On this day – December 20, 1989 – Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama began. The operation arrested Maneul Noriega – the ruling dictator – and restored the government of Guillermo Endara.
Special Operations Command South (SOCSouth) was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone at Fort Clayton – occupying part of the on-base elementary school. 3rd Battalion 7th Special Forces Group was also based in the Panama Canal Zone. In the days prior to the invasion some U.S. military personnel flew in via commercial airlines. Many combat units parachuted into Panama to include the Army Rangers and 82nd Airborne Division.
Once combat operations ceased the conflict went into the stabilization mode – restoring public services, re-establishing the nation’s government, and re-training and recruiting for the country’s police forces. Many U.S. special operations forces were assigned throughout Panama to the rural areas to help with the implementation of the newly formed Panama Police Force. This phase of the operation was called Operation PROMOTE LIBERTY and lasted several months.
“United States invasion of Panama”, Wikipedia
OPERATION JUST CAUSE Panama, Joint History Office, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1990, 99 pages. The author, Ronald H. Cole, describes the planning and execution of joint operations in Panama from February 1988 to January 1990.
“Operation Just Cause: the Invasion of Panama, December 1989”, Army.mil, Army Heritage and Education Center, November 17, 2008.
Operation JUST CAUSE: Navy SEALs in Panama, Navy SEAL Museum.
Operation JUST CAUSE
Operation Just Cause: Lessons for Operations Other Than War, by Jennifer Taw, RAND Corporation, 1996, 55 pages.