But in the past, American and Panamanian officials have suggested that about 2,000 soldiers would be needed.
But Panamanian officials said they did not intend to cooperate.
It also allowed Panamanian officials to exchange information with foreign investigators.
A formal request is under study, the Panamanian official said.
Panamanian officials' plans for the bases now include universities and resorts.
Panamanian officials said it might take six months to a year to establish such a law-enforcement agency.
Panamanian officials have said they hope to complete the process before year's end.
The general said he doubted reports that some Panamanian military officials are active as drug dealers.
Panamanian officials were told of the change on Thursday.
But these officials said they had seen no hard evidence that Panamanian officials did anything more than break the laws of their own country.