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From the Bay of Pigs to Laos—Operation MILLPOND: The Beginning of a Distant Covert War

From the Bay of Pigs to Laos—Operation MILLPOND: The Beginning of a Distant Covert War

Timothy N. Castle

 Much has been written about the CIA-led Bay of Pigs operation in mid-April 1961, the failed covert paramilitary operation intended to overthrow Fidel Castro. When it became public, the botched operation became a deep personal embarrassment for President John F. Kennedy and set off considerable domestic and international debate regarding the credibility and competence of the new administration.

Scant scholarship, however, has focused on another risky covert operation scheduled to begin the same week as the Cuba landing, Operation MILLPOND, which was a joint CIA-Pentagon plan to attack Soviet-supplied military stores and antigovernment forces in neutral Laos. The plan included the use of Thailand-based B-26 bombers flown by CIA contractors. As the CIA’s top representative to President Kennedy’s Laos Task Force, Bissell was concurrently responsible for two military operations with profound Cold War implications.

Ultimately, as the assault on Cuba faltered, the Laos airstrikes were abruptly canceled. Nonetheless, and perhaps unintentionally, the presidentially-authorized preparations for Operation MILLPOND became the taproot for what eventually emerged, in one veteran’s words, as the “largest, most innovative program of irregular warfare ever conducted by CIA.”

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Posted: Jul 10, 2015 11:30 AM
Last Updated: Jul 10, 2015 11:30 AM