450 men lead by a Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas. With
the help of air support the men took control of the country and Arbenz fled to the Mexican
Embassy. By June 27th, the country was firmly in control of the invading force. With its
success in Guatemala, CIA had the confidence that it could now take on anyone who
interfered with American interests. In late 1958 Castro was still fighting a guerilla war
against the corrupt regime of Fulgencio Batista. Before he came to power, there was an
incident between his troops and some vacationing American troops from the nearby American
naval base at Guantanamo Bay. During the incident some US Marines were held captive by
Casto's forces but were later released after a ransom was secretly paid. This episode
soured relations with the United States and the chief of U.S. Naval Operations, Admiral
Burke, wanted to send in the Marines to destroy Castro's forces then but Secretary of
State Foster Dulles disagreed with the measures suggested and stopped the plan. Castro
overthrew Batista in 1959. Originally Castro was not a communist either and even had
meetings with then Vice-President Richard Nixon. Fearful of Castro's revolution, people
with money, like doctors, lawyers, and the mafia, left Cuba for the United States. To
prevent the loss of more capital Castro's solution was to nationalize some of the
businesses in Cuba. In the process of nationalizing some business he came into conflict
with American interests just as Arbenz had in Guatemala. ". . . legitimate U.S. Businesses
were taken over, and the process of socialization begun with little if any talk of
compensation." There were also rumours of Cuban involvement in trying to invade Panama,
Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic and by this time Castro had been turn down by the
United States for any economic aid. Being rejected by the Americans, he met with foreign
minister Anasta Mikoyan to secure a $100 million loan from the Soviet Union. It was in
this atmosphere that the American Intelligence and Foreign Relations communities decided
that Castro was leaning towards communism and had to be dealt with. In the spring of 1960,
President Eisenhower approved a plan to send small groups of American trained, Cuban
exiles, to work in the underground as guerrillas to overthrow Castro. By the fall, the
plan was changed to a full invasion with air support by exile Cubans in American supplied
planes. The original group was to be trained in Panama, but with the growth of the
operation and the quickening pace of events in Cuba, it was decided to move things to a
base in Guatemala. The plan was becoming rushed and this would start to show, the man in
charge of the operation, CIA Deputy Director Bissell said that, . . . There didn't seem to
be time to keep to the original plan and have a large group trained by this initial cadre
of young Cubans. So the larger group was formed and established at La finca, in Guatemala,
and there the training was conducted entirely by Americans . . . . It was now fall and a
new president had been elected. President Kennedy could have stopped the invasion if he
wanted to, but he probably didn't do so for several reasons. Firstly, he had campaigned
for some form of action against Cuba and it was also the height of the cold war, to back
out now would mean having groups of Cuban exiles travelling around the globe saying how
the Americans had backed down on the Cuba issue. In competition with the Soviet Union,
backing out would make the Americans look like wimps on the international scene, and for
domestic consumption the new president would be seen as backing away from one of his
campaign promises. The second reason Kennedy probably didn't abort the operation is the
main reason why the operation failed, problems with the CIA.


Part II: Failure and Ramifications. The failure at the CIA led to Kennedy making poor
decisions which would affect future relations with Cuba and the Soviet Union. The failure
at CIA had three causes. First the wrong people were handling the operation, secondly the
agency in charge of the operation was also the one providing all the intelligence for the
operation, and thirdly for an organization supposedly obsessed with security the operation
had security problems. In charge of the operation was the Director of Central
Intelligence, Allan Dulles and main responsibility for the operation was left to one of
his deputies, Richard Bissell. In an intelligence community geared mainly for European
operations against the USSR, both men were lacking in experience in Latin American
affairs. Those in charge of Operation Pluto, based this new operation on the success of
the Guatemalan adventure, but the situation in Cuba was much different than that in
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