Mind-Sets and Missiles: a First Hand Account of the Cuban Missile Crisis

  • September 01, 2009
  • Mr Kenneth Michael Absher

This chronology provides details and analysis of the intelligence failures and successes of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and suggests the applicability of lessons learned to the collection, analysis, and use of intelligence in strategic decisionmaking. The author describes how the crisis unfolded using the author’s personal recollection, declassified documents, and many memoirs written by senior CIA officers and others who were participants. Lessons learned include the need to avoid having our political, analytical and intelligence collection mind-sets prevent us from acquiring and accurately analyzing intelligence about our adversaries true plans and intentions. When our national security is at stake, we should not hesitate to undertake risky intelligence collection operations including espionage, to penetrate our adversary’s deceptions. We must also understand that our adversaries may not believe the gravity of our policy warnings or allow their own agendas to be influenced by diplomatic pressure.