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Special Forces Berlin
by James Stejskal




Home > Conflicts > Panama

In May 1962 an element of 7th SFGA located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina traveled to Fort Gulick, Panama to establish the 8th Special Forces Group. 8th Group formed the nucleaus of the Special Action Group. 8th Group was deactivated in 1972 and the unit redesignated as 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group.

Map of Panama

8th Special Forces Group. The 8th Group had two "C" teams - company-sized elements commanded by a LTC. Each "C" team had 3 "B" teams and each "B" team had 5 "A" teams for a total of 30 Special Forces "A" teams. The 8th SAF also operated an Airborne School, Underwater Operations School, and NCO Academy.

Special Action Group (SAF). The Special Action Group Latin America, formed around the 8th SFGA, included a Military Intelligence detachment, a Medical detachment, a Military Police detachment, an Engineer detachment, an Army Security Agency detachment, and a Psychological Operations element.

3rd Battalion 7th Special Forces Group. 3/7th was formed up after the deactivation of 8th SFGA in 1972. With the scaling back of the Vietnam War the Army's size was being reduced. High ranking senior Army officers wanted to leave Vietnam and 'counterinsurgency' behind; looking forward to the need of an Army that would fight a large-scale conventional battle against the Soviet bloc countries in Europe. Units like Special Forces that were steeped in counterinsurgency and foreign internal defense were deemed unecessary.

Operation Just Cause. In December 1989 the United States mounted an invasion of Panama - callled Operation Just Cause. Two Special Forces units participated in this operation - 7th Special Forces Group and Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH). 7th SFGA had its 3rd Battalion stationed in the Panama Canal Zone and SOCSOUTH was located at Fort Clayton, also in the Panama Canal Zone. During the operation, lasting from December 19, 1989 to January 31, 1990 elements of 7th SFGA conducted reconnaissance and direct action missions.

Operation Acid Gambit. Learn about a secret operation to rescue a Central Intelligence Agency operative, Kurt Muse, from imprisonment during the initial hours of the invasion of Panama in December 1989. "Operation Acid Gambit: Panama, Noriega and a CIA man", We Are the Mighty, August 10, 2023.

Operation Promote Liberty. When combat operations ceased Operation Promote Liberty ensued. U.S. Army Special Operations fanned out over the entire country - living in villages in rural areas, restoring public services, and mentoring the newly established Panamanian Police Force.


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