JFK+50: Volume 5, No. 1749McNAMARA REPORTS UP TO 8000 SOVIET TROOPS IN CUBA
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-three years ago today, October 20, 1962. was the fifth day of the thirteen day Cuban Missile Crisis. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara* reported that CIA analysts estimated that the USSR had deployed "six thousand to eight thousand" troops to Cuba.
According to more recent research by Michael Dobbs, there were actually more than 40,000 Soviet troops in Cuba by the fifth day of the crisis. Dobbs writes that the inaccuracy by the CIA was due to rough estimates based on the number of Russian ships arriving in Cuba.
During the afternoon of October 20, 1962, President John F. Kennedy, who was scheduled to be campaigning in the Midwest, was called back to Washington by the Attorney General who told him that he was needed to break a deadlock among his advisers. The deadlock was on a choice between whether to launch an air strike on Cuba or to set up a naval blockade.
The air strike was proposed by National Security assistant to the President, McGeorge Bundy and was supported by John McCone, CIA director and Douglas Dillon, Secretary of Treasury.
The blockade proposal was advocated by McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Adlai Stevenson, UN Secretary and JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen.
When JFK entered the Oval Sitting Room on the 2nd floor of the mansion where his advisers had gathered, the President said....
"Gentlemen, today we're going to earn our pay. You should all hope that your plan isn't the one that will be accepted."
*Robert S. "Bob" McNamara (1916-2009) was born in San Francisco, California & graduated from UC Berkeley in 1937 & Harvard Business School in 1939. He served in the US Army in WWII & became president of Ford Motor Company in 1960. He served as Defense Secretary from 1961 to 1968.