WASHINGTON -- President Reagan late Tuesday formally notified Congress ofthe invasion of Grenada 13 hours earlier, saying 'it is not possible at this time' to tell how long the 1,900 Marines and soldiers will remain on the island.
Reagan sent a letter to House Speaker Thomas O'Neill and Senate President Pro Tempore Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., a report 'consistent with the War Powers Resolution.'
Although the 1973 resolution requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours any time he dispatches troops to a combat situation, Reagan said he was acting 'pursuant to my constitutional authority with respect to the conduct of foreign relations and as commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces.'
'Although it is not possible at this time to predict the duration of the temporary presence of United States armed forces in Grenada, our objectives in providing this support are clear,' Reagan said.
'They are to join the OECS (the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) collective security forces in assisting the restoration of conditions of law and order and of governmental institutions to the island of Grenada and to facilitate the protection and evacuation of United States citizens.'
Reagan cited no specific section of the resolution, which could require congressional approval if troops remain more than 60 days.
Reagan and Congress agreed last month on a compromise involving the Marine presence in Beirut, giving him 18 more months to keep the troops in Lebanon without having to invoke the resolution.
Reagan said he ordered the Grenada invasion in response to a request from the Caribbean nations 'and in view of the overriding importance of protecting the lives of the United States citizens in Grenada.'
'Our forces will remain only so long as their presence is required,' he said.
An emergency OECS meeting Oct. 21 'took note of the anarchic conditions and the serious violations of human rights and bloodshed that had occurred and the consequent unprecedented threat to the peace and security of the region created by the vacuum of authority in Grenada,' Reagan said.
He referred to the 'violent series of events' that started Oct. 12 when leftists ousted Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and later executed him.
'Over 40 killings were reported,' Reagan said. 'There was no government ensuring the protection of life and property and restoring law and order.
'The only indication of authority was an announcement that a barbaric shoot-to-kill curfew was in effect,' the president said. 'Under these circumstances, we were necessarily concerned about the safety of innocent lives on the island, including those of up to 1,000 United States citizens.'