Plans for a future base capable of housing 11 submarines, 7 of which equipped with SLBM missiles, had been dropped by Khrushchev in September.
By deploying missiles in Cuba, Khrushchev was trying to make up for the fact that Soviet strategic forces were lagging behind those of the USA. Cuba was the ideal site. Contrary to what the French Press claimed, which tended to overestimate the offensive force of the Soviets, the missile gap which candidate J.F.K. had insisted upon during his presidential campaign, was not to the detriment of the USA. Yet, ever since 1957, when Sputnik 1 was launched, the USA had been within range of Soviet ballistic missiles.
In 1962, the US forces consisted of
on the Soviet side.
The gap kept widening as a hundred or so new US ballistic missiles became operational each year, whereas the Soviets could barely produce 25 of them, equipped with rather rudimentary guidance systems.
The medium-range missiles deployed in Cuba would have almost doubled the Soviet offensive force, since most of the US territory was within range. US radars, located in Canada in order to detect an intercontinental Soviet strike over the Pole, would have been unable to detect them. Having, thus, balanced the scales, Khrushchev could hope for the North Atlantic Treaty be weakened, for the Alliance to be loosened, and for concessions over Berlin.
The Khrushchev plan was approved by the Soviet Defence Council on 24 May, and by Castro on 29 May. In July, Raul Castro, Fidel's brother and Defence Secretary, went to Moscow, followed in September by Che Guevara, with a view to finalizing the agreement and making it public. The Soviets refused on the grounds that Operation Anadyr was to remain secret. By 15 September, the first SS-4 missiles were on Cuban soil; The first nuclear warheads followed on 4 October. The Soviet commander in Cuba, General Issa Pliyev had received orders to fire one of the six (Frog) surface-to-surface tactical missiles in case he could not communicate with Moscow. The authorization was never confirmed.