Soviet Denial and Deception and Cuban Missiles

Back in 2002, Studies in Intelligence published a piece titled “Soviet Deception in the Cuban Missile Crisis: Learning from the Past.” The article, written by James Hansen, has a great description of Soviet denial and deception efforts surrounding Moscow’s placement of nuclear weapons in Cuba.

Here’s an example:

Developing A Cover Story

The General Staff’s code name for the operation—ANADYR—was designed to mislead Soviets as well as foreigners about the destination of the equipment. Anadyr is the name of a river flowing into the Bering Sea, the capital of the Chukotsky Autonomous District, and a bomber base in that desolate region. Operation ANADYR was designed to suggest to lower-level Soviet commanders—and Western spies—that the action was a strategic exercise in the far north of the USSR. Promoting the illusion, the troops that were called up for the Cuban expedition were told only that they were going to a cold region. Those needing more precise instructions, such as missile engineers, were informed that they would be taking ICBMs to a site on Novaya Zemlya, a large island in the Arctic where nuclear weapons had long been tested.

To strengthen the concealment, many units were outfitted with skis, felt boots, fleece-lined parkas, and other winter equipment. Moreover, perhaps to further backstop the cover plan, Moscow tapped four ground forces regiments from the Leningrad Military District in the north for dispatch to Cuba. The deception was so thorough that it fooled even senior Soviet officers sent to Cuba. One general there asked Gribkov why winter equipment and clothing had been provided. The general admonished him to “think like an adult,” and explained, “It’s called ANADYR for a reason. We could have given away the game if we had put any tropical clothing in your kits.”

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