Caribbean Conflicts

       Dominican Republic

The Dominican Civil War took place between April 24th, 1965, and September 3rd, 1965, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It started when civilian and military supporters of constitutionally elected former president Juan Bosch overthrew acting President Donald Reid Cabral.

On April 29th, American ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who had previously sent numerous reports to President Lyndon Johnson, reported that the situation had reached life-threatening proportions for U.S. citizens and that the rebels received foreign support. The ambassador stressed that the U.S. must act immediately as the creation of an international coalition would be time consuming.

On  April 30th, 1965, the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division landed at the San Isidro Air Base, beginning the American military intervention in the conflict. During the next couple of hours, two brigade combat teams and heavy equipment were also dispatched. At sunrise the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment moved up the San Isidoro highway, securing a position east of the Duarte Bridge.  The 1st Battalion 505th Infantry Regiment remained at the airbase and sent out patrols to the perimeter. A force of 1,700 Marines of the 6th Marine Expeditionary Unit occupied an area containing a number of foreign embassies, the locale was proclaimed an International Security Zone by the Organization of American States (OAS). Earlier in the day, OAS also issued a resolution calling the combatants to end all hostilities. Representatives of the loyalists, the rebels and the U.S. military signed a cease fire which would take effect at midnight.  The treaty’s timing favored the demoralized loyalists, who had at that point lost control of Ciudad Colonial.

On May 5th, the OAS Peace Committee arrived in Santo Domingo and a second definite cease fire agreement was signed ending the main phase of the civil war.

On May 26th, U.S. forces began gradually withdrawing from the island. The first post war elections were held on July 1st, 1966, pitting Reformist Party candidate Joaquín Balaguer against former president Juan Emilio Bosch Gaviño. Balaguer emerged victorious in the elections, after building his campaign on promises of reconciliation. On September 21st, 1966, the last OAS peacekeepers withdrew from the island, ending the foreign intervention into the conflict.

 Grenada

The Invasion of Grenada was a 1983 United States–led invasion of the Caribbean island nation of Grenada, north of Venezuela, that resulted in a U.S. victory within a matter of weeks. The invasion resulted in the appointment of an interim government, followed by democratic elections in 1984.

Grenada gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1974. The leftist New Jewel Movement, seized power in a coup in 1979, suspending the constitution. A 1983 internal power struggle ended with the house arrest on October 12th, 1983 and murder on October 19th, 1983 of the coup leader which had brought a revolutionary government to power for the preceding four years.  This triggered the invasion, code-named Operation Urgent Fury, which  began on October 25th, 1983, just two days and several hours after the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut (October 23rd, Beirut time).

The U.S. Army’s Rapid Deployment Force (1st, 2nd Ranger Battalions and 82nd Airborne Division Paratroopers), U.S. Marines, U.S. Army Delta Force, and U.S. Navy SEALS and other combined forces constituted the 7,600 troops from the United States, Jamaica, and members of the Regional Security System (RSS) defeated Grenadian resistance.

The invasion commenced on October 25th, 1983.  It was the first major operation conducted by the U.S. military since the Vietnam War. Fighting continued for several days and the total number of U.S. troops reached some 7,000 along with 300 troops from the Organization of American States (OAS).  The invading forces encountered about 1,500 Grenadian soldiers and about 700 Cubans. The U.S. called in two battalions of reinforcements on the evening of October 26th. The total naval and air superiority of the coalition forces—including helicopter gunships and naval gunfire support as well as members of reserve  Navy SEALS had overwhelmed the defenders.

Nearly 8,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines had participated in Operation Urgent Fury along with 353 Caribbean Peace Forces.  U.S. forces sustained 19 killed and 116 wounded with more than 5,000 medals for merit and valor awarded.

The date of the invasion is now a national holiday in Grenada, called Thanksgiving Day. For many Grenadians, the Grenada Revolution died with Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and so they gave thanks when the US rescued them from the faction which killed Bishop. The Point Salines International Airport was renamed in honor Bishop on the 65th anniversary of his birth on May 29th, 2009.

Panama

The United States Invasion of Panama, code-named Operation Just Cause, was the invasion of Panama by the United States between mid-December 1989 and late-January 1990. It occurred ten years after the Torrijos–Carter Treaties were ratified to transfer control of the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama by Jan.1st, 2000.

The official U.S. justification for the invasion was articulated by President George H. W. Bush on the morning of December 20th, 1989, a few hours after the start of the operation. Bush listed four reasons for the invasion:  Safeguarding the lives of U.S. citizens in Panama, defending democracy and human rights in Panama, combating drug trafficking, and protecting the integrity of the Torrijos–Carter Treaties.

U.S. military forces were instructed to begin maneuvers and activities within the restrictions.  The incursion began on December 20th, 1989. The invasion of Panama was the first combat deployment for the AH-64 (Helicopter), the HMMWV (Humvee) and the F-117A (Stealth Fighter)

The operation began with an assault of strategic installations, such as the Punta Paitilla Airport in Panama City and a PDF garrison and airfield at Rio Hato, where Manuel Noriega also maintained a residence. U.S. Navy SEALS destroyed Noriega’s private jet and a Panamanian gunboat. A Panamanian ambush killed four SEALS and wounded nine. The attack on the central headquarters of the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) touched off several fires, and began the opening round of attacks in Panama City and included a special operations raid on the Carcel Modelo prison to free Kurt Muse, a US citizen convicted of espionage by Noriega.

A platoon from the 1138th Military Police Company, Missouri Army National Guard, which was on a routine two-week rotation to Panama was called upon to set up a detainee camp on Empire Range to handle the mass of civilian and military detainees. This unit was the first National Guard unit called into active service since the Vietnam War.

During the invasion, de facto Panamanian leader, general, and dictator Manuel Noriega was deposed, president-elect Guillermo Endara sworn into office at Fort Clayton & the Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) dissolved.

Haiti

The United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) — a peacekeeping operation carried out by the United Nations between September 1993 and June 1996. The Mission was reestablished (MINUSTAH) in April 2004, after a rebellion took over most of Haiti and President Bertrand Aristide resigned.

On September 23rd, 1993, the first multinational force was sent to Haiti in 1994 which was made of 20,000 members.  Their goal was to help reform different aspects of their society that had broken down over years of corruption.

Operation Uphold Democracy September 19th, 1994 to March 31st, 1995 was an intervention designed to remove the military regime installed by the 1991 Haitian coup d’état that overthrew the elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The operation began with the alert of United States and its allies for a forced entry into the island nation of Haiti.  As forces prepared to invade, a diplomatic element persuaded the leaders of Haiti to step down and allow elected officials to return to power. This effort was successful and the military mission changed to a peace-keeping, nation-building operation with the deployment of the U.S.-led multinational force in Haiti.

Units of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) who deployed on January 4th, 1995 assumed command authority from the 10th Division on January 9th, 1995. Port-au-Prince was the headquarters element of the Multinational Forces, Combined Task Force 190 and the Republic of Haiti.  The U.S. Army Reserve unit and the 458th Transportation Detachment (ATMCT) was activated and reported to Fort Bragg, North Carolina within 48 hours of notification.  This was the fastest a Reserve unit has ever been deployed.

Father Jean Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti in October of 1994 after 3 years of forced exile.  Uphold Democracy officially ended on March 31st, 1995 when it was replaced by the U.N. Mission in Haiti (UNMIH).

From the March 1995 until March 1996, 2,400 U.S. personnel remained as a support group called Operation New Horizons.  A large contingent of U.S. troops (USFORHAITI) participated as peacekeepers until 1996 The U.S. forces commander also commanded of the U.N. forces. U.N. forces, under various mission names, were in Haiti from 1995 through 2000.

 

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