The Military: Auditing an Invasion

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The U.S. invasion of Grenada last October was successful, but expensive—in addition to the cost in lives. According to figures compiled by the Defense Department, the three-day mission cost $134.4 million. The Army spent $74.9 million to support 5,000 soldiers, including $22 million for 18 lost or damaged helicopters. The Navy's bill, which included transporting the Marine amphibious unit and diverting the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Independence from the eastern Mediterranean to Grenada, was $46.8 million. The Air Force spent $12.7 million, mostly conveying troops to the island.

The total, which does not cover soldiers' salaries, works out to $224,000 for each of the 600 U.S. students evacuated from Grenada, or $1 million for every square mile of territory. The real value of the operation, which rooted out a murderous crowd that had gunned its way to power, cannot be easily calculated—even if its price tag can.