Home > Free Essays > History > United States > America and the Bay of Pigs Debacle

America and the Bay of Pigs Debacle Research Paper

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Jun 26th, 2019


The American history is intertwined with a myriad of issues cutting across the plane. However, in most of these cases, leadership played a major role in either finding a solution to an existing problem or worsening the situation. Notably, America’s association with other countries has also been of significance throughout history.

This has helped it advance broadly through bilateral and multilateral relationships. These relationships are, however, based on its foreign policy, which principally gives guidelines on international relationships. One of the most fascinating and historic relationships was with Cuba with special reference to the Bay of Pigs Debacle (McCormick, 2010). This research paper gives a detailed coverage of the events that surrounded the unsuccessful attack, key causal factors, aftermath and the involvement of leaders.

The Bay of Pigs Debacle

The Bay of Pigs Debacle refers to the failed attack that was carried out by the CIA on southern Cuba. These forces were part of Cuban exiles, and they received massive support from the U.S. government to launch the attack. According to Jones 2008, the U.S. support was based on its intention to have the Fidel Castro, the former Cuban president overthrown (Jones, 2008). After several discussions and consultations, the attack was launched in April 1961.

Coincidentally, the invasion came when John F. Kennedy had served as the U.S. President for less than three months. Nevertheless, the Cuban forces did not take any chances but fiercely fought back, defeating them in only three days. Notably, the main attack occurred at Playa Giron, at the mouth of the bay. The invasion was later named after the Bay of Pigs, Spanish translation of Bahía de Cochinos (Sasser, 2006).

Background Information

Prior to the invasion, a series of events had taken place in the United States involving political leaders. The previous year on March 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ratified a document which had been designed by the 5412 committee “Special Group” during a meeting held by the United States Security Council (Castro Hodge & Nolan, 2007). The document was about a secret action that the U.S. government was going to take against Fidel Castro and his ruling regime.

According to the document, the action was to bring to an end the reign of Castro, whom the U.S. believed needed replacement. In so doing, the United States was to ensure that whoever was to replace Castro must have the interests of Cubans at heart and possess overall U.S. acceptance. This was also to avoid any form of intervention by America in the affairs of the country if a more acceptable leader took over Cuba from the hands of Fidel (Castro Hodge & Nolan, 2007).

It is also important to note that the operation was to be accomplished with a financial cost. As a result, President Eisenhower agreed on an expenditure of $13 million on 18 August 1960. By October same year, the CIA had failed on several occasions to hit Cuba with guerrilla infiltrations and there was a need for the forces to launch a fierce attack that was to involve not less than 1,500 military men.

After his appointment, President John F. Kennedy was briefed about the secret plan by two senior CIA officials, the director and his deputy (Beisner, 2003). With experience from the Guatemalan coup d’état of 1954, CIA director Allen Dulles was more than confident that the planned attack on Cuba was acceptable.

With President Eisenhower having met several key players in the defense force, there was no single rejection towards the plan as both parties unanimously agreed to execute the underground operation against Castro’s regime. Based on this acceptance, the president approved the plan and targeted to persuade and convince President John F. Kennedy, basing his approval on the perceived merit side of the attack.

There was an outline that was presented on 8 December 1960 for the “Special Group” even though no written commitment records were involved (Beisner, 2003). Further developments were carried out in the plan with an agreement being reached on 4 January 1961 to execute a “lodgment” that was to involve seven hundred and fifty men with support from the air force. However, no disclosure was made on the exact Cuban point that the attack was to be launched.

President Kennedy was briefed on 28 January 1961 by all the major departments, which were involved in the operation planning on the latest developments of an attack in which a thousand men were to be involved in a ship-born invasion (Smith, 2010). In response to the planned attack, President Kennedy gave an authorization for the continuation of the process and ordered that progress of the events be reported back.

CIA’s choice to launch their attack on Trinidad was based on a number of factors, including its location, availability of port services, and its proximity to the Escambray Mountains, which would offer an escape route. However, the proposed scheme was turned down by the State Department, forcing the CIA to draft a refined approach and that would appear workable in achieving the initial objective (Smith, 2010).

Following CIAs revised version of the attack, the President approved the operation dabbed “the Bay Of Pigs” that was also referred to as Operation Zapata. This approval was based on the fact that the operation would not require handling of bomber operations since it had an airfield (Craughwell, & Phelps, 2008).

Another major reason that contributed to the approval of the plan was that it was not in the neighborhood of Cuban civilians as compared to the initial Trinidad proposal. As such, U.S. officials believed that it would be used to support future denial of having involved itself directly in Cuba. The landing was also shifted to beaches, which mainly bordered the Bay of Pigs that was located one hundred and fifty kilometers, south-east Havana and to the eastern side of Zapata peninsula (Craughwell, & Phelps, 2008).

In preparation for the post-invasion Cuba, Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) was created by Cubans, who were in exile in Miami, with the help of CIA and was chaired by José Miró Cardona. He, therefore, became the leader-in-waiting as CIA made final arrangements, which were culminated in April 1961 (Wyden, 1979).

Anti-Castro in Cuba

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 was followed by widespread resistance from millions of Cubans, especially in the Escambray Mountains, an area that continuously experienced war until 1965. Prior to the April attack, it is believed that the U.S. funded and supported several rebel groups in the country, although they were never involved in the final invasion due to concerns over the possibility of leaking out security information (Sasser, 2006). Numerous bomb attacks were also witnessed, and brutal treatment by the government continued despite outcries.

In March of 1961, Jesus Carreras and William Morgan faced trial and were executed. Other cases included a bomb attack in Bayamo that left four militia men dead. In addition, the Hershey Sugar factory was destroyed on 6 April 1961. On the fourteenth of the same months, guerrillas engaged government troops at Las Cruces, Montembo, leaving several army officers dead and others wounded. A Cuban airliner was flown to Jacksonville after being hijacked. This bred confusion that led to the detection of a planned B-26 defection (Jose, 1999).

Prior Warning

Through secret intelligence, Cuban security agencies could detect the invasion mainly from brigade members in Miami and through newspaper speculations. As a result, several sabotage actions were carried out like the Havana arson attack that left one person dead and the El Encanto fire (Hodge & Nolan, 2007).

Additionally, Cuba had received a warning threat from KGB senior agents who died as a result of circumstances emanating from the invasion. Although information about the invasion was with a number of Cuban senior officials, the people of Cuba were not sufficiently informed about a CIA assault on their country that was beckoning except Radio Swan, which was officially funded by the CIA and had direct links with senior personalities of the organ (Beisner, 2003).

A substantial reason for this insufficiency of information within the public domain was the control of communication by the government as it owned the public communication sector. Reports in late April also indicated that the Soviet Union was aware of the planned attack even though it had chosen not to inform President John F. Kennedy (Jose, 1999). The story was also carried by some media houses in Moscow asserting that CIA had planned an invasion on Cuba by use of paid criminals.

This broadcast, aired on 13 April 1961 was a true prophesy as the assault was launched four days later (Craughwell & Phelps, 2008). On its side, Britain noted that Cubans were behind their leader, Fidel Castro and the planned invasion was not likely to cause major defections. This was made clear by then British Ambassador to the United States, David Ormsby-Gore, who reiterated that the information was already with CIA senior officials.


The invasion resulted into several casualties, including the death of aircrews. For instance, six Cuban air force crewmen died, ten men who were considered to be Cuban exiles and four American crewmen. Other significant people who died during the operation included Herman Koch, Thomas W. Ray, Wade C. Gray, Riley W. Shamburger and Leo F. Baker (Jose, 1999). In the year 1979, the body of one of the American airmen killed; Thomas Ray was sent to his home country.

Following his outstanding contribution, Ray was awarded the Intelligence Star Award in the year 1990. In addition, one hundred and four Cuban exiles died during the attack. These exiles were from Brigade 2506 (Jose, 1999). At the end of the operation, a total of one hundred and seventy six Cuban armed officers lost their lives. Another five thousand were reported to have been killed during the operation or gone missing mysteriously.

Aftermath Reaction

The unsuccessful invasion on Cuba by the U.S. was a major source of embarrassment on the Administration of President Kennedy. It further made the Cuban President to be more vigilant on possible future attack by the United States. On 21 April of 1961, President Kennedy admitted to being the government officer who was responsible for the failed plan (Jose, 1999).

Later in August, Che Guevara sent a message to the President through the secretary of White House, expressing his satisfaction and impact of the Playa Girón which had strengthened Castro’s regime. President Kennedy was highly angered by the failure of CIA and promised to split it into a thousand pieces to be blown away by the wind (Smith, 2010). He resolved that opinions and suggestions given by generals need not to be always honored by feelings.


From the results of the abortive operation carried out by the U.S. on Cuba, it can be argued that several responsible agencies in America including CIA, JSC, Department of State and the Office of the President failed in the planning of an effective invasion on Cuba (Sasser, 2006).

Notably, efficacy in integration was principally sabotaged by among others, CIA miscommunication, excessive secrecy with CIA and the State Department and interagency compromises, which were merely based on a minor common denominator. Additionally, there were intertwined factors that contributed to the failure. These included but not limited to landing problems, caused by mechanical failures of machines, insufficient resources, coral reefs and poor ammunition.

Moreover, operational failures were contributed by the abandonment of the initial Trinidad plan, which was rejected by the U.S. State Department, raising major concerns that had far-reaching implications. Poor advice from the president and alteration of air strikes also contributed to the abortion of the operation.

With regard to the strategic concerns, Kennedy’s lack of experience, CIA underestimations, and ineffective command organization within CIA made a huge contribution to the failure of the plan (Sasser, 2006). Coupled with competition among agencies and urgent timeline, failure of the Bay of Pigs debacle was inevitable.


From the analysis of above, it is evident that the failure of the Bay of Pigs debacle was augmented by several reasons. Although CIA may have had convincing reasons to attack Cuba, agencies involved poorly executed their mandates, leading to an abortive operation that caused embarrassment to the nation.


Beisner, R. (2003). American foreign relations since 1600: a guide to the literature, Volume 1. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO.

Craughwell, T., & Phelps, M. (2008). Failures of the Presidents: From the Whiskey Rebellion and War of 1812 to the Bay of Pigs and War in Iraq. Beverly, Massachusetts: Fair Winds.

Hodge, C., & Nolan, C. (2007). US presidents and foreign policy. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO.

Jones, H. (2008). The Bay of Pigs. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jose, B. (1999). Behind the Debacle at the Bay of Pigs, Newsweek, 133(10), 55-58.

McCormick, J.M. (2010). American foreign policy and process (5th Ed). New York, NY: Prentice Hall.

Sasser, C. (2006). Cold War: Bay of Pigs Invasion. Weider History Group. Retrieved from

Smith, T. (2010). Bay of Pigs Debacle: Failed Interaction of the Intelligence Community and the Executive. Project on National Security Reform. Retrieved from:

Wyden, P. (1979). Bay of Pigs: the untold story. Michigan: Simon and Schuster.

This research paper on America and the Bay of Pigs Debacle was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Research Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2019, June 26). America and the Bay of Pigs Debacle. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/america-and-the-bay-of-pigs-debacle/

Work Cited

"America and the Bay of Pigs Debacle." IvyPanda, 26 June 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/america-and-the-bay-of-pigs-debacle/.

1. IvyPanda. "America and the Bay of Pigs Debacle." June 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/america-and-the-bay-of-pigs-debacle/.


IvyPanda. "America and the Bay of Pigs Debacle." June 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/america-and-the-bay-of-pigs-debacle/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "America and the Bay of Pigs Debacle." June 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/america-and-the-bay-of-pigs-debacle/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'America and the Bay of Pigs Debacle'. 26 June.

More related papers