By: Mark Hackard
When Moscow launched the ambitious Operation Anadyr, the deployment of missiles and an army division to Fidel Castro’s revolutionary Cuba in the spring of 1962, the KGB played no minor role in its execution. KGB military counterintelligence (Third Directorate) was responsible for ensuring the secrecy of the movement of Soviet forces, from Odessa and the icy port of Murmansk to the Caribbean tropics. The operation would become a textbook example of Soviet maskirovka (denial and deception). Historian Aleksandr Sever recounts:
Military counterintelligence officers not only had to catch spies, but also secure the integrity of military secrets in “special conditions.” As an example we can name the operation to shift Soviet forces to Cuba.
Aleksandr Tikhonov, the deputy chief of military counterintelligence for the Pacific Fleet and the Pacific Border District, was appointed director of counterintelligence of the group of forces sent to Cuba. KGB Chairman Vladimir Semichastny explained his choice thus:
The situation is complex, and since you participated in the landing operations during the defense of Odessa, Sevastopol, and the Caucasus, the cards, as they say, are in your hands.
From the first days of Soviet military counterintelligence’s presence on Freedom Island, close relations with the Cuban organs of state security had been established.