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Written shortly after the completion of Operation JUST CAUSE, this monograph traces the involvement of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Staff in planning and directing combat operations in Panama. The study begins with the initial development of contingency plans in February 1988 and concludes with General Manuel Noriega's surrender to U.S. officials on 3 January 1990. Relying primarily upon Joint Staff files and interviews with key participants, the author, Dr. Ronald Cole, provides an account of the parts played by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Staff, and the Commander in Chief of U.S. Southern Command in planning for operations in Panama and their roles in the combat operations that followed.
In the summer and fall of 1989, while American attention focused on events in Eastern Europe which heralded the end of the Cold War, developments in Panama raised the possibility of combat much closer to home. Operations in Panama would test the changes to the U.S. military command system brought about by the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986. Panama would also try the team at the head of that system—President George H. W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney, and the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), General Colin L. Powell, U.S. Army. Strengthened by personal relationships formed during earlier administrations, this team would, in a large measure, determine the operational success of the Goldwater-Nichols reforms.
1. Background of the Crisis * Before Noriega * The Rise of Noriega * Contingency Planning Begins, February-November 1988 * Nullifying the May 1989 Elections; Operation NIMROD DANCER * A Get Tougher Policy: National Security Directive 17 * New Leadership and New Plans * The Failed Coup, 3 October 1989 * 2. After the Coup Attempt: Accelerated Joint Planning and Preparation, 3 October-5 December 1989 * General Thurman's Decisions, 3-20 October 1989 * USCINCSO OPORD 1-90 (BLUE SPOON), 30 October 1989 * JTFSO OPLAN 90-2, 3 November 1989 * Rehearsals and a Bomb Threat, 7 October-15 December 1989 * 3. Trigger Events, The Decision to Intervene and Final Preparations for H-Hour, 15-19 December 1989 * Trigger Events, 15-16 December 1989 * Key Military Meetings, Sunday Morning, 17 December 1989 * Decision at the White House, Sunday Afternoon, 17 December 1989 * Monday, 18 December 1989: Movement Preparation, the F-117A Decision, and the Execute Order * Tuesday, 19 December 1989: Launching the Airlift * 4. D-Day, Wednesday, 20 December 1989 * Opposing Forces * Actions by the Special Operations Forces * The Conventional Task Forces * Explanation and Justification * 5. Issues in the National Military Command Center: Civil Affairs Reservists, the Media Pool, and U.S. Hostages * Inside the National Military Command Center * Civil Affairs * The Media Pool * The Hostage Issue * 6. Last Combat, Civil Affairs, and the Hunt for Noriega, 21-24 December 1989 * Last Combat with the PDF * Civil Affairs and PROMOTE LIBERTY * The Hunt for Noriega * 7. The Nunciatura, 24 December 1989-3 January 1990 * An Overview * Rules of Engagement for Cordoning Off the Nunciatura * Rock Music at the Nunciatura * Contretemps over Cuban and Nicaraguan Diplomatic Privileges * Negotiations with the Vatican * 8. The End of Organized Resistance, the Shift to Nationbuilding and Redeployment, December 1989-3 January 1990. * End of the Fighting * Civil Affairs and the Question of Redeployment * 9. Assessments * Some Preliminary Assessments, January-April 1990 * The Impact of Goldwater-Nichols on JUST CAUSE * Notes