The Bay of Pigs Invasion’s 50th Anniversary Is Today

April 17th, 2011

By Dan Miller

Brigade 2506 Prisoners Captured at Bay of PigsIt should remind us of the often neglected need for militarily realistic planning of military operations.

Sunday, April 17th, is the fiftieth anniversary of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. Here is an article about the survivors and about ceremonies planned in their honor in Miami. As noted,

For exiles, the men of Brigade 2506 represent the first — and only — organized, large-scale, CIA-backed effort to rid their homeland of Castro. “Because of that, being a brigadista has always been a revered thing,’’ said Triay, who was born and raised in Miami after his parents fled Havana.

For anyone interested, Decision for Disaster: Betrayal at the Bay of Pigs is a book by Grayston L. Lynch, a CIA operative who was intimately involved in the invasion as one of the few U.S. citizen “boots on the ground” in Cuba. Lynch died in Florida on August 20, 2008. His book provides many details of the diplomatically motivated plan changes made in Kennedy’s Washington and how they caused the invasion to fail, horribly. A short chronology of the invasion is provided here; it notes that “the failed invasion became a black mark on President John F. Kennedy’s short administration and had far-reaching reverberations still felt today in South Florida and across Latin America.”

Large shares of blame for the debacle must indeed fall on then recently elected President John F. Kennedy. I explained why in an article published in June of 2008 here. The invasion had been planned during the Eisenhower Administration and the so called Trinidad invasion site – militarily a far better place for the assault than the Bay of Pigs – was their focus; it was scrapped under President Kennedy. Here is an excerpt from a February 11, 1961 memo to President Kennedy from Arthur Schlesinger:

FEB 11, 1961: In a memo to the President, Arthur Schlesinger argues that the “drastic decision” to enact the plan being promoted within the government only makes sense “if one excludes everything but Cuba.” Taken in the context of “the hemisphere and the rest of the world, the arguments against this decision begin to gain force.” He points out that there is no way to disguise U.S. complicity in the plan and “at one stroke, it would dissipate all the extraordinary good will which has been rising toward the new Administration through the world.” (emphasis added)

The fog of indecision based on inconsistent military and diplomatic recommendations was difficult to penetrate. At a meeting on March 11th , the following happened:

MAR 11, 1961: At a White House meeting between 10:05 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., Richard Bissell presents the CIA’s Proposed Operation Against Cuba to President Kennedy. The paper provides four alternative courses of action involving the commitment of the paramilitary force being readied by the U.S. These include the course of action favored by the CIA ? the Trinidad Plan that involves “an amphibious/airborne assault …. to seize a beachhead contiguous to terrain suitable for guerrilla operations,” with a landing of the “provisional government …as soon as the beachhead had been secured.” The invading force is expected to repulse attacks by Castro militia with substantial losses to the attacking forces followed by defections from the armed forces and widespread rebellion. If the actions are unsuccessful in detonating a major revolt, the assault force would retreat to the contiguous mountain area and continue operations as a powerful guerrilla force. The assault, combined with a diversionary landing, according to the CIA plan, has the potential for administering a demoralizing shock that could lead to the prompt overthrow of the Castro regime. If not, guerrilla action could be continued on a sizable scale in favorable terrain.

The President rejects the Trinidad Plan as too spectacular, too much like a World War II invasion. He prefers a quiet landing, preferably at night, with no basis for [noticing] American military intervention. No decision comes from the March 11 meeting and the President states his view that “the best possible plan… has not yet been presented, and new proposals are to be concerted promptly.”

Continue reading this article at The PJ Tatler »

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5 Responses to “The Bay of Pigs Invasion’s 50th Anniversary Is Today”

  1. Tom Carter |

    The Bay of Pigs fiasco is a perfect example of the stupidity of civilians without the necessary training and experience planning and directing military operations (or para-military operations of more than small teams).

    Even more stupid is the idea of trying to do it sub-rosa, i.e., without revealing official U.S. government sanction. Plausible deniability is difficult to maintain even when small numbers of highly trained special operations teams are involved; getting away with it in an operation on the scale of the Bay of Pigs invasion was never possible.

  2. Brian |

    McNamara left a whole lot of stink in a whole lot of different places. It’s a wonder we survived him. He was just one Charlie Foxtrot after another.

    Reminds me of Scientists Baffled by Man.

  3. Tom Carter |

    No doubt McNamara was a major player in the Vietnam debacle, which he later came to bitterly regret. But I don’t know about the Bay of Pigs; it was planned during the Eisenhower Administration, and Kennedy was just getting his chair warm when he was faced with the decision to go ahead with it. I think the blame rests with others more than with the SecDef, which may have been a big part of the problem.

  4. Brian |

    Unfortunately, McNamara’s brand of thinking seems to have become accepted, what with a belief in “precision warfare” of nearly all of the left, and far too many on the right. Leave the dogs in the kennel, or turn them all out to do what it is that they do.

  5. Anonymous |

    I served in the U.S. Naval Air at the time and found myself assigned orders to a fleet tanker. I was the only “Airdale” aboard and when I arrived, no one knew what to do with me. My previous duty was as a plane captian for T-28 aircraft in Washington D.C.. This was at Anacostia Naval Air Station. Once the ship, U.S.S. Chickaskia go orders to procede to Cuba I was assigned watches at the helm . This came about from the Captian, who was a pilot putting in his time to progress to a larger vessel. He and I joked several times about two airman stuck on a tanker. At Cuba and during the Bay of Pigs operation, I witnessed many classified events. I began to realise my purpose for the event, when Cuban freedom fighters secured an air field, T-28’s would be used in America’s support of the operation. In the end after the disaster, )lack of nerve and commitment). I was transferred to a carrier (U.S.S. Independence) and finished my term of service. I to this day can see the faces of those America turned it’s back on. I can also here the anger and frustration over the radio of “Americans” as they plunged to the earth, knowing full well they had been abandoned to their fate.

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