The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to President Kennedy


Washington, November 16, 1962.



Status of Readiness for the Cuban Operation (C)

1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are glad to report that our Armed Forces are in an optimum posture to execute CINCLANT OPLANS 312-62 (Air Attack in Cuba)(1) and 316-62 (Invasion of Cuba).(2) We are not only ready to take any action you may order in Cuba, we are also in an excellent condition world-wide to counter any Soviet military response to such action. Our status of readiness includes:

a. SAC is maintaining 1/8 airborne alert and has implemented its force dispersal plan. An increased SIOP generation rate--1,456 aircraft and 355 missiles, including 80 Polaris missiles--is being maintained.

b. Continental Air Defense Command interceptor forces have occupied their wartime dispersal bases and are partially deployed at increased alert (about 1/3). Special defensive measures have been taken to protect the Southeast, with particular attention to Florida.

c. Air forces involved in CINCLANT OPLAN 312-62 in daylight hours can respond for selective attack in graduated increments from two to twelve hours, according to the application of force desired.

d. Amphibious and assault forces are at a high state of readiness, providing a seven-day reaction capability for CINCLANT OPLAN 316-62 following the air strike (CINCLANT OPLAN 312-62), with accelerated introduction of follow-on forces.

e. All naval units are in a high state of readiness.

2. In response to your request, we have studied the need for augmentation of forces for CINCLANT OPLAN 316-62 and have concluded that while the forces originally included in the plan are probably adequate, it would be prudent to earmark additional forces as a ready reserve for the operation. Accordingly, we are planning to earmark the 5th Infantry Division, at approximately 20,000 strength including supporting forces, and a combat command (strength 6,800) of the 2nd Armored Division for possible commitment as reserve forces for CINCLANT OPLAN 316-62; but these units will not be moved from home stations until S-day for OPLAN 312-62. Utilization of the increased Army and Marine forces will require an additional 16 transports, 68 cargo ships, and 11 LSTs. The LSTs and 15 transports would come from the Reserve Fleet, would require approximately 45 days to activate and assemble on the east coast, and would cost an estimated $28 million. For the total shipping requirements of the augmented Plan, chartering, requisitioning, and prepositioning of 60 cargo ships must be accomplished well in advance of execution of the Plan. The chartering/requisitioning of the remaining 105 cargo ships would require at least 30 days. The 5th MEB (Marine Expeditionary Brigade), at approximately 9,000 strength, has transited the Panama Canal, is in the Caribbean and has been added to the assault force.

3. The advanced alert levels, if maintained for a protracted period, can reduce the over-all capability of the force because of maintenance and training short-falls. The current status of alert can be maintained for about 30 more days without adverse effect. After that time we could maintain the following reaction capability:

a. With forces in present posture (Defense Condition 3)

(1) OPLAN 312-62 (Air Attack in Cuba)--12 hours

(2) OPLAN 316-62 (Invasion of Cuba)--7 days

b. With forces largely returned to home bases (Defense Condition 5)

(1) OPLAN 312-62--2 days

(2) OPLAN 316-62(3)--10 to 12 days

4. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend staying in the present posture for the immediate future.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Maxwell D. Taylor

Joint Chiefs of Staff

1 OPLAN 312-62 evolved during the summer and early fall of 1962 as the build up of air-power in Cuba became apparent. The plan entailed the use of 500 tactical fighter aircraft and carrier aircraft in a series of strikes against Cuban offensive weapons. Initial strikes would eliminate SAM sites and associated conventional AA defenses. These strikes would be followed by massive attacks on Cuban hostile aircraft and other offensive weapons including, after their presence was discovered and until they were withdrawn, MRBMs and IRBMs. Subsequent attacks would target troop concentrations, artillery, and armor. (Cuban Crisis, Operational Aspects, December 26, 1962; National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Cuba, High-level Exchange) Back

2 For a description of CINCLANT OPLAN 316-62, see footnote 1, Document 150. Back

3 "5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade and its organic shipping excepted." [Footnote in the source text.] Back

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 11/16/62-11/20/62. Top Secret.

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.