This blog was written by Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F)
The 10thannual PANAMAX 2012 exercise, which focused on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal, wrapped up Aug 17 here in Mayport, Fla.
Military and security forces from the United States and 16 partner nations took part in the nearly two-week round of intense simulated training conducted at locations throughout the United States, including Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Miami; and Naval Station Mayport, Fla. Senior officers from partner nations assumed key leadership roles and shared their unique and invaluable skills and their real-world experiences to make this years PANAMAX the best exercise ever.
The main focus of PANAMAX was to exercise a variety of responses, in coordination with the governments of Panama and Colombia, in order to protect and guarantee safe passage of commercial traffic through the Panama Canal and ensure its neutrality
A key component of this year’s exercise was the leadership of Colombia and Brazil. Colombian military personnel at Fort Sam Houston led the land component portion of the exercise for the second year in a row while Brazilian military forces led the maritime component portion for the first time. This level of leadership and partnership is unprecedented in PANAMAX as well as this year’s complexity of the exercise and the record number of international participants.
PANAMAX-12 was unique in that it featured the use of the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS) for the JTF’s execution of Command-and-Control, another first for in the SOUTHCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR). Using the Inter-American Naval Telecommunications Network (IANTN) enclave of CENTRIXS, Partner Nation personnel were able to securely access a combined Common Operational Picture, communicate via chat, and collaborate via web portals, all from their desktop. The use of a secure, multinational system from the JTF down to the Components and Task Groups gave the JTF Commander an unprecedented level of combined Command and Control in the SOUTHCOM AOR.
Exercises like PANAMAX demonstrate our continued U.S. Commitment to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean and emphasizes interoperability and cooperation.
By operating with our regional partners in Latin America we are able to promote professional understanding and reassure our allies of our steadfast commitment to peace and security in the region.