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Vietnam, huh? Grenada man. Grenada?
July 13, 2010 7:42 PM   Subscribe

The Invasion of Grenada (also known as Operation Urgent Fury) took place on October 25, 1983. Despite its reputation for only being "like 12 hours long," it played an important part in the history of the Cold War, the Reagan Administration, and U.S. military policy. Some have compared the way it was handled to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.
posted by Man Bites Dog (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, at least this was a war that America actually won.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 7:56 PM on July 13, 2010


Nothing like that glorifying title sequence, eh?
posted by bwg at 8:13 PM on July 13, 2010


Well, the Grenadians had universal Health Care. No way that fucker Reagan was gonna abide that.
posted by pjern at 8:15 PM on July 13, 2010


Truthfully, I happen to know a bunch of Grenadian immigrants to whom Reagan is a hero who liberated their country.

For what it's worth.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:17 PM on July 13, 2010


Operation Urgent Fury

Does the Pentagon have a staff of writers that comes up with these names?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:20 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Operation Urgent Fury

Does the Pentagon have a staff of writers that comes up with these names?


If they do, they sure as hell seem to be typing with one hand.
posted by vorfeed at 8:21 PM on July 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


Wow, five minutes of the first video clip and I'm thinking "the Military Channel really doesn't want to bite the hand that feeds it." Ah, my homeland, where every ass kicking we administer to some poor little bastard kid on the playground is treated like a triumphant victory over evil. Proud memories, proud memories...
posted by Jim Slade at 8:24 PM on July 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


it played an important part in the history of the Cold War, the Reagan Administration, and U.S. military policy.

Also, you know, the history of Grenada.

Not as important, I know, but there it is.
posted by pompomtom at 8:24 PM on July 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


I've always just grouped the Granada invasion with all the other Latin American interventions that the US embarks on every few years. But Iraq? No, that seems to be an attempt at creating an exciting new group - Asian land wars. Sigh.
posted by boubelium at 8:26 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why does the narrator remind me of Sheriff John Bunnell?
posted by bwg at 8:26 PM on July 13, 2010


Truthfully, I happen to know a bunch of Grenadian immigrants to whom Reagan is a hero who liberated their country.

For what it's worth.


I wonder what would have happened had Bishop not been overthrown and executed. Would we have still invaded, and if so how would the people of Grenada have reacted?
posted by Man Bites Dog at 8:28 PM on July 13, 2010


"Don't worry, it's nothing new. During Reagan’s administration, 240 Marines were killed in Beirut; 24 hours later we invade Grenada. That was their M.O., change the story, change the lead. Its not a new concept."

- Wag The Dog, 1997
posted by mhoye at 8:29 PM on July 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


Also, you know, the history of Grenada.

Not as important, I know, but there it is.


My apologies, I'm still working on shrugging off the almost default American-centric world view of things. But your point is well taken.
posted by Man Bites Dog at 8:35 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


You do know he is not from the US. Right?
posted by nola at 8:43 PM on July 13, 2010


I remember a contemporary comment by Hunter S. Thompson where he said 50 journalists with baseball bats could have invaded Grenada.

As I recall the time it seems that the invasion of Grenada marked a swing in the pendulum of popular opinion away from the notion that the US military was always (or at least since Viet Nam) bad and that it, or any military, wasn't the solution to any problem toward that the US military could be useful and the US could be heroes to the world and ourselves again. I think this is the Reagan that his fans remember, from shame to pride. That swing of the pendulum was somewhat sustained by Gulf War I and I would have offered generous odds that the end of its arc was at hand but then 9/11 propelled it still further than I thought I would ever see in my lifetime.

Still, I remain optimistic for the world. I sleep better that way.
posted by vapidave at 8:46 PM on July 13, 2010


You do know he is not from the US. Right?

I do now.

But back to the topic at hand, another interesting site to check out.
posted by Man Bites Dog at 8:52 PM on July 13, 2010


"like 12 hours long "

SNL did a sketch about a Time-Life 12-volume history of the invasion of Grenada. One volume for ever hour.

Couldn't find that vid, but... it was totally a real war. They had Cubans.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:53 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Years ago I read a book by Chris Searle (who went to Grenada to teach and was consulted by the Bishop regime about education) on the destabilisation campaign leading up to the invasion, but can't recall the details other than that his claim was it had been ongoing long prior to the Coard coup. It says here (read on from foot of page) that Tony Adams, prime minister of Barbados, was approached for his support for military intervention four days prior to the coup and you can see there's various other claims made that it was all planned long-term.
posted by Abiezer at 9:02 PM on July 13, 2010


Does the Pentagon have a staff of writers that comes up with these names?

Sorta.

...And the press came down on the Reagan administration when it dubbed the invasion of Grenada Operation Urgent Fury, which seemed an excessively bellicose title for a mission to rescue some medical students on a Caribbean island whose total armed forces were smaller than the San Jose Police Department. The unhappy experience with the name Urgent Fury brought home just how important an operation name could be in determining the public perception of a military action. By the late 1980's, the administration was choosing its operation names with the media in mind.
posted by dhartung at 9:04 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Funny. Just this weekend I was watching Heartbreak Ridge, which used the invasion of Grenada as a climax.

For all its political faults (and there were many - the invasion was considered criminal by most of the world) and military miscommunication (U.S. soldiers having to use a credit card to dial long distance to call in an airstrike, which has since been used as a device in a few movies), the invasion of Grenada did show how to do international military intervention correctly: strike with overwhelming force using specialised troops against a heavily outnumbered enemy in a limited area of engagement to achieve a simple, clear, and well-defined objective; once the goal is attained, rapidly de-escalate and withdraw.

The problem is that success in places like Grenada leads political planners to think that this scales to bigger problems: that adding more troops compensates for a lack in other areas. It doesn't, and never will.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:05 PM on July 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Of course one of the (among many) problems with Heartbreak Ridge is that it was really the Rangers and assorted special operations units that saw the bulk of the fighting. The northern half of the island, where the Marines were, was quite a bit calmer.

I didn't elaborate much about this in the original post, but the intelligence and planning for Operation Urgent Fury was pretty bad. The ingenuity and courage of the soldiers on the ground (and in the air) is really what lead to victory (that and the relatively small and weak enemy forces at the time).

But from old, inaccurate maps to lack of coordination between units, the lessons from Grenada were used to improve various aspects of the military, especially as it pertained to special operations and intelligence gathering.
posted by Man Bites Dog at 9:07 PM on July 13, 2010


Does the Pentagon have a staff of writers that comes up with these names?

Actually, that was a pretty good name compared to the crap we got sold afterwards. Whatever you think of the validity of the operations themselves, you have to admit, these were really a pile of steaming feces in the innovative use of language department:

Operation Just Cause
Operation Provide Comfort (and Provide Comfort II)
Operation Uphold Democracy
Operation Team Spirit (Really, guys? Why not just call it "Operation Up With People"?)

It just sounds like people got a heckuva lot less poetic. At a certain point, I wonder why the 2003 invasion of Iraq didn't just settle on "Operation invade-with-troops-take-over-the-government-and-distribute-candy-and-spread-democracy." Looking through wikipedia's List of Military Operations, I think the high point for the US operation naming was between WWII and the early 80s, and then it took a steep downhill dive.
posted by deanc at 9:09 PM on July 13, 2010


Joe Beese: "Operation Urgent Fury

Does the Pentagon have a staff of writers that comes up with these names?
"

They have to, otherwise everything would be called 'Operation Clusterfuck'.
posted by bwg at 9:32 PM on July 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I never knew the US suffered that many casualties (19 dead plus 116 wounded). Something about that seems like it was a planning failure on some level.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:37 PM on July 13, 2010


According to my family, several of whom were on the island during the fiasco, the American soldiers were kids who had no idea where they were or what they were supposed to be doing.

There were a number of accidental deaths due to stupidity, not to mention the stupid idea of invading the place at all. The American med school students were never in any danger; they were a cash cow on a tiny island with a tiny economy.

Not surprised some Grenadians liked the war. Bishop, who we hated because he was an ideological friend of Castro's, was killed by a thug, Bernard Coard. Of course there are conspiracy theories about this coup d'etat. Anyway, our asshole cowboy-in-chief won his little war.
posted by kozad at 9:37 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


you have to admit, these were really a pile of steaming feces in the innovative use of language department

Let's not forget Operation Soda Mountain. Really.
posted by lullaby at 9:50 PM on July 13, 2010


The 25 Least Inspiring Military Operation Names
posted by Burhanistan at 9:59 PM on July 13, 2010


Local naif artist Canute Calliste pictured this abberation.
Then there was the mystery as to what happened to Bishops body. Here is a bit more detail about the Grenadan politics : The Grenadan revolution
posted by adamvasco at 11:21 PM on July 13, 2010


Here's a fairly comprehensive list of operations conducted in Iraq since the invasion. Personally, I liked it better before the Pentagon started naming operations with the media in mind, and just stuck random words together, as in Operation Acid Gambit.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:27 PM on July 13, 2010


On Tuesday morning, operation Urgent Fury - what one American diplomat called "the most thoroughly planned crisis I've ever participated in"-was unleashed. Citing our "overriding concern" for "the safety of U.S. citizens," America invaded the smallest nation in the Western Hemisphere with 7,000 troops, 11 warships and dozens of planes. Although it was initially claimed that there were "over 1,100 Cubans fighting to the death," the number was later of-ficially revised to ''100 combatants." Sunbathers and joggers alike "watched in awe as wave after wave of A-7 Corsair fighters came out of the bright blue sky, strafing with 2Omm. cannons. They were followed by slow-flying AC-130s that unleashed deep death-rattle groans as their electronic Gatling guns lay down blankets of lead."

The hospital for the mentally handicapped and children was bombed to rubble, killing at least 46 unarmed Cuban construction workers, which according to one eyewitness, were "viciously gunned down in their dormitories." Seven thousand American troops pounded the island for four days to eliminate one hundred Cuban combatants.


From Regan's America, with citations omitted.
posted by clarknova at 12:46 AM on July 14, 2010


Name one war we haven't entered on false pretenses and besides Grenada wasn't even a war. It was really an exercise to prove to the Columbians that the CIA was running the cocaine business (no matter whose fucking country it comes from) and knocking over a banana republic just to prove the point was just icing on the cake really. That said, Operation Urgent Fury sounds like something that happens early Sunday morning after a night of cheap bear and hot wings.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:11 AM on July 14, 2010


cheap bear and hot wings

Does this have anything to do with Mama Grizzly?

More on topic, Urgent Fury was subject to what amounted to a press blackout. Some print journalists were allowed in but no TV. Most members of the media ended up on Barbados waiting for the news, instead of reporting the news as it happened.

Some links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Those links vary on perspective and bias, if anyone has some better contributions about the media blackout during Urgent Fury I would be interested in seeing them, as would fellow MeFites I would think.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:34 AM on July 14, 2010


Ivo you need to find a copy of this
The Big Lie: Analysis of U.S. Press Coverage of the Grenada Invasion" by Glen Ford 1985
posted by adamvasco at 4:14 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Name one war we haven't entered on false pretenses and besides Grenada wasn't even a war. It was really an exercise to prove to the Columbians that the CIA was running the cocaine business (no matter whose fucking country it comes from) and knocking over a banana republic just to prove the point was just icing on the cake really. That said, Operation Urgent Fury sounds like something that happens early Sunday morning after a night of cheap bear and hot wings.

Wow. Just... wow.
posted by falameufilho at 6:17 AM on July 14, 2010


A little more on the conventions for naming military operations hijack:

The Art of Naming Operations from Globalsecurity.org and a list of the alphabetical block designations for operations by dfferent commands or agencies. Picking a name is a tricky business, as the first article notes:
During the hectic days of planning the deployment to the Gulf, CENTCOM staff officers managed to compile a list of candidate nicknames three pages long, from which General H. Norman Schwarzkopf initially selected the name Peninsula Shield. The first two letters of the first word, PE, are not assigned to CENTCOM, so it is clear that CENTCOM felt that selecting the right name was more important than sticking to its assigned alphabetic sequences. However, the JCS rejected the name, perhaps because the mission called for defending only portions rather than the entirety of the Arabian Peninsula, or because "peninsula" was not thought to be characteristic enough of the region. [footnotes redacted]
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:03 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


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