Military Review

Undigested Lessons from the Caribbean Crisis

Undigested Lessons from the Caribbean CrisisThe dangerous confrontation between the USA and the USSR, known as the Caribbean crisis, arose 55 years ago. At that time, American and Soviet armed forces were in a state of full combat readiness. One erroneous decision made by the US administration or the political leadership of the USSR could have triggered a gigantic mechanism of military blocs of two opposing social and political systems using nuclear missiles. weapons. The world was on the verge of nuclear collapse.

It seemed that the Caribbean crisis after its successful resolution left in historical a serious trace in the memory of mankind, and the political leaders of the USA and the USSR realized that their armies are capable of destroying human civilization. However, the events following the collapse of the USSR clearly demonstrate that the lessons of the Caribbean crisis have not been learned by the US leadership.


The overwhelming majority of foreign researchers as the main cause of the Caribbean crisis in October 1962, which threatened to escalate into a third world war with the use of nuclear missiles, called the deployment of Soviet medium-range missiles in Cuba. However, if we objectively assess the international situation that had developed by the beginning of the 60s of the 20th century, and the nature of the military-strategic situation in the American-Soviet direction, then the conclusions from the analysis of that situation would be diametrically opposed to those that the Western and some Russian "Political scientists" and "historians".

In the 1961 year after the failure of the attempts by Cuban counter-revolutionaries inspired by Washington to overthrow the legitimate Cuban government, the White House decided to start preparing a new operation, code-named Mongoose (in the Russian transcription Mongoose). In order to guarantee the success of the action to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro and restore the pro-American puppet regime in Cuba to an operation other than the organization (by the CIA) in Cuba, the insurgency was intended to involve the US military. The Pentagon planned to launch air strikes by air and navy planes (several hundred bombers), a long-term fire attack on the territory and the subsequent landing of troops by two airborne, one armored, two infantry divisions and one marines division. The term of the operation is October-November 1962.

Under current conditions, in response to a request from Havana for military assistance to protect Cuba from aggression and in agreement with the Cuban leadership, the Soviet government 18 in May 1962 decides to deploy the Group of Soviet Forces on Liberty Island. The Group included: a missile division (40 launchers of medium and intermediate range missiles), military units and other types of nuclear weapons, which ensured our military group’s real ability to deter the enemy from invasion. In determining the combat composition of the Group, the complexity of the military-strategic situation around the USSR was taken into account. The Soviet Union was actually surrounded by groupings of US troops and their allies in the west, south, and east. They were armed with a large number of nuclear weapons. In terms of the number of nuclear weapons, the USSR was inferior to the US by 11 – 12 times. The United States was capable of delivering nuclear strikes on the bodies of top state and military administration, industrial centers, groups of strategic nuclear forces, and other vital facilities of our country. The United States itself, in the event of a sudden nuclear-missile attack on the USSR, remained practically vulnerable to retaliation due to the lack of intercontinental nuclear weapons delivery systems of the Soviet Union at that time. The state sovereignty of our country was not guaranteed protected.

By the decision of the Soviet government, the main task of the Group of Soviet Forces in Cuba was defined as “ensuring the joint defense of the Republic of Cuba and the USSR”. In other words, the very fact of placing Soviet nuclear weapons in miles off the coast of America was dictated not by preparations for aggression against the United States, but, if we use modern terminology, solely for the purpose of encouraging Washington to contain. The operation to transfer the Group to Cuba received the code name "Anadyr". The Soviet command was able to ensure the secrecy of the preparation and conduct of the operation.

In September, 1962, CIA Director John McCone, reported to US President John Kennedy: “... After extensive discussion and research, American intelligence concluded that the Soviet Union did not intend to turn Cuba into a strategic base ...” It was concluded that counter the implementation of the plan of operation "Mongoose" and it will be implemented successfully. Preparation of the operation has entered the final stage.

Thus, the prepared for the US military invasion of Cuba and created by the ruling circles of the United States is extremely unfavorable for the USSR military-strategic situation in the end and provoked the Caribbean crisis. An important role in resolving the crisis was played by Soviet military intelligence.


In the 1961 – 1962 years, an unprecedented incident occurred in the activities of national military intelligence. On the eve and in the midst of the Caribbean crisis, the officer of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces, Colonel Georgy Bolshakov, was directly ensured the exchange of personal confidential messages between the Soviet and American leaders. Messages were set out in oral form, the communication of the Soviet military intelligence officer with a confidant of the President of the United States was in English, and Bolshakov was personally responsible for the unmistakable transfer of positions, proposals and decisions of the leaders of both states to each other.

In early September, 1962 in the American political circles and in the press began to exaggerate the theme of the transfer of Soviet military cargo to Cuba and the possible deployment of Soviet missiles there. Operation "Anadyr" is not completed yet. It was necessary to take measures to ensure the completion of the operation and the completion of the construction of launch sites for missiles.

To this end, the Soviet government decided to inform the American president that the USSR had no plans to attack the United States. For this, Bolshakov, who was on vacation, was called to Khrushchev. He was tasked with providing Kennedy with this information.

Moscow closely watched the development of the situation in the Caribbean. The activation of the landing forces of the Atlantic fleet USA, flights of American reconnaissance aircraft over Cuba indicated that preparations for the invasion had entered its final phase. The tension grew.

October 13 1962, based on the results of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft flying over Cuba, the US Department of Defense concluded that Soviet medium-range missiles were stationed on the island. The news of this caused a panic in the White House. In Washington, apparently, they began to realize that in the conditions of the presence of Soviet troops in Cuba, it was extremely dangerous to carry out the final stage of Operation Mongoose.

The deployment of the Group of Soviet Forces in Cuba changed the balance of power both in the Caribbean and beyond. The White House had to make a decision about the cancellation or postponement of the operation to invade Cuba to a later date. But this greatly weakened the position of President Kennedy in the American establishment, since he was already obstructed by the “hawks” who advocated extreme measures against the Soviet Union.


October 20 in Washington makes a decision to declare a blockade to Cuba, preventing the transfer of Soviet weapons to the island. This measure grossly violated basic international norms, but, in Washington’s opinion, was to demonstrate the determination of the US government.

In Moscow, the establishment of the US blockade of Cuba was regarded as "unprecedented aggressive actions." The statement of the Soviet government stated: "The peoples of all countries must clearly realize that by going on such an adventure, the United States of America is taking a step towards unleashing a world thermonuclear war."

October 22 Kennedy addressed a message to the American people. But in its content it was addressed primarily to Khrushchev. Kennedy said: "We do not intend to risk without extreme necessity and plunge the world into the abyss of nuclear war, in which the fruits of victory will be ashes, but we have the spirit to take that risk any time it becomes necessary." And further: "I ordered the US military to be ready for any surprises."

In the USSR, in the Strategic Missile Forces, the Air Defense Forces and the submarine fleet, the dismissal of older ages was delayed, and the entire personnel were canceled. The troops were on high alert.

On October 23, the President of the United States approves the decree that the American armed forces were ordered to intercept any ships and aircraft allegedly heading for Cuba. The decree determined: "All ships or aircraft arrested will be sent to the appropriate port of the United States or destroyed."


October 24 Bolshakov, through a confidant of the American president, receives information that Kennedy is concerned about the developments in Cuba and does not want to launch an invasion. Washington’s goal is to eliminate bases for Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Bolshakov sent an urgent report to the Center, in which particular attention was paid to three important circumstances:

- in the USA they are sure that there are Soviet medium-range missiles in Cuba;

- The Kennedy Administration is ready to compromise on the settlement of contradictions;

- The US president proposes to bring to the settlement of the crisis UN observers and asks for this time to suspend the promotion of new Soviet ships with arms to the shores of Cuba.

On the same day, Bolshakov was additionally informed about the proposal of the American president on a possible deal: the elimination of Soviet missiles in Cuba in exchange for the closure of the American missile base in Turkey.

October 25 Bolshakov again receives information from the American side that the actions of the USSR in Cuba are regarded by the US President, among other reasons, as a response to the deployment of American missile bases in Turkey and Italy, and on the readiness of Kennedy to discuss the previously proposed deal: in Turkey, and the USSR - in Cuba.

Moscow carefully analyzed the proposals for resolving the Caribbean crisis and developed its own.


Meanwhile, the flywheel of confrontation, capable of developing into a big war, was gaining momentum. The troops of two huge armies were brought to higher levels of combat readiness. Commanders and commanders were waiting for orders.

On October 24, at 10 a.m. Washington time, the GRU’s technical equipment intercepted the order of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Air Force Strategic Aviation Command (SAC): to prepare for a nuclear attack. The GRU resident reported to the Center: “For the day on October 23, 85 strategic planes were flying over the USA aviation. Of these, 22 are B-52 bombers. At the same time, 57 B-47 bombers went from the USA to Europe. ” The resident also said that "30 air tankers are constantly in the air." The GRU radio reconnaissance recorded the transfer of the following order to the commanders of strategic bombers by the NAC command: “Follow the course even if one engine fails ...”

In the report of the GRU resident to the Center, it was reported that the command of the US armed forces is actively deploying hospitals and staffing them with medical personnel according to wartime states, the population buying food and strengthening air-raid shelters.

On October 27, the Center received a statement from the US government that if the construction of missile bases in Cuba was not stopped, the United States would invade the island.

The military intelligence resident reported to the head of the GRU:

1. Position on 24: 00 27.10 remains tight. The nearest 24 hours are decisive.

2. US Secretary of Defense McNamara ordered the Air Force Minister to transfer the transport-assault squadrons with support units from the 24 reserve. Squadrons are intended for the transfer of the first assault echelon during the landing of the landing force.

3. Enhanced troop movement along Florida roads is complete.

4. On Saturday, the Pentagon continued to operate up to 50% personnel.

On the same day, a GRU resident reported from Washington to the Center: “Based on an analysis of conversations with Americans, military diplomats, local press and radio reports on October 26, I report that in the near future we can expect an American invasion of Cuba under the pretext of eliminating the allegedly existing rocket bases. An American reception officer on October 25 declared the unyielding determination of their government to bring the case with Cuba to the end, regardless of world public opinion. An employee at the British Embassy, ​​who daily spends several hours at the Pentagon, said that, according to his data, the invasion would take place in the next five to seven days. ”

Further, the resident reported:

“- the press, radio and television are intensively preparing public opinion to justify the decisive steps of the United States against Cuba;

- the concentration of troops continues in Florida, where new military units and equipment continuously arrive;

- among Cuban immigrants reigns confidence in landing in Cuba in the coming days;

“At the Pentagon and other higher military institutions, intensive work continues at night.”

October 27 American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft under the guise of a fighter invaded the airspace of the Soviet Union. Soviet fighters went up to intercept offenders and forced American pilots to leave the airspace of the USSR.

On the same day, during a reconnaissance flight over Cuba, an American plane was shot down. The pilot died. Perhaps this moment has become a critical point of the Caribbean confrontation. The President of the United States made a difficult decision - not to take retaliatory measures.


The most intense days of the crisis were 27 and 28 of October. It was on these days in Washington and Moscow that the main question was decided - to be or not to be a war.

The White House realized that the implementation of the plan to overthrow the Castro government suddenly turned against them. President Kennedy made a decision - he is ready to declare that the United States will not conduct an operation against Cuba and will lift the blockade.

October 27 in the White House has developed a final decision: to abandon the attack on Cuba in addition to the conditions previously approved by the parties - Washington’s readiness to liquidate its missile base in Turkey in exchange for the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. On the same day, the message of the President of the United States was sent to the Kremlin.

October 28 in a response message, Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev, said that today the answer to the American president will be broadcast on the radio, and it will be positive.

Orders that would have signed the death warrant to humanity, 28 of October did not take place either in Washington or in Moscow. At the same time, the White House ordered the suspension and, later, the cancellation of the operation "Mongoose". The United States ceased active operations against the Cuban government both on the territory of the Island of Freedom and beyond.

The American naval blockade of Cuba was lifted on November 21. The Caribbean crisis is over.


The US administration and the Soviet government 55 years ago went through a very difficult test. John Kennedy and Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev realized the consequences of blackmail and the threat of military force to the consequences of terrestrial civilization under the conditions of real possession of nuclear weapons.

Until Washington realized that the reckless policy of the United States could have disastrous consequences for the United States, the American administration planned to invade Cuba with the aim of overthrowing the government of Fidel Castro. And only the determination of the USSR to protect the independent state friendly to him with all available means kept the American “hawks” against aggression against Cuba and against the USSR.

The United States and the Soviet Union decided to confine themselves to a nuclear confrontation in the conditions of the strategic parity reached by the two superpowers. Moreover, despite the cold war, they went for a mutually balanced reduction of nuclear and other military capabilities while respecting the equal security of the parties. The strategic parity with the USSR, especially against the background of a substantive lesson learned by Washington during the Vietnam War of 1964 – 1972, to some extent kept the US from the provocative aggressive policy of hegemonism.

The self-dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States perceived as its victory in the Cold War and immediately began to move NATO to the east. They bombed and dismembered Yugoslavia. Occupied Afghanistan. They unleashed aggression against Iraq, executed its president. Destroyed the state of Libya and its leader. In order to eliminate the current leader of a sovereign country, a terrorist massacre was initiated in Syria.

The United States is creating a strategic missile defense system targeting our country. We began to deploy missile defense systems in Poland and Romania. Deploying troops near the Russian borders. They are growing up in the states neighboring Russia and encouraging Russophobic nationalist and Nazi forces. They are waging a war of sanctions against our country, they are aggravating propaganda hysteria. Capture Russian property. Relegated the US-Russian relations to the lowest level.

The President of the United States from the rostrum of the UN officially threatens to "wipe out" the sovereign state of the DPRK, believing that these senseless threats and blackmail can replace a political solution to the problem of nuclear non-proliferation, as Washington calls on Russia and the PRC condemning Pyongyang for nuclear tests.

October 13 2017, the US president announced Washington’s plans to torpedo a Joint Comprehensive Action Plan on Iran’s nuclear issue agreed in 2015, ignoring the opinions of other participants and the UN Security Council resolution 2231.

Turning to the 1962 Caribbean crisis of the year, one involuntarily comes to the conclusion: those not so far-away lessons from Washington, the American establishment, apparently did not go to the fore. Again, but with even greater perseverance, they are trying to dictate their narrow-minded conditions to the whole world, directly threaten military force by one, create a dangerous military-strategic situation for others, believing that someone is entitled to it. Extremely dangerous delusion. Putting your finger on the “trigger”, one should not forget the lessons of the past: after all, in modern conditions the consequences of such actions can be even more tragic than it could have been 55 years ago, which, fortunately, did not happen then.
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  1. Mar.Tirah
    Mar.Tirah 28 October 2017 15: 04 New
    The day before, the US Navy used depth bombs against Cuba against our B-59. The captain gave the order to respond with a nuclear torpedo. But managed to cancel. We also do not have to joke.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 28 October 2017 16: 26 New
    The US is creating a strategic missile defense system against our country. We started deploying missile defense systems in Poland and Romania.
    ... And now, what kind of operational response can Russia offer .. practically not any .. Syria remains .. and the countries of the Middle East, but this is a long and thorough process .. And the Americans, as always, did not make any conclusions .. they’re winners "at the moment ..
  3. Settlement Oparyshev
    Settlement Oparyshev 28 October 2017 16: 29 New
    The remaining German intelligence reported to the new owners about the loading of missile parts onto the ships. They could not hide it. In the Black Sea port they finished loading the complexes and reported to the commander. He decided to check and went through the port. He found a forgotten preparation and verification vehicle in the far corner. , went out to smoke breaks according to the schedule. The Americans were perplexed, why, there were always different faces on the decks. The rockets lay on the decks, covered with boxes of different sizes.
    After the crisis, the Americans stopped the ships in the ocean and ours had to show the engine compartment to the adversary. Our teeth gritted. But one ship went around and the Americans became alarmed, the number of missiles tested was less than there was on an aerial photo.
    Khrushchev put forward an ultimatum, we are withdrawing rockets from Cuba, and America is withdrawing the Pershing from Turkey! The Cubans were outraged that they were being compared with the Turks and Khrushchev lifted the requirement for pershing.
    1. alekc73
      alekc73 28 October 2017 17: 01 New
      The remaining German intelligence reported to the new owners about the loading of missile units on ships.

      where such infa
      1. Settlement Oparyshev
        Settlement Oparyshev 28 October 2017 17: 43 New
        The old colonels and teachers told us about this.
        1. alekc73
          alekc73 29 October 2017 12: 05 New
          If so, then the Germans worked well 1945-1962-17 years after the war and there were sleeping agents. They were caught until the 70s, if I am not mistaken. Many died not disclosed.
  4. Yura Yakovlev
    Yura Yakovlev 28 October 2017 17: 18 New
    Before the Caribbean crisis, ours had no experience working with tropical countries and imported flour, not grain, for the army. The bug bug and some other insects immediately became worthless, and the military almost remained without bread. I had to import grain and mills for grinding again.
  5. Doliva63
    Doliva63 28 October 2017 19: 07 New
    Thanks to the author for the balm, but he overlooks that the Union was a great power that everyone reckoned with, and today everyone is equal to the dollar. But there are jeans, chewing gum, mortgages for life. Our generation chose Pepsi. Such a country cannot be great, because it prefers other people's values. Alas, America is driving. Maybe it will pass over time, but not during our lifetimes.
  6. Operator
    Operator 29 October 2017 12: 36 New
    The author of the article is weak at the knees - under international law, a military blockade is an act of war.

    On October 23, 1962, the President of the United States signed a decree requiring the U.S. armed forces to intercept any ships and planes heading to Cuba: "All ships or planes taken into custody will be sent to the proper port of the United States or destroyed."

    From that moment, the US-Soviet war began, which ended on November 21, 1962 with the lifting of the blockade from the Republic of Cuba.
  7. Days
    Days 29 October 2017 13: 07 New
    The article is a distortion of facts and lies. And no wonder, Novaya Gazeta is a hotbed of lies. Missiles in Cuba were deployed after the appearance of NATO missiles in Turkey, the flight time of which was unacceptably low.
  8. parma
    parma 30 October 2017 14: 46 New
    Um ... Cheat? Missiles in Cuba so that Castro would not be dropped? ... um ... why didn’t they deploy in Africa then everywhere? ... Afftor, you don’t know that missiles were brought to Cuba because of American missiles in Turkey ( By the way, NATO countries, what is it that does not contradict agreements)? And they removed it precisely because the Americans agreed to exchange. True, the United States exposed this as its huge victory, because the USSR withdrew the missiles in public, and exported from Turkey without advertising ... Castro then took offense at the USSR for a long time, because he had been thrown like that, he hoped for a nuclear umbrella, though not his own. ..
  9. Bredovich705
    Bredovich705 30 October 2017 23: 17 New
    The author, I wonder, is that Ladygin or is this a pseudonym?
  10. iouris
    iouris 7 March 2018 16: 11 New
    The main lesson is that it is possible to ensure the security of the people in the face of overwhelming US superiority, if the head of state has the political will and willingness to use nuclear weapons.
  11. tihonmarine
    tihonmarine 16 March 2018 07: 32 New
    I remember 62 year, everyone thought that the war would begin here. And the country only got rid of the 2 world.