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1-504th PIR's D-Day mission called for an air assault to seize and hold the hilltop garrison at Tinajitas. By nightfall, the "Red Devils" had accomplished their physically demanding task, and the following morning combat patrols eliminated remnants of the PDF still attempting to harass them from nearby positions. Geographically isolated from the rest of their brigade, the unit found themselves in an unexpected position. The civilian population expected them to perform government functions until the new regime could establish control. Battalion medics started health care programs while the rifle companies moved out to distribute MREs to the needy and help civilian workers get the local power plant back into operation. The unit won the trust of the population, leading directly to successful programs to recover weapons and persuade former PDF soldiers to turn themselves in. The battalion returned from Panama with a clear sense of the need to train on CMO.


As JUST CAUSE moved from initial combat to CMO, units became responsible for running major cities and towns. This follow-on mission for combat arms commanders required identifying what was important in terms of rebuilding a local infrastructure, reestablishing law and order, and dedicating resources to unfamiliar tasks. These unfamiliar tasks included food distribution and medical treatment of the local population, law enforcement, garbage collection, and traffic control. Commanders looked for ways to care for the population and for methods to gain their support and cooperation. Successful CMO were critical. CMO conducted by SF units in conjunction with conventional forces were extremely effective.


  • Combat arms units must be prepared to conduct MP tasks: traffic control, establishing law and order, searching private residences.

  • Incorporate CMO tasks into unit mission-essential task list (METL) and ARTEP mission training plans.

  • Conduct training and CTC exercises incorporating noncombatants.

  • Develop techniques to gain support of a hostile or apathetic population.

  • Establish medical civic action programs (MEDCAPs) to provide health care to non-combatants, incorporating U.S. doctors and local host nation medical personnel.

  • Use organic vehicles for garbage collection until local infrastructure is reestablished.

  • Plan to distribute food to local population, utilizing civic action groups.

  • Emphasize techniques in unit training that will gain the support and assistance of indigenous civilian personnel.

  • Dedicate CA assets to each maneuver battalion/brigade, especially for initial operations.

  • Use SF units, which have a language capability and knowledge of the local area, as liaison with the local population.

  • Concentrate engineers on both battle-damage repair and the upgrading of utilities to improve local infrastructure.

Table of Contents, Volume II
Tactical Use of PSYOP
Table of Contents for Volume III: Intelligence, Logistics, and Equipment

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias