Leaders of the maritime component of PANAMAX 2014 paused Aug. 11, approximately halfway through the exercise, to assess its benefits so far.
Rear Adm. Benjamin Calle of Colombia is the Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander (CFMCC) and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Jon Matheson, the deputy commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, is deputy CFMCC for the exercise, which began Aug. 4 and is scheduled to continue through Aug. 15.
U.S. and partner-nation militaries are also participating in simulated training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio; Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead, Florida; Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona; the Joint and Coalition Warfighting Center in Suffolk, Virginia and at U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Miami. Altogether, more than 1,500 military personnel are participating.
“This PANAMAX exercise is a huge event,” said Calle. “It is one of the largest maritime exercises in the world, centered on protecting the Panama Canal.”
Sources say that 38 to 40 ships transit the canal daily between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, carrying some five percent of world maritime trade.
“Multinational forces have a major responsibility in protecting the Panama Canal and remaining a force in this region,” said Calle. “This exercise is making sure that we do that by enhancing our interoperability forged through partnerships.”
The main focus of PANAMAX 2014 is to exercise a variety of responses to any request from the government of Panama to protect and guarantee safe passage of traffic through the Panama Canal while respecting national sovereignty.
One goal of PANAMAX 2014 is to develop and sustain relationships that improve the capacity of emerging partners’ security forces to achieve common desired goals while fostering friendly cooperation and understanding among participating forces.