Program Review by the Chief of Operations, Operation Mongoose (Lansdale), 18 January 1962

Source: U.S., Department of State, FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES 1961-1963, Volume X Cuba, 1961-1962 Washington, DC

Washington, January 18, 1962.

//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1-2062. Top Secret; Sensitive. An attached distribution list indicates that 14 copies of the program review were prepared. Copies were sent to the President, Robert Kennedy, Taylor, Rusk for Johnson, McNamara for Gilpatric, McCone, Murrow, Woodward for Hurwitch, General Craig for the JCS, Helms, and Wilson. Three copies were kept by Lansdale.


I. Objective
The U.S. objective is to help the Cubans overthrow the Communist regime from within Cuba and institute a new government with which the United States can live in peace.

II. Concept of Operation
Basically, the operation is to bring about the revolt of the Cuban people. The revolt will overthrow the Communist regime and institute a new government with which the United States can live in peace.

The revolt requires a strongly motivated political action movement established within Cuba, to generate the revolt, to give it direction towards the object, and to capitalize on the climactic moment. The political actions will be assisted by economic warfare to induce failure of the Communist regime to supply Cuba's economic needs, psychological operations to turn the peoples' resentment increasingly against the regime, and military-type groups to give the popular movement an action arm for sabotage and armed resistance in support of political objectives.

The failure of the U.S.-sponsored operation in April 1961 so shook the faith of Cuban patriots in U.S. competence and intentions in supporting a revolt against Castro that a new effort to generate a revolt against the regime in Cuba must have active support from key Latin American countries. Further, the foreignness (Soviet Union and Bloc) of the tyranny imposed on the Cuban people must be made clear to the people of the Western Hemisphere to the point of their deep anger and open actions to defend the Western Hemisphere against such foreign invasion. Such an anger will be generated, in part, by appeals from the popular movement within Cuba to other Latin Americans especially.

The preparation phase must result in a political action organization in being in key localities inside Cuba, with its own means for internal communications, its own voice for psychological operations, and its own action arm (small guerrilla bands, sabotage squads, etc.). It must have the sympathetic support of the majority of the Cuban people, and make this fact known to the outside world. (It is reported that the majority of Cubans are not for the present regime, but are growing apathetic towards what appears to be a hopeless future or the futility of their status.)

The climactic moment of revolt will come from an angry reaction of the people to a government action (sparked by an incident), or from a fracturing of the leadership cadre within the regime, or both. (A major goal of the Project must be to bring this about.) The popular movement will capitalize on this climactic moment by initiating an open revolt. Areas will be taken and held. If necessary, the popular movement will appeal for help to the free nations of the Western Hemisphere. The United States, if possible in concert with other Western Hemisphere nations, will then give open support to the Cuban peoples' revolt. Such support will include military force, as necessary.

III. Estimate of the Situation
Our planning requires sound intelligence estimates of the situation re Cuba. The latest National Estimate (SNIE 85-61) of 28 November 1961/1/ contains operational conclusions not based on hard fact, in addition to its intelligence conclusions; this is a repetition of an error in the planning for the unsuccessful operation of last April.

/1/See Document 271.

The planning indicated herein will be revised, as necessary, based on the hard intelligence estimate of the situation by the U.S. Intelligence community. A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE 85-62 on Cuba), due on 23 January, apparently has been postponed until 7 February./2/

/2/Not issued until March 21. See Document 315.

It is recognized that one result of the Project, so far, has been to start the collection of Intelligence on Cuba in depth, to provide facts on which to base firm estimates and operations.

IV. Initial Phase (30 Nov 61-81 Jan 62)
A. Establish a U.S. mechanism for the project

Status: The President's directive of 30 November 1961/3/ was implemented by creating a U.S. operations team, with Brig. Gen. Lansdale as Chief of Operations, and with tasks promptly assigned. His immediate staff are Mr. Hand and Major Patchell. Representatives of Secretaries and Agency Directors are:

/3/Document 278.

State--Woodward (Goodwin, Hurwitch)


Defense--Brig. Gen. Craig


B. Intelligence Support

Status: CIA made a special survey of U.S. capabilities to interrogate Cuban refugees in the USA (1,700-2,000 arriving per month) and on 16 January approved a program increasing the staff at the Opa Locka Interrogation Center in Florida from the present 2 people to 34. CIA will build up agent assets (positive intelligence assets inside Cuba are very limited and it has no counter-intelligence assets inside). Special intelligence assets will be exploited more fully. The Cuba Project needs far more hard intelligence in depth than is presently available. CIA will require further assistance from Defense and other U.S. organizations in this intelligence effort, and is submitting specific qualifications for personnel on 19 January.

C. Political platform for peoples' movement inside Cuba.

Status: State has sketched in a broad outline./4/ CIA is to produce the firm platform statement of aims for which the Cubans who will operate inside Cuba are willing to risk their lives, and upon which popular support can be generated.

/4/An apparent reference to Document 288.

D. Nucleus for popular movement

Status: To date, CIA has been unable to produce the necessary political action agents for this purpose. Upon re-evaluation of its capabilities, CIA now hopes to complete spotting and assessing eight to ten Cuban political action agents by 15 February, from among Cubans available in the United States. The minimum need for the Project to be effective is 30 such political action Cubans and CIA is tasked to make a priority search for them among Cubans in the U.S. and Caribbean area.

E. Deployment of nucleus

Status: CIA is tasked to select 20 localities within Cuba where political action groups can be established. Initial selection and plans for establishing these action groups are now due 1 February. Havana, and localities in the provinces of Camaguey and Las Villas will receive priority consideration, according to present intelligence. Planning on this must be adjusted as firmer intelligence is acquired.

F. Diplomatic actions

Status: State is concentrating on the OAS Meeting of Foreign Ministers, which opens 22 January, hoping to get wide Western Hemisphere support for OAS resolutions condemning Cuba and isolating it from the rest of the Hemisphere. A companion resolution, to offer OAS relief directly to the suffering Cuban people (similar to U.S. relief to Russia, 1919-20) is being considered, as a means to reach the Cuban people sympathetically without going through their Communist government. The OAS meeting is to be supported by public demonstrations in Latin America, generated by CIA, and a psychological campaign assisted by USIA.

The major task for our diplomatic capability is to encourage Latin American leaders to develop independent operations similar to this Project, seeking an internal revolt of the Cuban people against the Communist regime. This is yet to be initiated by State and must be vigorously pressed.

G. Economic warfare

Status: This critical key to our political action Project is still in the planning stage under State leadership. State is basing future economic actions, including plans for an embargo on Cuban trade, on the outcome of the forthcoming OAS meeting. Meanwhile, State has chaired an Economic action group, which agreed on developing 13 actions. 15 February is set for a report on implementing plans, so that actions can be initiated. CIA was unable to undertake action to sabotage the sugar harvest, which commences about 15 January, and upon which Cuba's one-crop sugar economy depends. (Sabotage of transport, mills, sugar sacking and cane fields was explored.)

H. TV intrusion

Status: Equipment to enable TV intrusion of Havana TV broadcasts has been reactivated on a small vessel under CIA control. CIA plans to attempt intrusion on 22 January during Castro's forthcoming speech and parade demonstrations.

I. Special sabotage support

Status: State has explored, with negative results, the feasibility of pre-emptive action with respect to tanker charters (most Bloc shipments to Cuba are carried in Western bottoms). CIA has initiated action to contaminate POL supplies for Cuba, although visible results (stoppage of some Cuban transport) are not expected until mid-1962. [5 lines of source text not declassified]

J. Military actions

Status: Defense has been tasked with preparing a contingency plan for U.S. military action, in case the Cuban people request U.S. help when their revolt starts making headway. This contingency plan will permit obtaining a policy decision on the major point of U.S. intentions, and is looked upon as a positive political-psychological factor in a peoples' revolt, even more than as a possible military action. Defense also has been tasked with fully assisting State and CIA, as commitments of Defense men, money, and materiel are required.

K. Major elements of the population

Status: Both State and CIA are continuing to explore their capabilities (with results largely negative to date) for mounting special group operations inside Cuba focused upon dynamic elements of the population, particularly [1 line of source text not declassified] through Labor contacts to reach the workers. Other elements include enlistment of the youth and professional groupings. Special consideration is to be given to doing this through Latin American operational contacts. This is vital to the success of our political action nucleus when CIA can put it into place.

L. Outlook

Status: As reported to the Special Group last week, there has been a period of a realistic second look at CIA capabilities to mount the required clandestine operations against Cuba, and a subsequent start in "tooling up." After this second look, CIA has concluded that its realistic role should be to create at least the illusion of a popular movement, to win external support for it, to improve CIA operational capability, and to help create a climate which will permit provocative actions in support of a shift to overt action. This outlook, although arrived at thoughtfully within CIA, is far short of the Cuba Project's goals. CIA must take yet another hard look at its potential capabilities, in the light of the following tasking, to determine if it cannot make the greater effort required.

V. Target Schedule
A. Intelligence

Task 1: NIE 85-62 on Cuba due 7 February (CIA).

Task 2: By 15 February, Opa Locka Interrogation Center to be made an effective operation for collection and processing of intelligence (CIA with support of Defense, State, I&NS, FBI).

Task 3: Intelligence collection from Cuban refugees elsewhere than Miami area. CIA to survey other refugee points ([less than 1 line of source text not declassified] etc.) and on a priority basis to ensure maximum coverage of all such source points. 15 February target date.

Task 4: CIA to continue its re-examination of intelligence assets, with priority on agents inside Cuba, and report on capability by 15 February. Also included is coverage of intelligence through third country sources, particularly those having diplomatic relations with Cuba.

B. Political

Task 5: CIA to submit plan by 1 February for defection of top Cuban government officials, to fracture the regime from within. The effort must be imaginative and bold enough to consider a "name" defector to be worth at least a million U.S. dollars. This can be the key to our political action goal and must be mounted without delay as a major CIA project.

Task 6: CIA to complete plans by 1 February for Cover and Deception actions, to help fracture the Communist regime in Cuba. Defense, State and FBI are to collaborate on this.

Task 7: By 1 February, CIA to submit operations schedule for initiating popular movement within Cuba. This must include localities selected inside Cuba, assessment of selected Cubans, their infiltration, activity assignments, and political platform. One section must deal with the "underground," assess its true status and plans to use it.

Task 8: State to follow up the OAS meeting by having U.S. Embassies in Latin America exploit all opportunities to enlist local sympathy for the Cuban people and to increase hostility towards the Communist regime in Cuba. State to submit report on results of this assignment by 13 February, so further planning can be programmed.

Task 9: By 15 February, State to submit an inventory of operational assets in the Caribbean area, including capabilities of local governments or groups to mount operations on their own, to help achieve the Project's goals. Plans for early use of such capabilities are due by 19 February.

Task 10: CIA to submit operational schedule for using assets in the Caribbean area to achieve the Project's political action goals. The objective of working on dynamic elements of the Cuban population (such as workers, farmers) is underscored. Due 19 February.

C. Economic

Task 11: State to prepare recommendations to the President on U.S. trade with Cuba, as follow-up to OAS meeting. (If the minimum result of the meeting is an agreement to condemn Cuba as an accomplice of the Sino-Soviet Bloc and adoption of a general statement that Cuba presents a threat to the peace and security of the Hemisphere, State is prepared to recommend to the President that remaining trade between the U.S. and Cuba be barred.)

Task 12: State to plan, with Commerce and other U.S. agencies, on how to halt the diversion of vital items in the Cuban trade. Due date 15 February. Cooperation of other OAS nations, particularly Canada and Mexico, is to be explored by State.

Task 13: State with Commerce and others involved, to plan on how to make "positive list" items to Latin America be subject to the same licensing procedures as applied to such shipments to other parts of the free world. Due 15 February.

Task 14: State to obtain from Commerce proposal to amend present export controls of technical data (petrochemical, communications equipment) so that Cuba is treated the same as the Sino-Soviet Bloc. Due 15 February.

Task 15: State by 15 February to submit recommendations on issuance of transportation order (T-3) under authority of the Defense Production Act of 1950/5/ forbidding U.S.-owned vessels to engage in trade with Cuba.

/5/Enacted September 8, 1950. (64 Stat. 798, et seq.)

Task 16: State plan due 15 February on feasible extension of U.S. port treatment now given to Bloc and Cuban vessels to charter vessels of Bloc and Cuba (Treasury to advise on this).

Task 17: State to report by 15 February on feasibility of harassing Bloc shipping by refusing entry into U.S. ports (statedly for security reasons), if vessels have called or will call at Cuban ports.

Task 18: [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

Task 19: State to report by 15 February on possibilities for obtaining the discreet cooperation of the National Foreign Trade Council to urge U.S. shippers to refuse to ship on vessels which call at Cuban ports. (Commerce to assist on this.)

Task 20: State to report by 15 February on possibilities to obtain the discreet cooperation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers to influence U.S. firms having subsidiaries abroad to adhere to the spirit of U.S. economic sanctions. (Commerce to assist on this.)

Task 21: CIA to submit plan by 15 February for inducing failures in food crops in Cuba. [1 line of source text not declassified]

Task 22: State to report by 15 February on status of plans to gain cooperation of NATO allies (bilaterally and in the NATO forum, as appropriate). Objective is to persuade these nations to take steps to isolate Cuba from the West.

Task 23: State to report by 15 February on status of actions undertaken with Japan, which has comparatively significant trade with Cuba, along lines similar to those with NATO nations.

Task 24: CIA to submit plan by February on disruption of the supply of Cuban nickel to the Soviet Union. [3 lines of source text not declassified]

D. Psychological

Task 25: USIA to submit plan by 15 February for the most effective psychological exploitation of actions undertaken in the Project, towards the end result of awakening world sympathy for the Cuban people (as a David) battling against the Communist regime (as a Goliath) and towards stimulating Cubans inside Cuba to join "the cause."

Task 26: CIA to submit by 15 February its operational schedule for a psychological campaign to provoke a relaxing of police state control within Cuba. This is to include effective means of publicly indicting "peoples' criminals" for justice after liberation of Cuba (not only individual top officials, but members of the Vigilancia, etc.).

Task 27: CIA and USIA will report on progress as of 15 February in developing identification of the popular movement inside Cuba, as with songs, symbols, propaganda themes.

Task 28: By 15 February CIA will report on plans and actions for propaganda support of the popular movement inside Cuba. Included will be exactly what is planned for use by the movement inside Cuba, and feasibility of using smuggled food packets (such as the "I Shall Return" cigarette packets to Philippine guerrillas in World War II) as morale boosters in generating the popular movement.

E. Military Action

Task 29: Defense to submit contingency plan for use of U.S. military force to support the Cuban popular movement, including a statement of conditions under which Defense believes such action would be required to win the Project's goal and believes such action would not necessarily lead to general war. Due 28 February.

Task 30: CIA to submit by 15 February its operational schedule for sabotage actions inside Cuba, including timing proposed for the actions and how they affect the generation and support of a popular movement, to achieve the Project goals.

Task 31: CIA to submit specific requests to Defense for required support by Defense as early as possible after its plans firm up. Requests for all major needs are expected by 23 February.

Task 32: Defense will submit plan for "special operations" use of Cubans enlisted in the U.S. armed forces. Due 28 February.

VI. Future Plans

By 20 February, it is expected that sufficient realistic plans for individual tasks will have been received, and initial actions started, to permit a firm time-table to be constructed. Since the President directed that the Chief of Operations conduct the Project through the appropriate organizations and Departments of the Government, and since these U.S. organizations are mainly in the initial inventory and development of capabilities phase concerning assigned tasks, a precise operations timetable as of today would be too speculative to be useful.

CIA has alerted Defense that it will require considerable military support (including two submarines, PT boats, Coast Guard type cutters, Special Forces trainers, C-54 aircraft, F-86 aircraft, amphibian aircraft, helio-couriers, Army leaflet battalion, and Guantanamo as a base for submarine operations). Also, CIA apparently believes that its role should be to create and expand a popular movement, illusory and actual, which will create a political climate which can provide a framework of plausible excuse for armed intervention. This is not in conformity with the Presidential directive now governing Project tasking. Actually, the role of creating the political climate and plausible excuse for armed intervention would be more properly that of State and Defense, if such an objective becomes desirable.

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