The operation began with an assault of strategic installations, such as the civilian Punta Paitilla Airport in Panama City and a PDF garrison and airfield at Rio Hato, where Noriega also maintained a residence. U.S. Navy SEALs destroyed Noriega's private jet and a Panamanian gunboat. A Panamanian ambush killed four SEALs and wounded nine.
The military incursion into Panama began on 20 December 1989, at 1:00 a.m. local time. The operation involved 27,684 U.S. troops and over 300 aircraft. These aircraft were deployed against the 16,000 members of the PDF.
The Raid at Renacer Prison was an attack on the El Renacer prison in Gamboa, Panama, by units of the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army on 20 December 1989, during the United States invasion of Panama. During the raid the U.S. military was able to free the sixty-four prisoners held in the detention facility.