The Gulf Skirmish was a Battle in the Gulf Seas and series of bombing runs in 1962 following the United States discovering evidence of medium-range ballistic missiles in the nation. The US' goal was to eradicate all missiles and blockade Cuba against Soviet reinforcements. It is commonly held that this instance and the Invasion of West Germany by the USSR triggered World War III.
In January 1962, shamed by the failure of Operation: Mongoose, General Edward Lansdale described plans to overthrow the Cuban Government in a top-secret report (partially declassified 1989), addressed to President Kennedy and officials involved with Operation: Mongoose. CIA agents or "pathfinders" from the Special Activities Division were to be infiltrated into Cuba to carry out sabotage and organization, including radio broadcasts.In February 1962, the United States launched an embargo against Cuba and Lansdale presented a 26-page, top-secret timetable for implementation of the overthrow of the Cuban Government, mandating that guerrilla operations begin in August and September, and in the first two weeks of October: "Open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime".
Originally proposed was Operational Plan (OPLAN) 316. On October 20th, OPLAN 316 (full invasion of Cuba by Army and Marines and Navy with Air Force support) was rejected for OPLAN 312 due to the fact that Army units in the United States would have had trouble fielding mechanized and logistical assets, while the US Navy could not supply sufficient amphibious shipping to transport even a modest armored contingent from the Army. OPLAN 312 (primarily an Air Force and Navy carrier operation designed with enough flexibility to do anything from engaging individual missile sites to providing air support for OPLAN 316's ground forces) was approved of and launched.
The goal of the mission was to overthrow the Cuban government and replace it with a non-communist government, blockade Cuba from Soviet reinforcements, and destroy all missile launch sites in Cuba.
On midnight, October 28th, 1962, a squadron of bombers and fighters entered Cuban airspace and began shooting down defense airplanes as the navy bombarded AA guns. The fighters protected the bombers as the bombers destroyed launch sites.
A naval assault on Eastern Cuba allowed the United States to reinforce Guantánamo Bay and miantain a blockade around Cuba.
Battle of Guantánamo
The Battle of Guantánamo was a crucial battle in the war against Cuba. When America first attacked, Cuba stormed American embassies and holdings in the Guantánamo province, forcing their surrender. Remaining American troops were put in labor camps or killed. On October 28th, US ships were told to fire on AA guns on Cuban soil.
Seeing American ships fire on Cuba, the USSR gave the order to fire on American ships. The blockade was forced to go on a defensive mode rather than a supportive role in destroying AA guns. The US was able to exploit a weakness in the Soviet blockade near Guantánamo. The US was able to land on the beaches of Guantánamo, supporting US ships even more.
Battle of Pinar del Rio
As more of Guantánamo was captured, a jet fighter field in the province was used by the Cubans to prevent the US bombers from bombing nearby cities and provinces. As people in the cities evacuated, the Cuban army raced to Guantánamo. The Cuban Army was now distracted. The United States sent sixty ships to bombard several naval sites in Pinar del Rio. An invasion army destroyed and held several inland missile sites.
By early November, the Cuban army had begun to panic. Since parts of Pinar del Río had been captured, the Cubans knew if Pinar del Río was captured, Havana could soon follow. The focus of the army was now to re-take Pinar del Río. Help from the Soviets was requested. Reinforcements from the Soviets were sent to Cuba.
American patrols discovered Soviet reinforcements in the Atlantic oceans. The patros were engaged and quickly destroyed, but not before the American patrol alerted the Navy to the Soviet reinforcements. The American and Soviet navies engaged 200 km from The Bahamas on November 4th, 1962. The Americans surrounded the Soviet ships, sinking many.
Unknown to the American navy, a second wave of Soviet ships trailed the American fleet. The American fleet was caught off-guard while returning to American waters. While the battle took place in international waters, the remaining American fleet retreated to American waters, whichever near by.
The Soviet fleet that had intercepted the American fleet engaged the American blockade the next day. As a third wave approached, the second wave of Soviet ships fired of the American blockade. By November 9th, 1962, the third wave of Soviet ships had arrived and reinforced the already present attacking Soviet fleet. On November 11th, 1962, Soviet ships broke the American blockade near Havana.
A massive assault on the missile silos and air fields in Cuba went underway on November 12th. While this lightning strike destroyed its known targets, a simultaneous assassination plot went underway in Havana. American soldiers, disguised as police officers in Havana, insisted that Castro get to safety, should an air strike hit Havana. The 'officers' were ordered to keep the streets clear. At 11:32 AM, Fidel Castro's car was in sight of the American soldiers. The soldiers fired upon the car and killed the driver. The car went out of control and ran into a building.Castro's guards piled out of the car to fire upon the assassins, though one's hand had been injured in the wreck and the other's eyeglasses had been cracked in the wreck. They were gunned down as a soldier snuck up behind the car pulled Castro out of the car. At 11:35 AM, Fidel Castro was killed by execution.
Battle of Havana
Another wave of American ships reinforced its blockade, attempting to remove the Soviet fleet from Havana waters. The Battle of Havana soon followed. The first portion of this battle was fought on the outskirts and coast of Havana. As the American Navies and Soviet navies battled, American soldiers worked to gain entry to Havana City. As the American soldiers quickly overpowered the Cuban soldiers, the American navies took heavy losses, but managed to make it closer to the coast.
The second day of the battle occurred as Anerican navies consolidated their blockade of Havana as the American marines invaded the city of Havana. During this battle, the Boyeros, Plaza de la Revoluciòn, and Cerro districts were heavily damaged. By the end of the day, an estimated 75 Billion dollars of damage had been done to the city of Havana.
The third day saw the Soviets attempt to reclaim Havana, but by halfway into the day, the Soviets realized the Americans had won. The Treaty of Havana was signed on November 15th, 1962. American and Societs pulled their forces from Cuba as it became a demilitarized zone.
Much damage to Cuba had been done by both sides. The United Nations, unable to find an aggressor, demanded peace between the United States and the USSR. Despite initial fears, the battle did not result in nuclear exchange, nor did it result in Russia declaring war on the United States. Unfortunately, however, the skirmish did end up leading to Russia's invasion of Western Germany.