“A source close to the family of Manuel Noriega says the former Panamanian dictator has died at age 83. The onetime U.S. ally was ousted as Panama’s dictator by an American invasion in 1989 and spent years in prison in several countries.”
Operation Just Cause (Blue Spoon) resulted in the death of 26 U.S. troops and more than 325 wounded. PDF casualties were estimated at about 235 military and wildly divergent (200-3,000) figures when it comes to civilian casualties.
A Panama Defence Force patch for the Septima Compania de Infanteria ‘Macho de Monte’ (7th Infantry Co) which, along with Battallion 2000, were considered the elite of Noriega’s forces. The force was named after a fierce wild boar native to Panama. Trained in both COIN and commando operations, this was the force that primarily put down the 3 October coup against Noriega and had 200 troops headquartered at the Rio Hato Airfield in the Cocle province some 45 miles from Panama City and 50~troops at La Comandancia in the capital. These were the hard cases of the PDF. (Patch is Currently on display at the USAF Armament Museum. Photo by Chris Eger)
“Jump Into Night, Torrijos Airport by Al Sprague Panama, 1989” The operation used 27,000 U.S. active, reserve and National Guard troops and included combat parachute jumps, Delta operations to rescue high-value personnel, and extensive use of Naval Special Operations to hobble the PDF.
Troops on the ground in Just Cause, note the extra M203 rounds. The 10,000-strong joint Canal Zone garrison of USSOUTHCOM was reinforced by 17,000 from the Fort Ord-based 7th Infantry Division and elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps among others.
U.S. Army M-113 near the destroyed Panamanian Defense Force Headquarters in Operation Just Cause, 21 December 1989. The PDF and their Dignity Battalion irregulars amounted to about 20,000 under arms, though only about 3,500 were serious infantry troops.