by Max Barry

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Panama Coalition National Guard


Panama Coalition





Reserve force


Law-Enforcement Duties, Army Reserve


  • 720.000 Total troops,

  • 250.000 active troops

  • 470.000 troops in reserve

Part of

The Panama Coalition Defense Forces


Fort Sherman

La Guardia Nacional (National Guard): The National Guard is a military force with police and military functions. It is the military reserve of the army of the Defense Forces of the Panama Coalition. It has no naval or air force. The majority of National Guard soldiers hold a civilian full-time job while serving part-time as a National Guard member.

The National Guard is organized into units stationed in each of the States of the Federal Republic of Panama Coalition. Among its functions are: Defense of the National Territory, combat insurrections and repel invasions and can activate the personnel to "Active Duty" in response to natural or man-made disasters or Homeland Defense missions, reconstruction tasks, military police, troop support to the Public Security Forces in emergency situations or restore public order in serious situations (violent disturbances that the National Police can not control), and to assist and provide security in case of natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.). They can also use them to support the police in operations against crime.

They can also be activated for service in their respective states upon declaration of a state of emergency by the State President of the state or territory where they serve, or in the case of Panama D.C., by the Commanding General. Unlike Defense Force Army Reserve members, National Guard members cannot be mobilized individually, except through voluntary transfers and Temporary Duty Assignments

National Guard units may be mobilized to participate in regular armed forces during times of war or national emergency. All members are volunteers, who enter after compulsory military service. Some serve part time 6 weeks a year and all weekends and others serve full time and live in military bases of the National Guard. Soldiers may resign at any time, but generally serve until the age of 60, and then enter the Reserve Troops. Those citizens who choose not to serve in the National Guard are part of the Reserve of the Defense Forces while their physical health allows it.

The National Guard is organized into fully equipped Light Infantry Divisions, capable of being quickly mobilized by land or airborne. It does not have Main Battle Tanks, but it has enough light vehicles to be considered Motorized Divisions. It has towed artillery, lots of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and versatile engineering battalions. It depends on the National Air Service (SAN), the Airnaval Service (SENAN) and the Panamanian Air Force (FAP) for the air support, for which it has units of liaison with these aerial branches.


The creation of the current structure of the National Guard occurred at the end of the war in Southern Mexico in 1996. At the end of this war, the decision was made to professionalize the Defense Forces, where it was passed from an Armed Forces of conscripts to professional soldiers. However, the military forces historically had supported the police forces in maintaining order and public safety, among many other functions. This would also mean that more than a million men and women would be unemployed, who were trained in the use of weapons and would be without work. Therefore, it was decided to create, in each of the Federal States, a National Guard Reserve Division, exclusively of light infantry, who would have a double function of Army Reserve by orders of the Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in addition to collaborating in the public safety of each one of its Federal States by orders of each State President. At the beginning, most of the members of the National Guard were former guerrillas, former paramilitaries and former soldiers, who did not have a job or needed a place to live, but wanted to gradually integrate into civilian life after periods of war and revolutions between 1977 and 1996.

The National Guard of Panama was created in 1953. "From the point of view of the anti-subversive doctrine that dominates the Latin American panorama, the National Guard, and especially its cadre of officers, could well be considered as the cream of the anti-guerrilla war in relation to To the rest of the Latin American countries. In fact, of the 3,369 Latin American soldiers trained in the year 1966 alone by the United States abroad, that is, in the different schools of the Canal Zone, 757 were officers, classes and troops from The rigorously selected Panamanian National Guard, against only 305 Venezuelans, 241 Peruvians, 214 Colombians, 158 Brazilians and 59 Guatemalans, all of the latter then involved in operations against rural and urban guerrillas. The breadth and intensity of the learning carried out by the officers of the National Guard in the zoneíta university of the counter - insurgency, can be measured by the record of the then General d e Omar Torrijos Brigade: “courses on operation in the jungle, guerrilla warfare and counter-insurrection operations that were dictated at Fort Sherman, in the Panama Canal Zone; and in the higher command and staff courses that took place at Fort Gulick at the Pentagon, Washington, USA." (Pereira 1979).

In 1968 the coup d'état of October 11 took place, where a Board of 3 Officers assumed the government of Panama, passing it on to General Torrijos until 1981, then General Paredes until 1983 and finally General Noriega until 1989. From 1968 to 1989, in Operation "Just Cause", the National Guard assumed the responsibilities of public power.

Before those dates, in the 19th century, there were several bodies of the National Guard or citizens' militias, which were later abolished a few years later in the constituent states of the Panama Coalition. Two of the National Guard corps assimilated by the Modern Federal National Guard of the Panama Coalition were the dissolved Salvadoran National Guard (1912-1992) and the Nicaraguan National Guard (1930-1979).

From the National Guard of El Salvador, part of the Code of Honor and Ethics of the modern National Guard was adopted, with articles such as:

- “Honor is the main motto of the National Guard; it must therefore keep it spotless. Once lost it is never recovered ”.

- "Always faithful to its duty, serene in the face of danger and carrying out its functions with dignity, prudence and firmness, the National Guard will be more respected than those who only manage to spoil everyone with threats."

In this way we observe that the performance of the National Guards is the exteriorization of a philosophy put in the defense of the noblest ideals of the Nation and in the protection of the goods and people that make up the society of the Panama Coalition.

This is how the members of the National Guard is impregnated with civic, moral and ethical values, in all their actions. Each Guard knows that he is representing such a prestigious Institution and therefore must be the example of honesty, self-denial, without any commitment, other than serving the nation.


National Guard Missions:

  1. Defense of the National Territory.

  2. Combat insurrections and repel invasions.

  3. Civil support and law enforcement.

  4. Reconstruction tasks.

  5. Military police, troop support to the Public Security Forces in emergency situations or restore public order in serious situations (violent disturbances that the National Police can not control).

  6. To assist and provide security in case of natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.).

  7. To support the police in operations against crime, counter drug and organized crime.

  8. Overseas training and expeditionary missions.


Diagram detailing the Integrated Command of the National Guard

The National Guard is administered by the National Guard Secretary, which under the Ministry of Defense. The National Guard Secretary provides a communication channel for state National Guards to the Ministry of Defense. The National Guard Secretary also provides policies and requirements for training and funds for state National Guard units. The Chief of National Guard Staff is a 4-star General, and is subordinate to the Joint Chief of Staff Commander of the Armed Forces, who in turn follows the orders of the Supreme Federal President.

Operating Forces

The Panamanian National Guard is organized into the Strategic Commands, each responsible for a specific set of operational assets based on role.

COMPOSITION: There is one division for each Federal State.

Total: 58 Light Infantry Divisions (Motorized).

Each Light Infantry Division of the National Guard has 7.000 - 10.000 troops.

National Guard Light Division Organization:

  • 3 Light Infantry Brigades: 162 Javelin anti-tank missiles

    • 3 battalions of light infantry each (2 Battalions is in reserve).

              - 3 rifle company each: (6) Javelin anti-tank missiles

  • 1 Cavalry Brigade: 112 LAV-300A2; 224 Hummer; 112 M1117Guardian.

    • 2 Cavalry Battalions: (56) LAV-300A2 and (56) Hummer each.

        - 4 Light Armored Vehicles company each (3 Companies is in reserve).

    • 2 Armed Reconnaissance Battalions: (56) M1117 Guardian and (56) Hummer each.

        - 4 Light Armored Vehicles company each (3 Companies is in reserve).

  • 1 Air Defense Battalion: (12) HMMWV Avenger Air Defense System; 3-4 M167A3 Vulcan Air Defense System (Towed)

  • 1 Company of Military Police: (24) Sandcat

  • 1 Mobile Support Battallion: 40 HMMWVs (Hummers), 300 M939 Trucks

  • 1 Artillery Battalion: (6) M198 (155mm) Howitzer towed and (6) M119 (105mm) Howitzer towed

  • 1 Engineer Battalion

      - 3 Engineer Company

  • 1 Signal Battalion.

  • 1 Military Intelligency Battalion.

  • 1 Command Company.

Chief of Staff of the Panama Coalition National Guard

Vladimir P. Lopez
Major General (Four Stars); Chief of National Guard Staff


FGM-148 Javelin Anti-tank Missile: 162 launchers.
Warhead: Tandem shaped charge HEAT Penetration 600-800 mm.
Guidance system: infrared homing.
Effective firing range: 4.750 m.
Weight: 22.3 kg.
Crew: 2

FIM-92 Stinger Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS): 30 teams (30 launchers)
Warhead: High explosive annular blast fragmentation.
Guidance system: Infrared homing.
Effective firing range: 5.500 - 8.000 m.
Weight: 15.19 kg.
Crew: 2

LAV-300A2 (Light Armored Vehicle): 112 vehicles.
Armament: 1 x 90mm Gun cannon Cockerill CSE 90LP (or 25mm M242 Bushmaster), 1 x 12.7mm machine gun and 1 x 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
Armor: hull with protection against 14.5 mm munition; mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The armor is angled presenting no vertical surfaces, deflecting many rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) hits.
Weight: 16 t.
Crew: 3 + 9 troops carrier capacity.

Is fully amphibious with no need for preparation for fording or swimming with pump jets for amphibious operations.

Unlike the previous models, the LAV-300A2 does not have a steel armor, but of composites materials (Kevlar ?) that provide resistance against ammunition of 14.5 mm without significant weight gain. It have a V8 turbocharged and after-cooled diesel engine of better performance, more power and greater speed. It has GPS navigation system, night vision, laser targeting system, thermal visor for driver and an advanced communication system by datalink.

The Panamanian variant CMI Defense CSE90 Weapon System is a two man turret especially designed to mount the Cockerill gun. The turret is spacious, comfortable, and ergonomic, with low weight and profile. Main armament of the CSE90 is the Cockerill Mk3 90 mm low pressure gun. (storage of 40 ammunition of 90mm). Its 90 mm gun is stabilized; The Cockerill CSE 90LP turret incorporates a Gunner’s day sight as standard, with night vision (image intensifying or thermal imaging) as an option. The weapon is aimed at target using an electro-mechanical gun and turret drive system. This permits fast movement of gun and turret during normal operation, and excellent slow-speed target-tracking for precision engagement. A laser range finder and ballistic computer permit precise target engagement. The Gunner’s sight image may be displayed at the Commander’s station to permit full command and control. The commander has five observation periscopes and the gunner has four. Equipment includes commander's cupola with vision periscopes for improved all-round observation, and various types of sights for the commander and gunner including day, image intensifier, thermal sight, laser range-finder and ballistic computer. The Cockerill CSE 90LP turret provides a basic protection against small arms firing 7.62mm NATO caliber STANAG 4569 Level 1 and to maximum STANAG 4569 Level 4 with ballistic protection against 25mm APDS-T (M791) or TLB 073 ammunitions at 500 meters with 1258 m/s. The CSE90 is powered by a electro-mechanical control system allowing fast and precise turret and gun movements.

M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle (ASV) / Light Armored Vehicle: 112 vehicles.
Armament: a turret with 1 x 12.7mm heavy machine gun, 1 x 40mm automatic grenade launcher and 1 x 5.56mm auxiliar machine gun
Armor: Hull with protection against 7.62 mm munition; mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The armor is angled presenting no vertical surfaces, deflecting many rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) hits.
Weight: 13,4 t
Crew:3 + 7 troops carrier.

Hummer (HMMWV) Light Utility/Armored Vehicle: +300 vehicles.
Armament: a 12.7mm or 7.62mm machine gun or a TOW missile launcher.
Armor: Light Armored Vehicle: hull with protection against 7.62 mm munition. / Light Utility Vehicle: hull with protection against 5.56 mm munition.
Weight: 2,4 – 2,7 t
Crew: 3 + 2-10 troops.

HMMWV Avenger Air Defense System: 12 Vehicles.
Armament: 8 Stinger antiaircraft missiles; 2 x 12.7 mm Heavy Machine gun.
Armor: protection against 5.56 mm munition.
Weight: 3.9 t.
Crew: 2

M167A3 Vulcan Air Defense System (Towed): 3-4 units. (200 in total).
Armament: 1 x 20 mm M168 Minigun.
Armor: -
Guidance system: director reticle sight and the sight current generator with a digital processor; thermal imagery sight.
Effective firing range: 1.200 - 2.000 m.
Weight: 1.588 kg.
Crew: 1

The M167 Vulcan Air Defense System (VADS) is a towed short-range anti-aircraft gun designed to protect forward area combat elements and rear area critical assets. It was also used to protect warplane airfields and Army helicopter airfields. It was also effective against lightly armored ground targets. The M167A2 VADS was modified with an improved fire-control subsystem. The improvement was obtained by replacing the disturbed reticle sight with a director reticle sight, the sight current generator with a digital processor, and the azimuth drive assembly with a harmonic drive. It also had an extra wheel put on each side which prevented flipping by providing a longer lever.

Sandcat (Rapid Patrol and Rescue Armored Vehicle): 24 vehicles.
(National Guard Military Police).
Armament: 1 x 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun or 40-mm automatic grenade launcher.
Armor: protection against 7.62 mm munition; mine blast-absorbing seats; mine protection.
Weight: 5 - 6.9 t.
Crew: 4-8 troops.

M939 5 ton Medium multi-purpose truck: 300 vehicles.
Armament: 1 x 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun (optional).
Armor: -
Weight: 22,750 lb (10,320 kg)
Crew: 1 +2 in cabin.

M119 (105 mm) Towed Howitzer: 6 units
Range: 14.5 -19.5 km
Weight: 2,13 t.
Crew: 5 to 7

M198 (155mm) towed Howitzer: 6 units
Range: Conventional 22.4 km; RAP 30 km.
Weight: 7,154 t.
Crew: 9