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Cuban missile crisis, 1962, value of photo intelligence,

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Trapezoid           
            
 were taken on the weekend in the middle of October, which first gave us conclusive proof of the buildup of offensive weapons in Cuba, through the days that have followed to the present time, the work of these two units has contributed as much to the security of the US as any units in our history, and any group of men in our history.11     missiles; more the 700 antiaircraft guns; 24 to 32 FROG rockets; 7,500 to 10,000 military support vehicles; more than 1,300 pieces of field artillery and antitank guns; and some 400 tanks.12 
         
      Taken together, this weaponry would have given the Soviets a layered set of ground, sea, and air defenses for their missile sites and bomber bases. And there could be little doubt that the remaining weapons were defensive in character. While the Intelligence Community assessed the MiG-21 as being capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, we knew that was not the fighter's intended mission. With a nuclear weapon aboard, the MiG-21 would have a combat radius of little more than 200 miles restricted to clear weather, daytime missions. Of prime importance, our analysis of each new batch of recce photography showed absolutely no evidence of the types of secure facilities that one could expect with confidence that the Soviets would have in place if there were still any nuclear weapons stored on the island.
         
He then flew to Key West, to Boca Chica Naval Air Station, to present Unit Citations to Navy Light Photographic Squadron 62 and Marine Light Photographic Squadron VMC-J2.    
         
On 28 November, SAC Commander-in-Chief General Thomas Power awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross to 10 U-2 pilots of the 4080th. Admiral Robert Dennison, USN, presented the same decoration to 25 pilots of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force tactical recce units. The next day the planes' cameras were again in action over Cuba.   
            
         We were confident of the complete withdrawal based on the comprehensive character of our reconnaissance and monitoring in late 1962 and early 1963.
Monitoring Continues       
         
The reconnaissance missions of November enabled us to monitor the disassembly and crating of the I1-28 bombers at San Julian and Holguin Airfields and the departure of the crates from Cuba, just as we had earlier monitored the destruction of the IRBM sites at Guanajay and Remedios and the departure of the MRBM missiles from San Cristobal and Sagua La Grande. The first missions of 1963 also enabled us to continue to monitor the status of the Soviets' considerable remaining defensive installations, weaponry and personnel, ostensibly in place to protect against the threat of invasion.      
  Refuting Rumors   
     
  When the US Congress reconvened in late January 1963, our hard evidence on the defensive nature of the Soviet forces in Cuba remained largely classified. The public debate was feeding rumors that Soviet nuclear offensive capabilities remained in Cuba, that missiles were hidden in caves, and that the MiG-21s and KOMAR patrol boats could deliver nuclear weapons. Such rumors were pouring in from antiCastro Cuban refugees, and they were fueled by those still angry that the President had not invaded the island and done away with the communist regime.
         
The number of Soviet troops had swollen to between 22,000 and 23,000 on Cuba at the peak of the crisis. With the departure of the missile and bomber forces, we could now identify some 17,000 troops still on   
     
the island. Our order of battle in early 1963 showed that Soviet military equipment in Cuba included 24 SAM sites with 500 missiles; 104 MiG fighters, including 24 of the new MiG-21 jets capable of Mach 2 performance; 200 air defense radars; 12 KOMAR-class missile patrol boats; upwards of 100 helicopters; four cruise-missile sites with 150 cruise    Following his Congressional testimony on 5 February, DCI McCone issued a formal unclassified statement in the name of the USIB reviewing the entire Soviet buildup and the departure of the missiles: "We are convinced beyond reasonable doubt, as has
      
            
     

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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM