DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
XVIII AIRBORNE CORPS
FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA
US ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY
WASHINGTON, D. C.
JOINT TASK FORCE SOUTH IN OPERATION JUST CAUSE
Oral History Interview
193d Infantry Brigade (Task Force BAYONET)
MAJ Steve Ankley, Executive Officer
MAJ Chester Floyd, S-2
Interview Conducted 1 January 1990 in Building 200, Fort Clayton, Panama
Interviewer: MAJ Robert K. Wright, Jr.
JOINT TASK FORCE SOUTH IN OPERATION JUST CAUSE
20 December 1989 - 12 January 1990
Oral History Interview JCIT 008
MAJ WRIGHT: Okay. This is an interview for Operation JUST CAUSE. The interviewing official is MAJ Wright, the XVIII Corps Historian. Location of the interview is Building 200, Fort Clayton. And I'd ask you, each in turn, to state your name, rank, serial number, and your duty position.
MAJ ANKLEY: Steve Ankley, MAJ, ***-**-****, Brigade XO.
MAJ FLOYD: Chester B. Floyd, III, MAJ, Brigade S-2, ***-**-****.
MAJ WRIGHT: Okay, gentlemen. I'd ask you sort of briefly to talk about how you saw the build-up to the jump off of the operation, and any of the things that you think were of great significance in the preparation for it. From your perspectives.
MAJ FLOYD: In reference to the build-up from the intel[ligence] side of the house, there was a lot of preparation and identification of unit locations. Where were the units? Where were the armored vehicles? Number of personnel. There was concern that there were more people had been moved in various areas and increased the numbers that our forces would have to go up against.
We had set up a reconnaissance plan in various locations, an example being Fort Amador, to constantly monitor their 5th Company,1 and in trying to track their day-to-day activities for that unit--tell when something came out of the building. And we were able to do that in some respect.
We continued to develop another concept plan to track forces outside the brigade's Area of Operation [AO] but within the area of interest in conjunction with USARSO.2 They provided the air assets, and the personnel in some cases, to fly around and check various people, check the status of forces, and develop a good intel network to feed back of information to the brigade, which allowed us to be rather comfortable about what we felt was at each location at any given time, to include shift changes and night and day operations.
MAJ WRIGHT: And you were tracking particularly the major weapons systems, the V-300s and V-150s3 ...
MAJ FLOYD: Anti-aircraft guns ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Mortars.
MAJ FLOYD: ... mortars, especially mortars, mortars ...
MAJ ANKLEY: And a real concern about location of the 120mm mortars.
MAJ FLOYD: But they were never able to pinpoint ... and they rotated them. And they have tubes just like us, drop them off the back of vehicles, pop up and ...
MAJ ANKLEY: You look out the window in the field and you can see the results of some of the 120s. Or if you're on your way out you can drive by the building right over here and you can see some cars that were hit by the 120s when they came in.4
MAJ FLOYD: Nice car got ruined.
MAJ WRIGHT: Really?
MAJ FLOYD: Oh yes, right over here.
MAJ WRIGHT: I'll get some photographs of that.
MAJ ANKLEY: The place was mortared the morning of the 20th.
MAJ FLOYD: The morning of the 20th.
MAJ WRIGHT: But you think that was a pop-and-run?
MAJ FLOYD: It was pop and run.
MAJ ANKLEY: It went for ... throughout the day and it seemed like it was usually three rounds. The rounds would impact, nothing would happen. Two hours later, another three-round volley. Nothing would happen. A couple hours later, it seemed like they were moving around, just popping out three rounds and packing up and moving to another site.
MAJ WRIGHT: Did you have TPQs5 set up?
MAJ ANKLEY: Radars were all set up on the other side [of the Panama Canal]. I guess all this stuff is downgraded now, or this tape is considered classified?
MAJ WRIGHT: Yes, we'll classify all this stuff later ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Okay.
MAJ WRIGHT: ... and nothing will get off this tape. [NOTE: This tape is no longer classified.]
MAJ ANKLEY: Primary concern with the radar is the [193d Infantry] Brigade has artillery battery assigned to it--Delta Battery, 320th.6 It was put under JTF SOUTH7 control. It was positioned on the other side of the Canal, the west bank. Primary concern was the protection of Howard Air Force Base for the introduction of follow-on forces and resupply. The radars were also situated to cover that area, so the mortars coming in from this side we expect are coming from ... or we think were coming from the northeast [of Fort] Clayton. The radars were not in a position where they could lock on and identify where they came from. That had been a concern of the brigade for a long time, that the Howard area was covered, but the ability to interdict on this side--doing the counter-battery fire, should those mortars come up, was not there.
MAJ FLOYD: But we did ... did show ... and that show did come at approximately the location. That location further developed or defined the forces. As I say, we've seen and heard people calling it in, this is taking place and at this ... the guys were running out of the building with the mortar, popping off a few rounds, and running back inside the building. We can't shoot back because there's civilian population in the area. It's a good game.
MAJ WRIGHT: How'd you eventually shut them down?
MAJ ANKLEY: We don't know that we ever did. They just stopped firing.
MAJ FLOYD: They stopped firing.
MAJ ANKLEY: We don't know if somewhere they're part of what was turned in or whether they're still out there roaming around. That we didn't ask for.
MAJ WRIGHT: Do you think it was 5th Company guys?
MAJ FLOYD: No.
MAJ ANKLEY: No.
MAJ FLOYD: I don't think it was.
MAJ ANKLEY: No. You asked a question about the build-up in preparation for the attack. And not knowing what COL [Michael G.] Snell8 said, I think if you look at build-up from a brigade standpoint in preparation for the attack, you've got to go back through the coup of 1988 ...
MAJ FLOYD: Yes.
MAJ ANKLEY: ... with the initial deployment of MP9 forces down here to augment security in the area, which at that time the brigade started to get involved in some planning with the MP forces that were down here under what was then the initial task organization and we were going to pick up some MP assets to help in our areas of operation.
If you go back to the initial plans that were written at that time frame, the brigade had targets on both sides of the Canal, both the Pacific and Atlantic side. The augmentation forces were not that great that were originally programmed. There were some Special Op[eration]s. The XVIII Airborne Corps and 7th ID10 were ... the Corps was out of it, the 7th ID was a follow-on. But we did some initial targets.
Over time those plans continued to change. The elections in May  brought down ... with Operation NIMROD DANCER a task force (at that time, 1/6 Mech11 out of Fort Polk) and brought down some additional MPs. The brigade was able, based again on the wartime task organization--the mechanized task force became a brigade asset. Upon implementation of any readiness exercises, alerts, or the OPLAN,12 the MP battalion chopped people to the brigade. So we were able to initiate the planning cycle with those headquarters. And as the plans developed, the objectives changed to some extent. The brigade's sector changed to some extent ... yes sir?
MAJ ANKLEY: Yet, by having the planning headquarters present, we were able to do a lot of STAFFEXs, CPXs,13 staff planning exercises, utilizing those headquarters.
A particular note as we evolved into it was the training plans that were developed, the live fire exercises we did in November. They initially allowed us ... these are basically light infantry down here, its the only forward-deployed combat forces to get involved in the heavy-light mix in trying to prepare, in the task organization, we got them chopped different ways. And that was a great assistance and I think that led to a lot of the success we were able to have in the operation, was the fact that we were able to train when that happened.
MAJ FLOYD: I believe the ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Additionally we were able to train with the MPs, and the MPs to do an initially ... combat operations and not the traditional MP missions. They had security of a lot of the PCC14 critical nodes; they had security of housing areas. You had MP platoons chopped forward to the maneuver forces to work with them. And I think the time from the end of May forward, by having those headquarters here even though they have since rotated and new guys have come in, we have pretty well been able to prepare the brigade as far as the task organization that we used for Operation JUST CAUSE, and get the plans in place.
MAJ FLOYD: SAND FLEAs15 ...
MAJ ANKLEY: The one problem we had all along was the classification of what was BLUE SPOON16 and JUST CAUSE or whatever. We were never able to get that down other than to a few people in headquarters. But as the S-2 said, SAND FLEAs, PURPLE STORMs which started a long time ago, back in ...
MAJ FLOYD: Which allowed us to confront ...
MAJ ANKLEY: ... in '88.
MAJ FLOYD: ... we would go just short of executing the various plans. Going down, for example, rolled the mech[anized infantry] companies ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes.
MAJ FLOYD: ... from Clayton all the way down to the causeway17 just short of going into Flamenco Island or Perico, and put the PDF on the defensive. It allowed us to see their reaction. They were getting in a defensive posture. The Comandancia would alert, and we would see what those folks did down at the Comandancia; where they would take up defensive positions. And everyone was watching everyone. We were looking at our reaction, we were looking at where we were placing forces. And it gave our guys a chance to get on the ground and look at where the enemy was.
MAJ ANKLEY: The same type of thing with Operation LIGHTNING BOLT in April or May (I'm not sure, I think might have been May), where we basically did a battalion air assault into Fort Amador, right onto the golf course. One, to practice doing an air assault; two, it gave us a chance--the [S]-2 had his folks down and around to scope the PDF reaction, to see who do what, who showed up at what locations with what weapons, how long it took before the ZPU,18 the tarp was taken off and rolled back.
MAJ FLOYD: Taken off.
MAJ ANKLEY: ... and rolled back, which immediately ...
MAJ FLOYD: ... we could see them ...
MAJ ANKLEY: ... had an A-719 do a low pass and they immediately put the tarp back on the ZPU and got it on back to the barracks. But it gave us a look at how they were going to react to the different types ... . So, by a series of exercises, movements around the enemy stations, it gave us a chance to look at PDF reaction and plan accordingly.
MAJ FLOYD: And the guys walked the ground ...
MAJ ANKLEY: We were never able to go anywhere near the Comandancia, so that was a correction that we had never had anybody near nor were allowed. [Fort] Amador, the Balboa DENI,20 Ancon DENI, the engineer compound, DNTT21--we were able if nothing else to move by it, roll forces by it, look at it, and do some analysis on how we were going to ...
MAJ FLOYD: You could go down ... you take a new guy down there to get his driver's license and take a look. You were able to walk the grounds and so ... we looked.
MAJ WRIGHT: Did they react on the night of the 20th the way they had reacted during the previous runs?
MAJ ANKLEY: I don't know.
MAJ WRIGHT: In other words, did they follow their pattern?
MAJ ANKLEY: The [S]-2 may say something different. You have to understand something. In all the other exercises, almost without fail, we always maintained two things. One, we exercised our treaty rights. Two, we stayed within the treaty, which in almost every case meant we provided prior notification to PDF of what we were doing. That notification may have been thirty minutes, it may have been two hours. So before we did an exercise, they knew what was coming. They may not have had the reaction time to do anything about it, but by the treaty--and we very strictly maintained the rights of the treaty. If we were going to do the exercise at Amador, I think we gave them ninety minutes' notice of the air assault plan into Amador. If we were going to go to Naos and Perico Island with the mech, I think we gave them two hours' notice ...
MAJ FLOYD: In some cases ...
MAJ ANKLEY: ... and that was required by SOUTHCOM, by JTF PANAMA (at the time that was who was in charge), in order to maintain the integrity of the treaty. And what it helped now. Technically, people can argue about the treaty and say we really didn't have to do that. However, based on the fact that we had always done that since the signing of the treaty, we wanted to maintain, I guess, the moral high ground and not allow the PDF to say that we were changing. We still went in there and slam-dunked forces in here and there, whatever, but we always provided notification.
MAJ FLOYD: And the best thing was they never knew it was a drill. Some days we rolled in so hard and so fast that it looked real.
MAJ WRIGHT: That's one of the comments that I got. I was out yesterday talking to some of the 3/50422 guys out at Madden Dam, and they said it was their very clear feeling when they rolled into their blocking position, all they confronted were the policia guys. They said they didn't think it was for real, and they kept trying to tell them, get the hell back, this is for real. They fired rounds, warning rounds and everything. The guys still wouldn't ... they said were reacting like they thought it was another one of the macho bluff things.
MAJ ANKLEY: When we had the transition (back even before the '88 coup), so that brigade down in Panama for however long--with the primary mission of, you know, Canal defense. So going into Madden Dam ...
MAJ FLOYD: The and seeing them ...
MAJ ANKLEY: ... going into Gatun Dam, Gatun locks, Miraflores [Locks], Pedro Miguel [Locks], whatever, we do that all the time. We exercise that, based on those plans. For us to have a company show up at four o'clock in the morning in an air assault right beside Gatun locks, go through the gates, and secure the whole thing was nothing new. So the PDF, the transitos, you know, everybody else was used to seeing that because that is our treaty obligation, is to defend the Canal. For us to drive or air assault into Madden Dam was nothing new.
So I'm sure that when they saw them rolling up there to that extent, there comes gringo again exercising the treaty rights because we have done that time and time and time again ... not just recently, but as far back as you want to go, because that's one of our obligations in the treaty is Canal defense and the protection of those sites until follow-on forces could arrive in country. In this case, it was the 53d SIB23 and some other folks who then picked up the Canal defense mission and freed us to do other things. So all those now-operating facilities, the key ones, are places that on a regular basis, one, the PDF knows we go there because under old times with the KINDLE LIBERTY exercise, the joint exercise with the PDF/US. Part of the KINDLE LIBERTY was exercises out and away but also ... because under the old plans for Canal defense, the PDF was considered either friendly or neutral, we did those types of things together. When we transitioned in '87, I guess, the PDF no longer being friendly and then it was either neutral or hostile, we still continued with the exercises in all those operating facilities to ensure that was covered.
So for 82d [Airborne Division] forces or somebody else to roll into Madden Dam or any of the Canal operating facilities, you know, it would not surprise me if everybody sat there and said here come the gringos again. Because that's a matter of force and that's been our prime mission forever. So by chance maybe we provided the deception for those guys, whether we knew it or not, to get in there without a problem because we had conditioned the PDF over years boom, boom, boom, we're going to take those targets and we're going to secure them and put people there.
MAJ WRIGHT: One question for you, MAJ Floyd. Were you surprised by the lack of ADA24--PDF ADA out there? I mean, what we were seeing back at [Fort] Bragg, [North Carolina], was that they ...
MAJ ANKLEY: They had a lot of big, heavy ADA ...
MAJ WRIGHT: ... ADA stuff and they never really used it.
MAJ FLOYD: Never.
MAJ ANKLEY: Also was concern about the SA-6.25
MAJ FLOYD: The SA-7.
MAJ WRIGHT: Oh yes, the Air Force ... the MAC26 guys were petrified.
MAJ FLOYD: Very concerned about the SA-7. The SA-7 has never been confirmed.
MAJ ANKLEY: We haven't even had any turn up at any of the [weapons-for-money] turn-in points that I know of.
MAJ FLOYD: No, none have.
MAJ ANKLEY: Yeah.
MAJ FLOYD: We had two anti-aircraft guns in our area of operations. That would include possibly one on Flamenco, but one definitely in the 5th Rifle Company area and the other was in the Comandancia, which was in the brigade's area of operations. So we were well aware of those things and the whirlybirds were supposed to take out one and the AC-13027 was on call to take out the other. The big concern was [if] the air mobile [assault] went ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes.
MAJ FLOYD: ... to get our folks in, that they would not be taken out by the anti-aircraft. But by that time ... as they were moving in, the Comandancia thing was going ... ongoing.
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes, and we had no air assets available. Every time we went through the JTF ... really under the special op[eration]s guys' control.
MAJ WRIGHT: Yes, the special ops guys had one AC-130 ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Well, special ops guys owned the air, period.
MAJ WRIGHT: Okay.
MAJ FLOYD: Period. But since then ...
MAJ ANKLEY: The only thing we had was an air corridor for the lift of that unit28 into Amador, but nothing else that flew. We couldn't get the AC-130, we couldn't get the little birds, we weren't even allowed to have Cobras29 or Apaches30 in that AO. So that the ZPU sitting at Amador became a concern because special ops owned the air and owned all the assets, the close air assets, and nothing was there for the beginning.
MAJ WRIGHT: Just ...
MAJ ANKLEY: And that was a concern at that time.
MAJ WRIGHT: Just for the record, little bird ... what ...
MAJ ANKLEY: That's ...
MAJ WRIGHT: The OA-37s31?
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes.
MAJ FLOYD: Loaded with all kinds of shit.
MAJ WRIGHT: Yes, but I mean just ...
MAJ ANKLEY: But, again, we controlled nothing that flew and all we had was that corridor to come in and do the air assault landing.
MAJ WRIGHT: Who was your lift?
MAJ ANKLEY: The lift was probably a combination, but ...
MAJ WRIGHT: 1st of the 22832?
MAJ ANKLEY: 1st of the 228. I'm sure we might have had some of it come from [Task Force] HAWK.33
MAJ FLOYD: And it was nice. We were on top of Sosa Hill, which was where the Jump TOC34 of the brigade was located. We got up there and could see the birds as they came around from Howard to right below the hill. You know, they got around on one side.
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes, somewhere ... somewhere ... I think it was your guys, the photo-journalists team from DA35 or corps. It went back to Operation LIGHTNING BOLT, daytime operation, the first big one we cranked up. Had an air assault coming across from Amador or out of Kobbe right into Amador. We had the movement of the mech across the Swing Bridge and by LCM36 coming across into Albrook, up to Quarry Heights, a few other interesting places. We had the movement of the MPs going down to cover MSRs37 and everything else. You could see a lot of similarities between that exercise in, I believe it was May, and what actually happened. Change the time of day, change just a little bit a couple of vectors, but ...
MAJ WRIGHT: Was that a conscious, when you were drawing up the revised plan, to build off of that experience?
MAJ FLOYD: Yes.
MAJ ANKLEY: Understand I've got to transition back. That was under a different brigade commander, different CG, different CINC.38 Then we were finally getting permission under the old chain of command to try to exercise all those assets together. For a long time all we were able to do was piecemeal, a couple lift helicopters here, a little movement of the mech there. We were never able to combine the forces to one, look at timing, look at how long it was really going to take to move the mech from the other side ...
MAJ FLOYD: And do the Swing Bridge.
MAJ ANKLEY: Open the Swing Bridge ... even though when we kicked off JUST CAUSE we had already had the mech positioned on this side, which simplified some of those assets. We still had to bring in pieces of [Task Force] GATOR.
MAJ WRIGHT: Swing bridge, or the Bridge [of the Americas]?
MAJ ANKLEY: It was Swing Bridge.
MAJ WRIGHT: How did you ... real quick to clarify that ... how did you get the Swing Bridge into the movement position?
MAJ ANKLEY: PCC did that.
MAJ WRIGHT: And did you have ... what time did that swing across so that you could get it ... ?
MAJ ANKLEY: I think it opened at 11:55 or 12:00, right about then ...
MAJ FLOYD: Yeah. And it was by prior coordination.
MAJ ANKLEY: I'd have to go check the logs.
MAJ FLOYD: It was something that they were used to doing for us.
MAJ WRIGHT: Okay, so that was not ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Oh yes.
MAJ WRIGHT: ... an indicator to them that ...
MAJ ANKLEY: No, no ...
MAJ FLOYD: ... out of the ordinary, we just ...
MAJ ANKLEY: That battalion's basically lived since May ... has lived on the other side of the Canal at what was Camp Russo and then became Camp Roadrunner and now is Camp Gator. And that's on the other side of the Canal. So most movements to this side of the Canal for exercises or for security missions all came across the Swing Bridge, so that was not something new. And again that was a conscious decision as well to kind of get the PDF used to seeing us do that and on the assumption if there was anything they'd have to come from that side of the camp. The mech was already postured on this side based on the other incidents of the days before.
MAJ WRIGHT: The shooting and what not?
MAJ ANKLEY: ... we still had to bring MPs across.
MAJ WRIGHT: How long had 4th of the 6th39 been here, on their rotation?
MAJ ANKLEY: Well, 1/6, the original task force, got here in May. They transitioned in September.
MAJ WRIGHT: So these guys, the 4/6 had been here plenty long so that everybody knew?
MAJ ANKLEY: Certainly.
MAJ FLOYD: Oh yes, yes.
MAJ ANKLEY: Now LTC [James W.] Reed,40 the task force commander or the battalion commander, took over on 1 December, I believe the date was. We had a change of command ... both task forces changed command then. 1/61 came down and LTC Blossos. LTC [Billy Ray] Fitzgerald took over the task force down here.41 Task force 4/6 did the rotation and they came and they had LTC Steiger as their commander. And LTC Reed took over command on 1 December. But the staff was there, the commanders were there, the teams were there.
MAJ WRIGHT: What about the MPs ... a more staggered rotation with them, the companies ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Well, we had some problems with MP rotation, because a matter of fact, the night before we kicked this thing off we finally got ... they were in the middle of a rotation at that time. One company was in fact palletized, packed up, ready to get the plane I believe on the 20th or 21st. They had to break pallets to get their gear to get back in the operation. Headquarters had been here and they did all of the staff planning exercises and ...
MAJ FLOYD: Luckily we had some new headquarters ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes.
MAJ FLOYD: ... that had came down and ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Yeah.
MAJ FLOYD: ... the old one had left, so the new one42 was here approximately a week, two weeks?
MAJ ANKLEY: Two weeks ...
MAJ FLOYD: Two weeks, just enough time to get briefed on the plans and put a commander ...
MAJ ANKLEY: See, what COL Snell had established is that there should be an in-briefing cycle for the task force commanders and for the MP commanders. They get in, they initially ... they don't work for us except under task organization Yet they worked for us for ... to some extent when he needs them, you know. And he worked up a series, over time, of rotation plans for the new units coming in and start with the staff phase--counterparts going over the basic things. Then it's a complete layout, according to those who are cleared TS,43 of the brigade order, and a complete layout briefing of the brigade order. That then was given to the commander by COL Snell. And in most cases they had probably five days to a week to come back and back-brief him on their plans.
So they got the initial orientation with the staff in one-on-one layouts, then they had a formal staff presentation to the commander, the [S]-3, [S]-2, and probably one or two other people who had the "clearances and need to know" and they were given like five to seven days to come and back-brief COL Snell on their order and their plans. So from the time they hit the ground, they became actively involved in that. That was the first priority ... was to get them on board, brief back to the brigade commander, those elements that by the plan would be chopped to other battalions were immediately integrated into the planning of that battalion so that we weren't sitting here wasting a lot of time. That was a number one priority when new folks came on board.
MAJ WRIGHT: The colonel alluded to the use of battle books. I assume what he was talking to there was the Europe scenario. When you rotate out, you hand your battle book to the other guys who ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes, and again ...
MAJ FLOYD: Each company commander ... we went through drills with another company commander ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes.
MAJ FLOYD: ... so we had to go through to where we could hand them the plan, get them all in for their clearances. And to the point where we had to get for the time being a 30-day Top [Secret] from the CG.44 We could authorize 30-day clearances to let us get all the paperwork in, keep the ball rolling. All the company commanders came in and all started to develop battle books--this system. And then you've got target folders that were gotten from USARSO DCSINT45 and from ...
MAJ ANKLEY: And from brigade S-2, who ... . You guys did a lot of work ...
MAJ FLOYD: Yes ...
MAJ ANKLEY: ... plus you're going out and making ...
MAJ FLOYD: ... picking up a lot of good stuff, the tactical stuff, because there's like one of the ...
MAJ WRIGHT: Echelons above ...
MAJ FLOYD: Yes, we put in the tactical stuff in there, and the brigade then will look at what we want. Then we gave it to their [S]-2s and gave it to their company commanders and they would file reports that you missed this, this and this; and give them this photograph and that photograph; and give them the books. They would take that to the company commander. I ended up with ... I started out with five Top Secret documents when you got here and then ended up with forty-seven. So they were all generic plans that were very good ...
MAJ ANKLEY: One of the problems we ran into in all that was the storage. Battalions don't have an authorized storage capability for TS.
MAJ FLOYD: And it was ...
MAJ ANKLEY: ... everything was maintained up here for reproduction, for typing, for anything.
MAJ FLOYD: So we had to maintain it on call for all the company commanders. And they would call the battalion commander and say I'd like to go work on my battle book.
MAJ ANKLEY: So somebody was here to get in here and open up the door and sit down and help them. They could bring nobody else in because they had nobody else cleared, so we had to type for them, assist them, you know ... I mean, that's part of the brigade staff's job. But battle books, I think, made a big difference because it forced the commanders to honestly lay everything out piece by piece on the ground ...
MAJ FLOYD: And go over ...
MAJ ANKLEY: ... and become totally familiar with their missions. Now another thing that the colonel did was the STAFFEX up at the PSFO, where he had the battalion commanders, S-3s, S-2s, and all the company commanders. They spent one whole day where everybody briefed their plan. Started off with an overall brief to all the commanders with the brigade plan, then it was turned over to each battalion in turn where the commander and the [S]-3 briefed the battalion plan, then each company commander briefed the company plan. And part of that was to ensure that everybody was read-on in their AO and the commander could look at how they were going to do the attack and do the missions, but also to ensure that all our commanders understood what was happening within the areas controlled by adjacent units.
MAJ FLOYD: And also question and ask staff ...
MAJ ANKLEY: The scheme of maneuver, the attack--because if you look at our area and where those objectives were, there was a lot of chance, based on how you fired at this objective, and if you fire high where the rounds would impact. You wanted to make sure that ...
MAJ FLOYD: You had some ...
MAJ ANKLEY: ... everybody understood the concept that the other commanders were working under in order to accomplish our mission. So that we in turn didn't get too concerned about what we were hearing on our right because you knew that your company commander ...
MAJ WRIGHT: Joe was over there.
MAJ ANKLEY: Your commander, CPT Joe Smith, was right there on top of that situation, so you could concentrate on what you had here.
MAJ WRIGHT: Yes, that had come up as one of those features in the planning process that, the way the colonel was explaining it to me, struck me that it allowed you to focus on what you were doing without getting distracted by the ...
MAJ ANKLEY: That's right.
MAJ WRIGHT: ... you know ...
MAJ FLOYD: I had never seen that process done before ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Not to that extent and that well ...
MAJ WRIGHT: I'd seen it a little bit in Vietnam ...
MAJ FLOYD: It was great, and we had staff guys there, and as questions would come up and each one ...
[END OF SIDE ONE]
MAJ WRIGHT: Okay, just starting up the tape again. Could you continue with that, MAJ Floyd?
MAJ FLOYD: As the company commanders would brief and commanders would brief, then they would have questions in the different functional areas. The colonel would just turn to the individual staff officer who had that information or ... whatever they needed, or they would ask for--"I would like to know in the case of Amador where all the power boxes are so we can cut the power." So we would go out and get diagrams and show the underground cables, show all the junction boxes, talk to engineers, how do you destroy that. A guy would come back and say well, there's a series of three in the loop we've got to cut two, and that will do it. We'd do that ahead of time.
MAJ ANKLEY: Now, issues that came up were the location of the HB46 teams and how they were going to be used. In the case of Amador, "training" of the one 10547 we had down there in a direct-fire role ...
MAJ FLOYD: Yes, in a direct-fire ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Because nobody had the clearance to know what they were going to do, so how did we incorporate direct fire for one gun section into the training plan to prep them for what they were going to end up doing. Which we ended up by in our live fire maneuver training plans, set exercises periodically that involved the direct fire mission and role. So those things like that ...
MAJ FLOYD: This was the first time ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes ... no ...
MAJ WRIGHT: No, not according to what was on Cable News Network.
MAJ ANKLEY: No ...
MAJ FLOYD: No, not on the ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Oh, on the training ... in the training ...
MAJ FLOYD: ... training ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Oh, yes, in the training exercise, but again that was ...
MAJ WRIGHT: But hey, they never practiced that normally ...
MAJ ANKLEY: That's right.
MAJ FLOYD: No, that's true, so it was a first time in training.
MAJ ANKLEY: A lot of things that came out of the briefs and the back-briefs was how do we do this? How do we get this group involved here or create something, and train them to do what they're going to have to do in the operation, when we can't tell them anything about what it is or what their target is. So that became an innovative thing for the [S]-3 to look at how we incorporated certain aspects and certain of the force structure mixes we had; to do a job when we really couldn't tell them what the job was they were going to do.
MAJ FLOYD: It was creative.
MAJ ANKLEY: And that became tough. But as a result of doing the continual staff briefings, the continual back briefs, the development of everything, all these things came up, surfaced. And we found a way of fixing it, found a way of training. And I really think that was one of the keys to success for the brigade, was that the colonel without fail mandated that those things happen.
MAJ FLOYD: Yes.
MAJ ANKLEY: A lot of other things got changed based on requirements put on us by higher, but those things, I think without fail, always came off because he was able to go up and explain what we had to do them and we couldn't afford to miss the boat on. And I think that made a big difference in how everybody did.
MAJ WRIGHT: From the [S]-2 point of view, did you work up a lot of personality stuff? The colonel alluded to the fact that ... and the [G]-2 people I've been talking to who really try to focus on LIC48 say, you know, that remember guys, the focus on personality goes a lot higher.
MAJ FLOYD: COL Snell made us focus on personality more so than anyone I've been involved with before. He came in and asked what our personnel goals looked like. They weren't really up to snuff, and hit on it--commanders, various others. And we went out and got the information and found out there were a lot more to be had out there, just dug in a began to get it. And as new people would surface, we'd add them.
MAJ ANKLEY: One of the other big things that he pushed the [S]-2 on and the intel[ligence] community on was constant updates and evaluations of expected PDF actions. I.e., if we did something what could we expect the 5th Company there to do; what could we expect the U.E.S.A.T.49 to do? Based on, what they did or didn't do in the coup in '88; what they'd done in their post-election time frame; what they'd done in the coup in November--or October, I guess it was.
MAJ WRIGHT: October ...
MAJ FLOYD: We expanded that base in an attempt to identify what they would constantly do. And those things would come up. A lot of that information was obtained through real good analysts up there who just had capability to think ...
MAJ WRIGHT: Who was supporting you on that, the 470th [Military Intelligence Brigade], or ...
MAJ FLOYD: The 470th ... our primary consumer or supplier of information was USARSO DCSINT, and they would task the 470th or the 29th [Military Intelligence Battalion], or whatever assets available to accomplish the brigade's requests for information (RFIs). And that's how we ... we get our information from them. Now we do have the authorization to go (and we just did it), go directly to the 470th, directly to the 29th, directly to SOUTHCOM and sit down and talk with the analysts: what do you think, what do you feel, or what do you have? And depending on what the time frame is.
MAJ WRIGHT: How close is your relationship on a day-to-day basis, over say the last six months, with the 29th? Is that they would (I assume) be your ...
MAJ FLOYD: Right.
MAJ WRIGHT: ... be your more relevant supporters?
MAJ ANKLEY: Well, okay, you've got to back off here, if you want to cut that for a second, I'll give you an historical perspective on the brigade as we got ready for operations.
MAJ WRIGHT: Got it.
MAJ WRIGHT: Okay. We just finished off our coffee and cookies and we're ready to take the tape back up again. Just a sort of a final scrub through. What was the command and control arrangement you guys had here at the brigade level, because you had seven separate actions going down simultaneously? How did you break up your personnel? Somebody stayed back here, somebody went into the Jump [TOC]?
MAJ ANKLEY: Brigade commander, S-3, S-2, Fire Support Officer, E and E'd51 (basically) over time out of this area up to Sosa Hill and established the Jump TOC at that location. As well as the ALO52 from the Air Force. He instructed me as the XO to run the battle from the Main CP,53 which was located in Building 200 in the second floor op[eration]s center. So basically they were in position where they could observe. The decision initially was that they were going to liaison on an alternate-channel shot and everything else would be positioned on Ancon Hill.
As we got closer and closer, the decision was made that there were going to be too many people up on Ancon Hill to observe what was going on in that area near the Comandancia, so they shifted the location to Sosa Hill where they would not be bothered by anybody else. They could still observe the battle, unit commander's close enough that he could move forward and influence it if need be.
And then we had the Main TOC. And we were dealing with Assistant [S]-3s and Assistant [S]-2s, myself, some other folks we pulled in, and basically pulled off duty. The S-1 became a ... ended up taking a shift in the TOC. And some of the other folks we pulled in. Just to ensure that we had enough people down there for the first 48 hours to do a combination of things. One, we'd like people on the radios; two, maintain our corps LNO54 up in corps. And keep the land lines open the whole time for communications. And two, we had people who's whole function in life was to record the journals. So all they did was listen.
MAJ WRIGHT: You have pretty good confidence that the journals are complete?
MAJ ANKLEY: I'd say that they are. It'd take somebody maybe to decipher them 'cause they're full of acronyms and the abbreviations and everything else. Someone with knowledge of the brigade, the brigade area of operations, and what we did could look at the log and understand it. Someone who did not have that inherent knowledge, past experience in exercises, or in some cases the nicknames we gave places would probably not be able to decipher the log.
MAJ WRIGHT: Good commo55?
MAJ ANKLEY: Commo, I would say (and I'll never admit this to the E-756 because I don't want to give him a swelled head), communications has been outstanding. And that is we have maintained commo with all units, FM57 on the nets throughout the exercise. Commo has done an excellent job.
MAJ WRIGHT: Was it FM primarily--the primary means?
MAJ ANKLEY: We worked total FM with the brigade maneuver units all on FM comms ...
MAJ WRIGHT: So each battalion had its net and then there was a brigade command net?
MAJ ANKLEY: There was a brigade command, and a brigade O&I net--ops and intel; a fire support net, and FM log[istics] nets ...
MAJ WRIGHT: You had all that in the plan, right?
MAJ ANKLEY: Oh yes. We basically maintained an open land line (secure) from here to our LNO at ... up at corps. For some reason, I don't know why, even though we could hear everybody else talking, we just didn't seem to be able to get in the net for [the Joint Task Force].
MAJ WRIGHT: Did you ever talk ... ?
MAJ ANKLEY: When they wanted to talk to us, it was no problem. When we tried to talk to them [on] FM, for some reason ... . And all the units, all the units were listening, all the units were having the same problem getting into the execution, getting response on FM when they initiated a call to DRAGON 25 (I guess it was).
MAJ FLOYD: Yes, I think what we did ...
MAJ ANKLEY: What we did was we just punched in a secure line to our LNO out there and just left it as an open line for almost 48 hours.
MAJ WRIGHT: What about the ABCCC58? Did you talk to them at all?
MAJ ANKLEY: No.
MAJ WRIGHT: Because I know some of the stuff ... we used that as an alternate means of communications when they were having trouble. MG [James H.] Johnson, [Jr.] talked to LTG [Carl W.] Stiner.59
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes, but see the difference is the difference in where that got cut out. Even though we have the commo set up here, that was Task Force CHAMPION that was set up. Once Task Force CHAMPION was on the ground, they had all our assets here, they were supposed to stand up and Task Force BAYONET would have fallen under Task Force CHAMPION. That chop never took place. They never stood up CHAMPION, so we continued to work straight for corps, which we did the rest of the time. So the headquarters we ... .
MAJ WRIGHT: Any log problems, problems getting MREs60, problems getting water ...
MAJ ANKLEY: Well, we've had a problem with batteries and we still have it today. We've listed batteries in critical shortage for the last three days on our ops summary report. It's been listed as critical for the last three days on our logstat61 report, and still no answer on it.
MAJ WRIGHT: That was a critical problem at the JTF SOUTH level, because we scrounged batteries at Bragg.
MAJ ANKLEY: Our S-4 is very energetic in terms of making things happen. We didn't ask for sundry packs early on for the soldiers. They just got in yesterday. He just found a way of basically doing a local purchase through the PX62 ...
MAJ FLOYD: Yes.
MAJ ANKLEY: ... and we went out and we got sundry packs for our soldiers on day four or five.
MAJ FLOYD: Yeah. Female soldiers were okay.
MAJ ANKLEY: Yeah, everybody. So even though they finally got here in the pipeline and we got those out again as well, we didn't depend on them. We basically put a little production line--assembly line--together and made our own sundry packs to take care of the soldiers.
MAJ WRIGHT: POL63 no problem?
MAJ ANKLEY: No, not for us. We had to do some shifting and shuffling early on and we signed for, I think, two TPUs,64 two tankers, and some common SM. We had two tankers here in that mech battalion that were down and were kicked off so we could get them forward in time. We had two that were signed out from the Tropic Test Center.
MAJ WRIGHT: Maintenance not a big problem?
MAJ ANKLEY: Mech battalion stayed over 95 percent OR65 rate. All we need is the brigade end, and again, I'm sure that we had to ... we had the [S]-4 and the maintenance chief--they stayed forward. In the plans, one of the key things we did was worked on immediate evacuation. We had that piece of equipment go down, it was DX'd66, we were in there and we got it. We had VTRs67 in the mech battalion; a couple wreckers were able to get out. We did not wait. Somebody reported equipment down, we went there, we evacuated it back, got it fixed, got it back to them, and that was all part of the plan thought out in advance. Push forward, evac[uate] to the rear, and do it like that. All the [S]-4s in the units and the brigade [S]-4 were maintenance superior, did an outstanding job of making maintenance function.
MAJ WRIGHT: What about the [S]-1 side of the house, any problems there?
MAJ ANKLEY: The only problem, I think, was some initial disconnects, being in place in the brigade, part of USARSO for his own reports on his side of the house. The J-1 staff up there is made up of to a large extent of USARSO DSCPER68 people. Initial reportings we were submitting were going to them as well as the casualty reports to our internal organic AG casualty [at] USARSO, so there were disconnects in the initial reporting of casualties. It wasn't that the numbers weren't there, it was the cross walk wasn't taking place as to who's doing what function now.
What they got from the other units, corps units and everything else they processed as part of the corps reports and reported it that way. What they got from us, because the normal sorts of things that were organic to USARSO, they maintained to the side and processed that through our own AG casualty and those numbers weren't getting out in the overall total and report. Because somewhere there was a disconnect in how we report the deployed forces, how we report our own organic forces. Instead of reporting them together. Once we got that ironed out, got all the reporting requirements ironed out, it went fine.
MAJ WRIGHT: Final casualty figures for the brigade?
MAJ ANKLEY: Five killed, thirty-seven wounded.
MAJ WRIGHT: And you were able to ... did commanders get involved in subsequent writing the letters home and stuff like that?
MAJ ANKLEY: Always had been done. They were out ... initial letters written by commanders all submitted to the brigade commander for his review. He then wrote a letter as well. All those brigade casualties followed the regulation. We are not allowed to send them out by ourselves. They go to AG casualty to make sure notification has been made and they sent the letters on.
In addition to that, in some cases, we had soldiers in the hospital who had requested that someone contact their parents, let them know they were all right. I became the stuckee on that one. I initiated some phone calls at soldiers' request to their parents, just to let them know that yes, they were in fact wounded but they were fine and all good kinds of things.
MAJ WRIGHT: Strength when you jumped off. Some approximate sense of ... you know, were you close to ALO,69 or ...
MAJ ANKLEY: You might want to turn that off if we're going to talk about ALO. Task force present duty strength, 2,726. That's officer and enlisted.
MAJ WRIGHT: So you were ...
MAJ ANKLEY: That's the brigade, the mech task force, and MP battalion.
MAJ WRIGHT: So you were pretty much ... I mean, you weren't critically short on anything?
MAJ ANKLEY: We got the job done.
MAJ FLOYD: Yes. You look at numbers of forces in our area compared with what we had as assigned strength.
MAJ ANKLEY: That number includes all the support packages, battalions, their maintenance area, cooks, and everything else.
MAJ WRIGHT: What was basically the supporting thing which you ... you sent in feeders and then it was up to corps or JTF SOUTH to get anything you needed down to you?
MAJ ANKLEY: No, again because we're forward deployed, we're here. Technically yes, the support request went through a COSCOM.70 Once that was stood up as part of J-4 or J-1. Again, because the ... particularly in the initial 48 to 72 hours, we got things done by knowing where to go and where to get things.
Transportation, everybody had transportation problems. There's limited assets available here in-country to support anybody. In some cases, the equipment was there. It was a matter of somebody finding a truck to get it to us. Rather than waiting, we'd just go get it ourselves and push it forward. The colonel's attitude on everything the staff does is to be proactive, get the job done, get the support done for the soldier; don't make it more difficult.
MAJ WRIGHT: Anything else either of you can think of? Pluses, minuses, just general observations?
MAJ ANKLEY: I think the brigade did its ... accomplished its assigned mission in an outstanding fashion. We did provide support forward. We had gotten involved in the civil affairs programs and RAOs, which I think are a great success to the point of transition and turning it over to the personnel of the new government as they come on line. Here in the past year or so we've maintained the relationship that we have with the Panamanian people, as residents here in Panama. I think that was significant stuff.
Final lessons learned. Our surgeon found something to top load. Some of the guys on the staff that I sat and talked to and told them I expect them to get smart and get published in Military Review or maybe the logisticians' journal. Doc Torres, our brigade surgeon, rather than keep him in the rear, we pushed him forward to the battalion aid station as part of the plan. He got involved with treating our own casualties, and then the next thing we had was the enemy casualties, and we had an influx of civilians and refugees and everything else. And on the medical side of the house they were just overwhelmed. We're structured to handle our own casualties, limited amounts of possible enemy casualties that are processed through, but the sheer volume of refugees and civilians showing up in and around our aid station was phenomenal.
MAJ FLOYD: Doc Torres, this was his first assignment.
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes, and that's one of the reasons that we talked, you know, doing an article on how that was handled, how they worked, that whole process. That was very possibly not something that just happened here in Panama, but anywhere in the future where we do light force introduction it will just overwhelm the aid stations. And we have an obligation ... you know, we treat our own, by agreements we treat enemy, and if there is a civilian wounded or casualty around we're going to treat them too, like we can. But just sheer volume and numbers literally overwhelmed our aid station, and we got the job done one way or another but it was just a problem.
Logistic support. The [S]-4 is writing an article on that, particularly because we're configured different and we don't have that kind of support the States has. We do things a little bit light in order to support transportation, food, and a lot of other things that were little stories in themselves in this operation.
MAJ WRIGHT: Speaking of food, how long did you stay on MREs before you got a chance to start get hots?
MAJ ANKLEY: We gave them a hot meal I think on the third day, and that was the first time we did that.
MAJ WRIGHT: What did you do, Mermite it out to them?71
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes, and that was one of the [S]-4's concerns. Some of cans [?] made that transition; T-Rations or As, and again, staff, that's your job, whether at the brigade or the battalion level is to make that happen and make this go for everyone. By the way, brigade, in addition to distributing take 10,000-plus MREs a day to Panamanians, in addition to assisting the mess hall feeding at the refugee center, in addition to feeding the 82d TOC over at Ancon and a lot of other people. Soldiers from all units, we tried to support if at all possible, if we can help them out.
MAJ WRIGHT: I think that's been pretty much, from what I've seen, kind of the attitude I heard was that 'attached,' 'OPCON72,' all that other stuff on paper didn't matter on the ground. You took care of whoever was around you.
MAJ ANKLEY: Yes.
MAJ WRIGHT: And did your people that got separated out or cross-attached out give you any kind of feedback yet as to whether or not they were getting ...
MAJ ANKLEY: They're still attached.
MAJ WRIGHT: Oh, okay. Anything else? Okay, thank you very much, gentlemen. That concludes the interview.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
1. Quinta Compania de Infanteria 'Victoriano Lorenzo', a military police company stationed at Fort Amador. The facility was split between the Americans and the Panamanian Defense Force (PDF).
2. United States Army, South.
3. Cadillac-Gage armored cars in 4-wheel (V-150) and 6-wheel (V-300) configurations.
4. On the morning of 20 December 1989 the PDF hit the Fort Clayton compound with several rounds of 120mm mortar fire. The only damage done was to two privately owned vehicles.
5. AN/TPQ-37 mortar-locating radars.
6. Battery D, 320th Field Artillery. See also JCIT-002 and JCIT-003.
7. Joint Task Force SOUTH, the command and control headquarters for JUST CAUSE built around Headquarters, XVIII Airborne Corps.
8. Commander, 193d Infantry Brigade and Task Force BAYONET. Interview JCIT-007 was conducted immediately prior to this interview.
9. Military Police.
10. Infantry Division.
11. 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 6th Infantry.
12. Operations Plan. The final version of the JUST CAUSE OPLAN was Joint Task Force SOUTH's 90-2.
13. Staff Planning Exercises and Command Post Exercises.
14. Panama Canal Commission.
15. SAND FLEAs were local no-notice exercises intended to assert US rights under the Panama Canal Treaty; PURPLE STORMs were similar exercises conducted at a higher level.
16. The original plan for commitment of forces developed in Panama by USARSO and US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
17. Extending into the Pacific from Fort Amador and connecting three small offshore islands, including Flamenco Island, which was the base for the PDF's special operations unit.
18. Soviet-manufactured antiaircraft gun that was the critical weapon system the PDF had positioned permanently at Fort Amador.
19. US Air Force Crusader II ground attack jet. This was the most potent Air Force weapon in Panama, being provided on a rotating detachment basis by Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve squadrons.
20. Departamento Nacional de Investigaciones.
21. Direccion Nacional de Transito Terrestre.
22. 3d Battalion, 504th Infantry. The battalion from the 82d Airborne Division was in Panama undergoing training at the Jungle Operations Training Center at Fort Davis when the operation began and served with Task Force ATLANTIC. See JCIT-005 and JCIT-006.
23. 53d Infantry Brigade (Separate).
24. Air defense artillery.
25. Soviet-manufactured surface-to-air missile; correctly SA-7, the shoulder-fired weapon.
26. Military Airlift Command.
27. US Air Force COMBAT TALON.
28. A task force built around the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 508th Infantry, which deployed from Fort Kobbe.
29. AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters.
30. AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
31. The permanent element at Howard Air Base included the only squadron of Air Force OA-37 Dragonfly armed observation aircraft in the inventory.
32. 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation. The aviation element assigned permanently to USARSO.
33. The aviation element on NIMROD DANCER rotation from the 7th Infantry Division. At this time is was primarily composed of crews and aircraft from the 3d Battalion, 123d Aviation.
34. Tactical Operations Center.
35. Department of the Army. Actually, a small team from the Combat Camera Detachment out of Fort Meade, Maryland, happened to be in Panama when the operation began.
36. Landing craft, medium. The 1099th Transportation Company in USARSO operated LCM-8s.
37. Main Supply Routes.
38. Between May and December the brigade commander changed, as did the Commanding General of USARSO and the Commander in Chief of SOUTHCOM.
39. 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 6th Infantry.
40. See JCIT-010.
41. 1st Battalion (Airborne), 508th Infantry.
42. Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 519th Military Police Battalion, from Fort Meade, Maryland.
43. Top Secret. The various levels of operations plans for JUST CAUSE were highly classified and tightly compartmentalized.
44. Commanding General of USARSO.
45. Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence.
46. Psychological operations heavy broadcasting teams with M-998-series High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) mounting 450-watt loudspeaker systems.
47. M-102 105mm towed howitzer.
48. Low intensity conflict.
49. Unidad Especial de Seguridad Antiterror.
50. The tape was stopped at this point to furnish some classified background information that could not be included on the open-source tape.
51. A reference to escape and evasion. In reality, the individuals infiltrated from Fort Clayton to Sosa Hill to avoid giving the PDF any hint that something was about to happen.
52. Air liaison officer.
53. Command post.
54. Liaison officer.
56. Sergeant first class (Pay grade E-7) who ran the brigade communications section.
57. Frequency modulated (radio); commonly called "Fox-Mike."
58. Airborne Command and Control Center. At H-Hour this aerial platform was commanded by MG William A. Roosma, the XVIII Airborne Corps Deputy Commanding General. See JCIT-025.
59. MG Johnson commanded the 82d Airborne Division; LTG Stiner XVIII Airborne Corps and JTF SOUTH.
60. Meals, Ready-to-Eat.
61. Logistics status.
62. Post exchange.
63. Petroleum, oil and lubricants (Class III of supply).
64. Trailer pump units.
65. Operationally ready.
66. Direct exchanged.
67. M-578 tracked recovery vehicles.
68. Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel.
69. Authorized level of organization.
70. Corps support command.
71. Transport the hot food from the mess hall to the field site in Mermite cans.
72. Operational control. Each of these categories by definition places different responsibilities on units for support. The gist of the discussion is that people were taken care of without reference to legalities or technicalities.