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Grenada, U.S. Intervention in

Grenada, U.S. Intervention in (1983).Grenada first attracted the military interest of the United States in 1979. A Marxist‐Leninist coup that year, led by Maurice Bishop and the New Jewel movement, overthrew the government; the Communists also began construction of a 9,800‐foot airstrip. A second and more violent coup in 1983 left Bishop and more than 100 other Grenadians dead and Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard and Gen. Hudson Austin in charge. In response to this violence and disorder, Grenada's governor general, Sir Paul Scoon, secretly asked the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) for assistance in restoring order. The OECS, in turn, requested help from the United States.

To the strongly anti‐Communist U.S. president, Ronald Reagan, the possibility of a Soviet client‐state in such a strategic location was unacceptable. The airstrip was seen as a threat to vital Caribbean sealanes and the Panama Canal, and it could have been used for staging Cuban and Soviet military flights to Africa and Nicaragua. U.S. officials also expressed their concern for the safety of approximately 1,000 Americans, mostly medical students, living in Grenada. The day after Bishop was murdered, a U.S. Navy task force, with Marines, was ordered to Grenada.

U.S. military intervention in Grenada in 1983, code‐named “Urgent Fury,” was hastily planned but overwhelming. The invasion force included the Independence Carrier Battle Group; the helicopter carrier Guam and Amphibious Squadron Four; 1,700 Marines of the 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit; two army ranger battalions; a ready brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division; various special operations units; and token forces from the OECS. It turned out that the island was defended by only about 500 to 600 Grenadian troops; 2,000 to 2,500 militiamen; and 750 to 800 Cubans, mostly military construction workers.

U.S. forces began landing on Grenada on 25 October. Their objectives were to seize the airports, destroy Radio Free Grenada, and ensure the safety of resident U.S. citizens. By 28 October, Grenada was firmly under the control of U.S. and OECS forces. Although ultimately successful, there were a number of serious problems with Urgent Fury, among them inadequate and poorly disseminated intelligence information and failures of communications and coordination failure among army, navy, and Marine units. The brief battle for Grenada cost the lives of 18 U.S. servicemen, including eleven soldiers, 3 Marines, and 4 Navy SEALS; another 116 U.S. servicemen were wounded. Cuban casualties were 25 dead and 59 wounded; Grenadian casualties 45 dead and 350 wounded.
[See also Caribbean and Latin America, U.S. Military Involvement in the.]

Bibliography

William C. Gilmore , The Grenada Intervention: Analysis and Documentation, 1984.
Paul Seabury and Walter A. McDougall, eds., The Grenada Papers, 1984.

Craig Swanson

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