The Cuban Missile Crisis
Paper Prepared by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Nitze)


Washington, November 8, 1962.


Problem: What kind of continuing surveillance is required for our protection if offensive weapons are withdrawn with and without some inspection on the ground?

1. In general, it can be stated that our continuing aerial surveillance requirement is to obtain complete high level coverage of Cuba and of the Isle of Pines each thirty days, plus a sufficient number of low-level flights or on site ground inspections to check out specific locations which may appear, from high-level photography or from other intelligence, to be suspicious.

2. It is estimated that a schedule providing complete higher level coverage of Cuba once every thirty days would allow elasticity in the scheduling of overflights. This should permit selecting days for flight when the weather was relatively good and therefore should lead to a requirement for no more than approximately six flights per month to produce complete coverage of the island. In perfect weather conditions, complete coverage of the island could be obtained in one day by four U-2 aircraft.

3. We do not yet have the capability to provide search coverage of Cuba by oblique photography. There is a shortage of cameras for this purpose, and for the foreseeable future the oblique technique will not provide adequate coverage of interior locations.

4. The number of flights required for low-level photography would depend almost entirely on the extent to which suspicions about specific locations arise as a result of high level surveillance or other intelligence and the adequacy of on site ground inspection. In the absence of reliable ground inspection, low-level surveillance would be required as needed to check suspicious locations. The minimum requirement would seem to be to schedule a sufficient number of such low-level flights to protect the "right" to them even if no suspicious locations were indicated by U-2 photography of other intelligence. This political consideration would indicate a requirement for perhaps two such overflights a month.

5. In addition to aerial, and such on site inspection as may be available, we would plan to continue all other avenues of intelligence including continuing surveillance at sea of shipping bound for Cuba. Any unexplained increase in such shipping would be a ground for increased suspicion.

Source: Kennedy Library, Sorensen Papers, Classified Subject Files, Cuba, Material Used at Hyannis, 11/22/62-11/23/63. Top Secret.

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