I don’t know why there is such an adversarial relationship between Special Forces and the MP community or when it started. No doubt it was from the earliest days of the O.S.S. when our earliest operators had to return to the flagpole and some guy couldn’t help but try to bust his chops over some random BS. 

But it existed then and I’m sure it no doubt still exists today. MPs have a hard-on for SF guys and by and large, SF guys had no use for MPs. But the simple fact was no matter where we went or what we did, if there was another American MP unit nearby, they’d try to shove a monkeywrench up our fourth point of contact. 

Of course, I’ll admit now, many moons later, that there were times (perish the thought) that I was my own worst enemy. My naturally sarcastic sense of humor would often get the best of me. Well, they don’t call those of us who were raised in the Greater Boston area “Massholes” for nothing.

I saw something on the news this week that jarred one of those unpleasant memories about how our not-so-great relationship was. After the nonsense in Panama was over, a small group of Americans was tasked with cleaning up the mess. Noriega was in an airconditioned jail cell in Miami, courtesy of the DEA, a new government was trying to pick up the pieces, and the Panamanian Army was disbanded.

The country was transitioning to the Panamanian National Police (PNP) and SF were tasked to be the police advisors and trainers. PNP was struggling to drop its operating methods which gave scant attention to human rights, honesty and protecting the citizens. They brought over law enforcement types from the U.S. to give them the basics and the SF guys ran the shooting ranges and were the on-the-ground guys with the cops in the towns. 

Panama was broken up into six Areas (A to F). Myself and John P. were given the largest land area with the smallest population, Area F. John was a badass SF medic who was into martial arts in a big way. His idea of fun was to duct tape a telephone pole behind our house and smash 100x on each side of each forearm to build it up. His forearm bones were like a Louisville Slugger. He’d always ask me, “B-man, you want to spar some?” My answer was always the same…thank you very much but no, I’d like to keep my limbs exactly where they’re at.

Our area stretched from Tocumen national airport down to the Colombian border. We would spend days upon days driving the back roads between the police substations. The police headquarters in Area F was in Chepo, where we rented a really nice place from a rich Panamanian family. Our team from A-3-7 was located there until the teams were stood down and the advisory roles took over. 

We were issued credentials and a letter from the CG of the project that we were not subject to the curfew rules that were issued from SOUTHCOM and were authorized to carry weapons in civilian clothes due to our mission. Those exemptions would be put to the test time and again.