D+11 (20 July, 1987)
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega condemns Cuban leader Fidel Castro during a 90 minute speech. He accuses Castro of ‘cowardice’ and ‘betraying the revolution.’ Ortega vows that Nicaragua will continue the fight against American imperialism, and promises to assist Manuel Noriega in evicting the Americans from Panama. A short time later additional Nicaraguan troops, and armored vehicles leave their camps headed for the Honduran border.
Back-channel discussions between US and Cuban officials begin discreetly in Miami.
US Southern Command intelligence estimates a major Nicaraguan ground offensive will take place against Honduras in the next 36-48 hours.
D+12 (21 July, 1987)
Shortages in food and other basic necessities sparks riots and violence in Jamaica. The Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) is deployed to support the national police force.
A second wave of reinforcements prepare to depart the United States for Southern Command’s AOR. Two more infantry battalions of the 7th Infantry Division (Light) will leave Fort Ord for Honduras, and three more Air National Guard squadrons receive their warning orders.
US Army Special Forces A-Teams in Nicaragua, working in tandem with Contra rebels conduct operations to slow down the Nicaraguan armor now en route to the Honduran border.
Battlegroup Romeo moves to a point 110 miles off Nicaragua’s west coast.
Anti-US demonstrations in Panama turn violent. Outside of Fort Clayton shots ring out as crowds attempt to rush the gate. US Army MPs return fire and use tear gas to disperse the crowds.
D+13 (22 July 1987)
At 0200 hours local time Battlegroup Romeo fires ten Tomahawk missiles (Land Attack variant aka TLAM) at targets in Managua, the Nicaraguan capital. Two of the missiles come from the destroyer USS Merrill, the remainder are launched by the USS New Jersey. Thirty minutes later explosions are seen, heard, and felt around the city. Three government buildings, and Daniel Ortega’s residence just outside of Managua are struck by US cruise missiles. Two hours, later as dawn approaches, USAF A-7 Corsairs and F-4E Phantoms flying out of Howard AFB attack two of Nicaragua’s largest airbases.
The 40 remaining Soviet military advisers in Nicaragua are airlifted to Cuba.
Cuban officials affirm the US suspicion that Castro’s 18 July speech was a signal that Cuba will not launch attacks against US territory, or American forces in the region. Cuba is not a participant in this war, they stress.
In Panama City, the first major anti-Noriega protests take place, catching the Panamanian leader, and his supporters off guard. Afternoon demonstrations are attended by an estimated 40,000 Panamanians in the capital. By evening clashes take place across Panama City neighborhoods between anti-Noriega elements and paramilitary militia units loyal to the president.