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Unformatted text preview: T hree joint operations in the Caribbean— Urgent Fury in Grenada (1983), Just Cause in Panama (1989–90), and Uphold Democracy in Haiti (1994–95)—reveal substantial limits as well as progress in joint plan- ning and execution as a result of the Goldwater- Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986. Questions on the effectiveness of joint oper- ations began in Vietnam. After retiring General David Jones, USAF, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1978 to 1982, described that war as “our worst example of confused objec- tives and unclear responsibilities in Washington and in the field. Each service, instead of integrat- ing efforts with the others, considered Vietnam its own war and sought to carve out a large mis- sion for itself.” 1 Jones had experienced the fallout from a joint operation conducted in April 1980 that failed to rescue American hostages from the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Hampered by lack of joint training and inadequate command and control, the effort was aborted after the mechanical failure Autumn/Winter 1998–99 / JFQ 57 Ronald H. Cole serves in the Joint History Office and has written studies on Urgent Fury and Just Cause and is co-author of Roles of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1878–1945. Grenada, Panama, and Haiti: Joint Operational Reform By R O N A L D H. C O L E Moving inland, Grenada. U . S . A r m y ( J o n E . L o n g ) ■ G R E N A D A , P A N A M A , A N D H A I T I of three helicopters. As a Navy helicopter pre- pared to return, its rotor struck the fuselage of an Air Force transport; eight men died and four were severely burned. If the Vietnam War and the Iran rescue mis- sion provoked thought on joint reform, events in Lebanon and Grenada in late 1983 sparked ac- tion. In October of that year a terrorist truck bomb killed 241 marines in Beirut. The concentra- tion of all marines in one building and restric- tions on aggressive pa- trolling made them easy targets. An investigation revealed that a cumber- some chain of command, unclear objectives, and inconsistent guidance placed them in unneces- sary danger. Grenada It was, however, the operational mishaps in Grenada that established the clearest need for re- form. On October 12, 1983 militant Marxists over- threw a moderate Marxist government on the is- land of Grenada and executed its leaders. The Department of State informed the Joint Staff of the danger to six hundred American medical stu- dents living in the country. Determined not to re- peat the humiliation of Iran, on October 20 the National Security Council (NSC) ordered planning for a military operation to evacuate the students. 2 Although the joint task force (JTF) accom- plished its mission, things went wrong. Troops had to use tourist maps, Army and Marine operations were poorly coor- dinated, and lack of radio interoper- ability led to casualties among the civilian population and friendly forces. In the words of one member of Congress, “The mission was accom-...
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- Spring '11
- United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, United States Army, Panamá, Urgent Fury