The Bay of Pigs Invasion

The story of the failed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs is
one of mismanagement, overconfidence, and lack of security. The
blame for the failure of the operation falls directly in the lap of
the Central Intelligence Agency and a young president and his
advisors. The fall out from the invasion caused a rise in tension
between the two great superpowers and ironically 34 years after the
event, the person that the invasion meant to topple, Fidel Castro,
is still in power. To underezd the origins of the invasion and
its ramifications for the future it is first necessary to look at
the invasion and its origins.

Part I: The Invasion and its Origins.
The Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961, started a few days
before on April 15th with the bombing of Cuba by what appeared to
be defecting Cuban air force pilots. At 6 a.m. in the morning of
that Saturday, three Cuban military bases were bombed by B-26
bombers. The airfields at Camp Libertad, San Antonio de los Ba?os
and Antonio Maceo airport at Santiago de Cuba were fired upon.
Seven people were killed at Libertad and forty-seven people were
killed at other sites on the island.
Two of the B-26s left Cuba and flew to Miami, apparently to
defect to the United States. The Cuban Revolutionary Council, the
government in exile, in New York City released a statement saying
that the bombings in Cuba were ". . . carried out by 'Cubans inside
Cuba' who were 'in contact with' the top command of the
Revolutionary Council . . . ." The New York Times reporter
covering the story alluded to something being wrong with the whole
situation when he wondered how the council knew the pilots were
coming if the pilots had only decided to leave Cuba on Thursday
after " . . . a suspected betrayal by a fellow pilot had
precipitated a plot to strike . . . ." Whatever the case, the
planes came down in Miami later that morning, one landed at Key
West Naval Air Station at 7:00 a.m. and the other at Miami
International Airport at 8:20 a.m. Both planes were badly damaged
and their tanks were nearly empty. On the front page of The New
York Times the next day, a picture of one of the B-26s was shown
along with a picture of one of the pilots cloaked in a baseball hat
and hiding behind dark sunglasses, his name was withheld. A sense
of conspiracy was even at this early stage beginning to envelope
the events of that week.
In the early hours of April 17th the assault on the Bay of
Pigs began. In the true cloak and dagger spirit of a movie, the
assault began at 2 a.m. with a team of frogmen going ashore with
orders to set up landing lights to indicate to the main assault
force the precise location of their objectives, as well as to clear
the area of anything that may impede the main landing teams to be
added when they arrived. At 2:30 a.m. and at 3:00 a.m. two battalions
came ashore at Playa Gir?n and one battalion at Playa Larga beaches.
The troops at Playa Gir?n had orders to move west, northwest, up the
coast and meet with the troops at Playa Larga in the middle of the
bay. A small group of men were then to be sent north to the town of
Jaguey Grande to secure it as well.
When looking at a modern map of Cuba it is obvious that the
troops would have problems in the area that was chosen for them to
land at. The area around the Bay of Pigs is a swampy marsh land
area which would be hard on the troops. The Cuban forces were quick
to react and Castro ordered his T-33 trainer jets, two Sea Furies,
and two B-26s into the air to stop the invading forces. Off the
coast was the command and control ship and another vessel carrying
supplies for the invading forces. The Cuban air force made quick
work of the supply ships, sinking the command vessel the Marsopa
and the supply ship the Houston, blasting them to pieces with five-
inch rockets. In the end the 5th battalion was lost, which was on
the Houston, as well as the supplies for the landing teams and
eight other smaller vessels. With some of the invading forces'
ships destroyed, and no command and control ship, the logistics of
the operation soon broke down as the other supply ships were kept
at bay by Casto's air force. As with many failed military
adventures, one of