Date of Award

Winter 1988

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Willard C. Frank, Jr.


The Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 was a political and military fiasco. President John F. Kennedy inherited the plan when he took office in January 1961. Even though there was a low probability of success, Kennedy still approved the operation. Because of the failure at the Bay of Pigs Kennedy lost faith in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), endorsed the need to eliminate Fidel Castro. The role of the CIA is a well-worn subject, but what was the role of Admiral Burke and the U.S. Navy in the Bay of Pigs operation? This review is an historical perspective of the role of Burke and the Navy in the planning and execution of the Bay of Pigs invasion. It shows that Burke and the Navy did what they could to make a poor plan work, but it was not enough. The key failure was that it was a civilian-run operation without sufficient military support and involvement.


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