This was a publicly released statement by Director of Central Intelligence John McCone. It was designed to silence the growing criticism from some members of Congress such as Senator Strom Thurmond (D-South Carolina) and Senator Kenneth Keating (R-New York) about the continued Soviet military presence in Cuba. With the criticism peaking in early February 1963, the administration made a concerted effort to be more publicly transparent about what it knew about the Soviet forces still in Cuba and what had been removed.
Date: February 6, 1963
Author: John McCone
Title: Statement on Cuba by Director of Central Intelligence
Archival Source: "Countries: Cuba, Subjects, Testimony, Director McCone, 2/6/63-2/26/63" folder, Box 63, National Security Files, John F. Kennedy Library
This was one of several efforts by the Kennedy administration in early February 1963 to quell the growing criticism from some members of Congress such as Senator Strom Thurmond (D-South Carolina) and Senator Kenneth Keating (R-New York) about the continued Soviet military presence in Cuba.
McCone's statement was released publicly and complemented classified briefings he and other administration officials had been giving to Congressional Committees.
Defense Secretary Robert McNamara delivered a televised briefing the same day. President Kennedy also addressed the issue in a press conference the following day.
McCone circulated a copy of his proposed statement to the ExComm on February 5 for their meeting that day. President Kennedy was particularly interested in including the sentiment of the final paragraph in which the intelligence community encourage anyone with information to pass that information to the intelligence community rather than make public accusations.
A key point of controversy was the count of Soviet military personnel in Cuba. The number was lower than some critics claimed was in Cuba as well as being far below reality as it was later revealed to be when Soviet documents became available.
McCone took the unusual step of having the statement issued from the United States Intelligence Board rather than have the CIA itself engage in public debate. As Secretary of State Dean Rusk put it during the ExComm meeting on February 5, "There are some problems about CIA being a source of information to the public."
6 February 1963
STATEMENT ON CUBA BY DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
In view of the many conflicting rumors and reports concerning Soviet missiles and troops in Cuba, the Director of Central Intelligence, Mr. John A. McCone, has issued the following statement on the current status of Soviet military forces and equipment there. This statement represents the agreed views of the United States Intelligence Board, of which Mr. McCone is Chairman. This board is made up of the chief intelligence officers of the United States Government.*
It rests on the most up-to-date and reliable data available to the United States Government and is derived from all of the intelligence gathering resources at its disposal, including daily aerial surveillance.
Hundreds of reports on Soviet forces in Cuba are received weekly by United States intelligence agencies and each of them is checked carefully for reliability and credibility by trained and experienced intelligence analysts. The totality of Information derived from all sources, Including extensive photographic coverage, gives the best picture available in the United States of the Soviet military presence in Cuba today.
As has been frequently reported, there was a substantial buildup of Soviet military equipment and military forces prior to the "quarantine" of October and November 1962. The USSR had in fact supplied a great deal of military equipment to Cuba prior to July 1962, including tanks, field artillery pieces, anti-tank guns, and jet military aircraft, all of which had been positively identified. On 1 July 1962 there were about 500 Soviet military technicians in Cuba advising and training the Cuban armed forces, then estimated at about 75,000 regulars, 100,000 militia men and 100,000 reserves.
In mid-July 1962 began the influx of Soviet military equipment and military personnel which was detected by our Intelligence Community and monitored into the crisis period of September and October, when the offensive nuclear weapon systems (missiles and bombers) appeared. This build up ceased on October 24th, with the establishment of the quarantine. Soon thereafter the offensive missiles and bombers known to be in Cuba were withdrawn. Photography of ships loading In Cuban ports and at sea proves to our satisfaction the withdrawal of 42 medium range missiles and 42 bombers, their related equipment and attendant personnel. Reconnaissance has not detected the presence of offensive missiles or bombers In Cuba since that time. Rumors and reports of such presence have been meticulously checked, so far with completely negative findings. Absolute assurance, however, could only come from penetrating on-site inspection.
Prior to the 24th of October, however, very substantial quantities of Soviet military personnel and Soviet equipment, in addition to the offensive missiles and bombers, had already reached Cuba. The inventory of tanks, Jet aircraft, military trucks and field peices approximately doubled during this period. In addition many sophisticated Soviet military items appeared for the first time.
Soviet Military Personnel in Cuba
From a few hundred military technicians in the summer of 1962, the Soviet armed forces in Cuba grew by October 24th to include regular troops manning the tanks and other weapons of mobile armored groups, specialists in charge of an extensive surface-to-air missile system, and a large number of other air force, naval and army personnel.
Although about 5,000 troops associated with the offensive missile systems departed when these weapons were withdrawn, it appears from evaluation of all sources and known tables of organization of 'Soviet units that the total number in Cuba had reached 22,000 and that 17,000 Soviet military personnel now remain.
Air Defense System
The USSR also planned and largely built an integrated air defense system employing surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, complex radar nets, anti-aircraft batteries and jet fighters. There are 24 operational SAM sites, each with 6 launchers. There is probably a total of about 500 SAM missiles in the system. The SAM sites appear to be manned entirely by Soviet personnel.
To supplement surface-to-air missiles, the Soviets brought in additional MIG fighters, reaching a total of 104, including 42 MIG-21 aircraft, a modern highspeed (Mach 2) interceptor which can be used both for ground support and air defense. About 200 modern Soviet radars were installed to tie the system together.
The Soviets have brought in approximately 150 coastal defense missiles and have thus far established 4 operational sites. There are a large number of cruise missiles still in storage, which suggests that the Cuban crisis interrupted a Soviet program to construct several more sites. There are probably missiles enough to establish 15 more sites. These coastal defense missiles have an estimated range of 30 to 40 nautical miles and hence the entire installation would provide a formidable coastal system.
Missile Patrol Boats
In addition, the Soviets brought in 12 KOMAR guided missile patrol boats. These units appear to be operated by mixed Soviet and Cuban crews. They are Soviet motor torpedo boats with the hull modified to carry two missile launchers, The missile employed has a range of 10-15 nautical miles (limited by radar line-of-sight).
Soviet Armored Groups
The Soviets also established four mobile armored groups at camps in the general vicinity of the former offensive missile sites. These four units have a total strength of about 5,000 officers and men. They also have tanks, armored personnel carriers, assault guns, mortars, and infantry rocket launchers. In addition there are several advanced-type tactical rocket launchers, antipersonnel weapons with a range of about 15 miles.
Shipping to Cuba
The U.S. intelligence agencies are closely observing Soviet ships calling at Cuban ports. The massive Soviet military deliveries to Cuba ceased on 23 October. At that time more than 15 ships at sea, undoubtedly fully loaded with military cargoes, turned back to the USSR.
Fifty odd Soviet -dry-cargo vessels have arrived in Cuba since 1 November. Of these only one has delivered any significant amount of military equipment to Cuba although small quantities have arrived in other ships. An arms-carrying ship, the Simferopol, delivered a cargo on 17 January which we believe was exclusively military, but which, we know from dependable sources, did not contain offensive missiles or aircraft. Another ship with a similar cargo is probably now en route between the USSR and Cuba. The remaining Soviet and Bloc ships now en route to Cuba appear to be carrying principally commercial cargo.
Soviet bloc shipping to Cuba is substantially higher than a year ago, and though free world shipping has decreased sharply, the total cargo tonnage now being received in Cuba is about the same as a year ago.
From all of this, we must conclude:
a) there remain large quantities of Soviet tanks, guns, aircraft and troops, most of which arrived before the quarantine: and
b) a relatively small amount of Soviet military equipment has reached Cuba in the period since the quarantine.
The intelligence community of the United States Government continues to keep under close surveillance and to report currently on this extraordinary deployment of sizeable Soviet military forces into the Western Hemisphere. All evidence reaching us, including reports from refugees with contacts in Cuba but also including photography and other reliable sources, is carefully sifted and weighed. The United States Government must be provided the most accurate, responsible and balanced evaluation of the Soviet military presence in Cuba. It is important to this intelligence effort that information or rumor concerning conditions in Cuba received by citizens or government officials be transmitted to the intelligence community promptly for evaluation in our continuing close scrutiny of this grave situation.
* The members of the United States Intelligence Board are; General Carter, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence; Mr. Roger Hilsman, The Director of Intelligence and Research, Department of State; Lieutenant General Joseph F. Carroll, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense; Major General Alva R. Fitch, Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army; Rear Admiral Vernon L. Lowrance, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Intelligence), Department of the Navy; Major General Robert A. Breitweiser, Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, United States Air Force; Lieutenant General Gordon A. Blake, Director, National Security Agency; Major General Richard Collins, Director for Intelligence, Joint Staff; Mr. Harry S. Traynor, Assistant General Manager, Atomic Energy Commission; Mr. Alan H. Belmont, Assistant to the Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation.