Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Invasion of Grenada
|Military history of Grenada |
Military history of the United States
|Conflict||Invasion of Grenada|
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. 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. Soon after, a faction led by the strongly pro-Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard seized power; Coard's forces subsequently executed Bishop during mass protests in Bishop's favor. 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. The United States government described the invasion as a noncombatant evacuation operation for almost 600 American medical students on the island. The US also claimed that the airstrip was built to accommodate Soviet and Cuban transport craft to carry arms to aid Central American insurgents; Bishop's government claimed that it was built to accommodate commercial aircraft carrying tourists.
Bernard Gewertzman disputed the US government's 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:
- 1200 Grenadians
- 784 Cubans, including 636 construction workers and 43 military personnel (both official Cuban figures).
- 49 Soviets
- 24 North Koreans
- 16 East Germans
- 14 Bulgarians
- 3 or 4 Libyans
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