April 17 - 1961 - The Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was, on almost every level, a disaster. The idea was that an elite group of Cuban exiles would lead an invasion of Cuba, with the assistance of the US and the CIA, which would then overthrow the Communist backed government of Fidel Castro, who took power in 1959. On the other hand, the invasion force, known as Brigade 2506, was only about 1,300 strong and had to face off against the entire Cuban Army. Furthermore, the invasion plan, which had been debated by the US Government for a year across two Presidential Administrations, was so straightforward that the Cubans were well aware of the invasion. Thus, when the initial landing party hit the Bay of Pigs, they found the beaches floodlit. Despite air and naval support, the invasion got no further than the beaches and was easily pushed back by Cuban forces after three days. Although there were heavy losses, Cuba clearly came out the best. Fidel Castro's political authority was strengthened, Cuba moved closer to the Soviet Union, and the U.S. was embarrassed on the international stage.