The Cuban Threat to U.S. National Security

This report has been prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency in coordination with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of State Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the National Security Agency, and the United States Southern Command Joint Intelligence Center pursuant to Section 1228 of Public Law No. 105-85, 111 Stat. 1943-44, November 18,1997

Cuban Armed Forces Significantly Weakened

The disintegration of the Soviet bloc in 1989 triggered a profound deterioration of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), transforming the institution from one of the most active militaries in the Third World into a stay-at-home force that has minimal conventional fighting ability.

Economic support and sustainment tasks have become as important as protecting the national territory, further weakening the FAR's conventional capabilities.

Residual Strengths

The FAR retains some residual combat support strengths that are essentially defensive in nature.


The ground forces remain primarily armor and artillery units. Their readiness level is low due to severely reduced training.


The Navy has no capability to sustain operations beyond its territorial waters and focuses on defense of the Cuban coast.

Air Force

The Air and Air Defense Forces are now incapable of defending Cuban airspace against large numbers of high-performance military aircraft. Slower or less sophisticated aircraft, however, would be vulnerable to Cuban air and air defense systems.

Special Operations Forces

Cuba's special operations units are smaller and less proficient than they were a decade ago, but they can still perform selected military and internal security missions.

Unconventional Forces

Cuba's paramilitary units -- the Territorial Militia Troops, the Youth Labor Army devoted to agricultural production, and the naval militia -- have suffered considerable degradation of morale and training over the last seven years. However, their core personnel still have the potential to make an enemy invasion costly.

Negligible Conventional Military Threat to the United States

Cuba's weak military poses a negligible conventional threat to the U.S. or surrounding countries.

Biological Warfare Threat

Cuba's current scientific facilities and expertise could support an offensive BW program in at least the research and development stage. Cuba's biotechnology industry is one of the most advanced in emerging countries and would be capable of producing BW agents.

Threat of Mass Migration Currently Low

The threat of another government-sanctioned mass migration from Cuba is assessed as low as long as domestic political conditions remain stable.

Nonetheless, pressures for migrants to flee to the United States despite Cuban and U.S. prohibitions would increase substantially if Cuba's economy--currently growing slowly--resumed a downward spiral, if the government was perceived to relax its position on illegal departures, or in the event of sustained political upheaval.

Potential for Internal Strife

The prospects for widespread civil unrest in Cuba that involves U.S. citizens, residents, or armed forces currently appear to be low.

Over the longer term, stability is likely to depend on the circumstances under which Castro leaves the scene. Pressures for change are likely to grow that the regime may find difficult to manage.

Threat of Attacks on U.S. Citizens and Residents

Cuban attacks on U.S. citizens or residents while they are engaged in peaceful protest in international airspace or waters currently appear unlikely.

During exile commemoration ceremonies since Cuba shot down two unarmed U.S. aircraft in international airspace in February 1996, the Cuban government has acted with restraint.


At present, Cuba does not pose a significant military threat to the U.S. or to other countries in the region. Cuba has little motivation to engage in military activity beyond defense of its territory and political system.

Nonetheless, Cuba has a limited capability to engage in some military and intelligence activities which would be detrimental to U.S. interests and which could pose a danger to U.S. citizens under some circumstances.