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Operation MONGOOSE was an extensive series of plots designed to "overthrow" the Cuban "Communist regime" created and undertaken by multiple US official groups and agencies. The Special Group Augmented (SGA) of presidential advisers approved this operation and appointed Brigadier General Edward Lansdale as Chief of Operations. Officials divided the operation into phases with support by a group of representatives from select groups. Among the official groups collaborating on aspects of the operation were the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service, United States Information Agency, and the US Departments of Defense and State. These forces used a combination of politics, economic sanctions, paramilitary actions, and propaganda to isolate the Cuban regime. Related officials armed, organized, and funded paramilitary forces to sabotage Cuban natural resources, attack industry, and encouraged preexisting resistance groups. Additionally, US groups sought to acquire large quantities of intelligence from nearly every aspect of life on Cuba. 

American military and intelligence groups were largely unable to effectively recruit sufficient Cuban resistance forces, inspire the Cuban citizenry to revolt, and could not prevent Cuban intelligence from arresting and penetrating some resistance groups.  A large contingency in the operational planning was the overt armed intervention of United States military forces but the US political leadership was not committed to overt intervention. At least one document notes the CIA was despite a Presidential directive was committed to US military intervention. This eventually led to internal conflicts and ended the career of multiple leading officials including Edward Lansdale. Eventually the operation was halted in late 1962 amid the events that culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Multiple newly released documents included here offer some officials were committed to securing overt United States military intervention against Cuba despite the potential consequences.

Enduring questions include who exactly was aware of all operational details and when they became aware of them. Many also wonder how expansive Operation Mongoose was and how many other plots were included within its specific efforts. This matter has been the subject of repeated historical debate and the comments and testimony of various related parties often contributes additional confusion to the matter. While related operations were normally directed by the SGA, the concurrent orchestration of the largely compartmentalized Castro Plots outside the Mongoose structure is a notable factor. While Attorney General Robert Kennedy was often present for many of the SGA meetings, little evidence suggests he was included in direct separate assassination planning. Despite President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy ordering the development of plans to unseat the Castro regime, there is no substantial evidence to suggest they directly ordered the CIA to assassinate Castro. They certainly did not order the Agency to engage the Mafia to do so and later evidence suggests while J. Edgar Hoover informed Robert Kennedy of earlier plots targeting Castro, Kennedy was feasibly unaware of many of the later compartmentalized plots the CIA undertook.  


  PICTURED ABOVE ARE SOME OF The Officials Planning and Implementing OPERATION MONGOOSE: (From Left to Right) General Edward Lansdale, CIA Representative WIlliam Harvey, Deputy Undersecretary of State U. Alexis Johnson,   Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric, General Lyman Leminitzer, General Maxwell Taylor, CIA DIrector John McCone.

PICTURED ABOVE ARE SOME OF The Officials Planning and Implementing OPERATION MONGOOSE: (From Left to Right) General Edward Lansdale, CIA Representative WIlliam Harvey, Deputy Undersecretary of State U. Alexis Johnson, Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric, General Lyman Leminitzer, General Maxwell Taylor, CIA DIrector John McCone.

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Phase I (November 1961-July 1962)
The Cuba Project (aka Operation MONGOOSE) Program Review:
A conceptual plan offered by Brigadier General Edward Lansdale to launch a series of plots in attempt to overthrow the Cuban regime in the wake of prior failed Bay of Pigs paramilitary operations. The document suggests the aid of key Latin American countries, obtaining the support of the Cuban people, and undertaking substantial intelligence gathering operations. It additionally calls for the use of internal Cuban political action groups, economic warfare, and military actions. Lansdale notes the CIA sought to"...create a political climate which can provide a framework of plausible excuse for armed intervention. This is not in conformity with the Presidential directive now governing Project tasking." Among those receiving a copy of this memo are President Kennedy and Attorney General Kennedy. (National Archives and Records Administration Identification Number: 145-10001-10182)
February 26, 1962 minutes of the Special Group on Cuba: This document briefly discusses some early planning for sabotage, intelligence gathering, propaganda, and the allotment of vehicles for paramilitary action targeting Cuba. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10197)
March 13, 1962 minutes of the Special Group Augmented: The document provides both a redacted and unredacted version of further operational planning that regards the proposed use and of US Military personnel, equipment, and creating multiple possible tracks that employed and did not employ US forces. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10196)
Memo for Defense Support, Operation MONGOOSE: This memo sent by Chief of Operations Lansdale to CIA Deputy Director of Plans Richard Helms and Agency representative William Harvey offers possible support that would be provided by the Department of Defense. This support included "sanitized aircraft" and "sheep-dipped" crews to conceal the true origin of operational participants targeting Cuban interests. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10174
March 21, 1962 minutes of the Caribbean Survey Group: This advisory group comprised of largely the same individuals overseeing the SGA offers the status of operations related to both the Caribbean and Operation MONGOOSE. The document notes the increasing problems of obtaining false documentation for use by agents. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10173) 
March 29, 1962 minutes of the Special Group Augmented: The CIA and FBI inform the SGA of the explosive situation developing with Miami based Cuban exiles and officials discuss possible use of United States military personnel in a related operation. (NARA ID: 145-10001-10167)
April 5, 1962 minutes of the Special Group Augmented: This document reveals the SGA discussing arrangements to broker a trade of food and medicine for Bay of Pigs Prisoners still held in Cuba. The arrangements were made using the Italian representative at the United Nations. Officials further discussed seeking confirmation of Cuban military intervention abroad to incite retaliatory actions. Operational possibilities regard the use of "sheep dipped" military personnel and US civilians. CIA Director John McCone states speculated officials may want to consider a different approach to the Cuban matter. (NARA ID: 145-10001-10271)
Status Report of Operation MONGOOSE: A brief report prepared by Edward Lansdale documents the processing of Cuban refugees, debriefing Cuban travelers, and the infiltration of groups into Cuba. The document also notes ongoing assessments of identified resistance groups that can be utilized or aided in Cuba. (NARA ID: 178-10004-10258)
May 3, 1962 minutes of the Special Group Augmented: A reference is made to the report of CIA Mongoose representative William Harvey that reflected significant progress had not been made in preparations for launching the operation and that its ultimate effectiveness was uncertain. General Lansdale sought to increase the recruitment of Cuban exiles into the US Army, yet it was unlikely more than 1,000 men were available. William Harvey discussed the number of agent teams infiltrated within Cuba, reporting sources, and two interrogation centers located in the United States and Spain. (NARA ID: 145-10001-10162)
May 17, 1962 minutes of the Special Group Augmented: A new operations schedule was instituted to "stimulate further action" and Lansdale was pleased that several intelligence operations were undertaken with few losses. The State Department representative voiced concern that US allies would not enforce the economic sanctions it had established against Cuba. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10230)
July 5, 1962 minutes of the Special Group Augmented: The State Department reports on President Kennedy's visit to Mexico, Edward Lansdale's visit to the CIA's Miami JMWAVE Station, intelligence matters, and propaganda efforts. (NARA ID: 145-10001-10274)
Memo from William K. Harvey to Edward Lansdale Re: End of Operation MONGOOSE Phase I: Operational information provided to Edward Lansdale by William Harvey that inspects various details and operational matters for Lansdale to report to the Special Group Augmented as Phase I was completed. (NARA ID: 145-10001-10170)
Operation MONGOOSE Progress Report from Edward Lansdale to the Special Group Augmented: The document inspects various aspects related to ongoing Mongoose activities that include information gathered from a defector, seeking to issue a NATO report on Cuba, funding Pan American airlines to continue flights to Havana for operational purposes, and using press and propaganda operations. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10176)
Review of Operation Mongoose Phase I and Phase II projection the SGA prepared by Edward Lansdale: An overview report of Operation Mongoose activities at the end of Phase I and a projection for Phase II prepared for the Special Group Augmented. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10168)
Policy questions regarding Phase I of Operation MONGOOSE: This document concerns policy issues confronting the officials that conducted Mongoose operations, among the topics at issue are the use of US military installations, arming of Cuban exiles, and the use of US forces and equipment. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10181)
CIA, State Department, Defense Department, USIA Timeline and Planned Operations Listing for Phase I: A brief listing of various intelligence plans considered for use during Operation Mongoose with some denoted as approved by the SGA. (NARA ID: 145-10001-10171)

  A list of One Version of the Special Group Augmented, the Group Varied based on The Attendance of Some Officials, their deputies, and representatives of Supporting Groups

A list of One Version of the Special Group Augmented, the Group Varied based on The Attendance of Some Officials, their deputies, and representatives of Supporting Groups

Phase II (August 1962-October 1962)
Memo on Military invasion prospects for Operation MONGOOSE: The document states "If there is a decision to use U.S. Military force, execution of our military contingency plans for Cuba will be undertaken as rapidly as the posture of our forces will allow at the time the decision is made." It additionally offers that a coordinated assault by American forces could be executed in less than three weeks.
(NARA ID: 202-10001-10191)
Memo regarding Stepped Up Course B: A memo that explains "CIA operational people, who would implement a stepped up Course B as Phase II of Operation Mongoose, do not believe this course of action by itself would bring the overthrow of the regime; they believe that the use of U.S. military force in the final stage must be anticipated, for success."  (NARA ID: 202-10001-10162)
September 6, 1962 minutes of the Special Group Augmented: Officials discussed propaganda drops and methods, arms caches, use of selected Cuban exiles, attacks on Cuban economic and food sources, and providing General Lansdale "more latitude" to develop "other deception possibilities." (NARA ID: 178-10040-10264)
September 14, 1962 minutes of the Special Group Augmented: During this meeting the SGA approved "in principal" the operational amendments suggested by Edward Lansdale. However, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy specifically informs the gathered officials "...that this did not constitute a blanket approval of every item in the paper and that sensitive ones such as sabotage, for example, will have to be presented in more detail on a case by case basis." (NARA ID: 178-10004-10259)
Memo addressing operational questions and policy objectives: This document asks what officials hoped could be accomplished by Operation Mongoose and details ongoing actions and plans for targeting the Cuban regime and officials. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10199)
Undated minutes of the Special Group Augmented: This meeting regards a report prepared for leading officials titled "Consequences of US Military Intervention in Cuba". Among the details provided in this scenario are the required use of over 250,000 United States troops to secure the island nation. Units from the United States Army, Marines, Air Force, and Navy would conduct a joint invasion of Cuba with overwhelming force and the document additionally discussed the likely Cuban retaliatory actions and the costs of a sustained occupation. (NARA ID: 145-10001-10185)

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Related Dcouments:
Interview of George McManus regarding Operation MONGOOSE:
 McManus served as the assistant for Deputy Director of Plans Richard Helms and supported that no option was off the table for use against the Castro regime. Yet Attorney General Robert Kennedy did not mention or sanction assassination when ordering military and intelligence leaders to develop plans to unseat the government of Cuba. Among McManus' notable statements were descriptions of Mongoose Chief Edward Lansdale being a "kook...wild man" and "just plain crazy". McManus found multiple operations designed by Lansdale were "half-baked...unrealistic...and half-ass" plots. (NARA ID: 157-10014-10219)
Undated Briefing regarding Operation MONGOOSE for Attorney General Robert Kennedy: A collection of budgetary notes, military preparations, and various operational details related to Operation Mongoose. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10171)
Operation MONGOOSE Timeline with some SGA meeting excerpts: This short timeline notes some of the commentary and planning ideas some officials offered during 1962 for implementation during Phase II. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10190)
Operation MONGOOSE Sabotage Proposals: Specific ideas for sabotage via the Director of Central Intelligence are presented to the Special Group Augmented for consideration. (NARA ID: 157-10004-10154)
Operation MONGOOSE Task 33 excerpts: Three scenarios for sabotage against Cuban involving the use of biological attacks, psychological warfare, and rumors of false attacks on US holdings. (NARA ID: 202-10001-10183)
Partial Review of Mongoose Activities and Operation Bounty Proposal: A detailed review of various stages of Operation Mongoose that included proposals for a paid assassination program named Operation Bounty that proposed financial incentives that ranged from over fifty-thousand dollars to two cents. The document additional mentions that officials sought to determine Democratic replacements for the leaders of Haitian and the Dominican regimes. (NARA ID: 178-10003-10318)
Transfer of Operation MONGOOSE documents: This piece of evidence reports that Thomas A. Parrott the Special Group custodian of records was transferred all related documents for use in ongoing Cuban operations as Operation Mongoose was phased out. (NARA ID: 178-10002-10401)

Related Article:
The Man with Plans

Related Podcasts:
Operation Mongoose


Research by: C.A.A. Savastano