The Bay of Pigs Invasion

Anonymous

The story of the failed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs is one of mismanagement, overconfidence, and lack of security. The blame for the failure of the operation falls directly in the lap of the Central Intelligence Agency and a young president and his advisors. The fall out from the invasion caused a rise in tension between the two great superpowers and ironically 34 years after the event, the person that the invasion meant to topple, Fidel Castro, is still in power. To understand the origins of the invasion and its ramifications for the future it is first necessary to look at the invasion and its origins.

Part I: The Invasion and its Origins.


The Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961, started a few days before on April 15th with the bombing of Cuba by what appeared to be defecting Cuban air force pilots. At 6 a.m. in the morning of that Saturday, three Cuban military bases were bombed by B-26 bombers. The airfields at Camp Libertad, San Antonio de los Ba?os and Antonio Maceo airport at Santiago de Cuba were fired upon. Seven people were killed at Libertad and forty-seven people were killed at other sites on the island.

Two of the B-26s left Cuba and flew to Miami, apparently to defect to the United States. The Cuban Revolutionary Council, the government in exile, in New York City released a statement saying that the bombings in Cuba were "... carried out by 'Cubans inside Cuba' who were 'in contact with' the top command of the Revolutionary Council ... ." The New York Times reporter covering the story alluded to something being wrong with the whole situation when he wondered how the council knew the pilots were coming if the pilots had only decided to leave Cuba on Thursday after " ... a suspected betrayal by a fellow pilot had precipitated a plot to strike ... ." Whatever the case, the planes came down in Miami later that morning, one landed at Key West Naval Air Station at 7:00 a.m. and the other at Miami International Airport at 8:20 a.m. Both planes were badly damaged and their tanks were nearly empty. On the front page of The New York Times the next day, a picture of one of the B-26s was shown along with a picture of one of the pilots cloaked in a baseball hat and hiding behind dark sunglasses, his name was withheld. A sense of conspiracy was even at this early stage beginning to envelope the events of that week.

In the early hours of April 17th the assault on the Bay of Pigs began. In the true cloak and dagger spirit of a movie, the assault began at 2 a.m. with a team of frogmen going ashore with orders to set up landing lights to indicate to the main assault force the precise location of their objectives, as well as to clear the area of anything that may impede the main landing teams when they arrived. At 2:30 a.m. and at 3:00 a.m. two battalions came ashore at Playa Gir?n and one battalion at Playa Larga beaches. The troops at Playa Gir?n had orders to move west, northwest, up the coast and meet with the troops at Playa Larga in the middle of the bay. A small group of men were then to be sent north to the town of Jaguey Grande to secure it as well. (See figure 1).

When looking at a modern map of Cuba it is obvious that the troops would have problems in the area that was chosen for them to land at. The area around the Bay of Pigs is a swampy marsh land area which would be hard on the troops. The Cuban forces were quick to react and Castro ordered his T-33 trainer jets, two Sea Furies, and two B-26s into the air to stop the invading forces. Off the coast was the command and control ship and another vessel carrying supplies for the invading forces. The Cuban air force made quick work of the supply ships, sinking the command vessel the Marsopa and the supply ship the Houston, blasting them to pieces with five-inch rockets. In the end the 5th battalion was lost, which was on the Houston, as well as the supplies for the landing teams and eight other smaller vessels. With some