US, Partner Nation Navies Engage in Subject Matter Expert Exchanges
USS NEW ORLEANS, At Sea (NNS) -- Embarked navy and marine officers from partner nations engaged in subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) July 12 on board USS New Orleans (LPD 18) during Amphibious-Southern Partnership Station(A-SPS) 2010.

A-SPS is the amphibious portion of Southern Partnership Station, which is a deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The mission's primary goal is mission-focused information sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout the region in order to enhance regional maritime capabilities and security.

Service members from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay are deployed with New Orleans in order to facilitate interaction between their navies and the U.S. Navy through subject matter exchanges and interaction. This is being accomplished through presentations, personal interaction and hands-on, joint exercises. SMEE participants boarded the ship in San Diego June 10 and have been aboard throughout the deployment.

"I think this is one of the best ideas our commanders have had," said Colombian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Luis Pulgarin. "It is so important that the U.S. and South American Navies work together because it is one region...America...and we need to be able to share experiences and work together, because it will help us all to stay secure. At this moment, the United States and Colombia are both combating terrorism, and we need to work together. It is very important."

New Orleans, along with partner nations and Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 24 are currently participating in both Partnership of the Americas 2010 and Southern Exchange 2010 in support of A-SPS, conducting joint amphibious operations in Salinas and Ancon, Peru.

"The opportunity to conduct this type of amphibious training with our South American partners is perfect," said Commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5 Capt. Peter Brennan, mission commander. "These days everything we do is in a joint environment. In a real-world situation, it is quite possible that we could be performing the same types of operations that we are training for here. It's important that we as nations who share common interests work and train together."

SMEE participants are exploring virtually every aspect of naval operations, including refueling at sea, boarding team operations, damage control and navigation, among others.

"It's a good thing to exchange experiences and to make new friends," said Peruvian Navy Ensign Ricardo Kinosita. "This is going to help strengthen the good relationship that we already have. This is a big opportunity for both of us to operate together and share information. I think it will change the way we both work, as we learn what it is that each country does well and apply it to our own ways of doing business."

In addition to the SMEEs, the partner nations have also worked together participating in community outreach projects, such as painting schools and delivering Project Handclasp materials.

New Orleans, along with PHIBRON 5 and other embarked units, are scheduled to visit Callao, Peru; Bahia Malaga, Colombia; and Balboa, Panama; during the three-month deployment.
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