Operation 40, code-named "Mongoose" during its planning phases, was a covert operation orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aimed at overthrowing the newly established Cuban government led by Fidel Castro in the early 1960s. Here's a brief overview of its history:
Origins and Objectives:
- Approval (1960): In March 1960, following the success of the Cuban Revolution, Operation 40 was formally approved by President Eisenhower, influenced by Vice President Nixon and fueled by anxieties about a communist foothold in the Americas.
- Recruiting and Training: Over 1,400 Cuban exiles, many of whom had military experience fighting Castro's regime, were recruited and trained in Guatemala by the CIA operatives.
- Objectives: The operation aimed to infiltrate Cuba, establish guerilla warfare, sabotage key infrastructure, and ultimately create conditions for a popular uprising leading to Castro's ousting.
Implementation and Failure:
- Invasion Attempt (April 1961): In April 1961, a force of around 1,500 Cuban exiles landed in the Bay of Pigs on Cuba's southern coast, sparking the ill-fated Bay of Pigs Invasion.
- Air Support: Prior to the invasion, several CIA-supplied B-26 bombers attacked Cuban airfields in a failed attempt to establish air superiority.
- Rapid Defeat: The invasion faced fierce resistance from Cuban forces and was crushed within three days, resulting in heavy casualties among the exiles and a major international embarrassment for the United States.
Aftermath and Legacy:
- Scrutiny and Disbandment: Following the disastrous failure, Operation 40 faced severe criticism and scrutiny for its flawed planning, poor execution, and lack of coordination.
- Official Disbandment (1970): The operation was officially disbanded in 1970, although allegations of continued activities under alternative names persisted for several years.
- Legacy of Controversy: Operation 40 remains a controversial chapter in U.S.-Cuban relations and CIA history, highlighting the complexities and potential pitfalls of covert operations.
Operation Gold, also known as Operation Stopwatch by the British, was a successful joint operation conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British MI6 Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) during the Cold War.
Objectives & Motivation:
- Launched in 1954, the mission aimed to tap into Soviet communication lines in East Berlin, gaining valuable insights into the activities and plans of the Eastern Bloc.
- Driven by fears of a potential Soviet nuclear attack, fueled by their successful hydrogen bomb detonation in 1953, the operation sought to gather strategic intelligence.
Planning & Construction:
- Led by CIA officer William King Harvey, the plan involved digging a 1,476-foot long tunnel from a warehouse in West Berlin to intercept communication cables under Soviet territory.
- British engineers provided technical expertise and construction equipment, ensuring secrecy and efficiency.
- The tunnel was built under challenging conditions, requiring the removal of 3,100 tons of soil and the use of 125 tons of steel plate and 1,000 cubic yards of grout for reinforcement.
Success & Fallout:
- Completed in May 1955, the tunnel allowed for tapping into Soviet landline communications for nearly a year, generating massive amounts of valuable intelligence.
- Transcripts of 443,000 conversations, 40,000 hours of phone calls, and 6 million hours of teletype traffic were recorded, offering critical insights into Soviet military activities and diplomatic exchanges.
- However, the operation's secrecy was compromised by a KGB double agent within MI6, George Blake, who informed the Soviets about the project.
- In April 1956, the Soviets "accidentally" discovered the tunnel during a staged repair operation, prompting its closure and public exposure. Despite this, the intelligence gathered during its operational period proved immensely valuable.
Legacy & Significance:
- Operation Gold stands as a remarkable example of Cold War espionage ingenuity and collaboration between allied intelligence agencies.
- The massive amount of intelligence gleaned contributed significantly to Western understanding of Soviet intentions and capabilities during a period of heightened tensions.
- While the operation's secrecy was breached, its success and historical significance remain unquestionable.