Seventy-first Chapter in a Series Chronicling the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962
The October 5th U-2 Mission
Mission 3098, flown the day after McCone’s meeting with the Strategic Group Augmented (see Chapter 70 in this series (http://napavalley.patch.com/blog_posts/unleash-the-u-2s-34f6ed72), was a peripheral flight. It found an additional surface-to-air missile (SAM) site near Manzanillo, at the southeastern end of Cuba. See the map of October U-2 missions at the head of this chapter.
October 6th: Orders from CINCLANT
On October 6th, the Commander in Chief Atlantic ordered designated military units to go to the highest state of readiness for the invasion of Cuba.
The next day CINCLANT recommended the establishment of a Military Emergency Zone for air traffic control in the South Florida area to ensure that non-military air traffic stayed well clear of military air traffic should air strikes be ordered. The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved establishing the MEZ when and if it was needed.
These preparations, and the amphibious landing practices begun in April and continuing in the Caribbean into early October sound like sensible preparations for the possibility of military action against the Castro regime, should it be necessary.
The Danger Behind the Military’s Preparations
We must remember, however, that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. military’s highest leaders, had been lobbying hard since early spring for a military-only solution to the “Cuban problem.” What they wanted, in plain language, was a no-holds-barred invasion to overthrow the Castro regime and replace it with a pro-U.S. government (see chapters 29-31 in this series concerning “Civilian Control of the U.S. Military”)
If the Kennedy administration had given in to this pressure, it would have told the world it favored a militaristic over a diplomatic foreign policy. If it went in this direction, the administration ran the danger of ceding the Joint Chiefs precedence over the State Department and possibly over the White House itself in foreign policy matters.
The October 7th U-2 Mission
Mission 3100 discovered four additional completed SAM (surface-to-air-missile) sites at Chamsas, Senado, Manati, and Esmeralda along Cuba’s northern shore. See this mission’s track on the CIA chart at the head of this chapter.
Max Holland writes that neither this mission nor the mission of October 5 found “any evidence of offensive missiles.” Holland writes, “The 7 October peripheral overflight skirted what would turn out to be the SSM [surface-to-surface-missile] complexes in central Cuba, but the photo-interpreters were unable to detect any sites, presumably because of the oblique coverage.”
October 8th: Cuba’s President Orates at the United Nations
President Dorticos of Cuba told the United Nations General Assembly that Cuba would defend itself against invasion. “We have indeed … the weapons which we would have preferred not to acquire and which we do not wish to employ.”
Dorticos is probably referring not only to the strategic and tactical missiles already in Cuba, but also to the longer-range strategic missiles on their way. Since no one one in the U.S. intelligence community had yet obtained positive proof of the presence in Cuba of any offensive weapons, Washington would almost certainly have interpreted Dorticos’s remarks as empty chest-beating by the hyper-emotional and mendacious Castro regime.
The next day the New York Times reported on p. 1 that Dorticos had encountered intense anti-Cuban outbursts during his “shouted” speech at the United Nations. According to the article, anti-Castro claques interrupted Dorticos four times with their own shouts. Some of them threw yellow leaflets from the visitors’ gallery. The police reportedly arrested 33 of the estimated 700 anti-Castro demonstrators across the street from the UN building.
Ambassador Adlai Stevenson’s reply pointedly referred to the original U.S. trust in Castro’s early promises of reforms after his 1959 takeover. But then, Stevenson said, Castro had betrayed his promises with kangaroo court trials, summary executions, and the suppression of elections and religious freedom.
Next Week: The Final Steps to Confrontation
The Cuban Crisis now enters a few days’ lull. Next Tuesday the President and his advisors take the final steps to bring the United States into open confrontation with the Soviet Union and Cuba.
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Sources and Notes
Mission 3098 is described on p. 165 in Dino Brugioni’s Eyeball to Eyeball: The Inside Story of The Cuban Missile Crisis (Robert F. McCort, ed.). New York: Random House, 1991.
CINCLANT’s October 6th orders are documented on p. 369 of Lawrence Chang and Peter Kornbluh, eds., The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: A National Security Archive Document Reader. New York: The New Press, 1998. These orders and the decision to establish an MEZ when it was needed are also documented in Chief of Naval Operations, “Advance Preparatory Action, 2-21 October.” The Naval Quarantine of Cuba. http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq90-5.htm#anchor445839.
Mision 3100 is summarized on p. 307 of X, Norman Polmar and John D. Gresham, DEFCON-2: Standing on the Brink of Nuclear War during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2006.
Dino Brugioni also discusses this mission on p. 165 of his Eyeball to Eyeball: The Inside Story of The Cuban Missile Crisis (Robert F. McCort, ed.). New York: Random House, 1991.
Max Holland’s comments appear on p. 10 and in footnote 70 on p. 18 of his “The ‘Photo Gap’ that Delayed Discovery of Missiles.” Central Intelligence Agency, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 94, No. 4, first posted on the CIA’s website at “Center for the Study of Intelligence” in April 2007.
Dorticos’s statement to the United Nations General Assembly is documented in Chang and Kornbluh, p. 370. The Times article was by Lawrence O’Kane: “Cuban President Bids U.N. Condemn “Blockade” by U.S.