|Military history of Grenada |
Military history of the United States
|Conflict ||Invasion of Grenada |
|Date ||1983 |
|Place ||Grenada |
|Result ||Regime toppled |
|United States of America, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent ||Grenada, Cuba, et al. |
|7,300 ||unknown |
|19 dead, 116 wounded ||Grenadine military: 49 dead and 358 wounded; Cuban military: 29 dead and 100+ wounded; Civilians: 45 dead |
The Invasion of Grenada, known to US forces as Operation Urgent Fury, was an invasion of the island nation of Grenada by the military forces of the United States of America and several Caribbean nations. The conflict began on October 25, 1983, when the United States armed forces landed troops on the beaches of Grenada. They were opposed by some Grenadian and Cuban military units.
In 1979, a bloodless coup, led by Maurice Bishop, toppled the government of Grenada to establish a leftist government that quickly aligned itself with the Soviet Union and Cuba. Under Bishop, Grenada began constructing an international airport with the help of Cuba. To begin to establish a case for invasion, seven months before the operation began, Ronald Reagan pointed to this airport and several other sites as evidence of the potential threat posed by Grenada towards the United States. Reagan accused Grenada of constructing facilities to aid a Soviet-Cuban military build-up in the Caribbean.
Prime Minister Bishop went to Washington, D.C., to dispel these fears, but his government was later overthrown in a violent coup on October 19, 1983, in which a Marxist-influenced group within the Grenadian Army, controlled by former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, seized power and executed Bishop. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) appealed to the United States, Barbados, and Jamaica to assist them. According to the Prime Ministers of Barbados and Jamaica, this appeal was requested by the US.
The combination of a bloody seizure of power by a Marxist group within the U.S. "sphere of influence"convinced the United States to act. Publicly, the United States justified the invasion because of the presence of almost 600 American medical students on the island was used by President Ronald Reagan as a justification for the military action, though it is now acknoledged they were never in danger, as well as the construction of an 10,000 foot airstrip on the island which the US claimed was to accommodate Soviet and Cuban transport craft to carry arms to aid Central American insurgents but which Grenada claimed was being built to accommodate commercial aircraft carrying tourists.
Bernard Gewertzman disputed those reasons in an article in the October 29 issue of the New York Times: "The wording of the formal request, however, was drafted in Washington and conveyed to the Caribbean leaders by special American emissaries. Both Cuba and Grenada, when they saw that American ships were heading for Grenada, sent urgent messages promising that American students were safe and urging that an invasion not occur. [...] There is no indication that the Administration made a determined effort to evacuate the Americans peacefully. [...] Officials have acknowledged that there was no inclination to try to negotiate with the Grenadian authorities."
The invasion did not receive the support of the British government, who were put off by the fact that the United States had neglected to inform them of their intentions, despite the fact that Queen Elizabeth II was the nominal head of state as Queen of Grenada.
Fighting continued for several days and the total number of American troops reached some 7,000 along with 300 troops from the assisting neighboring islands of Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent. They encountered soldiers and advisors from various countries, which consisted of the following:
By mid-December, the American troops withdrew after a new government was appointed by the governor-general.
In 1984, Reagan often quipped that Grenada had to be invaded because it was the world's largest producer of nutmeg. He also said, "You can't make eggnog without nutmeg."
- Remembering Reagan's Invasion of Grenada (http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/06/10/1425246)
- American Experience: Invasion of Grenada (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/reagan/peopleevents/pande07.htmlThe) companion to the PBS documentary.