Operation Just Cause
Operation Just Cause was the largest and most complex combat operation since Vietnam.

Between 1989 and 1997, the Army experienced a 300 percent increase in operational deployments. Army Reserve Soldiers were among the nearly 26,000 troops deployed.

There were 15 Army Reserve units and 311 individual Army Reserve Soldiers called to duty for the carefully planned and well-executed operation that overwhelmed the Panamanian Defense Forces of Dictator Manuel Noriega. The goal: restore order and arrest Noriega on drug-trafficking charges.


Civil Affairs Soldiers were among the Soldiers integral to restoring Panama’s democratically-elected government. Through their ground-level interactions and understanding of local cultures and the people, these specialized troops are able to glean a sense of local dynamics.

Today, 90 percent of the Army’s Civil Affairs capabilities are provided by the Army Reserve. Civil Affairs Soldiers and units act as a liaison between the Army and civilian authorities and populations.

They identify critical requirements needed by local citizens in combat or crisis situations such as natural and man-made disasters. Civil Affairs Soldiers combine regional expertise, language competency, political-military awareness, cross cultural communication, and professional military skills to conduct operations and support civil-military.
Top left: Capt. Ray Gonzales from Amarillo, Texas, talks with Jose Rodrigues and Family about the conditions at a temporary shelter for displaced persons. Gonzales, a member of the 90th Army Reserve Command, was part of the humanitarian assistance Civil Affairs team serving after Operation Just Cause.
Above: Capt. Courtney Legendre, a physician assistant with the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, Danbury, Conn., in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa,examines a child in Kakute, Uganda.

With the Fall of the Berlin Wall and End of the Cold War, the peacetime military was faced with reduced budgets and active forces. In response, Congress sought to leverage the reserve components to fill the gap, requiring the Army Reserve to man, equip, and train at active Army levels.

To improve the combat readiness of the reserve components,Congress created the United States Army Reserve Command in 1990 to provide for more centralized management.

One of the most impactful changes to the force mix was the 1993 “Offsite Agreement,” which stabilized force structure and end-strength reductions, enabling the Army to place more operational reliance on the Army Reserve.

Under this agreement, the National Guard was given combat responsibilities, while the Army Reserve was given responsibility for combat service support.

Upper Right: A Panamanian citizen displays a Just Cause sign in protest against Panamanian Gen. Manuel Noriega.

Civil Affairs: Making a Difference

Civil Affairs operations continue to make a difference at home and across the globe. Soldiers like Spc. Gamei Kwong taught English to a room full of Pashtu-speaking Afghan children. Kwong, who hopes to become a second-grade teacher, joined the Army Reserve as a civil affairs specialist and serves in the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion.

Army Reserve Soldiers from units like the 733rd Engineer Company came to Window Rock to improve living conditions for Navajo families with special-needs children. They improved roads, drainage and water lines and updated school facilities. They also focused on repairing traditional Navajo homes, or “hogans,” in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
Above: Hamtramck, Mich., native Spc. Gamei Kwong, a civil affairs specialist with the 441st Civil Affairs Battalion, grades schoolwork done by Afghan girls at Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields.