OP Pluto: The Cuban Revolution

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On December 31st, 1958, the small island nation of Cuba was ablaze with battling between the U.S installed government forces of Fulgencio Batista and the revolutionary forces of the July 26th movement, their namesake coming from a previous attack against the Batista regime that had failed. The very next day saw an end to fighting, and a young Cuban lawyer emerged victorious. (NSA, Bay of Pigs C hronology) Though relatively unknown prior to the
Cuban Revolution, both world superpowers of the cold war soon took notice of this young lawyer by the name of Fidel Castro. A young senator from Massachusetts soon began talking about Castro’s removal and how it could be done. (John Simk in, Bay of Pigs, Spartacus
Educational) This young senator was our
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The plan was codenamed Operation (OP) Pluto when Kennedy was updated on it on
January 28th, just 8 days after his inauguration. (Simkin, Bay of Pigs) OP Pluto was the result of a CIA paper by the name of JMARC written in March of 1960 by the CIA’s Chief of Operations,
Richard Bissell. It drew heavily on the covert tactics of a previous CIA policy paper called
‘PBSUCCESS’, the plan that led to the resignation of Guatemala’s democratically elected president Jacobo Arbenz. JMARC called for ‘ the creation of an exile government, a powerful propaganda offensive, developing a resistance group within Cuba and the establishment of a paramilitary force outsi de Cuba.’ (Simkin, Bay of Pigs) However, a crucial difference between
JMARC and PBSUCCESS was that the latter included persuading President Arbenz to resign.
JMARC, on the other hand, took into account that Castro would not leave quietly. Thus, Bissell and his team from PBSUCCESS agreed that Castro’s removal was integral to the success of the operative, otherwise, failure to depose Fidel Castro prior to invasion was likely to end in a failed op. So it was that in the fall of 1960, the CIA contacted prominent members of
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Kennedy’s requested revisions to the plan, however, were crucial to the fate of the invasion. To reiterate, the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated three important points of JMARC that were necessary for a 30% likelihood of success; air support, convincing the people of Cuba to rebel, and being able to reach the Escambray mountains . (Simkin, Bay of Pigs) Back to the point,
Kennedy requested that Bissell reduce the scope of the operation, saying that JMARC was: “Too spectacular; it sounds like D-Day. You have to reduce the noise level of this thing.” (Wyden, pg.
4-5) Kennedy was determined to maintain plausible deniability for the American involvement in the operation in case of failure, so he instructed Bissell to reduce the air support from 16 B-26 bombers to 8, and to remove the naval barrage support from the invasion plan.(Wyden, pg. 15)
Kennedy also requested that Bissell move the landing site away from the original landing site of
Trinidad, which was only 20 miles from the Escambray mountains in case of being overrun.
Richard Bissell reluctantly returned to his JMARC planning team to make these adjustments

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