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Logistics in Grenada: Supporting No-Plan Wars

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Journal article

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This article analyzes the logistics of Operation Urgent Fury, the 1983 American-led military intervention in Grenada. The article is not written for logisticians but for senior national security leaders such as the warfighting commanders-in-chief. These are the personnel who will make the essential multidimensional logistic decisions, either by design or omission. Logistics is as essential to the successful accomplishment of no-plan low-intensity conflicts as it is to any other military operation. No-plan operations are those in which a contingency plan may not exist or where the exigency of the situation, coupled with a requirement for stringent operational security and a prompt response, precludes actions to refine general war plans into detailed operations orders. The quick response may be necessary to meet operational needs as well as to appease domestic political pressures. In Operation Urgent Fury, U.S. forces successfully overcame tremendous operational and logistic challenges. Urgent Fury, however, illustrates a best-case rather than a worst-case example. Grenada is relatively close to the United States. There were no significant enemy air or sea forces, and enemy ground forces were not well-trained regulars. The population was friendly and the environment forgiving. Even so, U.S. forces struggled to provide adequate logistic support, and in many instances inadequate logistic preparation was overcome only by extraordinary efforts of American soldiers. Our armed forces demonstrated the capability of deploying, fighting, and winning on short notice, but whether we are capable of repeating this success in a future no-plan operation under less favorable conditions is dubious. The lessons of Grenada suggest we are not thus capable, and that our warfighting commanders underestimated the critical importance of logistics in planning and conducting the operation.

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  • Humanities and History
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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