Army Aviation

Operation: URGENT FURY Part II: Plan of Action

. . . the marshal observes that the boldest and most extended plans are generally the wisest and most successful. When we are determined upon war, . . . we should carry it on vigorously and without trifling. Napoleon Bonaparte[1]

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President Ronald Reagan sitting in session with members of Congress in discussions with the unfolding situation in Grenada, October 25, 1983.

To the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the prospects for success outweighed the hazards. It was only ten years since the United States had incurred its worst political defeat, thus far, in the twentieth century. So a bold strike would go miles in demonstrating the resiliency of the United States; reassure allies in Europe, the Middle East and Japan. . . ; and, decisive action would show that the American military was a competent, professional armed body and prove the viability of the all-volunteer force.

The JCS urged the White House to establish that legal umbrella that would foster that political acceptability for URGENT FURY. “If possible, the President should consult Congress in advance of the operation as required by Section 3 of the War Powers Resolution; [2] if this was not possible, within 48 hours of the invasion he should explain the necessity and legal grounds for the operation to the lawmakers. In accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter[3] and Article 5 of the Rio Treaty,[4]the State Department should inform the Security Council of the United Nations and the signatories of the Rio Treaty of the operation and the reasons for it. Since Grenada technically remained a member of the British Commonwealth, the United States should obtain the assistance or at least the approval of the United Kingdom. Finally to legitimize continued military occupation after evacuating the U.S. civilians, a request to form an interim Grenadian government would be needed.[5]

October 22, 1983, intelligence offered that General Hudson Auston was set to mobilize 2,000 reservists to bolster upwards of 1,500 Grenadian regulars and some 600 available Cubans. This caused the JCS to raise troop strength for the operation. A larger combined force of Marines, Army Rangers, Airborne troops and JSOC, would be committed when operations commenced on October 25th.

October 23, 1983, per the invasion plan, USS Independence (CVA-62) and its battlegroup was to take station forty miles north of Grenada. Six hours prior to the assault, JSOC teams and Army Rangers would fly out of Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, and Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.[6]

Next, seaborne assaults and helicopter insertions of Special Operations units would precede the main bodies of Marines and Rangers to seize the airfields at Point Salinas and the Pearls. Once the airfields, government buildings and significant military targets had been neutralized, American citizens were to be rounded up and evacuated. Too, British Governor General Scoon and foreigners were to be assured of safe conduct. Peacekeeping forces from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States were to be airlifted in to assist U.S. forces in peacekeeping duties, with Governor General Scoon to organize an interim government.

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On October 22, Lieutenant Colonel Wesley B Taylor, Jr.’s, 1st Battalion of Rangers, 75th Infantry, at Hunter Airfield in Georgia, was alerted. Rousted, too, the following day at Fort Lewis, Washington, was 2nd Battalion of Rangers, 75th Infantry, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph L. Hagler in command. These units had been trained in the seizure of airfields. They were to be conveyed by C-130s for a parachute drop onto Point Salinas Airfield.

Readied at Fort Bragg was Colonel Stephen Silvasy, Jr.’s 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, and was bolstered by 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry (reinforced by a company from the 2nd Battalion, 505th Infantry, 3rd Brigade) and was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Jack L. Hamilton. This order of battle was rounded out by 3rd Battalion, 325th Infantry, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John W. Raines.[7]

Assistance was rendered by the XVIII Airborne Corps; which had been, up to now, excluded from the planning stages or considered part of the command staff. Departure was arranged from Pope Air Force Base. Insertion into the zone of operation was to be by parachute drop. Conveyance was by C-141 Starlifters. Silvasy’s troops were to enter the fray after the operation had commenced. They lifted off on the morning of the 25th, with the C-141s made ready for the parachute drop while on the way to the target, Point Salinas Airfield.[8]


[1] See page 7, MAXIM V, Napoleon’s Art of War, Translated from the French by Lieutenant General Sir G.C. D’Aguilar, C.B.

[2] Section 3, “Consultation,” War Powers Resolution: “Sec. 3. The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations.

[3] Charter of the United Nations: Chapter VII—Action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression. Article 51: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

[4] Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty), September 2, 1947. “Article 5: The High Contracting Parties shall immediately send to the Security Council of the United Nations, in conformity with Articles 51 and 54 of the Charter of the United Nations, complete information concerning the activities undertaken or in contemplation in the exercise of the right of self-defense or for the purpose of maintaining inter-American peace and Security.”

[5] See page 25, Chapter 2, “Planning and Preparation, 21-24 October, 1983,” Operation: URGENT FURY, Grenada, by Ronald H. Cole.

[6] See page 29, Ronald H. Cole.

[7] See page 12, “Preparations,” Operation: URGENT FURY, The 1983 Invasion of Grenada, by Richard W. Stewart.

[8] See pages 13 and 14, Stewart.

Next month, Part III, “The Battle.” Bibliography will be included at the end of Part IV.