In May 1962 an element of 7th SFGA located at Fort Bragg,
North Carolina traveled to Fort Gulick, Panama to establish the
8th Special Forces Group. 8th Group formed the nucleaus of the
Special Action Group. 8th Group was deactivated in 1972 and the
unit redesignated as 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group.
8th Special Forces Group. The 8th Group had
two "C" teams - company-sized elements commanded by a LTC. Each
"C" team had 3 "B" teams and each "B" team had 5 "A" teams for a
total of 30 Special Forces "A" teams. The 8th SAF also operated
an Airborne School, Underwater Operations School, and NCO
Special Action Group (SAF). The Special
Action Group Latin America, formed around the 8th SFGA, included
a Military Intelligence detachment, a Medical detachment, a
Military Police detachment, an Engineer detachment, an Army
Security Agency detachment, and a Psychological Operations
3rd Battalion 7th Special Forces Group.
3/7th was formed up after the deactivation of 8th SFGA in 1972.
With the scaling back of the Vietnam War the Army's size was
being reduced. High ranking senior Army officers wanted to leave
Vietnam and 'counterinsurgency' behind; looking forward to the
need of an Army that would fight a large-scale conventional
battle against the Soviet bloc countries in Europe. Units like
Special Forces that were steeped in counterinsurgency and
foreign internal defense were deemed unecessary.
Operation Just Cause. In December 1989 the
United States mounted an invasion of Panama - callled Operation
Just Cause. Two Special Forces units participated in this
operation - 7th Special Forces Group and Special Operations
Command South (SOCSOUTH). 7th SFGA had its 3rd Battalion
stationed in the Panama Canal Zone and SOCSOUTH was located at
Fort Clayton, also in the Panama Canal Zone. During the
operation, lasting from December 19, 1989 to January 31, 1990
elements of 7th SFGA conducted reconnaissance and direct action
Operation Promote Liberty. When combat
operations ceased Operation Promote Liberty ensued. U.S. Army
Special Operations fanned out over the entire country - living
in villages in rural areas, restoring public services, and
mentoring the newly established Panamanian Police Force.