I have a high respect for our men and women in uniform. They work day in and day out protecting us, specially when we go to bed and close our eyes. On a 24/7 basis, somebody from the Panama Police is guarding the walls of the nation, and while doing so, risking their lives.
The Panamanian Public Forces are the national defense forces of this small country located in the narrow Isthmus of Central America. Panama is the second country in Latin America (the other one is Costa Rica) to permanently abolish standing armies, leaving it with only small para-military forces. This came as a result of a U.S. invasion that overthrew a military dictatorship which ruled the country from 1968 to 1989.
Panama maintains forces, consisting of armed Police and Security forces, and small air and maritime forces. They are tasked with law enforcement, and can perform limited military actions. Panama can create a temporary military force to counter any attack.
Below are the different branches of the Panamanian Security Forces known as the Panama National Police:
- Policía Nacional (National Police)
- Servicio Nacional de Fronteras (National Borders Service)
- Servicio Nacional Aeronaval (National Aeronaval Service)
- Servico de Protección Institucional (Institutional Protection Service)
The National Borders Services (SENAFRONT) have been trained and equipped to protect our borders, specially the border with Colombia which has been a scenario of continued conflicts with Colombian drug dealers and guerrilla units known as FARC. Speed boats, helicopters and special radars have been acquired by this unit to interrupt the increasing drug traffic from South America to Europe and the United States.
In November 2008, the Servicio Aéreo Nacional (National Air Service) merged with its maritime counterpart, the Servicio Maritimo Nacional (National Maritime Service) to become the Servicio Nacional Aeronaval (National Aeronaval Service), also the creation of the new Servicio Nacional de Fronteras (National Borders Service) as an independent force from the National Police.
Below are several pictures of units from SENAFRONT on a large speedboat during a recent exhibition of airplanes, helicopters, executive jets, and boats at the former Howard Air Force Base. They had their faces painted green and were carrying heavy military equipment. They looked intimidating to me, but kids were happy to take pictures with them. I kept a safe distance…just in case—tongue-in-cheek. Here we go.