Despite the meticulous planning for OPLAN 90-2, there were a number of external factors that disrupted overall timeline and sequence of events. The plan was to assault and seize the Omar Torrijos International Airport after the last commercial passenger flight was scheduled to arrive at 2300. However, the flights arrival was delayed by two hours. The plan was to give enough time for the passengers to get their luggage and clear the airport prior to the assault. Weather conditions also became an issue for the departing forces. Soldiers traveling by convoy from Fort Ord to Travis Air Force Base had to combat a thick fog, coupled with Christmas traffic making the 150-mile trip very difficult. Upon arrival to the base, not all of the
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19). Not all PDF had been alerted of the attack, but the ones that had were posturing for the fight. Roadblocks were set up by the PDF along routes to their Headquarters in Panama City. A group of PDF forces infiltrated Albrook Air Force Base (AFB) and fired upon US SOF personnel, wounding two Americans, that happed to have been loading a helicopter on its way to seize the Pacora Bridge, an essential choke point to prevent the arrival of PDF reinforcement into Panama City.
Due to the attack on Albrook AFB, General Stiner shifted the assault of “H-hour up by 15 minutes” so the seizure on the bridge would still be successful (CHS, 2006, p. 20). The SOF assault force arrived just in time as headlights of the PDF vehicles in the distance were approaching. The assault was successful with the backup fire support of an AC-130 aircraft. The bridge was held up all night stopping the PDF from arriving at their destination.
The seizure of Omar Torrijo International Airport and Toccumen Airfield was another critical objective during Operation JUST CAUSE. Luckily, the PDF in this area had not been tipped off at these Objectives. Four Ranger Companies through an airborne assault successfully seized both airfields. However, due to the delayed arrival of the passenger aircraft and the elevated time line of H-hour, there were still approximately 400 civilians in the