The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum From President Kennedy to Secretary of Defense McNamara


Washington, November 5, 1962.

As I have communicated to General Wheeler, through General Clifton, the plans for X(1) seem thin. Considering the size of the problem, the equipment that is involved on the other side, the nationalistic fervor which may be engendered, it seems to me we could end up bogged down.

I think we should keep constantly in mind the British in Boer War, the Russians in the last war with the Finnish and our own experience with the North Koreans. We are keeping, as I understand it, three divisions in reserve. I think we should plan to use them and call up any guard divisions we have available. This may require us to build additional divisions.

John Kennedy

1 The reference to "plans for X" was to CINCLANT OPLAN 316, designed to exploit an unforeseen turn of events in Cuba that offered a worthwhile opportunity for exploitation by the United States. The range of circumstances in which this plan would be implemented ranged from support of a widespread rebellion of the Cuban population to military action to divert Castro from military adventure against Guantanamo. The reaction time for the plan was 5 days. The concept called for airborne assault in the vicinity of Havana by two airborne divisions, followed as quickly as possible by an amphibious assault by the 2d Marine Division/Wing Team over beaches to the east of Havana. Depending upon the amount of time for build-up, additional forces would be committed incrementally until approximately five full divisions, with necessary supporting troops, would be engaged. This plan was known as "quick reaction plan." (Cuban Crisis, Operational Aspects, December 26; National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Cuba, High-level Exchange) Back

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba 1962 (McNamara's working papers). Top Secret.

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