Memorandum of Conference With President Kennedy, January 25, 1961


Source: U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Volume X, Cuba, 1961-1962


Washington, January 25, 1961, 10:15 a.m.

//Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Chester V. Clifton Series, JCS Conferences with the President, Vol. I. Top Secret. Drafted on January 27 by Goodpaster.

OTHERS PRESENT

General Lemnitzer

General Decker

Admiral Burke

General White

General Shoup

General Clifton

General Goodpaster

The President first told the group that General Clifton would be taking over from me the Defense Liaison functions. He expressed appreciation for the help I have been enabled to give him by staying on for a short while. He said he would hope to make use of General Clifton in order to stay in very close touch with the Chiefs. General Lemnitzer confirmed that it has been valuable to have someone here with whom the Chiefs could take up specific items, and whom they could get to take up questions with the President for them. The President said he is extremely anxious to keep in close contact with the Chiefs. He recognized that he would be seeing General Lemnitzer frequently when he comes to NSC meetings, attends meetings with the Secretary of State, etc.

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

The President asked what the Chiefs think should be done regarding Cuba. General Lemnitzer replied, recalling that the initial plans were for clandestine operations. However, with the shipment in of heavy new military equipment from Czechoslovakia--30,000 tons or more--the clandestine forces are not strong enough. We must increase the size of this force and this creates very difficult problems. What is required is a basic expansion of plans. He noted that time is working against us--although living conditions in Cuba are deteriorating, Castro is tightening police state controls within the area. He is also sending agents and arms into other countries of Latin America. General Lemnitzer thought that the hope is to get a government in exile, then put some troops ashore, and have guerrilla groups start their activities. At that point we would come in and support them. He noted that plans are ready for such action. General Decker added that this action should be taken under a recognized Cuban leader, and, unfortunately, we do not have one at present. General Lemnitzer confirmed that there are a multitude of splinter groups. The President commented that Castro has been able to develop a great and striking personality throughout Latin America and this gives him a great advantage. Admiral Burke agreed that there is lack of a leader to rally around, and that we need somebody to fill this role.

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]


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