Why did the Bay of Pigs Invasion Fail?
Why did the Bay of Pigs Invasion Fail?
The Bay of Pigs invasion failed because the US made false assumptions concerning the Cubans. Earlier on, in 1954, the US had managed to bring down the Guatemalan government with relative ease, and it thought that it could deploy the same tactics in Cuba. It trained exiled Cubans, preparing them for the invasion of their former country. The US hoped that the invaders would gain victory and install a new government in Cuba, which would be pro-American (Sweig, 2009). America had long avoided and opposed communist governments, which Castro supported. President Eisenhower did not want to think that he would have a communist government close to his country. The communist government of the Soviet Union had absorbed all the countries in Eastern Europe and some parts of Germany. In Asia, China, North Korea and North Vietnam had all fallen to the communists (Craughwell & Phelps, 2008). The president believed in the domino effect, and did not want America to be near a communist country. This led to him agree to bring down Castro and the idea that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) proposed.
His government began making plans for the eventual invasion. The government was convinced that it would succeed. After John F. Kennedy was elected president, the CIA informed him of the invasion. Kennedy was reluctant to proceed with the plan. He refused to involve the United States military, and insisted that the US would not use any air support, apart from the B-26 bombers, which the CIA used to strike the Cuban air bases. However, he decided to go on with the plan of using the trained exiles to invade Cuba. The CIA reported that the air strikes used had been a success as they had crippled Cuba’s air force. The CIA also believed that those who opposed Castro would rise against him on the day of the invasion and join the exiles in fighting. They expected some of the soldiers in Castro’s army to rebel and dissent from the army. Unfortunately, none of their expectations was realized, and their reports were all false (Craughwell & Phelps, 2008).
The US underestimated Cuba’s capacity to defend itself, and the people’s resolve to protect their land. They failed to prepare for the invasion properly, and were outnumbered and defeated when they invaded Cuba. The US thought that the Cubans would not support Fidel Castro. Castro had managed to develop Cuba’s intelligence agency once he got to power. The agency managed to find out about the plan by the US. Therefore, Cuba was aware that America would try to invade the country, but it was not sure where or when it would happen. This enabled Castro to prepare for the invasion. He mobilized the army and the air force and put the country on alert. As such, many Cubans were aware of the attack and had prepared for it. Castro kept himself informed of what was going on in Cuba. He ensured that he dealt with all the possible dissidents while the exiles prepared for the invasion in Guatemala. He ordered the arrests of thousands of people whom he perceived had the capability of joining the exiles or leading uprisings, and this led to the execution of some of the dissidents. As such, no one in the Cuban army dared to rebel against the country or Castro (Craughwell & Phelps, 2008).
America’s decision to use the Bay of Pigs was not a strategic idea. The men in the Brigade were not prepared for the suffering they would encounter. The area was inhospitable and overexposed. The trained invaders, known as Brigade 2506, had to go through swampy areas covered with mangroves that were impenetrable and had sharp coral shards. Cuba had a lot of support from the people in the island. Cuba had an army of about 200,000, and it could mobilize approximately 25,000. The American government intended to invade Cuba using only 1500 soldiers (Sweig, 2009). The Cuban army greatly outnumbered the exiles, and was able to defeat them within two days. About one hundred exiles died and the Cuban army imprisoned about 1200 of them. Cuba managed to get many weapons of sound quality from the Soviet Union
Despite the training they had undergone, the exiles participating in the invasion were not well equipped to deal with a task of such magnitude. They did not have the military strategy required, and were not aware of their enemy’s plan. The exiles failed when one of them lit a beacon showing others where to land. They did not understand that they had to be invisible and had to act discretely. This alerted the Cuban militia, who were aware of the invasion and were ready for anything to happen. The Cubans were alert to every move that happened, and recognized the invaders immediately the beacon was lit. The invaders were attacked by the militia and the Cuban army. They were, therefore, greatly outnumbered and unprepared for the attacks (Voss, 2011).
The US failed in its quest to invade Cuba because it lacked the necessary preparation. Although Cuba is smaller than the US, it has an army, and it was willing to commit resources towards its own defense. The US was overconfident, and thought it would get support from the Cubans. It made many wrong assumptions, and did not have intelligence reports to inform it of what its enemies were doing. On the other hand, the Cubans were ready, and they did not take anything to chance. The president was proactive, and the government had taken the role of dealing with possible dissidents, as well as informing the people and making them ready in case of an attack. Cuba had a ready and well-prepared army that was ready to defend the country at any time.
Craughwell, J. T., & Phelps, W. M. (2008). Failures of the presidents: From the whiskey rebellion and war of 1812 to the Bay of Pigs and the war in Iraq. Fair Winds
Sweig, F. J. (2009). Cuba: What everyone needs to know. New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Voss, M. (2011). Bay of Pigs: The perfect failure of Cuba invasion. BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-13066561