Central America/Caribbean D+14 (23 July, 1987

For the second morning in a row, American airpower was in action over Nicaragua. Bombs and rained down on military targets across the country. Battlegroup Romeo joined in as well, launching a limited number of TLAMs against government buildings in Managua. The airstrikes marked the first use of F-111s in Southern Command’s AOR. Eight of the bombers flew missions against two targets outside of Managua (Author’s Note: Details of these missions remain Classified as of the present date) directly from Cannon AFB in the southwestern United States.

Around the same time US special operations troops went into action. Special Forces A-Teams, along with Contra rebels attacked Nicaraguan supply depots and troop staging areas in close proximity to the Honduran border. CIA operatives, along with Navy SEALs were active in Nicaraguan ports sabotaging fuel tank farms, repair facilities, and docks.

Daniel Ortega and the upper echelon of Nicaraguan leadership remained out of site for the entire day. State media reported the president was at an undisclosed command post and coordinating defensive measures. US intelligence services were devoting a large number of assets to tracking down Ortega, but failed to find his location on D+14. It was widely believed at the time that he was in hiding after two nights of powerful, accurate US attacks on Nicaragua’s center of government, as well as his personal home.

The anticipated Nicaraguan invasion of Honduras also failed to materialize on D+14. It was unclear if this was because of delays brought on by US and Contra attacks on Nicaraguan forces near the border, or if Ortega was having second thoughts. Cuban and Soviet advisers had fled the country and all attempts by him to contact Moscow and Havana failed. Nicaragua’s main allies were becoming increasingly indifferent to her problems.

Cuba continued to distance itself from the Soviet Union and project neutrality to the United States. The symbolic move of the day for Castro’s government was withdrawing the thick cordon of Cuban troops that had been arrayed around the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay since the war began. There were indications of internal fighting taking place at some Cuban airbases and army installations in the later part of the day. Apparently, not all Cuban officers, and soldiers were satisfied with their government’s decisions and actions in recent days.

Panama remained tense as clashes between anti-Noriega protesters and paramilitary and police units loyal to the Panamanian leader continued. In the early afternoon, as conditions in Panama City continued to deteriorate, Noriega addressed the nation. He called the a US-supported ‘Coup d’état in action,’ and pressed Panamanians to ‘rise up against the Gringo imperialists who desire to enslave this nation.’

In Washington a growing number of influential senior government officials were beginning to regard Manuel Noriega as serious threat to the US war effort. Given the importance of the Panama Canal and the near-constant stream of US naval traffic through the canal every day, the stability of Panama was of great concern to the US government. Jettisoning Noriega from power could bring that stability back to Panama permanently. Provided enough US military and intelligence assets could be committed to such an operation.

7 Replies to “Central America/Caribbean D+14 (23 July, 1987”

  1. Interesting perspective on things in Central America… and I imagine Ortega might be thinking he screwed up.

    Associates I have who were stationed down in Panama during this time-frame have mentioned the love/hate relationship of the PDF towards the US in real life…. and based on off-hand chats on stuff, the PDF rising up against US forces down there would be a mixed bag and decidedly not unified while the anti Noriega folks would be not much better though a bit more on message. You hint at this with the Anti-Noriega protests.

    The Army was a mixed bag of loyalties, the para-military (aka bullies with guns) very Noriega and the cops… really depended on if they were appointed or the local “beat” cop for who they sided with.

    In a phrase, its a damn mess down there. Was in real life and no doubt the same for the story here…. and sometimes, truth is far stranger than fiction.

    If we ever get a meetup for Coffee, I can possibly drag one of the two who know it with me. Both very well read men…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the Mexican government allowed the F-111s to transit Mexican airspace, and also allowed for AR tracks to be established over southern Mexico.


  2. Ahahaha suck it, Ortega. This has got to be quite a shock to the world who assumed that in the event of a conventional WW3, the US would JUST be capable of fighting on two fronts (which was the plan)…and now they’re fighting on *three* fronts, and holding it all down pretty well. Well, wait, four if you consider the M-E a separate front.

    In your Timeline the US is going to emerge as *the* hyperpower (to borrow a word from the lexicon of Thomas P.E. Barnett) for a long, *long* time. Even more than it did after the end of the Cold War in reality.

    Liked by 3 people

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