October 25, 1983: Operation Urgent Fury Begins

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It is strange to realize that events one has lived through are part now of the tapestry of history.  So it is  for me with Operation Urgent Fury, the US invasion of Grenada, which is now 35 years in the past.   Arising out of a murderous factional dispute in the New Jewel Movement, which had ruled Grenada since 1979, that led to the murder of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and some of his cabinet on October 19, 1983, the invasion was a symbol that the US had recovered from its post Vietnam malaise, and was willing to use military force.  The Grenadian army imposed martial law and placed Governor-General Paul Scoon  under arrest.  The Organization of East Caribbean States and Barbados and Jamaica appealed for assistance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reagan administration was happy to oblige, eager for the excuse to root out Cuban influence from Grenada, Cuba and the New Jewel Movement being firm allies.  The invasion began on October 25.  Initial resistance was fierce from Cubans, but the massive superiority in troops and firepower of the 7,300 US and allied invasion force swiftly defeated all opposition.  Fidel Castro when interviewed about the invasion was asked what he would do, and admitted there was nothing the Cubans could do.

Cubans captured on Grenada were repatriated to Cuba.  US forces withdrew from Grenada by December 15, 1983.  The date of the invasion, October 25, is celebrated as a national holiday in Grenada, which has been a democratic nation since that time.

The invasion revealed weaknesses in US coordination of forces between the armed services, not terribly surprising considering how swiftly the invasion was thrown together, and led to the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Department Reorganization Act of 1986, which increased the powers of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to establish a unified top command for the services.

Go here for a free computer game on the invasion of Grenada.

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