The Security Police career field continued modernizing with advancements in tactics, weapons and equipment. Air Base Ground Defense training switched from Camp Bullis to Ft Dix. Peacekeepers were fully introduced to duty, and the Beretta M-9 pistol replaced the .38 caliber revolver.
One big change occurred in 1982, when the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) was placed under the operational control of Security Police units.
In January 1985, the secretary of the Air Force lifted the ban on women in the security field. In February 1985, the first female security specialist since 1976 entered the career field. Women now serve in security forces throughout the career field, including security forces managers and Air Force major command. Another milestone was reached in 2006 when the first female Security Forces general officer, Brigadier General (now Major General) Mary Kay Hertog, was selected as USAF Director of Security Forces.
In 1987, the Air Base Ground Defense School moved from Camp Bullis, TX to Ft. Dix, NJ when the Army assumed responsibility for training SF personnel in ground combat skills. Security Forces personnel were integrated in each instructor team to maintain an Air Force presence during the training.
Operation JUST CAUSE, the U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989, brought a quick and decisive end to the dictatorial regime of General Manuel Antonio Noriega, the country‘s political strongman and commander of the Panamanian Defense Forces. Approximately 27,000 American troops hit twenty-seven targets in Panama on December 20, achieving most of the stated combat objectives within hours. Of these targets, many were located in Panama‘s two principal cities, Colón and Panama City, thereby providing the U.S. military its first significant experience in urban operations since Vietnam. Again, Security Police units were tasked with securing landing strips. Those units also participated in drug interdiction and humanitarian relief.