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The U.S. Military Intervention in Panama Origins, Planning and Crisis Management


The U.S. Military Intervention in Panama: Origins, Planning and Crisis Management June 1987-December 1989 (Contingency Operations Series)

Prior to Operation JUST CAUSE, the December 1989 U.S. intervention in Panama, American leaders had struggled for over two years with the increasingly difficult regime of General Manuel Antonio Noriega. At the time, the Panama Canal was still under U.S. administration, with the U.S. Southern Command based at Quarry Heights charged with its security. Led by General Frederick F. Woerner Jr. and supported by Maj. Gen. Bernard Loeffke, the command’s Army component commander, American military leaders weathered a series of low-grade crises during 1988–1989, slowly culminating in a growing military confrontation with Noriega’s military, paramilitary, and police forces. Detailed in Larry Yates’ study are the contingency plans, rules of engagement, a host of varied operations—security patrols, guard duty, training exercises, shows of force, and police actions—and even the occasional firefight, all of which characterized this trying period. But this history is much more than a precursor to JUST CAUSE. The book’s true value lies in a careful examination of the complex relationships between a U.S. combatant command, one of the four American global military headquarters, and its Washington, D.C., superiors, to include Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral William Crowe, Army Chief of Staff General Carl Vuono, Defense Secretary Richard Cheney, and Presidents Ronald W. Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Indeed, the able Woerner and his staff often found themselves walking a tightrope between a variety of ill-defined administration policies whose long-range goals were difficult to fathom and the exigencies of a steadily worsening local situation. The conflicting demands ultimately led to Woerner’s untimely replacement by General Maxwell R. Thurman, an officer more comfortable with the Bush administration’s approach to the crisis. Highlighted also are the roles played by the local joint and special operations headquarters, those U.S.-based commands charged with providing military reinforcements to the region, and those government officials responsible for regional diplomatic, intelligence, and economic affairs. The result is a rich mix of timeless experiences and insights especially attuned to the contingency fare so common in the post–Cold War era and an excellent primer for officers assuming duties in the joint defense commands and staffs that play a key role in today’s defense establishment. The volume also marks another significant addition to the Center’s expanding Contingency Operations Series.

332 pages

Categories: All Books, Military Manuals, Miscellaneous


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