Accession Number:



Operational Art during Operation Just Cause

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Technical Report,25 Jun 2018,23 May 2019

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US Army School of Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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During Operation Just Cause, the United States conducted a large scale limited contingency operation against the Panamanian Defense Force. Operation Just Cause began at 0100 hours on 20 December 1989. It caught the civilized world completely by surprise. LTG Carl Stiner, XVIII Airborne Corps XVIII ABC and JTF South Commander, led a massive joint task force that included elements from the 7th Infantry Division, 82nd Airborne Division, 5th Mechanized Division, 6th Marine Expeditionary Battalion, Joint Special Operations Forces, and the 193rd Light Infantry Brigade. The policy objectives were to restore democracy and remove Manuel Noriega. Most historical studies of this operation focus on the unprecedented lead time, prepositioning, and force ratio overmatch as explanations for the overwhelming success of Operation Just Cause. This monograph fills a gap by focusing on JTF planning and execution through the lens of operational art. This study conducts a structured, focused comparison of Operation Just Cause posing seven research questions generated from the theory of operational art. These questions focus on testing four research hypotheses to determine if JTF plans were flexible, accounted for operational tempo, extended operational reach, and mitigated operational risk as an indicators that JTF South employed operational art. The empirical evidence examined supports this monographs thesis that Operation Just Cause successfully achieved the aims of US foreign policy because JTF South employed the theory of operational art during planning and execution. JTF South planning ensured that plans were flexible, maintained a higher operational tempo in relation to the enemy, extended operational reach, and mitigated operational risk throughout the planning and execution of Operation Just Cause.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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