Panama Canal Division

The Panama Canal Division was a unit of the United States Army, established in order to ensure the United States could adequately defend the Canal Zone in Panama. When it was authorized in 1920, similar divisions were organized to defend Hawaii and the Philippines. The division was organized in 1921, and active until 1932.[1][2]

Panama Canal Division
Country United States
Branch United States Army
Part ofPanama Canal Department

Its initial composition included the 19th Infantry Brigade commanding the (14th and 65th Infantry Regiments, of which the 65th was stationed in Puerto Rico) and the 20th Infantry Brigade commanding the (33rd and 42nd Infantry Regiments).[1] The two brigades appear to have been active until 1927.[3]

Later, however, the commander of the Panama Canal Department, Major General Preston Brown, determined that the defense of Panama would be better served by command groups representing the Atlantic and the Pacific. In 1932, the Army inactivated the division, keeping its Tables of Organization on file should the need arise to reactivate it. It never has.[1]

Panama Mobile Force were activated on February 16, 1940 by Panama Canal Department commander, lieutenant general Daniel Van Voorhis in order to improve defense of the Panama Canal Zone. Four infantry and one engineer regiments; and two artillery battalions were assigned to the Mobile Force, even after World War II began. The plan to defend the Canal Zone was to conduct a mobile defense in depth beginning at the beaches and not by preparing and holding static defense positions. The Atlantic side was considered the least likely invasion route because the few landing areas there were too small to allow the discharge of numerous forces simultaneously.

Commanding generals

Panama Canal Division

Panama Mobile Force

  • MG Ben Lear: February 16, 1940 – September 20, 1940
  • MG William E. Prosser: September 21, 1940 – March 1942
  • MG Robert H. Lewis: March 1942 – December 21, 1942
  • MG Harry C. Ingles: December 22, 1942 - February 1943
  • BG Jesse C. Drain: February 1943 - April 2, 1943
  • MG Phillip E. Gallagher: September 3, 1944 – April 1, 1945
  • BG Thomas J. Camp

See also


  1. Wilson, John B. (1997). Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades. Washington, DC: Center of Military History.
  2. US Army Order of Battle 1919-1940 p288
  3. McGrath, 'The Brigade,' p.166
  4. US Army Order of Battle 1919-1940 p285

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.