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History of the Special Group Augmented (SGA)

History of the Special Group Augmented (SGA)

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In March I960, President Dwight Eisenhower of the United States approved a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plan to overthrow Fidel Castro. The plan involved a budget of $13 million to train "a paramilitary force outside Cuba for guerrilla action." The strategy was organised by Richard Bissell and Richard Helms.

In September 1960, Allen W. Dulles, the director of the CIA, initiated talks with two leading figures of the Mafia, Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana. Later, other crime bosses such as Carlos Marcello, Santos Trafficante and Meyer Lansky became involved in this plot against Castro.

After the Bay of Pigs disaster President John F. Kennedy created a committee called Special Group Augmented (SGA) charged with overthrowing Castro's government. The SGA, chaired by Robert F. Kennedy (Attorney General), included John McCone (CIA Director), McGeorge Bundy (National Security Adviser), Alexis Johnson (State Department), Roswell Gilpatric (Defence Department), General Lyman Lemnitzer (Joint Chiefs of Staff) and General Maxwell Taylor. Although not officially members, Dean Rusk (Secretary of State) and Robert S. McNamara (Secretary of Defence) also attending meetings.

At a meeting of this committee at the White House on 4th November, 1961, it was decided to call this covert action program for sabotage and subversion against Cuba, Operation Mongoose. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy also decided that General Edward Lansdale (Staff Member of the President's Committee on Military Assistance) should be placed in charge of the operation.

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Fidel Castro's rise to power had been watched by the CIA since 1948. [14] As he rose to power, the CIA became increasingly concerned with his actions and political views. In the late 1950s, CIA began gathering more intelligence on Castro, suspecting that he had allegiance to communism. The organization could not initially discover hard evidence that Castro was a communist. However, the CIA remained concerned with how Castro's government took pro-communist stances. CIA intelligence concluded that Castro's close confidants, Ernesto Che Guevara and Raul Castro Ruz, both had communist tendencies. [14] General C. P. Cabell noted in November 1959 that while Castro was not a communist he allowed free opportunity to the communist party in Cuba to grow and spread its message. Nonetheless, by December plans were already being tossed around between high ranking US Foreign Policy Officials that called for overthrowing the Castro government. [15] An official report from the CIA states that, by March 1960, the United States had already decided that Fidel Castro must be displaced. Due to the United States' fear of repercussions from the United Nations, the plan was kept at the highest level of secrecy, and as thus, "plausible deniability" was made a key focal point in American clandestine service policy. [16]

Formal authorization for action Edit

The government formally authorized the operation on March 17, 1960, when President Eisenhower signed off on a CIA paper entitled “A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime.” [17] A declassified report by the Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick details the history of the operation, and states that the presidential order gave the agency authorization to create an organization of exiled Cubans to manage opposition programs, begin a “propaganda offensive” to draw support for the movement, create an intelligence gathering network inside Cuba, and to “develop a paramilitary force to be introduced into Cuba to organize, train and lead resistance groups against the Castro regime. [17] The propaganda offensive employed the use of radio broadcasts and leaflets to be passed around. This measure was solely aimed at propagating support for the provisional government. [18] The CIA’s budget estimation for this covert operation was approximately $4.4 million. [17] The paper signed by Eisenhower was also the sole report issued by the government throughout the entire project. This highlights the U.S. Government’s secrecy in carrying out the operation as well as its policy of plausible deniability. This program required the agency to work around the clock and collect a large amount of detail-specific information, as well as to cooperate with other agencies. [17] To secure the needed financial backing, the “Bender Group” was developed as an organization that would provide American businessmen a secret avenue through which to trade with Cuban groups. [17] On May 11, 1960, the Bender Group came to an agreement with group called Frente Revolucionario Democratico (FRD). [17] Propaganda activities included using print and radio mediums to broadcast anti-Castro messages. These programs were launched all over Latin America. [17] Large amounts of real estate were purchased by the agency for use in this operation. A base of operations was established in Miami on May 25, by using a “New York career and development firm” and “a Department of Defense contract” as covers. [17] A communications station was also established on June 15 by using an Army operation as a cover. [17] The agency also obtained safe houses all over Miami for different “operational purposes.” [17] The CIA also acquired properties in different US cities and abroad for various reasons.

From March through August 1960, the CIA had plans aimed at undermining Castro and his appeal to the public by sabotaging his speeches. [19] The schemes thought up were aimed at discrediting Castro by influencing his behavior and by changing his appearance. [20] One plan discussed was to spray his broadcast studio with a compound similar to LSD, but was scrapped because the compound was too unreliable. Another plot was to lace a box of Castro's cigars with a chemical known to cause temporary disorientation. The CIA's plans to undermine Castro's public image went so far as to even line his shoes with thallium salts which would cause his beard to fall out. The plan was to lace his shoes with the salts while he was on a trip outside Cuba. He was expected to leave his shoes outside his hotel room to be polished, at which point the salts would be administered. The plan was abandoned because Castro cancelled the trip. [19]

The United States' opposition to Castro was based on the U.S. government's position that coercion inside Cuba was severe and that the government was serving as a model for allied anti-colonial movements elsewhere in the Americas. [21] A month after the failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the CIA proposed a program of sabotage and terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets in Cuba. [9] In November 1961, Robert Kennedy and Richard Goodwin suggested to President Kennedy that the U.S. government begin this campaign, and it was authorized by the President. [22] They believed that a centralized effort led by senior officials from the White House and other government agencies to remove Fidel Castro and overthrow the Cuban government was the best course of action. Following a meeting in the White House on November 3, 1961, this initiative became known as Operation Mongoose and would be led by Air Force Brigadier General Edward Lansdale on the military side and William King Harvey at the CIA. [22]

Other agencies were brought in to assist with the planning and execution of Operation Mongoose. After Eisenhower's decision, it is noted in an official history of the invasion of the Bay of Pigs that "immediately following the Eisenhower decision to promote the anti-Castro program, there was a considerable degree of cooperation between the CIA and other of the concerned agencies – the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and others." [23] Representatives from the State Department, the Defense Department, and the CIA were assigned larger roles in implementing the operation's activities, while representatives from the US Information Agency and the Department of Justice were also called on occasionally to assist with the operation. [22] As the operation's leader, Brigadier General Lansdale received briefings and updates from these agencies and reported directly to a group of high-ranking government officials, known as Special Group-Augmented (SG-A). Under Eisenhower, four major forms of action were to be taken to aid anti-communist opposition in Cuba at the time. These were to: (1) provide a powerful propaganda offensive against the regime, (2) perfect a covert intelligence network within Cuba, (3) develop paramilitary forces outside of Cuba and (4) get the necessary logistical support for covert military operations on the island. At this stage, it was still not clear that these efforts would end up leading to the Bay of Pigs invasion. [24]

Some of the outlined goals of the operations included intelligence collection and the generation of a nucleus for a popular Cuban movement, along with exploiting the potential of the underworld in Cuban cities and enlisting the cooperation of the Church to bring the women of Cuba into actions that would undermine the Communist control system. [22] The Departments of State, Defense, and Justice were responsible for a combination of these objectives. Kennedy and the rest of SG-A hoped to dispose of the Castro regime and bring change to Cuba's political system.

President Kennedy, the Attorney General, CIA Director John McCone, Richard Goodwin, and Brigadier General Lansdale met on November 21, 1961, to discuss plans for Operation Mongoose. Robert Kennedy stressed the importance of immediate dynamic action to discredit the Castro regime in Cuba. [22] He remained disappointed from the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion just a few months prior. By the end of November, President Kennedy had finalized details for Operation Mongoose. Lansdale remained in charge of the operation, and access to knowledge of Operation Mongoose remained strictly confidential and limited. As was common throughout the Kennedy presidency, decision making would be centralized and housed within the secret Special Group (SG-A). [22] At this time, Operation Mongoose was underway.

The U.S. Defense Department's Joint Chiefs of Staff saw the project's ultimate objective to be to provide adequate justification for U.S. military intervention in Cuba. They requested that the Secretary of Defense assign them responsibility for the project, but Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy retained effective control.

On January 8, 1960 General Cabell, the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI), held a joint briefing on Cuba for the Department of State and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [25] During this meeting Colonel L. K. White had mentioned that Fidel Castro was going to need to be dealt with. At this time the DDCI also discussed the need to increase covert and semi-covert programs aimed at Castro. [25] These programs included psychological warfare, political action, economic action, and para-military action. [25] By the 18th of January, the DDCI had come up with various Cuban operations. [26] Later it was discussed that a separate branch should be created to handle everything about the anti-Castro movement. The White House division organized Branch 4 (WH/4)as the new task force to run Cuban Operations. [25] The task force included 40 personnel, with 18 at headquarters, 20 at the Havana station, and two at Santiago base. [25] The state department was concerned that if Castro were overthrown, then the people to come after him would be worse than him – primarily Che Guevara and Raul Castro. So they proposed a way of getting a better leader that they approved of in his place. The CIA began to worry that their involvement with the anti-Castro movement would lead to an anti-US movement. [26] On March 14 of 1960, Dulles presented a “General Covert Action Plan for Cuba” that would focus only on the Cuban problems. Guerrilla capacity in the anti-Castro groups both in and out of Cuba was discussed. [26]

Richard Bissell, Deputy Director for Plans, asked Sheffield Edwards, Director of Security, if Edwards could establish contact with the U.S. gambling syndicate that was active in Cuba. The objective clearly was the assassination of Castro although Edwards claims that there was a studied avoidance of the term in his conversation with Bissell. Bissell recalls that the idea originated with J.C. King, then Chief of WH Division, although King now recalls having had only limited knowledge of such a plan and at a much later date – about mid-1962. [27]

The Anti-Castro Revolutionary Council, consisting of a group of Cubans, released a press statement at a conference in New York City on March 22, 1961. The press statement announced the unification of forces against Castro and outlining the platform of their mission. The objectives consisted of overthrowing the “Communist tyranny which enslaves the people of Cuba.” The press statement listed the prerogatives for agrarian policy, economic policy, systems of law, education reform, military structure, etc. It was a comprehensive plan. The press statement was implemented as another propaganda tool that the CIA felt could further their mission. [18]

There were prerequisites for those recruited and enlisted by the CIA: they must be pro-Western, anti-Communist, politically neutral and capable of gathering other Cuban support. Specific goals were identified for Cubans on-boarded to the Cuban Opposition Front, the principal goal is to restore the 1940 Cuban constitution. The Cuban Opposition Front's purpose can be summarized as 1) to act as a beacon to attract other anti-Castro groups, 2) to serve as a scapegoat in case covert operations were discovered, and 3) to act as a potential replacement to Castro after his fall. [17] For the Cuban Operation, the CIA made a list of potential guerilla fighters within the Cuban provinces. There were seven groups consisting each of anywhere between 180 and over 4,000 possible defectors. They consisted of political prisoners and guerillas that the CIA believed could be convinced to enlist in the operations against Castro. [18] In response to the Soviet Union's increasing amount of weaponry as well as a growing influence of the Communist Party in Cuba, as early as June 1960, there were 500 Cuban exiles being trained as paramilitary members in order to execute the Bay of Pigs invasion, with some of those exiles being trained in Panama. [28] Due to a recent declassification of thousands of pages from the CIA in 2011 (50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs Invasion), it is now known that the CIA task force in charge of the paramilitary assault knew the operation could not succeed without becoming an open invasion supported by the U.S. military. According to Peter Kornbluh, this was the most important revelation of the declassification of the official history of the CIA. [29]

On April 12, 1961 the CIA prepared a full report on the Cuban Operation that outlined its orientation and concept. The plot against Castro would be characterized by the appearance of a “growing and increasingly effective internal resistance, helped by the activities of defeated Cuban aircraft and by the infiltration of weapons and small groups of men.” (Cuban Operation) The report further emphasized particular steps to be taken to achieve the appearance of internal revolution. Miro Cardona would give public statements accentuating that the U.S. Government was not involved and that any operations were performed by Cubans. [18]

Just days later on April 16, there were initially 11 targets that were scheduled to be attacked. The list of targets later was narrowed down to 4. These 4 included the San Antonio Air Base, the Campo Liberated Air Base, and finally the naval bases located at Batabano and Nueca Gerona. [30] Additionally, the number of B-26 crafts to be used in the strike was reduced from 15 to 5, which ultimately limited the US air coverage. The CIA's Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation notes that limited air cover left the Brigade air force open to attacks by Castro's forces. The document states that "There is no doubt that if there had been more JMATE aircraft and more aircrews, constant air cover would have been possible." [31] Both Kennedys ignored the fact that limited air strikes would prevent the Brigade air force from being effective because of the risk of counterattack by the Cuban air force. A White House staffer was quoted as saying, ". the plan was to destroy Castro's air force on the ground before the battle began and then provide air support, with an anti-Castro "Air Force" consisting of some two dozen surplus planes flown by Cuban exiles. That plan failed." [31] On the 18 April there was an air transport scheduled from the USAF and that was the best day for the Brigade B-26’s mobilization to occur. During this strike there were no aircraft lost and there was a successful strike made on the Castro column moving from Playa Larga to Playa Giron. [30] The Official History of this operation notes that there were several uncertainties as to the outcomes of various operations between April 17–19, 1961, including the number and identities of casualties of both pilots and Cuban civilians, as well as a question over the possible use of napalm by Acting Chief of the US Air section Garfield Thorsrud's aircraft on April 17, 1961. The Official History notes that the use of napalm had not been officially approved until the next day, April 18, 1961. 10 days later TIDE dropped 5 B-26 bombs. [32]

Mongoose was led by Edward Lansdale at the Defense Department and William King Harvey at the CIA. Lansdale was chosen due to his experience with counter-insurgency in the Philippines during the Hukbalahap Rebellion, as well as because of his experience supporting Vietnam's Diem regime. Samuel Halpern, a CIA co-organizer, conveyed the breadth of involvement: "CIA and the US Army and military forces and Department of Commerce, and Immigration, Treasury, God knows who else – everybody was in Mongoose. It was a government-wide operation run out of Bobby Kennedy's office with Ed Lansdale as the mastermind." [33]

During the planning of "OPERATION MONGOOSE" a March 1962 CIA Memorandum sought a brief, but precise description of pretexts which the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered would provide justification for American military intervention in Cuba. The formerly classified memorandum depicts the way in which the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought a reason to invade the island of Cuba that would be acceptable to the American people. The document states, "such a plan would enable a logical build-up of incidents to be combined with other seemingly unrelated events to camouflage the ultimate objective and create the necessary impression of Cuban rashness and irresponsibility on a large scale, directed at other countries as well as the United States." It proceeds to state, "The desired resultant from the execution of this plan would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere." [34] Another significant consideration was that any US military intervention in Cuba should not involve the Soviet Union. [35] Given that Cuba was not a part of the Warsaw pact, and there had yet to be any significant evidence of a connection between Cuba and the Soviet Union, military intervention was believed to be able to take place without major consequences from the Soviet Union still. [35]

There were 32 tasks [36] or plans [37] (just as there are 33 [38] living species of mongooses) considered under the Cuban Project, some of which were carried out. The plans varied in efficacy and intention, from propagandistic purposes for effective disruption of the Cuban government and economy. Plans included the use of U.S. Army Special Forces, destruction of Cuban sugar crops, and mining of harbors.

There was a meeting of the Special Group (Augmented) in Secretary of State David Rusk's conference room on August 10, 1962 at which Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara broached the subject of the liquidation of Cuban leaders. The discussion resulted in a Project MONGOOSE action memorandum prepared by Edwards Landsdale. [27]

On October 4, 1962, a Special Group on Operation Mongoose met to discuss proceedings. The Attorney General, Mr. Johnson, and General Lansdale were there amongst others. While they discussed some self-interests in acquiring Cuban waters for mining rights, planning military contingency plans, and attacking Guantanamo, these beliefs and ideas were not shared by all participants. By the end of the meeting, they determined four main objectives. (1) They needed more intelligence on Cuba to determine how to proceed. This would likely involve further probes by the CIA into Cuba. (2) They needed to increase the amount of sabotage their agents were involved in. The line "there should be considerably more sabotage" is underlined. (3) That regulations and restrictions needed to be realized so that the CIA as an agency and their operation agents could take some shortcuts in training and preparations. (4) That the CIA would do anything they could to dispose of Castro and stop the spread of communism into the Western Hemisphere. The 4th point reads: "All efforts should be made to develop new and imaginative approaches to the possibility of getting rid of the Castro regime." [39]

On October 26, 1962, Castro wrote a letter to Khrushchev outlining his beliefs pertaining to what would happen in the act of aggression, and told him to rest assured that Cuba would resist and act with opposing forces of aggression. [40]

Operation Northwoods was a plan proposed in 1962, which was signed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and presented to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara for approval, that intended to use false flag operations to justify intervention in Cuba. Among courses of action considered were real and simulated attacks on US or foreign soil which would be blamed on the Cuban government. These would have involved attacking or reporting fake attacks on Cuban exiles, damaging U.S. bases and ships, "Cuban" aircraft attacking Central American countries such as Haiti or the Dominican Republic, having shipments of arms found on nearby beaches, faking a Cuban military plane destroying an American civilian aircraft, and the possible development of other false-flag terror campaign on U.S. soil.[1] The operation was rejected by Kennedy and never carried out. By 1962 it was shown that other nations were funding Castro's revolution. [41]

The Cuban Project played a significant role in the events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The Project's six-phase schedule was presented by Edward Lansdale on February 20, 1962 it was overseen by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. President Kennedy was briefed on the operation's guidelines on March 16, 1962. Lansdale outlined the coordinated program of political, psychological, military, sabotage, and intelligence operations as well as assassination attempts on key political leaders. Each month since his presentation, a different method was in place to destabilize the communist regime. Some of these plans included the publication of Anti-Castro political propaganda, armaments for militant opposition groups, the establishment of guerrilla bases throughout the country, and preparations for an October military intervention in Cuba. Many individual plans were devised by the CIA to assassinate Castro. However, none were successful.

CIA covert operations and intelligence gathering station JM/WAVE in Miami was established as the operations center for Task Force W, the CIA's unit dedicated to Operation Mongoose. [11] / [12] Agency activities were also based at the Caribbean Admission Center at Opa-Locka, Florida. [42] and even at one point enlisted the aid of the Mafia (who were eager to regain their Cuban casino operations) to plot an assassination attempt against Castro William Harvey was one of the CIA case officers who directly dealt with mafioso John Roselli. [43] The mafioso John Roselli was introduced to the CIA by former FBI Agent Robert Mahue. Mahue had known Roselli since the 1950s and was aware of his connection to the gambling syndicate. Under the alias "John Rawlson," Roselli was tasked with recruiting Cubans from Florida to help in the assassination of Castro. [44]

Professor of History Stephen Rabe writes that "scholars have understandably focused on…the Bay of Pigs invasion, the US campaign of terrorism and sabotage known as Operation Mongoose, the assassination plots against Fidel Castro, and, of course, the Cuban Missile Crisis. Less attention has been given to the state of US-Cuban relations in the aftermath of the missile crisis." Rabe writes that reports from the Church Committee reveal that from June 1963 onward, the Kennedy administration intensified its war against Cuba while the CIA integrated propaganda, "economic denial," and sabotage to attack the Cuban state as well as specific targets within. [5] One example cited is an incident where CIA agents, seeking to assassinate Castro, provided a Cuban official, Rolando Cubela Secades, with a ballpoint pen rigged with a poisonous hypodermic needle. [5] At this time, the CIA received authorization for 13 major operations in Cuba, including attacks on an electric power plant, an oil refinery, and a sugar mill. [5] Rabe has argued that the "Kennedy administration. showed no interest in Castro's repeated request that the United States cease its campaign of sabotage and terrorism against Cuba. Kennedy did not pursue a dual-track policy toward Cuba. The United States would entertain only proposals of surrender." Rabe further documents how "Exile groups, such as Alpha 66 and the Second Front of Escambray, staged hit-and-run raids on the island. on ships transporting goods…purchased arms in the United States and launched. attacks from the Bahamas." [5]

Harvard Historian Jorge Domínguez states that Operation Mongoose's scope included sabotage actions against a railway bridge, petroleum storage facilities, a molasses storage container, a petroleum refinery, a power plant, a sawmill, and a floating crane. Domínguez states that "only once in [the] thousand pages of documentation did a US official raise something that resembled a faint moral objection to US government-sponsored terrorism." [4] Actions were subsequently carried out against a petroleum refinery, a power plant, a sawmill, and a floating crane in a Cuban harbor to undermine the Cuban economy.

The Cuban Project was originally designed to culminate in October 1962 with an "open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime." This was at the peak of the Cuban Missile Crisis, wherein the U.S. and the USSR came alarmingly close to nuclear war over the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, verified by low flying aircraft on photographic missions and ground surveillance photography. [ citation needed ] The operation was suspended on October 30, 1962, but 3 of 10 six-man sabotage teams had already been deployed to Cuba.

Dominguez writes that Kennedy put a hold on Mongoose's actions as the Cuban Missile Crisis escalated (as pictures of Soviet nuclear weapons stationed on the North shore of Cuba were obtained by American intelligence via satellite reconnaissance), but "returned to its policy of sponsoring terrorism against Cuba as the confrontation with the Soviet Union lessened." [4] However, Noam Chomsky has argued that "terrorist operations continued through the tensest moments of the missile crisis", remarking that "they were formally canceled on October 30, several days after the Kennedy and Khrushchev agreement, but went on nonetheless". Accordingly, "the Executive Committee of the National Security Council recommended various courses of action, "including ‘using selected Cuban exiles to sabotage key Cuban installations in such a manner that the action could plausibly be attributed to Cubans in Cuba’ as well as ‘sabotaging Cuban cargo and shipping, and [Soviet] Bloc cargo and shipping to Cuba." [45]

Operation Mongoose consisted of a program of covert action, including sabotage, psychological warfare, intelligence collection, and the creation of an internal revolution against the communist government. [22] The U.S. still lacked the capability of effectively getting information to the majority of the Cuban people. They had a trade embargo, denial of bunkering facilities, increased port security, and control procedure on transshipment, technical data, and customs inspection. The U.S. also used diplomatic means to frustrate Cuban trade negotiations in Israel, Jordan, Iran, Greece, and possibly Japan. [42] From the outset, Lansdale and fellow members of the SG-A identified internal support for an anti-Castro movement to be the most important aspect of the operation. American organization and support for anti-Castro forces in Cuba was seen as key, which expanded American involvement from what had mostly been economic and military assistance of rebel forces. Therefore, Lansdale hoped to organize an effort within the operation, led by the CIA, to covertly build support for a popular movement within Cuba. This was a major challenge. It was difficult to identify anti-Castro forces within Cuba and there lacked a groundswell of popular support that Cuban insurgents could tap into. [22] Within the first few months, an internal review of Operation Mongoose cited the CIA's limited capabilities to gather hard intelligence and conduct covert operations in Cuba. By January 1962, the CIA had failed to recruit suitable Cuban operatives that could infiltrate the Castro regime. [22] The CIA and Lansdale estimated that they required 30 Cuban operatives. Lansdale criticized the CIA effort to ramp up their activities to meet Operation Mongoose's expedient timelines. Robert McCone of the CIA complained that Lansdale's timeline was too accelerated and that it would be difficult to achieve the tasks demanded in such a short timeframe.

In February, Lansdale offered a comprehensive review of all Operation Mongoose activities to date. His tone was urgent, stating that "time is running against us. The Cuban people feel helpless and are losing hope fast. They need symbols of inside resistance and of outside interest soon. They need something they can join with the hope of starting to work surely towards overthrowing the regime." [22] He asked for a ramp-up of efforts from all agencies and departments to expedite the execution of the Cuban Project. He laid out a six-part plan targeting the overthrow of the Castro government in October 1962.

In March 1962, a key intelligence report, written by the CIA, was produced for Lansdale. It showed that although roughly only a quarter of the Cuban population stood behind the Castro regime, the rest of the population was both disaffected and passive. The report writes that the passive majority of Cubans had "resigned to acceptance of the present regime as the effect government in being." [22] The conclusion was that an internal revolt within Cuba was unlikely.

The lack of progress and promise of success through the first couple of months of the operation strained relationships within the SG-A. McCone criticized the handling of the operation, believing that "national policy was too cautious" and suggested a US military effort to train more guerrillas, and large-scale amphibious landing military exercises were conducted off the coast of North Carolina in April, 1962. [22]

By July, the operation still showed little progress. Phase I of Operation Mongoose drew to a close. The Special Group provided plans on March 14, 1962, for the first phase of the operation until the end of July 1962. There were four main objectives for Phase 1 a. was to gather hard intelligence on the target area, b. Undertake all other political, economic, and covert actions short of creating a revolt in Cuba or the need for U.S. armed intervention, c. Be consistent with U.S. overt policy and be in the position to pull away with a minimum loss of assets in U.S. prestige, d. Continue JCS planning and essential preliminary actions for a decisive U.S. capability for intervention. [42] During Phase I the Punta del Este conference was a major U.S. political action to isolate Castro and neutralize his influence in the Hemisphere. President Kennedy's successful visit to Mexico was another major U.S. political action with an impact upon the operation but was not directly tied to the operation. Two political operations were performed in Phase I: counter Castro-Communist propaganda exploitation of May Day and to arouse strong Hemisphere reaction to Cuban military suppression of the hunger demonstration at Cardenas in June. [46] Another key interest for Operation Mongoose was the Cuban refugees as it was thought they wanted to overthrow the Communist regime in Havana and recapture their homeland. The refugees were given open U.S. assistance to remain in the country, yet were involved in covert actions in a limited way. Policy limitations of audibility and visibility were taken into consideration for the handling and use of the refugee potential. [42] As Phase 1 drew to a close Phase II projected plan was written up and considered four possibilities. The first option was to cancel operational plans and treat Cuba as a Bloc nation and protect Hemisphere from it. The next possibility was to exert all possible diplomatic, economic, psychological, and other pressures to overthrow the Castro-Communist regime without overt employment of U.S. military. Another possibility was to help the Cubans overthrow the Castro-Communist regime with a step-by-step phase to ensure success including the use of military force if required. The last possibility was to use a provocation and overthrow the Castro-Communist regime by U.S. military force. [42] In his July review, Lansdale recommended a more aggressive short-term plan of action. He believed that time was of the essence, especially given intensified Soviet military build-up in Cuba. New plans were drawn to recruit more Cubans to infiltrate the Castro regime, to interrupt Cuban radio and television broadcasts, and to deploy commando sabotage units. [22]

However, by late August, the Soviet military build-up in Cuba disgruntled the Kennedy administration. The fear of open military retaliation against the United States and Berlin for the US covert operations in Cuba slowed down the operation. By October, as the Cuban Missile Crisis heated up, President Kennedy demanded the cessation of Operation Mongoose. Operation Mongoose formally ceased its activities at the end of 1962. [22]

In April 1967, the Inspector General issued a report on the various plots conceived to assassinate Fidel Castro. The report separates plots out into several time frames starting with “prior to August 1960” and ending with “Late 1962 until well into 1963”. While confirmed, the assassination plots are an “imperfect history”, and due to the “sensitivity of the operations being discussed”, “no official records were kept regarding planning, authorizations, or the implementation of such plots”. A key form of documentation used to construct the timeline of plots was oral testimony collected years after the plots were originally planned. [20]

Prior to August 1960 Edit

The Inspector General report details “at least three, and perhaps four, schemes that were under consideration” during a time range between March and August 1960. It is speculated that all of the schemes considered at this time could have been in the planning process at the same time. The first plan in this time frame involved an attack on the radio station Castro used to “broadcast his speeches with an aerosol spray of a chemical that produced reactions similar to those of lysergic acid (LSD)”. Nothing came of this plot, because the chemical could not be relied on to produce the intended effects. [48]

Jake Esterline claimed that a box of cigars, which was treated with chemicals, was also considered in the plot to assassinate Castro. The scheme was that the chemical would produce “temporary personality disorientation”, and having “Castro smoke one before making a speech” would result in Castro making a “public spectacle of himself.” Esterline later admitted that even though he couldn't exactly recall what the cigars were intended to do, he didn't believe they were lethal. [48] The lethality of the cigars is contradicted by Sidney Gottlieb who “remembers the scheme…being concerned with killing”. The CIA even tried to embarrass Castro by attempting to sneak thallium salts, a potent depilatory, into Castro's shoes, causing "his beard, eyebrows, and pubic hair to fall out". The idea for this plan revolved around “destroying Castro’s image as ‘The Beard’”. The only person with memory of this plot, only identified by the alias [03], concluded “that Castro did not make the intended trip, and the scheme fell through”. [48]

A 2011 declassified CIA volume titled "Air Operations, March 1960–April 1961" from the comprehensive "Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation," made the indication that "it was clear from the outset that air operations would play a key role in the CIA program to oust the Cuban leader." By the summer of 1960, the JMATE, a unit under the direct command of Richard M. Bissell and the DPD, strove to acquire "aircraft for infiltration, propaganda, and supply drops to dissent groups within Cuba." By July 1960, it became clear that "tactical air operations with combat aircraft would play a major role in JMATE plans.". [49]

August 1960 to April 1961 Edit

In August 1960, the CIA initiated the first phase of a plan entitled “Gambling Syndicate”. Richard Bissell had CIA contact Robert Maheu pull in Johnny Roselli, a member of the syndicate of Las Vegas. [48] Maheu, disguised as a personal relations executive for a company suffering severe financial losses in Cuba due to Castro's actions, offered Roselli $150,000 for the successful assassination of Castro. [48] Roselli provided involved a co-conspirator, “Sam Gold”, later to be identified as Chicago gangster Sam Giancana and “Joe, the courier”, identified later as Santos Trafficante, the Cosa Nostra chieftain of Cuba.

Additionally, Dr. Edward Gunn recalled receiving a box of cigars that he was tasked with poisoning however, the cigars were destroyed by Gunn in 1963.

Several schemes, in regard to the best way to deliver the syndicate poison, that were considered during this time included “(1) something highly toxic… to be administered with a pin… (2) bacterial material in liquid form (3) bacterial treatment of a cigarette or cigar and (4) a handkerchief treated with bacteria”. According to Bissell, the most viable option presented was bacterial liquids. The final product, however, was solid botulin pills that would dissolve in liquid.

Roselli, along with associate “Sam Gold”, used their connection to coerce Cuban official Juan Orta to perform the assassination through his gambling bills. [20] Orta, after being provided several pills of "high lethal content", reportedly attempted the assassination multiple times but eventually pulled out after getting “cold feet”. [48] The Inspector General's report asserts that Orta had lost his access to Castro prior to him receiving the pills and thus could not complete the task. Roselli did find another officer, Dr. Anthony Verona, to perform the assassination.

April 1961 to late 1961 Edit

The plan to assassinate Castro by poison pill was canceled after the Bay of Pigs Furthermore, the Inspector General's report speculates that this attempt failed because Castro no longer visited the restaurant where the pill was supposed to be administered to him. [48]

The second phase of the Gambling Syndicate operation began in May 1961 with Project ZRRIFLE, which was headed by Harvey. Harvey was responsible for eight assassination attempts on Castro but none of these attempts were proficient at accomplishing any foreign policy objectives. This portion of the scheme contained “an Executive Action Capability (assassination of foreign leader), a general stand-by capability to carry out assassinations when required”. Project ZRRIFLE main purpose was to spot potential agents and research assassination techniques that might be used. [48] Project ZRRIFLE and the agency's operations in Cuba funneled into on program in November 1961 when Harvey became the head of the task force for Cuba.

Late 1961 to late 1962 Edit

Conflicting accounts in the Inspector General's report of how later events during this time period played out make it difficult to discern the path of how the Cuba task force handled its operations. However, there was a consensus that Roselli again became involved with the agency along with Verona. [48]

Late 1962 until well into 1963 Edit

As the months of 1962 went by, Verona constructed a team of three men to strike at Castro however, the plans were cancelled twice with the Inspector General's report citing “’conditions inside’. then the October missile crisis threw plans awry”. The conclusion Harvey drew to this is that “the three militia never did leave for Cuba”. The connections between Roselli and the CIA fell apart once Harvey had been notified that Roselli was on the FBI's watch list.

In his 1987 Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis, Raymond L. Garthoff wrote that, “By November 8 the United States had begun perceptibly to stiffen its insistence” on various issues not resolved by the October 28 Kennedy-Khrushchev agreement, “including what the Soviets could only see as an effort to backpedal on what was, for them, the key question remaining: American assurances not to attack Cuba. On that date, a Cuban covert action sabotage team dispatched from the United States successfully blew up a Cuban industrial facility.” Garthoff said that sabotage had been planned before the October 28 agreement and was beyond recall when the Kennedy administration realized it was still in progress, However, “To the Soviets, this was probably seen as a subtle American reminder of its ability to harass and attempt to subvert the Castro regime.” [50] Chomsky says this sabotage killed “four hundred workers, according to a Cuban government letter to the UN secretary general. [51]

That certainly may be Garthoff's view, but such direct provocations of the Cubans and Soviets ran at odds with both JFK's Missile Crisis-defusing pledge to remove US Jupiter missiles from Turkey in exchange for the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba, [52] and efforts made towards rapprochement with Castro in the aftermath of the crisis. [53] The missile swap had been seen by many as an even trade that saved face for both sides when considering the capabilities of each to deliver a serious strike to the other. [54] Kennedy had subsequently sought dialogue with Castro to reverse the two nations' acrimonious relationship. [53] As a result of the CIA's continued defiance, tensions between the President and the Agency, festering since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, continued to escalate.

In early 1963, The CIA devised a plot to provide Castro with a diving suit contaminated with fungus and “contaminating the breathing apparatus with tubercle bacilli”. The plan was never implemented but it is speculated that a diving suit had been purchased with the intention of giving it to Castro.

Various other methods of assassination that had been thought of by the CIA included exploding seashells, having a former lover slip him poison pills, [55] and exposing him to various other poisoned items such as a fountain pen and even ice cream. [56] Along plans to assassinate Castro was one to eliminate Rolando Cubela, a Cuban revolutionary hero. The plot for Cubela began as an operation to recruit someone close to Castro to launch a coup. [57]

The US Senate's Church Committee of 1975 stated that it had confirmed at least eight separate CIA run plots to assassinate Castro. [58] Fabian Escalante, who was long tasked with protecting the life of Castro, contends that there have been 638 separate CIA assassination schemes or attempts on Castro's life. [55]

Because the assassination of Castro seemed to be an important goal of the Kennedy administration, a myth has been created in American history that Kennedy was obsessed with the idea of killing Castro. However, this is not true. An article entitled "Castro Assassination Plots" states, "CIA plots to kill Castro began before John Kennedy won the presidency and they continued after he was dead.". [59] In a report written by the CIA's inspector general in 1967, he admits that this is the reason behind the fanciful nature of many of the assassination attempts. He also said he warned that assassinating Castro would not necessarily destabilize the government in the manner that is desired. He didn't think the assassination of Castro would do much to free Cuba from communist control. He mentions that people became too focused on the idea of killing Castro when "getting rid of Castro" doesn't have to mean killing him. Due to this micro-focus, broader, more complex plans with greater chances of success were not made. [46]

Many assassination ideas were floated by the CIA during Operation Mongoose. [56] The most infamous was the CIA's alleged plot to capitalize on Castro's well-known love of cigars by slipping into his supply a very real and lethal "exploding cigar." [60] [61] [62] [63] [64] While numerous sources state the exploding cigar plot as fact, at least one source asserts it to be simply a myth, [65] and another dismisses it as mere supermarket tabloid fodder. [66] Another suggests that the story does have its origins in the CIA, but that it was never seriously proposed by them as a plot. Rather, the plot was made up by the CIA as an intentionally "silly" idea to feed to those questioning them about their plans for Castro, in order to deflect scrutiny from more serious areas of inquiry. [67]

Another attempt at Castro's life was by way of a fountain pen loaded with the poison Black Leaf 40 and passed to a Cuban asset in Paris the day of President Kennedy's assassination, November 22, 1963. Notably, the evidence also indicates that these two events occurred simultaneously, in the same moment. [68] [69] Rolando Cubela, the potential assassin, contests this account, saying Black Leaf 40 was not in the pen. U.S. Intelligence later responded to say that Black Leaf 40 was merely a suggestion, but Cubela thought that there were other poisons that would be much more effective. Overall he was unimpressed with the device. [70] The inventor understood that Cubelo rejected the device altogether. [71]

After Operation Mongoose was ended the Kennedy Administration made some attempts to mend relations with the Cuban government. As some documents released by the National Security Archive reveal, this happened fairly soon after the project ended. [53] One document comes in the form of an options paper from a Latin American specialist about how to fix relations. The document begins by suggesting that, through the CIA's attempts to assassinate Castro and topple the government, they had "been looking seriously only at one side of the coin" and that they could try the reverse side and try "quietly enticing Castro over to us." The document goes on to push for further studies into how exactly they would go about improving relations. [72] The document also states the two possible outcomes that would come along with a better relationship with Cuba. The document states, "In the short run, we would probably be able to neutralize at least two of our main worries about Castro: the reintroduction of offensive missiles and Cuban subversion. In the long run, we would be able to work on eliminating Castro at our leisure and from a good vantage point." [73] The effort to mend the relationships would be framed heavily by the negative relations formed due to Operation Mongoose. [ citation needed ]

One issue that caused distrust between the relations of US-supported Cubans and the Agency was a "shaky" front due to no real agreement among the Cubans and the Agency. "The Cuban leaders wanted something to say about the course of paramilitary operations" according to an inspection done by Inspector General Pfeiffer. [74] Questions arose within this inspection that included, "If the project had been better conceived, better organized, better staffed and better managed, would that precise issue ever had to be presented for Presidential decision at all?" [74] Further investigation proved that the 1,500 men would not have been enough from the start against Castro's large military forces, as well as Agencies' lack of "top-flight handling," which altogether led to the complete failure of Operation Mongoose as well as the Bay of Pigs invasion. [ citation needed ]

A commission led by General Maxwell Taylor, known as the Taylor Committee, investigated the failures of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The objective was to find out who was responsible for the disaster. In one of his volumes of an internal report written between 1974 and 1984, CIA Chief Historian Jack Pfeiffer criticized the Taylor Committee's investigation, as it held the CIA primarily responsible for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. At the end of the fourth volume, Pfeiffer laments that Taylor had a hand in perpetuating the idea that "President Kennedy was a white knight misled by overconfident, if not mischievous, CIA activists." [ citation needed ]

In 1975, a Senate committee lead by Senator Frank Church (Idaho-Democrat), investigating alleged abuses perpetrated by the United States intelligence community, issued the first in a total of fourteen reports entitled "Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders." The Church Committee traced documented plots against Castro to have originated in 1962. The documents cited the contact had by the CIA with American mafioso and contract killer, John Roselli. Roselli, a firebrand, salivated to eliminate Castro to return Cuba back to the "good old days." Another even more bizarre plot involved a Cuban revolutionary hero by the name of Rolando Cubela, code-named AMLASH by the CIA. The CIA sought Cubela's participation in an assassination operation. In the fall of 1963, Desmond Fitzgerald, a high-ranking official once under the tutelage of Frank Wisner and a good friend of future CIA Director William Colby, who had served in CIA stations across the Far East during the 1950s, pursued Cubela's clandestine services. In their meetings, Fitzgerald duplicitously presented himself as US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's personal representative. Some scholars saw this plan-of-attack as a "carrot and stick" approach of Kennedy in dealing with Castro. Other historians, however, see these efforts by the CIA as the means to undermine President John F. Kennedy's peace initiative toward Castro. Some revisionist historians claim attempts to eliminate Castro represented a facet of a "Kennedy obsession" purportedly unshared by the rest of Washington. This notion has since been easily dispelled for two reasons: 1) Castro was not the only target of political assassination on Kennedy's agenda and 2) CIA plots to kill Castro existed both before and after Kennedy's presidential tenure. [75]

The Cuban Project, as with the earlier Bay of Pigs invasion, is widely acknowledged as an American policy failure against Cuba. According to Noam Chomsky, it had a budget of $50 million per year, employing 2,500 people including about 500 Americans, and remained secret for 14 years, from 1961 to 1975. It was revealed in part by the Church Commission in the U.S. Senate and part "by good investigative journalism." He said that "it is possible that the operation is still ongoing [1989], but it certainly lasted throughout all the '70s." [76]

In the Oliver Stone film JFK, Operation Mongoose is portrayed in flashback sequences as a training ground where, among others, Lee Harvey Oswald becomes versed in anti-Castro militia tactics.

Edward Geary Lansdale and the New Counterinsurgency

Even before his inauguration, Kennedy had access to extensive policy planning studies on Vietnam through unofficial channels according to one former Harvard classmate (then the State Department desk officer on Vietnam), the president-elect had even reviewed and approved a Saigon embassy “shopping list” for Vietnamese counterinsurgency. 1 Kennedy also received one or more of Edward Lansdale’s “think” papers on Vietnam and was roundly impressed by his advocacy of a “nonbureaucratic” approach to counterinsurgency. 2 Kennedy’s prompt approval just ten days after taking office of a new “Counterinsurgency Plan” for Vietnam-a shift away from a prior emphasis on a Korea-style threat to South Vietnam-suggests a more than casual acquaintance with the issues involved. The Vietnam reappraisal had been developed after the I September 1960 appointment of a new American commander there, Lt. Gen. Lionel C. McGarr, who determined to “redirect . . . training and operations emphasis towards a greatly improved counterguerrilla posture.” 3

Although the means proposed in the Vietnam plan to readjust to insurgency were not particularly innovative, the plan represented a departure from the previous emphasis on assistance in developing a strictly conventional military establishment in Vietnam. Although the Special Forces were assigned for the first time a counterinsurgent role in Vietnam in 1960,), their purpose there was only to provide Ranger training The doctrine with which General McGarr proposed to develop the “counter-guerrilla posture” was essentially traditional, based on the U. S. military’s long experience as an occupation or peacekeeping force. Only in 1961, when a presidential demand was made for a purpose-built counterinsurgency establishment, was the Special Forces/Special Warfare Center development of unconventional warfare adopted across the board as the foundation of a military doctrine of counterinsurgency. The military core of unconventional warfare, the organization, tactics and techniques of America’s covert CIA and Special Forces “guerrillas,” provided a nucleus for the new doctrine of counterinsurgency. The trimmings of economic development, social and political reform, and sophisticated formulations of Ed Lansdale’s “decency and brotherhood” approach merely embellished that nucleus of unconventional tactics and techniques.

To the incoming Kennedy administration, there were few Americans more eminently qualified to advise on unconventional warfare and the American role in Indochina than Edward Geary Lansdale. Although Lansdale’s reputation as a practical, sensitive counterinsurgent would be tarnished in the 1960s, his public legend would endure. General Lansdale was, in any case, one of the most influential of American counterinsurgents, and important if only because his role as a principal spanned the formative years of the doctrine, from the Philippines of the 1940s to Vietnam in the 1960s.

Lansdale was pulled out of Saigon in 1956, after two years as President Diem’s house guest and confidant, and kicked upstairs back in Washington to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 1957, to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Operations. Over the next four years Lansdale would quietly participate in both covert operations and military diplomacy. Although he generally operated under an appropriate cover, his reception by cronies and counterparts overseas occasionally made the nature of his activities quite transparent. Through his own flair for publicity, by 1960 he had become a celebrity-particularly in the Pacific. In January-February 1959, for example, Lansdale traveled to Saigon and Manila with the President’s Committee on Military Assistance (the Draper Committee). His reception in Manila-where he was universally considered a top CIA officer-was of considerable embarrassment to the committee: A memorandum between his colleagues said he was going “officially” under Draper aegis to his “old-stomping grounds. Covering points of tourist interests such as Manila, Saigon, etc. of South-East Asia.” 4

As the end of the Eisenhower administration approached, General Lansdale continued to play a part in U.S. policy on Indochina with a series of influential memoranda. Although Lansdale was almost unique in pressing for the development of unconventional warfare capabilities there, his analysis of the nature of the insurgency in Vietnam was not particularly unique. The official army history of the period observes that the military’s major 1960 Indochina policy report portrayed the people of Vietnam as “apathetic, pliable, and willing to obey any authority which held superior power” in the degree to which it ignored political change and the insurgency’s revolutionary nature, the report could have been written “by an American consular officer in Indochina during the 1920s and 1930s or by a French colonial administrator.” 5 An 11 August 1960 report by General Lansdale expressed a similar view: “Most farmers, he believed, helped the Viet Cong either because of anger at the government-mostly attributable to the misbehavior of troops on counterinsurgency operations-or because of fear of Viet Cong terrorism.” 6

He still saw a Philippine-style solution for Vietnam-that is, winning over the people merely by ensuring troops behaved decently (although twenty years later he would acknowledge this was easier said than done).

The assessment put forward in Lansdale’s memorandum to the Secretary of Defense in January 1961, a few days before the inauguration of John F. Kennedy, reiterated his earlier views: The Vietcong had been imposed on the South Vietnamese the insurgency depended on sustained support from outside South Vietnam and President Diem was indispensable to counter the communist threat. 7 He differed from the military establishment primarily in recognizing that there was indeed a problem of insurgency in Vietnam, and not only the threat of a conventional invasion from the North. Lansdale’s memorandum was considered deeply profound by the incoming administration, and it cemented the general’s position as an in-house Indochina counterinsurgency expert.

Upon taking office, Kennedy brought Lansdale to the White House for a meeting of top Pentagon, State Department, and National Security Officers, and-apparently to their horror-intimated there that Lansdale could be the next U. S. ambassador in Saigon. 8 The new administration’s Undersecretary of Defense, Roswell Gilpatric, reminiscing on his dealings with Lansdale years later for an archive oral history project, explained that although Lansdale was an outcast with his military peers, and perhaps even less esteemed by the State Department, the White House was impressed with him:

Lansdale was not in favor . . . during my period, with either the military or with the State Department. He was in the doghouse with both of them. And I was convinced they were wrong. I was convinced he was not a wheeler dealer he was not an irresponsible swashbuckler, and I finally succeeded in getting him his star as a general-very difficult . . . he was the object of some distrust. I thought and still think he was a very able person. Anyway, he remained active, both in connection with Southeast Asia and Cuba, up until the time I left in January of ‘64. 9

A key to Lansdale’s influence, as noted by Gilpatric, was a peculiar ability to relate to policymakers, if not to his own military colleagues:

[H]e was an unusual military type in that he was completely uninhibited in dealing with politicians and civilians. And he apparently set out on his own to educate the new team. But since he was in my office, the office of deputy secretary, I had the most contact with him. And within a matter of weeks I’d been asked by the president to head up a task force, the first task force on Vietnam, and I made Lansdale my project officer. So he was the one on the military side, other than the uniform people on the Joint Staff and the Joint Chiefs themselves, that we were exposed to. 10

Lansdale’s personal experience clearly carried a great deal of weight with both Gilpatric and Kennedy himself: “He’d been out there a great deal. He’d been personal advisor to [Ngo Dinh] Diem. Previous to that, he’d been advisor to the Philippine government in its guerrilla problems. I may have gotten a somewhat biased view, but I at least got a very concrete, specific one. ” 11

Lansdale did not get the ambassadorship, but in April 1961, his reputation was such that the Kennedy administration’s program to “turn around” the Cuban Revolution in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs was put under his direction. Operation MONGOOSE, which was to become the largest clandestine operation since the Bay of Pigs, was intended to replace the Castro government and included elaborate plans to expedite the operation through Castro’s murder. Lansdale later mused to a Harvard researcher about how Kennedy’s more ambitious plans for him had been scotched by the bureaucrats of State and Defense: “This ‘crazy’

Air Force general with a CIA taint had been for two years safely institutionalized as a special assistant. . . and was about to be retired.” 12 Lansdale’s eccentricities apparently failed to detract from the appeal his imagination exerted on influential members of the Kennedy circle, even though his views on “practical counterinsurgency,” while simple, were rarely practical. Lansdale remained a principal adviser on counterinsurgency during Kennedy’s administration and upon his own return to Vietnam in 1965.

General Lansdale’s position in the Defense Department made him a natural pole of attraction for the counterinsurgency dignitaries of allied nations and an intermediary through which counterinsurgency innovations were considered and disseminated through the American establishment. Congressmen, journalists, and publishers concerned with the United States’ posture in the Cold War naturally gravitated to Lansdale, and their interest occasionally gave resonance to the new concepts of counterinsurgency and special warfare. Publisher Frederick Praeger, already the publisher of military texts used in the military schools, visited General Lansdale in May 1961 to talk counterinsurgency, and expressed his interest in publishing “texts on guerrilla warfare.” Over the next years, Lansdale corresponded with Praeger and advised him on “retired U.S. [officers] and officers in foreign armed forces” as likely authors. Praeger, in turn, churned out a virtual counterinsurgency library within a few years.

A proposal to use Israeli trainers to establish strategic “military-economic self-defense” communities in Laos crossed General Lansdale’s desk in June 1961 it prompted both an exchange of memoranda on the theme with Walt Rostow and Lansdale’s OWTI close examination of Israel’s methods. The initial response to the scheme suggested his already considerable familiarity with Israeli counterinsurgency:

I do want to comment on Sander’s premise that Israeli trainers should play a major role in engineering such defense groupings. We must always recognize that the skill of the Israelis in their own program was really secondary to the terrific motivation which drove them onward to success. Lack of this motivation prejudiced the programs in Burma and Algeria. 13

General Lansdale subsequently met the new Israeli military attache to Washington, Colonel Yehuda Prinhar. In a 30 August memo to Defense Secretary McNamara and Deputy Secretary Gilpatric, Lansdale reported on an initial meeting with Colonel Prihar, and stated his intention to take up an invitation from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to visit Israel to study “antiguerrilla concepts.” General Lansdale (and Major J. K. Patchoell) arrived on 15 October 1961: His hand-annotated itinerary records meeting with the IDF intelligence and operations chiefs, the commander of the NAHAL organization and visits to NAHAL outposts, and “a settlement organized for self-defense” under the Territorial Defense system. Training establishments visited included the Gadna (Youth Battalions) Center near Tel Aviv, and the Airborne Center (“the Special Warfare Organ here”).

General Lansdale had previously arranged a briefing by Colonel Prihar for top American defense officials in September 1961 in the Defense Secretary’s office (to which he invited General Maxwell Taylor and CIA chief Allen Dulles). Memoranda concerning the briefing suggest the respect Israel’s counterinsurgency skills were accorded and an awareness of Israel’s earlier overseas advisory missions:

The Israeli [sic] arc real experts at unconventional warfare. Colonel Prihar himself is one of the best, and was an advisor to the Burmese army in its counter-insurgency campaign. I had hoped to arrange a seminar session for him at the Counter-guerrilla School at Fort Bragg, but Lebanese officers in the class might have proved embarrassing and there was no diplomatic way of eliminating them. I am now arranging a seminar for Colonel Prihar in the Pentagon. We will tape this, so that we can produce a case study similar to the “Anti-Huk[balahap] Campaign in the Philippines . and then disseminate a written version. [T]his should prove of value to the U. S. military. 14

Colonel Prihar was himself a classic transnational counterinsurgent, having served in the British army in World War II, joined the Israel Defense Force in 1948, and subsequently heading the IDF Infantry School and Joint Command and Staff Schools. He had also participated in what may have been one of the first of Israel’s overseas advisory missions, the “Israeli Survey Team” to advise “on ways and means to cope” with Burmese insurgency. In his Pentagon lecture, Colonel Prihar discussed

Israeli concepts of the military’s role in nation building, with emphasis on the methods the Israeli Government has developed to protect national borders from infiltration (the so-called “strong village” concept) and other measures of strengthening rural areas from inroads by hostile guerrilla and other paramilitary forces. 15

General Lansdale’s scope also extended to the Americas, with visits to both the U. S. Caribbean Command and Venezuela in March 1963. 16 The Bolivan Special Forces were the next to host General Lansdale in May 1963 (four years before their duel with Che Guevara). On 28 May, General Lansdale accompanied Caribbean Command chief General Andrew O’Meara to the inauguration of the Bolivian’s new Counterinsurgency Center-Centro de Instrucción de Tropas Especiales (CITE) at La Chimba. 17 Lansdale’s first assignment in the Americas, however, was to complete the task that the Bay of Pigs invasion had begun-Operation MONGOOSE.

Operation MONGOOSE

Both the president and his brother Robert made it clear to the CIA and the military that “they wanted Castro out of there, “ 18 and that “no time, effort or manpower” was to be spared in removing Cuba’s revolutionary government. The ClA’s response was the largest of its clandestine operations of the time. From 1961 to 1964, MONGOOSE pitted the covert forces of the United States against Cuba, until President Lyndon Johnson reportedly called it quits.

The Special Group Augmented (SGA) was established under McGeorge Bundy’s chairmanship in November 1961 to supervise the operation. At Kennedy’s request, the group appointed General Edward Lansdale as operations chief. Lansdale chose the code name MONGOOSE for the Cuba campaign. His initial plan was in keeping with his reputation for imaginative counterinsurgency, and as such was utterly unrealistic: He “drew up an elaborate scenario with a precise timetable calling for a march on Havana and the overthrow of Castro in October 1962. It was all worked out on paper.” 19 Although the CIA rapidly learned (or knew all along) that there were no tangible prospects of a general uprising in Cuba, it proceeded with a program of covert operations similar to the harrying raids conducted against Nicaragua in 19811983: “Mongoose gradually shifted its emphasis from resistance-building toward sabotage, paramilitary raids, efforts to disrupt the Cuban economy by contaminating sugar exports, circulating counterfeit money and ration books, and the like. ‘We want boom-and-bang on the island,’ Lansdale said.” 20

Lansdale’s own role was to be both coordinator and idea man, although, as Thomas Powers recalls, “He was uneven in judgment. Nutty ideas sometimes seemed to strike him as imaginative and plausible.” 21 One such idea was to exploit the alleged Cuban wont for “superstition”:

Cuba was to be flooded with rumors that the Second Coming was imminent, that Christ had picked Cuba for His arrival, and that He wanted the Cubans to act rid of Castro first. Then, on the night foretold, a U. S. submarine would surface off the coast of Cuba and litter the sky with star shells, which would convince the Cubans that The Hour was at hand. 22

Lansdale himself may have been prepared to ride a donkey into Havana as the climax to the show. In 1950, a Lansdale scheme to dress a U.S. submarine in Soviet livery in order to lure Philippine guerrillas into an ambush was scuttled by higher-ups Lansdale later complained that the request “seemed only to arouse their suspicions that I had gone insane.” 23

As Lansdale dreamed up new scenarios for Cuba, a considerable proportion of the operation was directed toward a single objective: the assassination of Fidel Castro. The plot to murder Castro had apparently been initiated in 1960, and involved the now-familiar recruitment of organized crime figures as contract killers, and the development of poisons by the CIA’s Technical Services Division. Efforts were reportedly redoubled in the fall of 1961 after covert action chief Richard Bissell (Deputy Director for Plans) “was chewed out [for] sitting on his ass and not doing anything about getting rid of Castro and the Castro regime.” 24 The CIA subsequently organized a unit with its Task Force W, the ZR/ RIFLE group, to carry out “Executive Action”-that is, assassinations-and on 16 November 1961 discussed its use for killing Castro. 25 Assassination teams, again linking the CIA with organized crime, went into Cuba in 1962, while more bizarre schemes continued until shortly after [‘resident Kennedy’s own murder: Among them were attempts to eliminate Castro with such devices as exploding giant clams (while he was skin-diving) and poisoned cigars.”

Colonel Lansdale may have been deliberately kept in the dark, but not because of any particular squeamishness on his part. Thomas Powers discusses Lansdale’s role in the light of the CIA’s silence regarding assassination in both interdepartmental meetings and memoranda, and describes the reaction of William Harvey, head of Task Force W, to a Lansdale memorandum on assassinations:

Harvey was doubly astonished . . . on August 13 [1962], when he got an official memo from Edward G. Lansdale. . . which explicitly requested Harvey to prepare papers on various anti- Castro programs “including liquidation of leaders.” Harvey . . . told Lansdale in plain terms what he thought of the “stupidity of putting this type of comment in writing in such a document.” 27

Ten years later Lyndon Johnson bluntly assessed the whole affair: “We had been operating a damned Murder, Inc. in the Caribbean.” 28

Rather more important than the colorful eccentricities of Lansdale and the Technical Services Division was the significance of Operation MONGOOSE as a prototype destabilization or “bleeding” campaign. If the United States could not remove and replace the Cuban government, it would make the Cuban people suffer-by destroying its sugar economy, power plants, its peace of mind. Gilpatric recalls:

The agency was allowed to put agents into Cuba for purposes of sabotage, for purposes of trying to disrupt the strengthening of the regime’s control [and] of keeping the Castro regime so off stride and unsettled that it couldn’t concentrate its activities to harmful ends elsewhere. And so the agency . . . was very aggressive in coming forward with schemes, some of which were really quite fantastic and never got off the ground. Others made a lot of sense, some of which did prove to be effective and successful. 29

MONGOOSE involved both American agents and Cuban exiles, although the latter comprised the bulk of the forces sent in on raids and sabotage missions. According to Gilpatric, forces sent in “varied from teams of four or five individuals put in to sometimes several times that, “ with every detail of each operation closely monitored by the Special Group Augmented (which Gilpatric refers to as the 54-12 group). 30 Gilpatric also suggests that Cuban exile terrorist groups, like Alpha 66, which were allegedly renegades beyond CIA control at the time (and gunning for the president himself after the “betrayal” at the Bay of Pigs), were in fact a part of the ongoing

after the “betrayal” at the Bay of Pigs), were in fact a part of the ongoing American government effort to harass Cuba. 31

A thread of continuity runs from the covert American programs against Cuba in the 1960s into the covert operations in Africa in the 1970s and in Nicaragua in the 1980s, in the persons of Cuban exiles recruited for the Bay of Pigs and subsequent MONGOOSE offensives. As in the 1950s, when the Lodge bill facilitated the recruitment of East European emigres for the army’s new Special Forces, legislation in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs permitted the regularization of America’s Cuban “paramilitary assets” as U.S. government personnel.

Details on the careers of some Bay of Pigs veterans have emerged as a consequence of both the October 1986 downing of American flyer Eugene Hasenfus in Nicaragua and the “Contra-gate” investigations. Hasenfus and Nicaraguan authorities claimed that two of the link men in the contra resupply operation in El Salvador were Cuban exiles, already well known for their service with the CIA these allegations were subsequently investigated and confirmed by the news media and congressional aides. Among these link men were the apparent head of the operation at San Salvador’s military airport, Illopango, Felix Martinez (under the pseudonym Max Gomez), and another Bay of Pigs veteran, Luis Posada Carriles (under the name Ramon Medina). 32 Congressional aides were particularly outraged at the discovery-just as American counterterrorism proposals were taken to Congress-that one of the resupply officers had previously been detained in Venezuela as an international terrorist. Posada Carriles had escaped from a Venezuelan jail on 17 August 1985, after nearly ten years’ imprisonment for the bombing of a Cuban civil airliner.

The 1976 bombing killed all seventy-three people aboard, including most of Cuba’s 1976 Pan American Games team-a slaughter as terrible as that of the Munich Olympics (this was to date the only terrorist bombing of its kind of a Latin American airliner). Subsequent inquiries confirmed that Posada Carriles had served in the Bay of Pigs invasion as an explosives expert and was later commissioned in the U.S. Army. The State Department reported to Congress that

[Luis Clemente] Posada-Carriles was appointed as a 2Lt [Second Lieutenant] in the US Army in March 1963 under the Cuban exile voluIlteer program. He served in the US Army until September 1966. Records of the Department of Army reflect that an extensive investigative file exists on Posada- Carnles subsequent to his entry on active duty. The investigation was predicated on information . . . pertaining to his alleged involvement in Cuban exile activities in Florida and elsewhere in the Americas which reportedly included possible violations of US federal statutes. Posada-Carriles’ Army investigative file was requested (by name) and was furnished to the House Select Committee on Assassination in 1978. 33

The CIA, in turn, could not-or would not-provide information on Posada Carriles (or Ramon Medina), and stated that “it did not provide any assistance, direct or indirect, to facilitate the escape of Luis Posada from jail in Venezuela, or his entry into El Salvador.” 34

The Kennedy administration’s Operation MONGOOSE began to fade soon after the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. At the height of the crisis, an order went down to halt the raids on Cuba, but it was disregarded: A raid led by Eugenio Martínez (later of Watergate renown) was in progress on 21 October as Kennedy announced a blockade of Cuba. 35 In the following months, the Special Group Augmented was disbanded, General Lansdale moved on to other projects, and the CIA’s own professionals were left to get on with the Cuban unconventional warfare campaign of sabotage and assassination. Major operations continued to be mounted throughout 1963 and into the next year. But with the assassination of John F. Kennedy on 22 November, the heart went out of the offensive Lyndon Johnson, never a fan of unconventional warfare, ordered a halt to the Cuba campaign on 7 April 1964. 36

Nation-Building and “Pax Americana”

In the 1960s, Lansdale was also an enthusiastic advocate of the political side of counterinsurgency. His writings are replete with advice to aspiring counterinsurgents on the need to understand the potentially insurgent people and to win their sympathy with decency and principles of fair play. American advisers-presumably decent by nature-are counseled to impart their own fair but firm principles to their foreign Counterparts so that troops in the field will cease their age-old practices of plunder and casual brutality and get on with the job of counterinsurgency. Magsaysay’s ostensible reform of the Philippine army was commonly cited as a model for moderation and civic action in counterinsurgency Lansdale pointed out in a 1957 War College discussion that the policy was only common sense:

If the people fear and hate the army, they will fear and hate the government . . Col. Lansdale cited communist military occupation policy to emphasize communist understanding of the above point. When a communist army or guerrilla unit initially enters a village . . . individual soldiers . . . lay aside their arms and offer their help ill chopping wood plowing, etc. They scrupulously respect property . . . and take nothing by force. This is in marked contrast with the normal performance of governmental soldiery. [In] the Philippines before 1950, government troopers probably killed more civilians unnecessarily than the Huk[balahap] did, despite the accusation that Huks obtained civilian support only through coercion and terrorism. 37

The means to achieve the prescribed change in behavior, however, remained elusive. In a 1979 letter, he acknowledged the failure of the effort in Vietnam:

Civic action was essentially brotherly behavior of troops along lines taught by Mao and [Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen] Giap to their troops. Admittedly the Americans never succeeded in teaching this to the Vietnamese Army. Up to the very end of the Vietnam war the army was still stealing from the population. 38

Although Lansdale encouraged humane treatment of civilians by the military, he insisted at the same time that “anything goes” in the field of psychological warfare-a contradiction in which, more often than not, the latter notion prevailed.

Lansdale’s reputation as a sensitive counterinsurgent, concerned with the nonmilitary aspects of reform and development, is belied by his actual record as well as his unpublished speeches and writings. Psychological warfare was his particular metier, and he was fascinated with its possibilities: “Psychological warfare is probably man’s oldest weapon, aside from bare hands. In using it in today’s dirty, secretive wars, or in the future, the important thing to remember is that it is a weapon-and that a weapon has its own unique use and its own effect.” 39 Lansdale was a prime example of the counterinsurgent who convinced himself that he understood the people he was working with and that, as a consequence, he could outthink and manipulate them. Psy-war, in Lansdale’s view, was trickery and trickery was to be employed even in so- called political reforms-for example, the Philippines’ largely bogus program of land grants for guerrilla surrenderees.

Lansdale embraced the role of trickster, and it emerged as a prime tenet of psy-war in his lectures at the military service schools. He clearly relished the use of “dirty” tactics, especially those that contained an element of humor:

As a footnote . . . remember humor-even if it is a grim practical joke that only you can afford to smile at. Humor is often the test of a good psychological operation, since humor is constructed on the frailties of mankind-and skilled playing on these frailties increases the effectiveness of the psychological weapon. Those of you who know of Admiral Miles’ operations in China should recall the risks his Chinese agents took to wall-paint slogans poking fun at the Japanese. In some instances, the main motivation of volunteers who risked death doing this was the appeal of playing a prank. 40

The Lansdale “trickster” approach to psy-war had a lasting influence on the American military, not least through the inclusion of his exuberant accounts in military training materials long after his retirement. The Department of the Army’s two-volume reference tome on psychological warfare published in April 1976 (Army Pamphlet 525-7-1) reproduced several Lansdale texts on the theme. “Practical Jokes, “ an article excerpted from Lansdale’s autobiography In the Midst of Wars, concerns a “whole new approach” to psy-war, including such examples as the distribution of free hot chocolate and coffee to demonstrators “laced generously with a powerful laxative.” Lansdale ignores the long-term political effects of such a prank, as well as the possibility of detection by the victims. (Similar anonymous “pranks” were played in 1969 against demonstrators in the March on Washington, when hot drinks laced with LSD were distributed: The rumor-perhaps false-that the villains were from army intelligence rapidly spread.) 41 A free rein in devising and implementing such schemes, of course, is another aspect of the Lansdale approach. Other Lansdale psy-war pranks cited in Army Pamphlet 5257-1 and other army training manuals involve exemplary criminal violence-the murder and mutilation of captives and the display of their bodies.

Lansdale’s method for confronting Third World insurgencies was based exclusively on his success in the Philippines. It revolved around small elite teams of Americans placed in close and influential contact with indigenous personalities who would make the best puppet leaders. In the Philippines, the chosen instrument was Ramón Magsaysay, a soldier shepherded from the defense ministry to the presidency by Lansdalets elite team. In Vietnam, the instrument was Ngo Dinh Diem, sustained in power through his troubled first two years under the protective shield of another elite team. 42 Lansdale continued to put forward formal proposals to continue to pursue this approach in Vietnam well into the late 1960s.

Although Lansdale’s view that problems of insurgency were resolvable by small teams and Machiavellian intrigue was most frequently expressed in his papers on the Philippine experience, a more comprehensive approach appears in an 18 June 1963 memorandum to McGeorge Bundy from adviser Gordon Chase. 43 The paper, “A High-Level Look at the Cold War, “ summarizes yet another Lansdale “think” piece calling on “the need for a precise strategy which will give the U.S. the win it seeks in the cold war,” and proposing as the way to do this the creation of a small strategy group (to be headed by Bundy). Of the seven topics to be discussed by such a group, two are of particular relevance.

The Human Factor-The group may want to study the feasibility of forming and deploying a super-elite (under 100 persons) in such a way as to bring about a decisive change in the outcome of the cold war. One method of deployment would be to send some of the elite into a critical area, as a replacement for a complete Country Team and with simple orders to win U. S. goals. When the elite had won, it would leave behind a blueprint for follow-up actions and return home for deployment elsewhere or for splitting up into cadres.

School for Political Action-The group may want to study the feasibility of setting up a school for political action which would create skilled free world leadership capable of competing with graduates of the Lenin and Sun Yat Sen Schools and of completely defeating Communism. However, with or without such a school . . . there is a need for a good political textbook-a modern case history text of democratic leadership in the Free World, for use at leadership levels as a sort of U. S. version of “The Prince.”

To propose “simple” solutions, of course, is far easier than to bring about simple solutions and despite his access to information, General Lansdale, surprisingly, took relatively little interest in the practical details of counterinsurgency beyond his own experience. Lansdale was better known among the Kennedy circle for his “expertise” on “the political aspect” of the Cold War. As Gilpatric recalls, “Lansdale was fascinated by the political scene. And he didn’t take the same degree of interest or concern in what his military colleagues were doing on the counterinsurgency training program and development of new techniques, equipment, weapons, and so forth with guerrilla-type activities.” 44

In a rather garbled paper drafted in April 1954, Lansdale described his endeavors as directed toward a political object, one that smacked of neocolonialism-a “Pax Americana. “ However, the U. S. empire would impose not “thugs” on its satellites but such decent people as Ramón Magsaysay (and Ngo Dinh Diem):

The U. S. political warrior is actually extending the Pax Americana when he works effectively. In his basic plan of operation, then, he must consider the historic nature of world leadership by one nation, including the Pax Romana with its legion and the Pax Britannica with its navy, plus the social and economic factors, in comparison with the power plays of Genghis Khan, Tamerlane or Hitler (which some of our warriors are tempted to imitate when they give power to unprincipled thugs merely because they are anti-Communist). Thus, the skilled U.S. political warrior does not picture himself as a lone gladiator. He understands that he is part of a team that has other members, even if the other members do not understand this as clearly as he. 45

Fade-Out in Saigon

In June 1964, Lansdale proposed in a twenty-two-page paper, “Concept for Victory in Vietnam,” to reunite his old Philippines team-”The Force.” In his inimitably chipper style, Lansdale reiterated his fundamental belief in the power of a few individuals to influence events: “This is a concept for victory in Vietnam, a victory won by the free Vietnamese with American help . . . a ‘first team’ of men who have proven their ability to defeat Asian Communist subversive insurgents, before it is altogether too late.” 46

As in the comprehensive guerre révolutionnaire approach of the French theorists (but without their depth), Lansdale’s “concept for victory” begins with measures to influence the people at home, to mobilize “the great ‘will to win’ of the American people [which is] still largely missing.” 47 His concept for the conduct of the war, however, is one of vast generalities, and peripheral-or downright harebrained-schemes: expanding minority counterguerrilla forces (“montagnards, the sects and the ethnic Khmers”) bringing in “voluntary” forces from neighboring countries in private enterprise “Freedom Companies” and organizing battalions exclusively for night-fighting (“changing reveille to evening and the duty day to the hours of the night”). Lansdale’s proposed “Command Action” to implement pacification, guaranteeing “aggressive action against the Viet Cong, and positive action to help the people” (however the two are distinguished), typifies his approach to counterinsurgency:

Order, simultaneously issued by GVN [government of South Vietnam] and U.S. commands, military and civilian: The armed forces, and the civilian personnel of government, have a primary mission to protect the people of South Vietnam their secondary mission is to help them. Failure to accomplish these missions will be punished by death, or such other punishment as the court- martial may direct. 48

Although General Lansdale’s boundless self-confidence that a small nucleus of bold, brave, brilliant Americans led by himself could “turn around” a subversive insurgency survived the long decline of his protege Ngo Dinh Diem, Lansdale would not return to Vietnam until the Johnson administration’s buildup of U. S. ground forces was well underway. Although publicly acclaimed for his counterinsurgency savvy, by 1964 the military’s professional counterinsurgents began to tire of Lansdale’s simplistic approach. General Maxwell Taylor, who had replaced Henry Cabot Lodge as ambassador in dune 1964, shared McGeorge Bundy’s low opinion of Lansdale’s schemes, and together they refused to have Lansdale in a position of authority in Saigon. 49 In 1961, Taylor had been asked by President Kennedy to pick up the pieces after the Bay of Pigs invasion, and he chaired a committee of inquiry that was brutally critical of CIA incompetence. Lansdale’s handling of his post-Bay of Pigs assignment to kill Castro, in the same gung ho spirit as the invasion, may have been perhaps too much for Taylor to stomach.

In September 1965, Henry Cabot Lodge-no doubt mercifully unaware of MONGOOSE-returned as ambassador to the Saigon embassy. At his request, General Lansdale followed shortly afterward with his handpicked “team”-most of whom had worked with him before. Lansdale’s stint as chief adviser to the pacification effort then underway-”Revolutionary Development”-was, however, short-lived. The consensus, as enunciated by Frances FitzGerald, is that Lansdale was simply adrift in this last posting to Vietnam: The Saigon bureaucracy “effectively cut him off from the mission command and from all work except that of a symbolic nature.” “Living in his grand villa,” Lansdale would until 1968 “spend most of his time in talk with Vietnamese intellectuals, a few ex-Viet Minh officers, and his own American devotees.” Lansdale would become “a hero to idealistic young American officials who saw the failure of American policy as a failure of tactics.” 50

As a believer in the potential of the individual leader or operator, the isolated surgical action, the showcase project, and above all the power of psychological warfare, Lansdale was prototypical of the counterinsurgency era. He had neither the patience nor the wisdom to contemplate comprehensive programs of undramatic police work or in-depth development or reform his vocation was for the spectacular, the theatrical. In the Philippines, Lansdale’s advisory effort was seen as relatively successful: There, psychological warfare had indeed made a contribution to the defeat of an insurgent movement, although skeptics could attribute the defeat to the insurgency’s own inherent weaknesses. Moreover, the psy-war tricks of terror and manipulation, which he emphasized in his lectures, do not appear to have played a significant part in defeating the Huks. Lansdale’s advocacy of special operations, “practical jokes,” and individual initiative was, however, shared by the creative counterinsurgents of the 1960s and continues to inform the doctrine of low-intensity conflict in the 1990s.

Social Security

The Area Number is assigned by the geographical region. Prior to 1972, cards were issued in local Social Security offices around the country and the Area Number represented the State in which the card was issued. This did not necessarily have to be the State where the applicant lived, since a person could apply for their card in any Social Security office. Since 1972, when SSA began assigning SSNs and issuing cards centrally from Baltimore, the area number assigned has been based on the ZIP code in the mailing address provided on the application for the original Social Security card. The applicant's mailing address does not have to be the same as their place of residence. Thus, the Area Number does not necessarily represent the State of residence of the applicant, either prior to 1972 or since.

Generally, numbers were assigned beginning in the northeast and moving westward. So people on the east coast have the lowest numbers and those on the west coast have the highest numbers.

Note: One should not make too much of the "geographical code." It is not meant to be any kind of useable geographical information. The numbering scheme was designed in 1936 (before computers) to make it easier for SSA to store the applications in our files in Baltimore since the files were organized by regions as well as alphabetically. It was really just a bookkeeping device for our own internal use and was never intended to be anything more than that.

Within each area, the group number (middle two (2) digits) range from 01 to 99 but are not assigned in consecutive order. For administrative reasons, group numbers issued first consist of the ODD numbers from 01 through 09 and then EVEN numbers from 10 through 98, within each area number allocated to a State. After all numbers in group 98 of a particular area have been issued, the EVEN Groups 02 through 08 are used, followed by ODD Groups 11 through 99.

Group numbers are assigned as follows:
ODD - 01, 03, 05, 07, 09------EVEN - 10 to 98
EVEN - 02, 04, 06, 08------ODD - 11 to 99

See the latest Social Security Number Monthly Issuance Table for the latest SSN area ranges issued to date. Alleged Social Security numbers containing area numbers other than those found on that table are impossible.

Within each group, the serial numbers (last four (4) digits) run consecutively from 0001 through 9999.


Army Air Force Base Units Edit

In 1944, The Army Air Forces (AAF) faced a problem with its units in the United States. At the time, most AAF units were involved with training and preparing individuals and units for deployment to combat theaters or with meeting the logistics requirements of overseas units. Standard military units, based on relatively inflexible tables of organization, were proving to be poorly adapted to this mission. Accordingly, the AAF adopted a more functional system in which each base was organized into a separate numbered unit. [1] Under this system, each command reporting to the AAF was given a bulk allotment of manpower and then received the flexibility to form units to carry out its mission by "customizing" the units on each station. AAF commands then organized their manpower into numbered "AAF Base Units." To prevent duplication, commands were allotted blocks of numbers to use when organizing their units, [2] ranging from 100-199 for First Air Force to 4000-4999 for Air Technical Service Command. When the United States Air Force (USAF) became a separate service, the AAF Base Units became AF Base Units.

Wing Base Organization Edit

In August 1947, the AAF began a service test of the wing base organization model. [3] This test was limited to combat wings, and unified the combat group and all support elements on a base under a single wing, which carried the same number as the combat group. [4] The test proved the wing base plan to the satisfaction of the new USAF and was implemented in all combat commands in the summer of 1948. [3] The success of the plan also led to its implementation in support commands and the support units of combat commands as well. Beginning in the late spring of 1948 AF Base Units were replaced by wings, groups, and squadrons. [5] By July 1948 Headquarters, USAF began to allot blocks of numbers to its major subordinate formations, the Major Commands (MAJCOMs), in the same way that it had allotted blocks for AF Base Units. Because the new units controlled by MAJCOMs would be wings, groups, and squadrons, just like those controlled by Headquarters, USAF, the allotted blocks began at 1100, and numbers below 1000 were reserved for USAF use. Numbers originally ranged from 1100-1199 for Bolling Field Command to 4900-4999 [6] [note 1] for Special Weapons Command. Eventually, the numbers were expanded as high as 9999 for Continental Air Command reserve units. [6] [note 2]

The term used by USAF to denote wings (and other units) controlled by MAJCOMs varied during the first decade the system was used. Originally, they were called Table of Distribution (T/D) Units. [7] [note 3] Later they were referred to as Designated Units. [8] [note 4] From the late 1950s the accepted term was MAJCON (from Major Command Controlled) Units, while units controlled by Hq USAF were called AFCON (Air Force Controlled) Units. [7] All provisional units were MAJCON units. [8] Although Headquarters, USAF occasionally authorized MAJCOMs to number provisional wings outside the blocks of numbers allotted to the commands, only four digit provisional wings are included in this list. Provisional wings numbered outside the four digit system, such as the Strategic Wing, Provisional 72d at Andersen AFB during the Viet Nam War or the Bombardment Wing, Provisional, 806th at RAF Fairford during Operation Desert Storm are not included in the list.

Under the USAF organization and lineage system MAJCON units' lineages (histories, awards, and battle honors) ended when the units were discontinued and could never be revived. [9] USAF considered MAJCON wings "temporary", though many stayed in existence for a very long time. [note 5] Some MAJCON wings appear to have been revived, but even when they have the same number and name, USAF regards them as two entirely separate units, as shown in the two entries for the 1500th Air Base Wing in the list.

Although USAF policy during this era stated MAJCON units could not be reactivated, when the MAJCON system was being ended in 1991–1992, numerous MAJCON units were converted to AFCON units and assigned two or three digit numbers. [10] Also, since 1991 discontinued MAJCON units have been reestablished and "consolidated" (merged) with AFCON units. [11] Other former MAJCON units have been revived as AFCON units. [12]

During the period covered by this list, there were several occasions when Major Commands received approval from the Department of the Air Force to replace MAJCON Wings under their control with AFCON Wings. One reason for these changes was to retain the lineage of existing combat units or to revive and perpetuate the lineage of inactive units with illustrious combat records. In 1963 SAC discontinued its Air Refueling Wings and Strategic Wings equipped with combat aircraft and replaced them with AFCON units. [13] ADC had acted similarly in 1955 with Project Arrow, which was designed to bring back on the active list fighter units which had compiled memorable records in the two world wars, although Project Arrow involved groups and squadrons, not wings. [14]

On occasion, Hq, USAF provided that an AFCON Wing replacing a MAJCON Wing inherited the honors, but not the history, of the wing being replaced. For example, when the 320th Bombardment Wing and the 456th Strategic Aerospace Wing replaced the 4134th Strategic Wing and the 4126th Strategic Wing in 1963, they inherited honors (not lineage) from the MAJCON wings they replaced. [15] This inheritance occurred because SAC was aware of the historical significance of the accomplishments of the Strategic Wings and the need to perpetuate this lineage as well as the lineage of illustrious units that were no longer active. [13] In practice, this inheritance of honors has been limited to the adoption of emblems. While the 320th decided to use the emblem approved for it earlier, the 456th chose to replace the emblem approved for it when it was a troop carrier wing with the emblem of the 4126th.

FEAF Tactical Support Wings Edit

In July 1950, USAF planners did not foresee that the Korean War would be of long duration. Consequently, when it came time for Far East Air Forces to deploy tactical units to Korea, it retained its permanent wings in Japan since they were heavily committed to the air defense of Japan. [16] However, by the following month, it became apparent that the Air Base Squadrons originally deployed to Korea to support tactical units did not have sufficient personnel and equipment. Therefore, five Tactical Support Wings were organized for operational control of the tactical groups in Korea. [16] This proved a temporary expedient, and at the start of December 1950 the permanent wings were deployed to Korea to control their tactical groups already located there, replacing the existing Tactical Support Wings. [16]

SAC Strategic and Air Refueling Wings Edit

When the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress dispersal program began in the late 1950s, [17] the new SAC units created to support this program were MAJCON Strategic Wings and given four-digit designations. Although these wings were MAJCON units, typically each included a Bombardment Squadron, an Air Refueling Squadron, and a Munitions Maintenance Squadron, all of which were AFCON units. Some also included an AFCON Strategic Missile Squadron. [note 6] SAC also used the strategic wing concept for the command of forward-deployed (Operation Reflex) Boeing B-47 Stratojet and Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter units. SAC also had several MAJCON air refueling wings whose flying squadrons were AFCON units.

The reorganization process, which took place between January and September 1963, applied to 22 B-52 Strategic Wings, three Air Refueling Wings, and the 4321st Strategic Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, which had a strategic missile squadron assigned. "These units were discontinued and two and three-digit AFCON units were activated. In most cases, the bombardment squadron[s] that had been assigned to the strategic wings were inactivated and bombardment squadrons that had previously been assigned to the newly-activated wings were activated. While these actions were almost tantamount to redesignation, they were not official redesignations." [13] Overseas strategic wings, which had AFCON units attached for operational control, but not assigned, did not convert to AFCON wings until 1966. [note 7]

MATS Air Transport Wings Edit

When the MAJCON system was established in 1948 strategic airlift and tactical airlift were treated differently. Tactical airlift (called troop carrier) units operated within a theater of operations and were considered AFCON combat units. Strategic airlift (called air transport) units operated mostly outside theaters of operations and were considered support units. As support units, they were MAJCON units. All air transport wings were assigned to Military Air Transport Service (MATS) and numbered within the block of 1250 to 1750. In 1952, however, MATS MAJCON air transport squadrons were replaced by AFCON Squadrons,. [note 8] By being MAJCON wings with AFCON squadrons assigned, MATS air transport wings resembled SAC strategic wings. In January 1966, MATS was replaced by Military Airlift Command and its seven existing MAJCON Air Transport Wings were replaced by AFCON Military Airlift Wings. [note 9]

Flying Training Wings Edit

The Air Force considered all training units support units. Although they were assigned the mission of advanced training, combat crew training wings operated the same kinds of aircraft as combat wings and retained a capability to augment combat forces. [18] [19] SAC's 93d Bombardment Wing and MAC's 443d Military Airlift Wing were AFCON units conducting the same crew training mission for bombardment, air refueling, and airlift. [18] [19] In October 1969, Tactical Air Command (TAC) joined them and replaced its MAJCON combat crew training wings for fighter and reconnaissance aircraft with AFCON fighter training wings. [20] [note 10]

The final conversion of MAJCON to AFCON wings occurred between 1972 and 1973. The remaining MAJCON flying training units in the Air Force were assigned to Air Training Command (ATC). ATC followed TAC's example and replaced its MAJCON pilot training wings and navigator training wing with AFCON flying training wings. [21]

During the Gulf War of 1990-91 MAJCON wings, such as the 7440th Composite Wing (Provisional) at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and the 801st Bomb Wing (Provisional) [note 11] at Morón Air Base, Spain served alongside AFCON wings. The MAJCON system was in existence up until 30 April 1991, when all units became AFCON units. A number of MAJCOM wings were converted to AFCON status while retaining their four digit designation or redesignated with one to three digits.

"At the same time, the Air Force withdrew the authorization for major commands to create MAJCON organizations. Those four digit organizations active on 30 April 1991, changed to organizations under the direct control of Headquarters USAF for organizational actions, eliminating all MAJCON organizations. Among the former MAJCON organizations were about twenty active four-digit wings. Within a few years, however all those wings were inactivated, consolidated with, or replaced by lower numbered wings." [22] An example is the 4404th Wing in Saudi Arabia, which was only replaced by a three-digit AFCON wing, the 363d Air Expeditionary Wing, on 1 December 1998. [23]

Four digit wings are still permitted if they are provisional organizations, although the wing number is based on the unit's area of responsibility, not the command it is assigned to. [24] However, most USAF provisional units are now expeditionary units. Although expeditionary wings are activated as needed by MAJCOMs, their numbers are controlled by Hq, USAF and their lineage and honors can be inherited. [25]

Wing Location MAJCOM Organized Discontinued
Remarks Ref
1001st Air Base Wing
1001st Composite Wing
Andrews AFB, MD HQC 1 October 1957
1 July 1968
1 July 1968
1 July 1969
Was 1401st ABW. Replaced by 1st Composite Wing. [26] [27]
Medical Services Wing, Provisional, 1010th Andrews AFB, MD HQC 15 October 1962 Unknown [27]
1020th USAF Special Activities Wing Bolling AFB, DC
Fort Myer, VA
HQC 26 May 1949
30 July 1949
30 July 1949
c. 30 June 1963
Mission Absorbed by 1100th ABW. [28] [29]
1050th Air Base Wing Andrews AFB, MD HQC 1 April 1949 26 August 1952 Redesignated 1401st ABW. [27]
1090th USAF Special Reporting Wing Sandia Base, NM USAF c. May 1951 c. 2 November 1964 Was USAF Special Reporting Agency.
1100th Air Base Wing Bolling AFB, DC HQC 16 March 1949 30 September 1977 Replaced by 1100th ABG. [29]
1100th Air Base Wing Bolling AFB, DC MAC 15 December 1980 1 October 1985 Transferred to Air Force District of Washington as 1100th ABG. [29]
1140th USAF Special Reporting Wing Sandia Base, NM USAFSRA c. 28 August 1948 Unknown Redesignated 1100th USAF Special Reporting Group.
1254th Air Transport Wing Washington Natl Apt, VA
Andrews AFB. MD
MATS 1 December 1960

Abbreviations: ABG=Air Base Group, ABW=Air Base Wing, CCTW=Combat Crew Training Wing, CSG=Combat Support Group, TFW=Tactical Fighter Wing, TTG=Technical Training Group

History of the Special Group Augmented (SGA) - History

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Annie Tan uncovers a dark moment in her family's history.

"It Reminds Me I Have a Legacy To Live Up To"

Asian American entrepreneurs like Jerry Yang helped build Silicon Valley into a powerhouse

Asian Immigrants Helped Build the Silicon Valley

Chinese immigrants who built the railroad were erased from history, but not forgotten.

The Astonishing Story of the Men Who Built the Railroad

For Korean Americans like Susan Ahn, WWII was a fight to defend both the U.S. and Korea.

For Susan Ahn, WWII Was a Fight for America and Korea

The history of identity, contributions, and challenges experienced by Asian Americans. More More

The Gospel in Life

From our founding in 1934 through today, SGA has been working with churches in Russia, the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe, and Central Asia to share the Gospel, help train leaders for the church, and to help the hurting and forgotten in the name of Jesus.

Sharing the Gospel

SGA connects North American Christians — like you — with individual Russian church-planting missionaries, and helps to send them out to live, work, and proclaim the Gospel. You can have an exciting part in this life-changing fulfillment of the Great Commission!

A Blood Donation and a God-Given Opportunity

Pastor Herman began donating blood regularly about 10 years ago and prayed it would give him an opportunity to glorify his Savior Jesus Christ.

Equipping the Church

Preparing faithful pastors, teachers, youth leaders, and children’s workers for lifetimes of ministry is vital for evangelical churches across Russia and her neighboring countries. Our schools provide doctrinally sound, biblical training in pastoral ministry, evangelism, and Christian education.

Insight from Michael

Over the past 30 years, thousands of students have graduated from Irpen Biblical Seminary and have devoted their lives to Christian service.

Helping the Forgotten

Across the lands of Russia, more than 700,000 children living in state-run orphanages or children’s homes. Their physical and spiritual needs are enormous. Most of these kids will never be adopted into a loving family. Without Christ, they face a dismal future.

Blessing a Single Mother with Four Children in Semyonov

Following the leading of the Holy Spirit, an SGA-sponsored church in the town of Semyonov in Russia’s Nizhniy Novgorod region has taken Natasha and her family under their wing of care.

Orphans are looking for the lasting love only God can provide. You can help them find it!


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Watch the video: 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group Airborne complete Welcome To The Jungle course (May 2022).