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In the heart of the jungle, Army helps thwart illegal trafficking networks – Soldier of Fortune Magazine

In the heart of the jungle, Army helps thwart illegal trafficking networks – Soldier of Fortune Magazine
Brokers from Panama’s Nationwide Border Service wait to load slings onto a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook headed to the Darien Province in the Republic of Panama, Jan. 11, 2019. The brokers loaded development provides similar to cinderblocks, concrete and rebar onto the plane which then carried the provides into the jungle. (Photograph Credit score: Destinee Sweeney)


By Dr. Michael E. Krivdo, PhD, USASOC

Twenty-nine years in the past on December 20, 1989, parts of the 1st and third battalions of the seventh Particular Forces Group seized the Pacora River Bridge in japanese Panama. Their actions prevented the Panamanian Protection Forces (PDF) posted at close by Fort Cimarron from interfering with deliberate American operations at close by Tocumen Army Airfield and Omar Trujillos Worldwide Airport, in addition to Las Tinajitas, house to the PDF’s 1st Infantry Firm.

Infiltrated by three blackhawk helicopters at 0045 hours on the 20th, the small assault pressure of 24 Inexperienced Berets landed simply as a convoy of PDF vans approached the bridge.

Closely laden with weapons, ammo, and gear, the Particular Forces Troopers arrange a hasty ambush alongside a 35-foot embankment alongside the street and fired a 66mm mild antitank weapon (LAW) at the lead car in an approaching PDF convoy.

As the column halted, different Particular Forces opened with LAWs and AT-Four rockets whereas the mission commander, Main Kevin M. Higgins, referred to as for help from a circling AC-130 ‘Spectre’ gunship.

Map displaying the location of the Pacora River Bridge in relation to Fort Cimarron and the preliminary aims of Operation JUST CAUSE. (Photograph Credit score: USASOC Historians Workplace) Panama

Regardless of the shut proximity of the enemy, the Spectre pounded the PDF automobiles with “devastating accuracy,” strolling their hearth over the line of road-bound automobiles and forcing the PDF troopers to dismount and search cowl away from the street.

Abruptly, three PDF automobiles approached the bridge from the west and have been equally engaged by a second AC-130 plane simply arriving on station to alleviate the first. For a number of minutes the two Spectre gunships fired on enemy targets to the east and west of the bridge till the PDF to the west broke contact and fled.

The second plane then assumed place over the SF Troopers, permitting the first plane to interrupt off for gasoline and ammunition. The state of affairs stabilized, and a motorized unit arrived round 0600 to alleviate Higgins’ males.

The Particular Forces component suffered no critical casualties of their seizure of the bridge. However the Panamanians couldn’t declare the similar. In addition to dropping 4, 2 1/2-ton vans and a pickup truck, the enemy suffered 4 troopers killed and one wounded.

Seventeen PDF troops have been additionally captured in the struggle, together with a big quantity of weapons together with machineguns, mortars, and recoilless rifles. The mission, one of the first actions in Operation Simply Trigger, was a hit.

In the heart of the jungle, Army helps thwart illegal trafficking networks
By Destinee Sweeney

DARIEN PROVINCE, Republic of Panama — Deep in the jungles of Panama, Nationwide Border Service brokers, also called SENAFRONT, await in a clearing, anticipating development provides that may assist them, as they put together to take down illicit drug and human trafficking networks that span the Americas.

The dense wilderness surrounding the brokers appears alive- the breeze rustles the timber making them dance, the mountains stand tall in the distance guarding over the valley under, and the air is crammed with the sounds of nature.

A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook carries provides to the Darien Province in the Republic of Panama, Jan. 9, 2019. The provides have been for the Nationwide Border Service who’re constructing a brand new outpost in the jungle to cease drug trafficking networks. (Photograph Credit score: Destinee Sweeney)

A whirring noise seems in the distance, seeming at first to be a trick of the senses. Steadily, the whisper evolves right into a roar, overtaking the space as a CH-47 Chinook peeks over the jungle cover and the clearing erupts into chaos as the power of the plane blades whips up the mud and particles that beforehand lay stagnant.

“Bravo Company of the 1st (Battalion) 228th Aviation (Regiment) assigned to Joint Task Force-Bravo is part of a broader U.S. effort to assist the Panamanian government and their national border police with setting up a remote operating base out in the Darien jungle,” stated Capt. Jennifer West, 1-228th Avn. Regt Bravo firm commander and Chinook pilot.

The 1-228th Avn. Regt Chinook crews offered air transportation help from Jan. Four-12 for the first part of the operation, named “Darien Lift.”

“A SENAFRONT installation is under construction and a lot of equipment must be moved to build it,” stated Juan Carlos Varela, President of the Republic of Panama. “We do not have the equipment to transfer that amount of cargo in order to install this new SENAFRONT station, they are cooperating in that.”

As a result of the outpost being situated far previous the place the street ends, JTF-Bravo’s maneuverable rotary wing-assets can carry extra weight in a quicker method than the various, which is to both backpack the almost 2 million kilos of wanted provides, reminiscent of concrete and cinderblocks, or to navigate them by way of the jungle waterways by way of boats.

West described the mission as one that might be extraordinarily difficult with out the airlift help and considers it “satisfying to know we’re actually making an impact and helping the Panamanians establish a security presence in the Darien, where there’s really nothing out there but jungle.”

She defined the presence will assist SENAFRONT fight narco-drug traffickers and stop their smuggled contraband from getting onto the Pan-American Freeway, the transcontinental street exploited by well-financed and heavily-armed transnational felony teams who gasoline insecurity and instability as they proceed their trafficking operations in the direction of nations north of Panama.

Final yr alone, the Panamanian Safety Providers confiscated greater than 72 metric tons of narcotics, holding them off the streets of the Americas.

“With this being a binational issue that also has regional effects, the U.S. government has kindly offered to support us in this effort,” stated Jonattan Del Rosario, Public Safety Minister of Panama. “It is closely related to the binational posts that we are building in collaboration with Colombia, mainly because of the phenomenon of drug trafficking, although the irregular flow of migrants is also monitored from these centers. That is why we have developed an important effort to also pursue human trafficking networks in this administration, resulting in the effective dismantling of 22 of these networks.”

JTF-Bravo operates out of Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, supporting its Central American neighbors as the associate of selection and serving to allies to develop capabilities and enhance regional safety. This yr will mark the fourth Darien Carry the U.S. Army has supported. Thus far, the crews have been capable of transport 305,000 kilos of supplies and are scheduled to return to proceed the operation.

The Chinook is a multi-role helicopter utilized in a spread of conditions from carrying Troopers to their locations to aiding fight missions. Except for supporting this operation, the CH-47 was additionally used to fight Darien wildfires in 2016.

“The relationship between Panama and the United States is certainly a strong one, (us) being the partner of choice,” stated West. “When the Panamanians request help from the United States government I think it hits home that we are here to help.”

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