Operation Urgent Fury (also known as the Invasion of Grenada) was the 1983 invasion of Grenada, a small Lesser Antilles Caribbean island nation (with a population of just over 100,000), by The United States of America (with some token contributions from the other Caribbean island nations).
Grenada gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1974, but a 1979 revolution by the local Marxist-Leninist "New Jewelnote Movement" suspended the constitution and invited Cuban military forces into the island. (We should note that most Grenadians supported their takeover at the time it happened.) After a 1983 internal power struggle ended with the deposal and execution of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, the invasion began on October 25, 1983. A combined force of troops from the United States (nearly 10,000 troops), Jamaica, and members of the Regional Security System (approximately 300 troops) defeated Grenadian and Cuban resistance and the military government, now led by Hudson Austin, was deposed.
The United States cited the communist presence (particularly of Cuban military forces) as a justification to invade. They supported this claim by citing the alliance between the Grenadian regime and Castroite Cuba and the construction of airstrip they considered suspicious because it was too long for the civilian use it was nominally claimed to be for but long enough to base Soviet-make heavy bombers off. The true justification for the invasion was stated to be the presence of a hotel near the airstrip housing a few US students, and the supposed risk that they faced.
The invasion rapidly deposed the communist regime, and instituted a provisional government under American occupation. Forty-nine Grenadian soldiers and 25 Cubans were killed in the invasion, originally reported as 59 total by American forces. Twenty-four civilians also died in the fighting. The American military assault was, however, poorly organized, and led to a large-scale reorganization in 1986 to improve communications between the US military branches.
The United Nations General Assembly condemned the act by a vote of 122 to 9. The invasion was claimed to be an obvious violation of international law, and Britain, China, the USSR and Canada in particular condemned the act for displaying a complete disregard by the American government for international law. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was specifically bothered because President Ronald Reagan had personally assured her the United States would not invade Grenada mere days before doing so.note Arguments still rage today over the issue.
Regardless of what you think of the invasion, the airport that was "too long for civilian use" was completed in 1984, is used for civilian aircraft, and is just as long as was planned for before the invasion. The day of the invasion is now a national holiday in Grenada, and sees large public celebration (including remembrance services for the 19 US servicemen killed) every year.
- The Clint Eastwood film Heartbreak Ridge.
- The 1990 novel Feast of Bones has one chapter focusing on Urgent Fury; interestingly, the protagonists are two Soviet paratroopers hastily sent there from Cuba to bolster the island defences in the face of the incoming US invasion. They witness the Rangers jumping on Point Salines airfield (and get strafed by an AC-130), shoot down a Cobra gunship with an AA gun, then get confined to the embassy by their political bosses when it becomes clear the defence will collapse.
- From the 2012 season premiere of SNL hosted by Seth MacFarlane, a sketch set in a puppeteering class. Bill Hader plays one student as a Shell-Shocked Veteran discharged in 1983. His puppet "Tony" looks like him with a long grey hair, wearing sunglasses, and a camouflage army jacket, speaking in a raspy voice and smoking a cigarette. He keeps recalling horrible things from the invasion of Grenada. Bonnie (Vanessa Bayer) is a student whose puppet Nicki has a Valley Girl persona:
"Nicki": I'm like so into my phone! I'm always like texting, texting, texting! LOL!"Tony": Nobody was laughing out loud that day in Grenada. Many people were saying "OMG." Me, I was saying "TTYL to my innocence!"