Paper on Cuba

This essay has a total of 2899 words and 11 pages.


In this paper I hope to prove that the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion was 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 result of the invasion caused a rise in tension between
the two great superpowers and ironically 39 years after the event, the person that the
invasion was meant get rid of, Fidel Castro, is still in power.

On April 17th 1961 the assault on the Bay of Pigs began at 2 a.m. with a team of trained
Cuban exiles who went ashore to stake out the area for the main task force. At 2:30 a.m.
and at 3:00 a.m. two battalions came ashore at Playa Girn and one battalion at Playa Larga
beaches. The troops at Playa Girn had orders to move 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 were the command and control ship and another
vessels carrying supplies for the invading forces. The Cuban air force took out the
supply ships, sinking the command vessel the Marsopa and the supply ship the Houston. 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 operation soon broke down as the
other supply ships were kept at bay by Castro's air force.

Over the 72 hours that the invasion lasted the Cubans pounded on the US backed exiles of
about 1500 men. By Wednesday the invaders were pushed back to their landing zone at Playa
Girn. Surrounded by Castro's forces some began to surrender while others fled into the
hills. In all 114 men were killed while thirty-six died as prisoners in Cuban cells.
Many where left in the Cuban cells for over 20 years as prisoners of war.

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. The invasion was called Operation Pluto and
it had originally been suggested by the Eisenhower administration yet carried over when
John F. Kennedy became president. American policies having to deal with Latin America in
the late 1950’s to the early 1960’s were based on America’s economic interests and its

In 1950 George Kennan spoke about the American policy with 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 about 25% of American exports, and 80% of the investments in Latin
America was also by the United States.

In the spring of 1960, President Eisenhower approved a plan to send small groups of
American trained, Cuban exiles to work on overthrowing Castro. By the fall, the plan was
changed to a full invasion with air support by exiled Cubans in American supplied planes.
The 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, “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 yet he didn’t. There were a few key factors in which he
believed it was a good idea to go with it, one 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 traveling 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 weak on the international scene. Furthermore by 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.

The failure at the CIA led to Kennedy into 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 in itself it 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 was 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 a past Guatemalan adventure, but the situation
in Cuba was much different than that in Guatemala. In Guatemala the situation was still
chaotic and Arbenz, the Guatemalan president, never had the same control over the country
that Castro had on Cuba. The CIA had the United States Ambassador, John Puerifoy, working
on the inside of Guatemala coordinating the effort, in Cuba they had none of this while
Castro was being supplied by the Soviet block. In addition, after the overthrow of the
government in Guatemala, Castro was aware that this may happen to him as well and probably
had his guard up waiting for anything that my indicate that an invasion was imminent.

The second problem was that the CIA was a new organization, which felt that it had to
prove itself, it saw its opportunity in Cuba. Obsessed with secrecy, it kept the number
of people involved to a minimum. The intelligence wing of CIA was kept out of it, their
Board of National Estimates could have provided information on the situation in Cuba and
the chances for an uprising against Castro once the invasion started. Also kept out of
the loop were the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff who could have provided
help on the military side of the adventure. In the end, the CIA kept all the information
for itself and passed on to the president only what it thought he should see. Lucien S.
Vandenbroucke, in Political Science Quarterly of 1984, based his analysis of the Bay of
Pigs failure on organizational behavior theory. On the CIA's behavior he concludes that,
“By resorting to the typical organization strategy of defining the options and providing
the information required to evaluate them, the CIA thus structured the problem in a way
that maximized the likelihood the president would choose the agency's preferred option.”
The CIA made sure the deck was stacked in their favor when the time came to decide whether
a project they sponsored would go through. President Kennedy's Secretary of State at the
time was Dean Rusk, in his autobiography he says that, “The CIA told us all sorts of
things about the situation in Cuba and what would happen once the brigade got ashore.
President Kennedy received information which simply was not correct. For example, we were
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