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zens from Grenada. Conditions on the island continued to deteriorate and on October 21 the National Security Council modified its guidance to add the "neutralization of Grenadan Armed Forces, stabilization and, as requested by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean states, restoration of democracy in Grenada." The operation was scheduled to begin before dawn on October 25.
Despite the success of URGENT FURY, after-action reports prepared by the Services and numerous articles in professional journals reveal serious problems in the ability of the Services to operate jointly. These problems have their roots in organizational shortcomings.
This analysis is based upon a review of public sources, interviews with some participants, and after-action reports. As of this writing, the Committee staff has not had access to all of the after-action reports and has not conducted comprehensive interviews of participants.
This analysis is also unclassified. The Committee staff is aware of additional serious problems which cannot be disclosed because they are classified.
1. Concept of the Operation
Grenada is located in the geographical area of responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command (CINCLANT), Admiral Wesley McDonald, whose headquarters are in Norfolk, Virginia. On October 14, the JCS tasked CINCLANT to begin planning a possible evacuation of U.S. citizens from Grenada. CINCLANT's initial plan called for the operation to be conducted by a Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) which was on its way to Lebanon and could be diverted. However, when that proposal was reviewed by the Joint Chiefs, it was determined that the Marines should take the northern half of the island and that U.S. Army forces should take the southern half of the island where the major targets were located, including the capital of St. Georges, the Point Salines Airfield, the medical schools and the major concentration of Cuban and Grenadan forces. Some have speculated that CINCLANT's plans were changed only because the Joint Chiefs insisted that each Service should have a piece of the action. There is no direct proof of that allegation, and the JCS have stated that CINCLANT himself discarded using only Navy and Marine Corps units because the number, size and location of the various objectives exceeded the capability of a single Marine battalion.” (JCS response to the “Lind report”, Armed Forces Journal, July 1984, page 13)
The forces were organized under a Joint Task Force designated JTF 120 and commanded by Vice Admiral Joseph Metcalf, who was the Commander, Second Fleet. Because Admiral Metcalf had no Army personnel on his Second Fleet staff, one Army general officer and two majors were assigned to his staff on an emergency basis. There was no unified ground commander on the island, a matter which caused some problems. Additionally, some Air Force aircraft remained under the control of the Military Airlift Command.
A number of individuals have criticized the tactics and performance of some of the units involved. This analysis undertakes no such criticism but rather focuses on those problems which may be traced in whole or in part to organizational shortcomings. American forces performed bravely and fought well. Because the operation was so hastily planned and conducted, subordinate and smallunit commanders were forced to make rapid adjustments and to improvise. One of the great strengths of the American Armed Forces has always been the initiative and leadership of small unit commanders. Grenada proved no exception. However, with better organizational arrangements, much of the need for improvisation could have been avoided. In a more serious fight against a stronger and more sophisticated enemy, these organizational failures could prove disastrous. 2. Communications
Probably the largest single problem was the inability of some units to communicate. Many Army and Navy units could not communicate with one another. There were also problems between the Army and Marine units on the ground. The root cause of this inability to communicate is that each Service continues to purchase its own communications equipment which all too frequently isn't compatible with the equipment of the other Services. On March 22, 1985, in response to a question from Senator Nunn as to why there was a lack of communications interoperability between the Services, General Wallace H. Nutting, then the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Readiness Command, stated:
It is a function of the way we prepare for war and that is the fact that the law charges each military department to organize, train and equip forces to operate in a particular environment for which it is responsible. That is too simple an answer,
but that is where it begins with the way we prepare for war. For example, the Army elements initially on the ground were unable to speak to the Navy ships offshore to request and coordinate naval gunfire. It has been reported that one Army officer was so frustrated in his efforts to communicate with the Navy ships that he used his AT&T calling card to place a call on an ordinary civilian pay telephone to his office at Ft. Bragg in an attempt to coordinate fire support. It has also been reported that some of the early communications were conducted via a ham radio operator.
Officers from the 82nd Airborne Division flew by helicopter several times to the USS Guam (Admiral Metcalf's flagship) to coordinate naval gunfire; unfortunately these efforts were still unsuccessful. Another officer from the 82nd even borrowed a UHF radio from the Marine Headquarters on the Guam in order to be able to communicate directly with the Navy ships. However, subsequent efforts by that officer to request fire and to reposition the destroyers to more favorable locations failed in part because of the inability to authenticate requests using Navy codes. (For additional problems associated with coordination of Navy gunfire, see below.)
In a further example, certain messages failed to reach the Army on the ground in Grenada. This problem nearly proved disastrous as one of those messages contained information concerning the existence of a second campus where American students were located. The Army forces were unaware of the existence of the second campus until the students at that campus telephoned on the afternoon of the 25th to report they were surrounded and to request urgent rescue. The operation was mounted the next day, October 26, successfully rescuing 224 American students.
The JCS "Joint Overview of the Grenada operation states that "several observations were made in the US CINCLANT report regarding communications difficulties. The observations centered around equipment and compatibility and procedural differences." (May 1, 1985, page 5)
Communications failures were also acknowledged by Army Major General Jack Farris who was the Commander of U.S. Forces Grenada from October 29 until December 15, 1983. General Farris said that the inability of the Army and the Navy to work together "causes communications problems...components of the Joint Task Force being (not] able to talk to each other....It affects the efficiency of all of your operations-for example, intelligence operations." (Navy Times, November 5, 1984, page 12) 3. Fire Support
By all accounts the fire support to the Marines was adequate and presented no problem. However, fire support from the Navy to the Army was a serious problem.
According to after-action reports, the coordination between the Army and the Navy ranged from poor to non-existent. The initial assault on the southern part of the island was made by U.S. Army Ranger elements. The Navy was not present at any of the Ranger planning sessions and when Navy aviators were briefed on their mission to support the ground troops, no Army representatives or Air Force Forward Controllers were present. According to an afteraction report, Navy aviators
...went into combat the first day with absolutely no knowledge or coordination with the Ranger operation...due to this reason all (USS Independence-based) aircraft were initially prohibited from flying south of the northern sector without [special] permission until midday of day one. (“Grenada: Rampant Confusion,” Michael Duffy, Military Logistics Forum, July/August
1985, page 23) Likewise, representatives of the 82nd Airborne were not present at CINCLANT's planning sessions on Monday, October 24.
This conscious oversight proved to have several ill-effects, the most important of which was the failure to obtain critical information on the non-Army fire support assets in the area of operations. Procedures for requesting naval gunfire communications channels to be used, FSE (the 82nd Airborne Division fire support elements) coordination with the Supporting Arms Co ordination Center (SACC), availability and munitions of air and naval assets are examples of the kinds of issues which were not fully resolved before deployment. These problems and others were dealt with on the ground. (“URGENT
FURY: Looking Back and Looking Forward,” Major Scott R. McMichael, Field Artil.
lery Journal, March/April 1985, page 10) Pursuant to the 82nd Airborne Division Readiness SOP (Standard Operating Procedures), a Navy unit, the 2d Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICLO), and an Air Force unit, the 21st Tactical Airlift Squadron (TAS), were notified to send ANGLICLO teams and Technical Air Control parties (TAP) to join the 82nd. However, they did not arrive in time to deploy with the 82nd. Even
after they arrived on Grenada, Major McMichael reports that the ANGLICO “did not have the necessary communications information -codes, frequency, call signs, etc.—to communicate with naval elements." ("URGENT FURY: Looking Back and Looking Forward," page 10)
A similar problem plagued the last major assault by Army forces against an enemy compound at Egmont on October 27. The plan called for preparatory fire support to be delivered by two artislery battalions, U.S. Navy aircraft (A-7's from the USS Independence), an Air Force AC-130 and a destroyer. Although the preparation and the assault were successful, a number of problems occurred which caused the artillery and naval gunfire portions to be unsatisfactory. The artillery problems resulted from conflicts within the 82nd Airborne Division. However, as Major McMichael observes, the failure of the naval gunfire has “its roots in the unstable soil of joint operations." Major McMichael writes:
When the preparation was initiated the destroyers did not fire. The ANGLICO was unable to discover why the destroyers were not firing. Apprised of the problem, the division fire support element attempted to assist and was informed by the SACC that the Navy would not fire while friendly aircraft were over the target. The problem was not solved in time to have naval gunfire delivered on the target. Later, it was discovered that the CJTF (Commander, Joint Task Force), who reserved personal approval of all naval gunfire missions, had refused permission to fire because of his lack of confidence in ANGLICO destroyer communications. The question may legitimately be asked why the 82nd Airborne Division and the Rangers were not informed of these decisions prior to the initiation of the preparation. In stark contrast, support provided by the A7s and the AC-130 was uniformly superb. (“URGENT
FURY: Looking Back and Forward,” page 11) These failures dramatically illustrate the inadequate attention paid to the conduct of joint operations. The fault rests with both the Army and the Navy. As Major McMichael observes, "No one from any service at the joint level apparently understood fire support doctrine sufficiently to anticipate and resolve the problems which surfaced in Grenada. This problem carried over into the operational phase because the CJTF did not augment his staff...with qualified Army personnel.” (“URGENT FURY: Looking Back and Forward,” page 12) Surprisingly, there is no fire support manual that covers the particular conditions of URGENT FURYa combined arms joint attack on an island.
However, all was not bad. There were certainly bright spots. For example, on the afternoon of October 26, Army Rangers, by then attached to the 82nd, conducted an air mobile raid at Grand Anse to rescue American medical students. The Ranger FSO (fire support officer) coordinated fire from Navy A-7s, Army artillery and Marine attack helicopters with no apparent problem. 4. Lack of a Unified Ground Commander
Other problems were apparently caused by the failure to appoint a single ground commander. The Marines on the northern half of the island were designated as the 22nd MAU and the Army forces on the southern half were designated as JTF 123 (Rangers and Air Force gunships) and JTF 121 (82nd Airborne). These units reported directly to Admiral Metcalf, the commander of the Joint Task Force abroad the USS Guam.
At one point the boundary between the Marines and the Army was adjusted southward so that the Marines could conduct a helicopter and amphibious assault at Grand Mal near St. Georges. By all available accounts, the operation went well, but the absence of "unity of command” on the ground prompted General Farris to comment:
We never had a joint land [commander). We never had a land forces commander in Grenada. Now, it wasn't necessary as long as the Marines were way up there in Pearls and the Army's way down there at Point Salines, but when the forces come in proximity - like they were there after the marines came in north of St. Georges —then you have forces operating in proximity and they must coordinate their efforts. And when you don't have a common commander, then what happens is that people have some disagreements and than they bicker and then they argue. And it takes time to do all that and to debate things and to decide what's going to be done. You don't have time for that in combat. There needs to be a guy there that can say here's the way we're going to do it, here's the resources we are going to use to do it with. (Navy Times, Novem
ber 4, 1984, page 12) It is reasonable to assume that at least some of the organizational problems, such as the lack of coordination of fire support, could have been solved if a unified ground commander had been established. 5. Logistics
Similar organizational shortcomings caused serious logistics problems. The initial attack elements (the Rangers, the Marines and the 82nd Airborne Division) were deployed so rapidly and with such little planning that they arrived with only what they could load on the initial aircraft.
There was also a decision to exclude the Joint Deployment Agency (JDA) which was created in 1979 to coordinate the rapid deployment of forces. According to reports, the JDA was not included because it did not have adequate communications gear to process highly classified messages. The Department of Defense asserts that this problem has now been corrected. It is distressing that a joint organization established to coordinate operations like Grenada was not employed. It is also clear that whatever the JDA had been doing for those four years, it had not solved the fundamental problems of the inability of the Services to work together jointly. Retired Army General Volney Warner, a former Commander-inChief of the Readiness Command, said, "The JDA's major purpose in life is planning that kind of situation. To rule them out is unconscionable.” (“Grenada: Rampant Confusion," page 22)
There were problems even within the Services. For example, Lt. Col. Keith Nightingale, a battalion commander in the 82nd, said