MY FRAME OF mind would not let me consider routine problems. I could not imagine a frivolous attitude in a staff officer, nor could I imagine a line officer, subject to the other's authority, working with his superior in a spirit of rancor and reserve. The suspicions existing between the two generals broke into the open again as the result of a serious incident. This occurred after the personal surrender of Maj. Quevedo's 18th Battalion to Fidel Castro, and the failure of the planned offensive, with the encirclement, surrender, or withdrawal of all the units in operation. At that time the Joint Chief of Staff had called him to account and blamed him for the defeat.
I learned afterwards that Gen. Cantillo disobeyed his superior officer's order to sit down and make a report, that he stood rigidly at attention and demanded to be retired from active duty, and permission to withdraw.
I asked him how he could execute an order of such importance, issued by the Joint Chief of Staff, without having consulted me. Gen. Cantillo answered that he had supposed the order emanated from the President, and he had fulfilled it without delay.
The conduct of this line officer, who had always been so prudent, seemed affected by the failure of the offensive he had planned and defended with such ardor, as well as by the surrender, treason and desertion of a large number of unit commanders.*____________________