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Sunday, October 31, 2010

GRENADA

The invasion of this Caribbean island in October 1982 by a supposedly multinational force led by the United States to restore democracy was an intelligence-led event following the arrival of Cuban troops and an expansion of the airport. Aerial reconnaissance showed the runway was being extended with Cuban support to 9,000 feet, and the suspicion was that Grenada had been earmarked as a regional base for long-range Soviet aircraft. The assassination of Marxist prime minister Maurice Bishop acted as the catalyst for American
intervention and a large U.S. naval task force seized the island, much to the dismay of Prime Minister  Margaret Thatcher, whose government had not been informed of the plan to occupy a Commonwealth country.
The U.S.-led invasion was supported on the ground by a single Central Intelligence Agency officer, a woman who distinguished herself by taking a sample of the runway to measure the depth and determine whether it could sustain landings by heavy-lift aircraft. The operation succeeded, but at a cost of 19 killed and 115 wounded, some by friendly fire, and the loss of three helicopters shot down by unexpectedly efficient antiaircraft fire.