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By the end of the year, United States wished to look for another person to replace Fulgencio Batista. It is also thought that Batista was suggested that the CIA should assassinate Fidel Castro but Batista rejected the offer (Hugh Thomas, p.30). The then Director of CIA, after Castro took over stated verified that Castro was not inclined towards Communism and that any American intervention before the takeover or at present would serve to be "counterproductive" (CIA Memoranda for the Director, p.3). Later on in February 1959, the Director of CIA informed the then President of the United States, Eisenhower that Castro was introducing Communist ideas and that his government had started to function with Communists infiltrating all sectors of the Cuban government. While America withheld its policy of not intervening, it was observed that Latin Americans "tend to believe that the United States overemphasized Communism as a threat to the Western Hemisphere and consequently, they tend to take insufficient precautions against internal Communist subversion....This played into the hands of the Communists, who since the Guatemala experience, were camouflaging their revolutionary aims and identifying Communism with...national aspirations" (Stephen Rabe, p.99). Castro, after the overthrow of Batista aimed to replace American companies from the Cuban soil which was naturally against the American interests. The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States wanted to remove Castro and install a pro-American regime. The anti-Castro resistance was contacted by the CIA in their attempt to fund the invasion of Cuba and remove Castro keeping in mind that there would be no evidence or any appearance of a U.S. intervention. Thus the CIA and the Pentagon set to work to plan out an invasion blueprint which would give them victory against Cuba for the removal of Castro and the installation of a pro-American Government which would work without colliding with any American interests.
When one consults the map, it is seen that the Bay of Pigs is a narrow yet long body of water which has several beaches. Its entrance is gained from the south as other directions have treacherous swamplands. A sufficient piece of land that can serve the purpose of being an airstrip is present between the swampland and the eastern shore. This piece of land is perfect to set up a command headquarters. It was an area of little population, mostly charcoal makers and some fishermen and thus was perfect for a secret and invisible landing. "Our plan for the Bay of Pigs landing provided for an attack on three Cuban military airfields by 16 B-26 bombers"(Jack Hawkins, p.36). The plan which was made by the CIA was that once the Cuban Air Force would be destroyed, paratroopers would be dropped off with support from aerial bombings and assistance in the form of heavy artillery and tanks would enter the land from the beach and join the paratroopers. This, they assessed, would seal off the area completely. Subsequently the Cuban Revolutionary Council was to be flown in to be announced as being the provisional Cuban Government. Further the sequence of events would be proportional to the amount of counterrevolutionary activity supported. They analyzed that Castro's regime will eventually be overthrown.
One might wonder that when everything was clearly planned out and the plan of action was simple and concise, why Americans had to still face shame and the cause of their plans crumbling. The problem rested in the fact that although the site which CIA chose was the best available, Castro had all the reasons to expect an attack from that site. Therefore the element of surprise was one thing which lacked in their plans. Moreover an additional important point which the CIA failed to look into was that the charcoal makers of the area were loyal to the Castro regime and had benefited greatly from him. Further what CIA missed out was that there were approximately 200 alphabetizers living in that area who were yet again faithful to Castro. Before the invaders could actually land to put their plan in action, they were detected due to a lighthouse and some very bright lights placed at the beach. They also encountered severe resistance from the same charcoal workers which the CIA thought to be harmless. Moreover an infantry battalion was also placed recently in that area which added on to the resistance. There was a huge gap and error in the intelligence of the area and it proved to be anything but perfect for initiating the operation (Trumbull Higgins, p.139). The CIA's original plan included the destruction of Castro's air force which was an objective already thought about by Castro. As a result he dispersed his working fighter planes and for a decoy, left permanently grounded planes. Outcome of this was that while Castro's air planes were safe and sound the invading insurgent forces "believed that Castro's air force had been immobilized" (Alan Nadel, p.164). With the news delivered to Castro regarding the paratroopers, Castro demonstrated and acted upon the principle of economy of force and security. As he was not sure whether the site which he was informed about was the only site chosen by the invaders, Castro ordered unarmored convoys to attack the site where the paratroopers were landing and withheld his higher grade reserves and some of his tanks.
The United States Navy had warned the CIA about the coral reefs in the marine area but the CIA paid no attention to it and "mistook the coral reefs in the Bay of Pigs for seaweed" (Walter Lafeber, p.537). They allocated them inefficient, old, and badly maintained aluminum crafts to land which the coral reefs made difficult to function appropriately and thus hindered the process. These crafts also exposed and revealed the American intervention thus ruining their original objective of trying to conceal any American interference. Equipment provided to the forces to fight were not sufficient and this proved to be a major downfall. To add to this, one of the parachute drops failed to land at the desired spot and thus a route was open for Castro to attack with a huge force. Castro used the principles of war for his benefit and applied them perfectly. He concentrated the power of his fighter jets to upset the supply drop off and the paratroopers landing. Although he left his infantry without any aerial support, he ordered the air force to attack the Navy fleet and Castro was successful in sinking a 5000 ton supply and communication ship. This was a hard punch for the invading forces and they suffered gravely.
Unity of command could not be achieved by the invading forces as any installation of a commander on the spot would have brought out the American intervention which was strictly to be concealed as ordered by President Kennedy. Two ships of the U.S. Navy fled into the Caribbean without authorization to such a distance that the U.S. Navy failed to call them back in time to unload the supplies. The untried Cuban exile forces did not economically use the ammunition which led the Second Battalion to run out of ammunition. There was a display of lack of coordination and discipline by the invading side whereas Castro's forces seemed to be highly organized and working under the principle of unity of command. A lot of men died during the operation including four American pilots (Jack Skelly, p.45) and the Castro turned out to be victorious thus boosting the morale of Cuba further.
Castro used the principles of war efficiently whereas the insurgents were highly disorganized and ran out of ammunitions. The aim of the plan by the CIA was the annihilate Castro's aerial assistance by destroying his airfields and the fighter jets. Had the B26 bombers been successful in achieving this objective, Castro would have lost the battle and his regime would have been overthrown. However Castro used deception as a tool and dispersed his air planes such that majority of his air force remained unharmed. Deception falls under the principle of war called "surprise" and indeed it was an element of surprise for the insurgents that even though they had heavily bombed the air fields, Castro's air planes remained unharmed. The CIA however was unable to maintain the element of surprise by choosing the landing site which Castro had probably already anticipated and thus was ready for an attack from there. Placing heavy lights and stationing an infantry battalion nearby to respond quickly to any invading forces. While the CIA demonstrated a classical example of bad intelligence, logistics and misjudgments, Castro benefited highly from these and with the active application of the principles of war including surprise, unity of command, security and economy of force. If only the plan made out by the CIA had been efficient with the insurgents organized, and educated about the principles of war, the outcome would probably be a lot different than what it turned out to be.
1) Hugh Thomas - "The U.S. And Castro, 1959-1962," American Heritage (October -…[continue]
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