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Cryptonym: JMRAND

Definition:
Fort Randolph in Panama appears to have been the training headquarters for the Bay of Pigs operation. The instructors were trained here.
Status:
Probable
Discussion:
Jake Esterline ("Anthony Ponchay") and J.C. King ("Oliver Galbond") spent time at JMRAND, both Army officers. The documents indicate that JMRAND was in Panama.
Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_former_United_States_military_installations_in_Panama

The former Army bases in Panama include Fort Randolph and about a dozen other facilities.

Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation, Volume II: Participation in the Conduct of Foreign Policy Current Section: G. The Special Forces Trainers -- Pragmatism and Patience

"(Starting in March 1960) WH/4 (the CIA's Cuban division) faced the problem of acquiring trained personnel to instruct the cadre being prepared for small unit guerrilla warfare operations; and later there were numerous difficulties in acquiring personnel for training the invasion force. Although not without difficulty, small unit cadres were trained at Fort Randolph in the Panama Canal Zone for infiltration, the establishment of commo activities, and sabotage. With the move to Guatemala, it was obvious that additional trainers would be required; and as a result, Chief JMATE worked very closely with the Soviet Division, particularly the Domestic Operations Base, to obtain the services of the so-called 'unofficial Americans' who had been recruited by SB under the AEDEPOT program to serve as trainers for the Cuban Brigade. Formal arrangements between the Soviet Division and JMATE were concluded in early September 1960..."

104-10301-10004: OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE BAY OF PIGS OPERATION, VOLUME III

"In the first meeting following the Presidential approval of the anti-Castro program, Jake Esterline called the members of WH/4 together to announce that the program had been given the crypt of JMARC; and he further pointed out that 1 May 1960 was the target date for the beginning of training at Fort Randolph in Panama...Medical and security officers were to be assigned to the training base and the communications link was to be established at Headquarters...Esterline emphasized that training at the Fort Randolph and Fort Sherman areas of Panama was going to be extremely limited; and since there would be no training areas in the United States, third country training activities would need to be established...Esterline also made an appeal for personnel to staff both the Panama training facility and Base Two, the Coral Gables Headquarters that would later be known as JMWAVE...(at p. 114 of 408): By early June 1960, the program for paramilitary training of Cuban exiles was jumped from about 60 to 500 or more trainees - even though the actual training of the initial instructor cadre at Fort Randolph in Panama had not yet begun and the FRD was only in the initial stages of negotiation for PM and commo training facilities in Guatemala."

104-10167-10021: ON 26 MAY AMHAWK AND VARGAS GOMEZ LUNCHED WITH RUBIO PADILLA ON LATTER'S INITIATIVE.

5/27/60 cable from WH/4 Edward Stanulis to (PANAMA CITY, deleted and replaced with) JMRAND: "To Galbond (J.C. King) and Ponchay (Jake Esterline): On 26 May AMHAWK and Vargas Gomez lunched with Rubio Padilla on latter's initiative...Rubio took same position he enunciated in past to Ponchay and Parlett: Except for AMHAWK he would have nothing to do with FRD people. Claimed he had only important (US) contact; he expects Frente to fail because (of) its unsound composition...AMWAIL-5 ready go Mexico arrange commo and PM training sites. Will not leave until your return with conference decisions. AMBIDDY still anxious invade target. AMWAIL-5 agrees our views re PM planning. Have vague report from assessment site that quote 25 of 30 candidates look good end quote. No further info."

104-10240-10113: CABLE:NEED AMBIDDY-1 FALSE PASSPORT DOCUMENTATION URGENTLY PERMIT

12/20/60 cable from WAVE to Director, slugline NO NIACT (No Night Action): "Need AMBIDDY-1 false passport documentation urgently permit commercial travel to Panama ASAP en route RAND for (training) in combination with team which he (is) to lead in Cuba. If doc not available require black (flight): Direct or minimum layover at MADD. Much prefer paragraph 1 method. Advise ASAP method available to move him soonest. Chief of Station comment: "Guatemala preferred AMBIDDY-1 not visit TRAV or MADD during the holidays."

104-10240-10238: CABLE:FOR ZABOTH PLANNING PURPOSES AMBIDDY-1 DESIRES FOLLOWING TRAINEES

"For ZABOTH (Carl E. Jenkins, see initials "CEJ" on document), AMBIDDY-1/Manuel Artime desires following trainees on his ops infiltration team: 2588 or 2517, 2535, 2821, 2616, 2576, and 2768."

104-10162-10101: CABLE RE AMBIDDY-1 AND TEAM SHOULD PROCEED WAVE ASAP.

2/6/61 BELL cable from REDACTED WH/4/SA/ECON to JMRAND, JMADD, et al, slugline JMZIP AMHAZE JMCLEAR LADKUM: "AMBIDDY-1 and team should proceed WAVE ASAP. ES-54-134 will arrive MADD 9 Feb and proceed RAND to return (AMBIDDY-1 and team) to MADD for transfer to ES-54-135 for flight to JMFIG...For MADD: While AMBIDDY-1 and team at MADD they should be held secure area incommunicado and to prevent disclosure (of AMBIDDY-1 presence in USA)..For WAVE: WAVE should arrange to fly (AMBIDDY-1 to HQs) ASAP after arrival FIG with notice to (BELL) of (AMBIDDY-1's estimated time of arrival at HQs)...For JMRAND: "Identify members of AMBIDDY-1 team to BELL SECUR so as to arrange S.P. with ODURGE/INS." See 104-10162-10100: 2/7/61, AMBIDDY-1 suggests "(the) following two infiltration teams leave JMRYE with him as they likely (to) be most discontented after his departure: 2516, 2520?, 2531, 2725, 2525, 2731 and 2533."

104-10162-10098: CABLE RE SEVEN AGENTS MENTIONED IN PARA 5 REF A NOT AMBIDDY-1'S TEAM MEMBERS

2/8/61 memo from JMRAND to BELL: Total group planned would be an AEDEPOT person, AMBIDDY-1, and his team members 2535, 2821, 2616, 2576, 2768 plus two additional teams consisting of 2516, 2520, 2581, 2705, 2525, 2701, 2586 and two conducting officers..."trainees 2508 and 2517 are w/t operators who departed JMRYE 5 Jan for training HQs area." (Note: This indicates that JMRAND was the training headquarters.) See Reel 28, Folder F - MRR. pp. 81-83 of 296: AMBIDDY-1's team: Two additional teams: 2520 and 2525 (Jose Clark Sanchez and Jose Lopez Castillo - both "hard core agitators") 2705 and 2581 (Raul Villaverdu and Jorge Sonville - "too committed to salvage") The suggestion is "Only workable solution we know is designate nine as special team for direct control REDACTED is leader, group includes three cadre trained members and three commo men, Sgt. Quesada advisor, move them immediately to RAND (note: I've also seen (JMRAND) for own training program and use as HQs and REDACTED may decide."

Contributors:
Bill Simpich • David Boylan • Larry Hancock • Gavin McDonald

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