By Ms. Arwen Consaul, U.S. Army South Public AffairsSeptember 18, 2009
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Sept 18, 2009) - More than 700 U.S. and Partner Nation personnel are working with U.S. Army South for the simulated ground portion of Fuerzas Aliadas (FA) PANAMAX '09, a multinational, joint forces exercise focusing on the defense of the Panama Canal.
FA PANAMAX is one of the largest multinational training exercises involving civil and military land, air and sea forces from 20 countries. More than 4,500 personnel, 20 maritime vessels and a dozen aircraft are involved in the exercise, coming together to form a Multi-National Force to conduct training scenarios exercising responses to any request from the Government of Panama to protect safe passage through the Panama Canal, while respecting national sovereignty.
The multinational forces protecting the canal approaches will be organized under Multi-National Force- South and commanded by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Keith M. Huber, commander of U.S. Army South. "Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX is one of the largest multinational exercises in the world focusing on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal, one of the most strategically and economically crucial pieces of infrastructure in the world," said Huber.
U.S. Army South will be conducting FA PANAMAX at Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis from 13-21 Sept. The U.S. Army will be working with the armies of 14 nations to include Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
PANAMAX began in 2003 with three countries: Panama, Chile and the United States. This is the first time for many service members to participate in this exercise.
"This is my first PANAMAX," said Maj. Raul Pineda, Guatemalan Army. "We are sharing a lot of information when we do this exercise with so many countries."
Participating in an exercise with so many people from different countries, services and backgrounds is what makes FA PANAMAX so beneficial. Working together and learning from each other promotes trust and fosters willingness for continued collaboration and teamwork. This opportunity strengthens our ability to operate together which ultimately strengthen security of the hemisphere.
"PANAMAX is a great experience to work with other coalition forces and countries, to come together and work as one," said Capt. Juan Flores, El Salvadoran Army.
Lt.Col. Jose Sosa, Guatemalan Army and member of the Central American Armed Forces Conference agreed. "I look forward to building a better relationship with countries all over Latin America and their armies."
The virtual land-based training, taking place in San Antonio, will focus on command and control, stability operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief operations.
U.S. Army participants include: U. S. Army South, 29th Infantry Division (Virginia Guard), 350th Civil Affairs Brigade, 807th Medical Command and 377th Theatre Sustainment Command, 930th Army Liaison Team, and the 40th and 56th Signal Battalions.