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Old 07-02-2017, 11:07 PM
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Default The Panama Connection <DRAFT>

The Panama Connection


Early 1996, the United States government determined that giving up control over the Panama Canal as per the Panama Canal Treaties would be a strategically bad decision given the seemingly unavoidable entry of the United States into the current hostilities around the world.

By this time, there were almost constant political protests and even several attacks on the locks of the Canal itself by anti-US protestors of the ELN (The National Liberation Army of Panama) as well as fervent vocal opposition to the United States occupation of the PCZ from more radical elements of the Panamanian Government itself.

Panamanian President Ernesto Pérez Balladares was also under increasing pressure from FARC Forces to the South and the Panamanian Public Forces were having a very hard time keeping the Southern border secure.

Because of the growing concerns about the Panamanian Government's instability and the United States ability to keep the PCZ clear and open to both commercial but especially US Military traffic, President Tanner approved a change to the USSOUTHCOM structure and a major realignment of US forces throughout Panama and even part of Central America and the Caribbean. By May 1996 Secretary of Defence Samuel McGregor oversaw the successful relocation of the entire USSOUTHCOM command along with close to 10000 additional United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine personnel and their assorted equipment and vehicles to the PCZ.

Over the next few months, violence intensifies as the ELN starts to receive support from several foreign anti-US groups. US Intelligence sources even receive information that GRU agents from Cuba are working with both FARC and ELN forces as combat advisors. In response, the US increases its intelligence assets in the area and by the end of 1996, every US Intelligence Agency has a field office and an increased presence in the region.

As the war in Europe escalates, July 1997 sees the beginning of tactical nuclear strikes from the Soviets. In an attempt to stabilize the region so the US could focus on the escalations in Europe, the State Department decides to send an under-secretary to Panama to try and de-escalate the violence. The Under-Secretary of State Michelle Pena and her entourage arrived in Panama on Tuesday July 29th for meetings the following day with multiple contacts within the Panamanian Government.

While leaving meetings with the Panamanian government and heading back to the US Embassy, the convoy that Under-Secretary Pena was riding with was attacked by supposed ELN rebels and she was killed. President Ernesto Pérez Balladares immediately denounces the attack and declares the ELN a terrorist organization and begins to fully utilize the PPF in the eradication of the group. US Special Forces in country assist.

By September, US Intelligence Agencies report that the attack that killed Pena was actually a Spetsnaz lead operation, based out of Columbia. SoD McGregor authorizes General Wesley Clark, Commander USSOUTHCOM, to assist the PPF in securing the southern Panamanian Border as the FARC and GRU forces are deemed a threat to the security of the PCZ.

SoD McGregor travels to Panama in early November 1997 to meet with President Ernesto Pérez Balladares and others in the Panamanian Military to discuss ways in which the United States and Panama can continue to work together to oppose the FARC/GRU Colombian Government aggression from the South. President Balladares pledges his country's full support for the military action in Panama as well as the United States actions abroad.

During a discussion where the Panamanian President was advising SoD McGregor about a new canning plant in Colon that Dark Horse Industries just built and that they had signed a 10 year deal with local farmers when McGregor learns of the bombing of Washington DC and of President Tanner’s apparent death. Immediately, the Secretary of Defence and his staff were sequestered in a secure bunker at Fort Sherman.

By December, after not receiving any additional information about the continuation of nuclear exchange, SoD McGregor left Panama for an undisclosed location within the United States. Approximately an hour into the flight, close to the Cuban border, his plan radioed in an attack by 2 MIG 29’s and was lost.

United States Intelligence had reason to believe that the 2 planes were Cuban but no proof to corroborate the information. In the aftermath of the Thanksgiving Day Massacre, the lose of the Secretary of Defence over the Caribbean did not receive much attention considering everything else that was going on.

Later, it would be discovered that Pro-Soviet Cuban forces, supported by the GRU contingent, were sent to bring down the plan and kill the SoD. As it would turn out, SoD McGregor would survive the attack and be captured by the GRU in Cuba.

Samuel McGregor spent more than 2 years being tortured by the GRU in Cuba. In May 2000, SoD McGregor would find an ally in a Dark Horse Industries rep by the name of Isabella Guevara.

While the GRU was popular among many of the Cuban military, the pressure the Cuban Government was feeling from the various United States Intelligence agencies as well as public outcry from some within the government itself who called for the ousting of the Soviets later in 1998, was growing too much for President Casto to bear.

With most of the Soviets out of the country by 2000, a representative from Dark Horse Industries reached out to Castro to try and help alleviate that pressure. The representative was well known to Castro as well as most Cubans at that point, being the granddaughter of Che Guevara after all.

Isabella Guevara had been working in Cuba for almost a decade before the war as a Dark Horse Industries Regional Vice President, assigned to working with the Cuban Government. Behind the scenes,she would help Cuba increase its exports to include many of the minerals located on the island. With the embargo, she was the only way Castro could get his money out of the country.

Dark Horse Industries, being a multinational corporation, had the ability to maneuver around things like embargoes should the corporation find the need, or more importantly the profit. They spent many years working on Castro and the Cuban Government and by 2000, they were the only company still able to move supplies around the world, or at very least in and out of Cuba.

Guevara offered to be the go between for Castro and the Cubans in returning the SoD to the United States, offering significant trade discounts to entice Castro to get rid of him and finally be able to sleep at night. With the United States thinking Castro had innocently found McGregor after he “removed the Soviets” and offering him safe passage out of Cuba, Castro felt he would no longer be the target of the United States, either conventionally or through the extensive spy network he felt was always watching and listening to him even in 2000.

With Secretary of Defence McGregor recovered and safely back in Panama and being on the receiving end of medical treatment and bed rest, he began to get caught up on the recent world events.
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Old 07-03-2017, 09:06 AM
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Depending on how closely one hews to our timeline, by September 1997, Wesley Clark was no longer commanding SOUTHCOM (he departed in July); the head in September 1997 was Gen. Charles E. Wilhelm (USMC), who held the role until he retired in September 2000.

McGregor being intercepted by Cuban MiG-29s as currently described seems a bit odd. The maximum combat range for a MiG-29 for a high-altitude intercept with drop tanks is a little less than 375 miles, so they can barely reach the Yucatan peninsula from their base in San Antonio de los Banos (and can't reach Guantanamo without repositioning to another site first). Russian MiGs have somewhat longer range because Product 9.13 had two wet hardpoints and 9.17 increased internal tankage, but the Cuban MiGs (Product 9.12 and 9.51) only have one wet hardpoint and the smaller internal tanks.

What could work is to add a little more detail - if McGregor and company decided to skirt east around the MiG range, flying through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Hispaniola en route to either the Turks and Caicos or the Bahamas and then to the US, it would make sense that they could get caught off guard by MiG-29s that were reassigned to more eastern bases; normally, that flight path would be outside their range, but if they were moved to Holguin they'd be able to cover the Windward Passage. Being really nitpicky, the time of flight should also be a bit higher - the distance from Panama to Cuba is a minimum of 915 miles, and an airliner would need about 1.6 hours to cover that distance.
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Old 07-03-2017, 11:30 AM
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Great feedback, thanks. I can work that out...

I am open to all thoughts, dont worry I can take it. :P
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Old 07-03-2017, 02:18 PM
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What about SAM's like the S-125 Neva/Pechora instead of Mig's?

Also, just a side note, Tanner was still President in 1997, a year after presidential elections should have occurred in 1996. I am thinking major moves like changes to Unified Commands and apparently Presidential Elections would be put on hold due to the ware?
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Old 07-03-2017, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalos72 View Post
Also, just a side note, Tanner was still President in 1997, a year after presidential elections should have occurred in 1996. I am thinking major moves like changes to Unified Commands and apparently Presidential Elections would be put on hold due to the ware?
I like this idea, although the commander will depend on when the freeze happens in 1996. Clark took over in July from General Barry R. McCaffrey, who commanded from February 1994 to February 1996. Note that this might also mean SOUTHCOM doesn't have a significant naval role; January 1, 1996 was when they became responsible for American interests within 12 miles of shore of Central and South America, and June 1, 1997 was when they gained the same role for the Caribbean islands.

Note too that SOUTHCOM HQ was in Panama until 1997, with the move to Miami being completed in September of that year. The move might be delayed in the T2K timeline.
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Old 07-04-2017, 09:07 AM
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I would change the opening line given the following

1. The Treaty Concerning the Permanent Neutrality and Operation of the Panama Canal. Under this treaty, the U.S. retains the permanent right to defend the canal from any threat that might interfere with its continued neutral service to ships of all nations. (Such as the Soviet Armed Forces)

2. The Panama Canal Treaty states that from 12:00 AM on December 31, 1999, Panama assumes full control of canal operations and become primarily responsible for its defense.

Both Treaties were signed 7 September 1977
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Old 07-04-2017, 01:49 PM
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Again, great information guys thank you.

I couldn't find anything on where the USSOUTHCOM was in that time period so thanks, looks like it doesnt have to move after all.

And I didnt know that about the PCZ, that makes the move even easier I think. But there would still be anti US protests it would seem, many Panamanians fought US control for years.

Anyone have any thought about using the SAM's versus Mig's if the range was an issue?
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Old 07-07-2017, 03:12 PM
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if you want to keep the Migs go for 25's or a short unit of sat 4 Mig31's. range for the 25 is 1700km to 2500 km ferrying. the 31 has a listed range with 4AAM, 2 droptanks and no mid air refuel of 3000km
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Old 07-07-2017, 07:00 PM
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if you want to keep the Migs go for 25's or a short unit of sat 4 Mig31's. range for the 25 is 1700km to 2500 km ferrying. the 31 has a listed range with 4AAM, 2 droptanks and no mid air refuel of 3000km
Combat radius for the MiG-25 is 300 kilometers. Those engines are incredibly thirsty at high thrust, and it's a heavy airplane that was essentially a brute force method of making a high-speed interceptor. It can get a decent ferry range at high altitude, low speed, with drop tanks, but it's a wallowing pig in that flight regime. The -31 would work, as would an SU-27 Flanker (1500 km combat radius).
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