News: Multinational Exercise PANAMAX 2011 begins next week
Story by Senior Master Sgt. Raymond Sarracino
PANAMA CITY, Panama - More than 3,500 civil and military personnel from 17 countries will participate in PANAMAX 2011, a 12-day multinational exercise focused in ensuring the security of the Panama Canal, beginning Aug. 16.
PANAMAX 2011 is one of the largest multinational training exercises in the world and will take place off the coasts of Panama and locations in the United States, including Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Miami, Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Stennis, Miss. and others from Aug. 15-26.
U.S., Panamanian and Colombian officials are among the representatives from 17 nations participating in a formal opening ceremony for PANAMAX 2011 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Aug. 16.
Approximately 22 vessels and several aircraft will take part in the exercise. Participants are focusing on a variety of responses to any request from the Government of Panama to protect and guarantee safe passage of traffic through the Panama Canal, ensure its neutrality, and respect national sovereignty.
Additional goals for PANAMAX 2011 include developing and testing command and control of forces at sea. Training in this exercise will insert participants into the spectrum of maritime, air, land, space, and cyber operations.
Specifically, PANAMAX 2011 will include scenarios addressing visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), Entry Control Point training, littoral operations, open water diving operations, counter drug interdictions and simulated riverine operations.
Representatives from the following nations and organizations will participate in PANAMAX 2011: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States, United Nations and NATO.
The following U.S. military units will participate in PANAMAX 2011: staff elements from U.S Southern Command, U.S. Army South, U.S. Marine Forces South, Special Operations Command South, USS Thach (FFG 43), U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bear (WMEC-901), Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 (MDSU 2) Explosive Ordinance Disposal Operational Support Unit (EODOSU) 10 Detachment OCD, Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 4 (MSRON 4), Riverine Group 1 (RIVGRU 1), U.S. 2nd Fleet, and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command / U.S. 4th Fleet.
PANAMAX began in 2003 with three countries: Panama, Chile and the United States. Exercise participation has greatly expanded every year since. In 2004, nine nations took part; in 2005, 15 nations were involved; in 2006, 18 nations participated; in 2007, 19 nations took part and last year 20 nations were part of PANAMAX 2010.