During JUST CAUSE, 2-504th PIR cleared much of eastern Panama City. Following a METT-T analysis, the commander task-organized to make the best use of limited assets: 700 men, a handful of high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs), and some commercial vehicles. The sector was divided into a network of smaller zones. Several facilities and critical road junctions were identified that needed constant security. Each day a mobile task force composed of the Scout Platoon and D/2-504 escorted the rifle companies into a zone and dropped them off. Each company commander positioned his CP at a critical intersection. This doubled as a central point for the weapons collection program and as a patrol base for sending out foot patrols. Every patrol followed carefully planned routes without creating a predictable pattern that could lead to ambush. The mobile elements then swept back through areas cleared the previous day and conducted initial reconnaissance of the zones still to be cleared.
U.S. units operating in Panama City were given the mission to secure key sites and to clear the city of weapons and PDF/DIGBAT personnel. Units established roadblocks for site security and to deny access to parts of the city. Checkpoints were used to control the flow of traffic and personnel through the city. At these checkpoints, soldiers inspected personal identification and searched vehicles. They seized unauthorized weapons, detained questionable personnel, and reestablished law and order.
- Place roadblocks and checkpoints in depth. Move roadblocks/checkpoints frequently to avoid pattern setting. The enemy knows the terrain and will figure out your pattern, finding ways to avoid the obstacles.
- Establish SOPs for movable roadblocks and checkpoints. Store pre-packaged roadblock equipment on vehicles and rehearse setting up quickly to keep the enemy off balance.
- Ensure roadblocks/checkpoints are easily discernible when ROE dictate that use of deadly force requires hostile intent. Attempts to run well-marked obstacles signal deliberate action.
- Constantly consider the balance between force protection and the ROE when positioning roadblocks.
- Make roadblock turnover procedures as detailed as minefield turnover or relief-in-place procedures.
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