Effects of more airstrikes on the chances of the Bay of Pigs invasion dislodging Fidel Castro

Would the Bay of Pigs invasion have dislodged Fidel Castro if JFK had not called off airstrikes?

  • Yes, the CIA coup against Jacobo Arbenz was successful, so Castro's ouster wouldn't be a failure.

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Vahe Demirjian

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I am starting to opine that the Bay of Pigs Invasion still wouldn't have removed Fidel Castro from power even if JFK had not called off extra airstrikes against the FAR at the Bay of Pigs, because Fidel was in the midst of a "Literacy Campaign" to eradicate illiteracy in rural areas of Cuba, and the invasion would have been seen by Castro as undoing his plans to bring universal literacy and healthcare to all rural Cubans, and Peter Kornbluh notes in his 1998 publication on CIA documents regarding the invasion that insufficient involvement of exile leaders, failure to sufficiently organize internal resistance in Cuba, failure to adequately assess the state of Cuban forces, and insufficient Spanish-speakers, training facilities, and material resources made the odds of the Bay of Pigs Invasion dislodging Fidel Castro slim. Therefore, I invite all of you to weigh in on whether JFK not calling off airstrikes involving Douglas Invaders would still have not swayed the Cuban people to rise up against Castro.
 

TsrJoe

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I'm failing to see how the 'poll' and options therin have any relevance to the forum?
 

Vahe Demirjian

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I'm failing to see how the 'poll' and options therin have any relevance to the forum?
I wanted anyone to ask themselves the question of what would have been the chances of the Bay of Pigs Invasion dislodging Fidel Castro if JFK hadn't called off extra airstrikes. Therefore, this thread is an alternative history poll that seeks to gauge the effect of any decision by JFK provide the brigadistas with extra close air support on the invasion's chance of ousting Castro.
 

Arjen

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Read up on Fidel Castro's predecessor Fulgencio Batista, and FB's links to the likes of Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. Then wonder about Cubans' appetite for another dose of that. You may hate Castro & co. Under FB, Havana was ruled by the Mob, with all-pervasive corruption.
 

Vahe Demirjian

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Read up on Fidel Castro's predecessor Fulgencio Batista, and FB's links to the likes of Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. Then wonder about Cubans' appetite for another dose of that.
I spoke with a couple people at the Lyon Air Museum about what the chances of the Bay of Pigs Invasion dislodging Fidel Castro would have been like even if JFK had not called off extra airstrikes, and they agreed with my assessment that extra airstrikes involving Douglas Invader wouldn't have guaranteed high chances of the invasion overthrowing Castro because Fidel Castro was engaged in his "Literacy Campaign" to eradicate illiteracy in rural areas of Cuba.
 

edwest2

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JFK did not call off the air strikes. The remaining T-33 jets were not destroyed because of a phone call made by McGeorge Bundy to General Cabell. The takeoff of the B-26s was delayed by the same men plus Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Kennedy had previously approved the dawn air strike on April 16, 1960.
 

Gorrilhas

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I'm afraid not.

The plan to invade Cuba, as originally formulated, was brilliant. And it had a very real chance of successfully overthrowing the regime installed in Cuba. But enough pressure was exerted to change the entire formulation of the invasion plan.

There were two main elements of the plan that were modified before the invasion that made all the difference in the defeat of the brigadistas.

The first modification was a last minute decision to change the landing location. The original location chosen by the military and CIA planners was in the southern Cuban city of Trinidad—a location with many strategic advantages.

On the one hand, it was next to the Escambray Mountains, where anti-communist rebels were already on the ground fighting Fidel Castro's regime. The original site also had docks, which were crucial for allowing obsolete Brigade ships to offload gasoline, oil, communications material, and other vital supplies. Another important benefit of Trinidad was the presence of an airfield for Brigade planes. It had a defensible beachhead and a few roads leading to the city of Havana. The local population, numbering around 26,000, was dissatisfied with the regime and was expected to join and help the Brigade. There were also grocery stores with food and hospitals with medical staff for the wounded.

Instead, the US government decided to move the landing site to the swampy, sparsely inhabited villages of Playa Girón and Playa Larga in the Bay of Pigs—landing points with no real infrastructure, no docks, no local anti-communist forces to help, and numerous other strategic disadvantages. To make matters worse, the treacherous reefs in the Bay of Pigs made landing even more difficult.

And finally, there were no good retreat options and no good way forward. In short, it was perhaps the worst imaginable place to land Brigade troops. Incidentally, moving the landing from Trinidad to the Bay of Pigs is widely seen as one of the main reasons for the Brigade's defeat. President Kennedy told Allen Dulles that he did not approve of the Trinidad landing because he did not want to interfere with civilian life there.

The other modification was the inexcusable order to cancel the overwhelming majority of air missions by Brigade pilots, with the intention of neutralizing Fidel Castro's air forces, his tanks and more.

Reports on radio traffic say that US Navy radios were being bombarded with calls from Brigadiers begging the planes to come. The US government refused to provide assistance.

The original plan was to include five bombing raids using the entire Brigade Air Force fleet. The fleet consisted of 16 B-26 bombers, which were to be used to destroy Fidel Castro's Air Force, its heavy tanks, its trucks, heavy artillery, oil refineries, and other military targets that were crucial to the regime's ability to defend the island.

For the operation to be successful, the original plan needed to be followed through completely—especially considering that the Communist regime had over 200,000 soldiers and militiamen armed by the Soviet Union, as well as a significant Air Force. Instead, most of the Brigade's air missions were ordered not to fly and the number of planes was reduced by 50%, ensuring that Fidel Castro could muster many planes, tanks and more to defeat the freedom fighters.

Another consideration that has to be made in this invasion, the enemy jets T-33, B-26 and Sea Fury sank two of the 2506 Brigade's WWII Liberty class ships. From Varona, one of those present in the invasion was aboard the Houston while sinking. Both the Houston ship and the Rio Escondido ship carrying military supplies, food, gas and oil for the planes, munitions and communications equipment crashed that day. The other ships were driven off under heavy fire. The loss of these ships were of fundamental importance to Fidel's victory.

Another consideration to be made, before the invasion, the New York Times, widely seen as the Pentagon's megaphone and a publication that helped publicize Fidel Castro and his revolution to Americans, wrote articles describing how anti-Castro forces were being trained. in Guatemala by US military and CIA agents, warning Fidel that the invasion was imminent. The press secretary of the JFK White House described that Fidel would not even need to have spies in America, it would simply be enough for Fidel to read the New York Yimes. The invasion took place under everyone's eyes, Fidel was certainly aware of the American plans even before it happened, unfortunately, for the brigadistas, they did not have the surprise effect, which could delay Castro's military reactions for some time.

In short: It was a show of incompetence, and a large part of this incompetence was not from the brigadistas, but from the US intelligence and military summit.
 

Gorrilhas

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JFK did not call off the air strikes. The remaining T-33 jets were not destroyed because of a phone call made by McGeorge Bundy to General Cabell. The takeoff of the B-26s was delayed by the same men plus Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Kennedy had previously approved the dawn air strike on April 16, 1960.
Kennedy canceled as soon as the Brigade left.

Among the key members of the CFR within the Kennedy administration were US Secretary of State Dean Rusk, White House Director of National Security McGeorge “Mac” Bundy and US Ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson. Along with other senior officials, all these CFR members asked President Kennedy to call off the Brigade's air strikes after the initial missions.

While the CIA's second-in-command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff called for the air strikes to continue, Kennedy took the CFR's advice and ordered them to be called off. Kennedy's decision to call off the remaining air strikes, as requested by Rusk, was made after the Brigade was already on its way. The decision was later justified on the grounds that allowing the attacks to proceed would have been perceived as excessive "involvement" in the US and could have been bad for world opinion. That was a joke.
 

edwest2

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President Kennedy took the blame. Where are you getting your information from? Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty published the details of what occurred in his book JFK - The CIA, Vietnam, and the plot to assassinate John F. Kennedy. He worked in the Pentagon during the time period. He personally made an attempt to intervene as people other than Kennedy made bad decisions and caused the failure of the operation.

He cites an article titled "The Brigade's My Fault," which was written by McGeorge Bundy and that appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times on October 23, 1979. "[He]... had made the call that directed General Cabell of the CIA to cancel the B-26 bomber strike against Castro's last three combat aircraft."

U-2 photos had located the aircraft parked wingtip to wingtip on a small airstrip near Santiago, Cuba. After Kennedy ordered an investigation into the failure of the operation, Allen Dulles, among others, was removed as head of the CIA.
 

Gorrilhas

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President Kennedy took the blame. Where are you getting your information from? Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty published the details of what occurred in his book JFK - The CIA, Vietnam, and the plot to assassinate John F. Kennedy. He worked in the Pentagon during the time period. He personally made an attempt to intervene as people other than Kennedy made bad decisions and caused the failure of the operation.

He cites an article titled "The Brigade's My Fault," which was written by McGeorge Bundy and that appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times on October 23, 1979. "[He]... had made the call that directed General Cabell of the CIA to cancel the B-26 bomber strike against Castro's last three combat aircraft."

U-2 photos had located the aircraft parked wingtip to wingtip on a small airstrip near Santiago, Cuba. After Kennedy ordered an investigation into the failure of the operation, Allen Dulles, among others, was removed as head of the CIA.
These are statements taken from the book "Decision for Disaster: Betrayal at the Bay of Pigs", Grayston Lynch - one of two CIA officers to participate in the invasion and was the first to land in the Bay of Pigs.

And also a brief quote about the invasion of Cuba from the book "The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline", James Perloff.
 

Vahe Demirjian

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President Kennedy took the blame. Where are you getting your information from? Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty published the details of what occurred in his book JFK - The CIA, Vietnam, and the plot to assassinate John F. Kennedy. He worked in the Pentagon during the time period. He personally made an attempt to intervene as people other than Kennedy made bad decisions and caused the failure of the operation.

He cites an article titled "The Brigade's My Fault," which was written by McGeorge Bundy and that appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times on October 23, 1979. "[He]... had made the call that directed General Cabell of the CIA to cancel the B-26 bomber strike against Castro's last three combat aircraft."

U-2 photos had located the aircraft parked wingtip to wingtip on a small airstrip near Santiago, Cuba. After Kennedy ordered an investigation into the failure of the operation, Allen Dulles, among others, was removed as head of the CIA.
Many of the increasingly dwindling ranks of Brigade 2506 say that JFK could have succeeded in helping the brigadistas achieve their goal of toppling Fidel Castro if he had not called off extra airstrikes, which is why asked an alternative history question on this thread centering on the question of whether more airstrikes involving Douglas Invader close air support planes would have bolstered the brigadistas' chances of toppling Fidel Castro.
 

Sherman Tank

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Many of the increasingly dwindling ranks of Brigade 2506 say that JFK could have succeeded in helping the brigadistas achieve their goal of toppling Fidel Castro if he had not called off extra airstrikes, which is why asked an alternative history question on this thread centering on the question of whether more airstrikes involving Douglas Invader close air support planes would have bolstered the brigadistas' chances of toppling Fidel Castro.

They're not exactly objective and omniscient sources, though, are they? I mean, I'm sure there's lots of folks on the losing side of any war who would say their side would've definitely won if not for X, Y, and Z.
 
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