JFK+50: Volume 7, No. 2475JFK & ADVISERS DISCUSS OPTIONS ON 5TH DAY OF MISSILE CRISIS
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, October 20, 1962, Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara* reported to President John F. Kennedy that CIA analysts estimated the Soviet Union had deployed "six thousand to eight thousand" troops to Cuba.
According to more recent research by Michael Dobbs, however, there were actually more than 40,000 Soviet troops in Cuba by the fifth day of the crisis. Dobbs says that the inaccuracy was because of rough estimates based on the number of Russian ships arriving in Cuba.
During the afternoon the President, who was scheduled to be campaigning in the Midwest, was called back to Washington by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. RFK told JFK that he was needed to break a deadlock among his advisers. The deadlock was on a choice between an air strike on Cuba or 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."
"One Minute To Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War", by Michael Dobbs, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008.
*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.