The Bay of Pigs Invasion

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 underezd 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 to be

added 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.

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 of the invading forces'

ships destroyed, and no command and control ship, the logistics of

the operation soon broke down as the other supply ships were kept

at bay by Casto's air force. As with many failed military

adventures, one of