Today, 33 years ago, Operation Urgent Fury began. OUF, otherwise known as the U.S.-led Invasion of Grenada, began on October 25th of 1983 and lasted until December 15th–even though the “invasion” itself only took three days. Nice and short.
What’s relevant about this day and invasion with regards to this site is that there were a ton of SOF and ABN forces involved. Shit got done. But also lives were lost. And…there were a lot of weird players on the island that daaamn sure shouldn’t’ve been in a Commonwealth country with a heavy U.S. presence, not in this chapter of the Cold War, anyway.
In terms of U.S. SOF, the engagement seriously highlighted commo and coordination issues between joint forces–not just SOF and SOF coord, but Conventional and Conventional, as well; and between SOF and Conventional forces. I won’t split hairs too much here, as it’s an overview from which you might take a researchful look (given the anniversary), but one example involved Air units not speaking the same language as the Ground units they were supposed to be supporting through Close Air Support. (And it was “Air” people on the ground speaking to Air units in the air…)
This noticed spectrum of cohesion-to-shit-show led to a series of Department-level investigations, which culminated in the Goldwater-Nichols Act. (Important thing. Look it up.)
So, Grenada was having some hard times, politically. That shit’s not exactly relevant to this tale. So…I’m skipping it. If Cold War Caribbean Politics is your jam, have at it, killer. We’re here today to highlight the ‘Mericans who helped sort that shit out.
First of all, two days prior SEAL Team Six deployed on an SR (Special Reconnaissance) mission. Shitty weather (another reason we have Special Operations Weather Teams; bitch all you want) completely screwed their helo drop, and four SEALs immediately sank and drowned (RIP). The rest of the team had to evade a patrol boat on a Zodiak with a flooded engine. Unfortunately, all that necessitated that the SR mission be aborted.
Another SR mission the following day got shit-canned as well. For shitty weather. (Where are my SOWTs?) Thus…the assault force(s) heading for Point Salines had just about zero G2 (Intelligence) as they dropped out of their C-130s onto the objective. Not a problem, RLTW. (And this shit is *textbook* Ranger ass-kickin’.)
Aside from the OPB (Operational Preparation of the Battlespace; it’s called something else now), like the French and Indians, the U.S. started this [kinetic] show before dawn–0500 local, 25OCT83. (While people were just getting back from breakdance show-downs CONUS, I imagine. No seriously.) Operational Commander was Vice Admiral Joseph Metcalf, III, Second Fleet Commander. U.S. forces numbered ~7300. OPFOR (that stands for opposition[al] FORces; “the bad guys”. Standard milspeak. Learn it.) Numbered ~2100. No biggie.
The morning of the first day consisted of Grenada being hit by *TWO* (2) Ranger Companies combat jumping onto Port Salines International Airport. Under. Fucking. Fire.
Accompanied by CCTs and TACPs, as well as covered by AC-130 gunships, the Rangers had to FRAGO (uh…”change”) their orders to land and run off the planes. That FRAGO was basically, “Hey, Rangers…unfuck your shit. We’re jumping.” Now, I wasn’t there. I was 8. But I assume, there was a single chorussed “Hooah” issued as a reply to said aforementioned FRAGO. So dudes started checkin’ their Ranger buddies and making sure their balls were properly stowed for the first U.S. combat jump in a minute or two.
As these Rangers descended–beginning at 0530–Anti-Aircraft fire was lighting shit up. Once on the ground, they wasted no time…but wasted plenty of OPFOR. The Rangers cleared the airport. CCTs took the tower and started stacking aircraft for the follow-on forces, and sustained Close Air Support (CAS; I ain’t spellin’ it out anymore). Meanwhile, the Rangers were jacking construction equipment to clear the runway for shit to land.
By 1000, planes began to land. Vehicles and gear arrived first. Point Salines IAP was the staging point for the vast majority of forces. Rangers continued to spread out and assault follow-on objectives, while troops at the airport waited for the other troops to show. By 1400 (do the math; subtract 12), planes were shitting out 82nd Airborne Division troops all along the runways.
That initial OBJ was so American by mid-afternoon, there should’ve been a McDonald’s and a skating rink on-site. But not all dreams come true.
BLUFOR (Blue Forces; “the good guys”) KIA on day one: 5 Rangers.
While the Rangers were taking one objective (OBJ), SEAL Team 4 ran a beach recon (another textbook mission) of Pearls Airport. They ingressed, dodging patrols and more shitty weather. Their assessment led to a successful follow-on force landing air mobile at exactly the same time the Rangers were starting to drop from the skies elsewhere on the island.
Though 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, was poised for a classic amphibious assault, the SEALs’ recon found the beach empty, but un-amphibious assaultable. So the Marines heloed in.
Loss was one AH-1.
As all this airport assaulting was going on, Six dropped another team off, via Blackhawk, to capture Radio Free Grenada for the PSYOP dudes that came along. (PSYOP guys *love* their radio stations.)
Unfortunately for my MISO brothers, an armored counter-attack led to the radio station being FUBARed by the SEALs as they punched out to the nearby jungle.
In other news that day (still on the 25th, here), simultaneous to everything I have just written–as if that shit in and of itself was not epic enough–Delta Force and another Ranger Company set off on 160th Blackhawks and Little Birds to assault Fort Ruppert and Richmond Hill Prison. Ruppert was kind of an enemy Command Post (CP) and the prison held–you guessed it!–political prisoners.
Ruppert was lightly defended, and the assaulters managed the OBJ successfully and with zero casualties. Several OPFOR leaders were captured.
The prison team, on the other hand, had very little intel moving forward. Anti-aircraft fire forced one Little Bird down, passengers and crew were injured and one pilot was killed. Another Little Bird landed to protect the Deltas at the crash site, while the Ranger element moved to their position.
Another mission running concurrent with all of the 0530 H-hours was that of the rescue of the Governor of Grenada, Governor General Paul Scoon. Unfortunately, this rescue team hit their objective somewhat later than the already shootin’-and-movin’ teams all over the island. Thus, although they ingressed and secured the Gov-Gen, OPFOR locked them down at that rescue site. By the evening (~1900), Marines from G Company, 22 Marine Amphibious Unit–with armor and all–counter-counter-assaulted and relieved the SEALs by early the next day (26OCT83).
That sums up–shittily, I might add–Day One of Operation Urgent Fury. The following two days saw continued Conventional force operation(s), with sporadic SOF engagments. Specifically, the 75th Ranger Regiment had various units all over the island conducting varied assaults and rescues. In all varieties of insertion.
One of the rescues included 233 U.S. students. One of the assaults included directly attacking a Cuban compound.
Just to hit up my PSYOP bros once more, 9th BN (ABN; Tactical) did manage to distribute lots of leaflets and blast some shit out on loudspeakers. I’m all about that abstract assault, mind tricks, and whatnot.
All told, the U.S. suffered 19 KIAs (RIP, brothers), 116 wounded (WIAs), and lost 9 helos. And the mission was, as they say, “accomplished”.
On the bad guy side…we met troops from Grenada, Cuba, USSR (Wolverines, bitches!), North Korea (yes, you read that right), East Germany (sans Hans Gruber), Bulgaria (just because?), and fuckin’ Libya (shit…who in Libya WOULDN’T’VE taken that gig?).
This entire operation was an *absolutely invaluable* learning experience for USSOF. Channels that were not open before, suddenly flew open. From Logistics and Personnel, to Recruiting and Training…the shit that the DoD and Executive Office threw at SOF was literally ground-breaking (I say literally, because there were new HQs being built as a result. I use words for a reason.)
Now…all SOF-ness aside, one of the ballerest things about this Op, was that Ronald Reagan called Margaret Thatcher on the phone a few hours before go time to let her know the U.S. was assaulting sovereign British soil. She was pissed, but openly supported the act. Redcoats.
Another interesting–yet completely useless–fact about OUF, is that Heartbreak Ridge is a fictionalized account of this operation. AND…the units involved in the movie were actually Army units. But, given that the movie protrayed shitty officers, the Army opted out of production support. Marines were happy to step in, though…so that’s cool.
Since I know most of you won’t look it up (SPOILER ALERT!!!), the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 was the single greatest move toward the foundation of USSOCOM.
Featured image courtesy of DoD