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

Lansdale, Brigadier General Edward G.
1962 January 18

Program Review by the Chief of Operations, Operation Mongoose (Lansdale), January 18, 1962, Washington, DC, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961 – 1963, Vol. X, Cuba, Jan. 1961 – Sept. 1962,

After the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the United States formed a special secret group of strategists to design a plan code  named Operation Mongoose and the Cuba Project. This source was written by one of the planners who was either in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or another government agency. What was the goal of this plan? “Economic warfare” was one of the most powerful weapons the United States could use against Cuba. Before 1959, Cuba had been in the US sphere of influence (a type of imperialism) and dependent on the United States economically. Almost all of Cuba’s sugar crop, its main export, was sold to US companies. In 1960, the United States put an embargo on Cuban sugar. Without money from sales of its exports, the new Cuban government had no money to buy any imports, including food, medicine, and technology. Because the United States dominated the world economy, it could (and did) destroy Cuba’s economy. Also notice that the government agent who wrote this document used a coded language to describe their activities. “Psychological operations,” for example, includes propaganda. “Fracturing of the leadership cadre” includes assassinating Castro. Another characteristic of the document is the use of passive voice. Often authors use the passive voice when they are trying to disguise responsibility for actions. Who was going to carry out “economic warfare” and “psychological operations”? What methods of waging the Cold War does this source describe? 

After the failed US attempt to overthrow the Castro regime at the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy administration planned the more sophisticated Operation Mongoose, which included plans to sabotage the Cuban economy and destabilize society and government in order to start a revolt against Castro’s regime, including the possibility of his assassination (“fracturing of the leadership cadre”). Other methods of waging the Cold War were “psychological operations,” both within Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America, and covert operations by the CIA, such as spying, economic warfare, and material support for rebel groups in another nation. Students should understand that the US “economic warfare” insured that Cuba would be deprived of imported food, technology, and income from exports. The United States destroyed the Cuban economy. It became completely dependent on imports and aid from the Soviet Union.


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 Cubaʼs economic needs, psychological operations to turn the peoplesʼ 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 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 peoplesʼ revolt. Such support will include military force, as necessary.