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Old 12-19-2019, 13:32   #1
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Operation Just Cause

Happy Operation Just Cause 30th Anniversary! Some of us participated...

From COL Roach:
With the Anniversary of JUST CAUSE just around the corner on the 20th December, it seems like an appropriate time to mention Operation MA BELL, which was an unplanned, and largely unknown, improvisation by 7th SF Group soldiers during Just Cause.

In December 1989 I was a student at the Army War College in Carlisle PA, so I was not directly involved in Just Cause. But am proud to say that I have several friends (Roy Trumble, Kevin Higgins and Gil Perez among them) [he added Dave McCracken to this list] who were not only "involved" but were the brain trust that developed the idea of Operation Ma Bell, and were also leaders of the small teams that traveled out of Panama City to make contact with isolated Panama units, and convince the Panamanians to surrender, rather than fight to the death.

Within the first week, the US Military Invasion Force had control of Panama City, but there were still about a dozen isolated Panamanian Army Garrisons in the "Interior".

"Big Army" is a sledgehammer rather than a surgical scalpel, so the Task Force, Division and Brigade Staffs were busy developing their plans for an all-out assault on those Isolated Panamanian Army Garrisons, which would include Air Strikes and artillery fire as part of the preparation before ground troops would assault the garrisons. The results would have been hundreds of Panamanian casualties and several dozen US casualties.

But members of 7th SF Group had trained for years with the Panamanian Army and pushed the idea that if they were allowed to travel out to the Isolated Garrisons that they could convince the Panamanians to surrender. Some of the US Military Senior Officers were dismissive and just wanted to 'get on with the Military Operations'.

But cooler heads prevailed (not all Senior Military Officers are blockheads), and the small 7th SFG teams ventured forth and made contact with the garrisons. And not surprisingly Operation Ma Bell convinced 11 garrisons to surrender.

By the way, the name Operation Ma Bell came about because most of the phone lines were down in Panama, and only local phone service was available in the "Interior". So the SF Teams would travel to the closest town to the Panamanian Cuartel, and then call the local commander on the phone. That solution didn't come from the "Top Down". It was a "bottom-up" solution - "How in the hell do we solve this problem?"

Overall Operation Just Cause resulted in 250-300 Panamanians dead. (Different sources show different numbers) But if the "Big Army" Assault plans had been carried out against those isolated Panamanian Army Garrisons, there would have been several thousand more Panamanians dead.

I am very proud that Roy Trumble, Kevin Higgins, and Gil Perez [and Dave McCracken] were able to propose this concept, and then pull it off with such amazing success.
Also attachment on the radio station hit (semi true -- only from the perspective of a select few).
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Stop the Broadcasts Social Media Post V5.pdf (312.8 KB, 23 views)
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Old 12-19-2019, 20:44   #2
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Thanks.... I was the 1/504's Commanders RTO not a fun time to be a PFC on the Radio with everyone spread to hell all over the DZ and then later for our Air Assault on Tinajitas.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.

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Old 12-20-2019, 07:27   #3
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I too was a PFC and jumped on Torrijos Intl Apt with Cco 3/75. Woke up this morning thinking about this when I saw the date and told my wife that at this time (0600) we were waiting for the sun to come up eating breakfast next to a dead PDF soldier. The 82nd Bn had just jumped in and were trying to find their assembly points. Hilarity ensued.
"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles." Jeff Cooper
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Old 12-20-2019, 08:16   #4
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Thank you Joker...to Stop for a moment and think back to that time and just prior, very humbling on many levels. Had just gone through phase 2, Charlie course months earlier where we covered Nicaragua’s incursions into Honduras. Last night I watched several different perspectives on Just Cause... interesting. Refreshed many anecdotal stories and memories of friends involved... Respect for those of you who served, we were all rooting for you!
"It is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly...that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again." Sir Francis Younghusband


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Old 12-21-2019, 06:01   #5
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Happy Anniversary to all who were there.

I recall the first time reading of what Joker shared at the top and chuckling to myself...
"Well... of course. Just call 'em up."
"Civil Wars don't start when a few guys hunt down a specific bastard. Civil Wars start when many guys hunt down the nearest bastards."

The coin paid to enforce words on parchment is blood; tyrants will not be stopped with anything less dear. - QP Peregrino
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