Surface Warfare Magazine
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PANAMAX 2018 Prepares Partners to Protect Panama Canal

PANAMAX 2018 concluded at U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet (USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT), where 314 U.S. and partner nation personnel comprised the Combined Force Maritime Component Command (CFMCC) portion of the annual exercise, Aug. 10.

The annual multinational exercise develops and sustains relationships that allow partner-nation security forces in the region to achieve common goals, increase cooperation, and improve understanding.

PANAMAX began in 2003 with three countries, Chile, Panama and the United States, and originally focused solely on the maritime security of the Panama Canal. Since that time, the exercise has grown to become the region's largest coalition Command Post Exercise and one of the largest command post exercises in the world, ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal, one of the most strategically and economically crucial pieces of infrastructure in the world.

PANAMAX 2018 was led by Brazilian Rear Adm. Fernando Cozzolino who served as the CFMCC commander, and Rear Adm. Linda Wackerman who served as his deputy commander.​​​​

Since inception, partner nations have continued to take increased leadership roles in the exercise. This year, Colombia led the Combined Force Land Component Command (CFLCC), Brazil led the CFMCC, and Argentina led the Combined Force Special Operations Component Command (CFSOCC). ​

“We build partnerships, we build friendships, and we develop trust", said Rear Adm. Sean Buck, commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. “I think you all have heard this saying before; trust cannot be surged, it cannot just appear in a time of crisis, it has to be grown and earned over time, and these exercises serve to do just that.”


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The main focus of PANAMAX 2018 is exercising a variety of responses to fulfill requests from the government of Panama to protect and guarantee safe passage of traffic through the Panama Canal, ensure its neutrality, and respect national sovereignty. This exercise is designed to conduct stability operations under in support of a fictitious United Nations Security Council Resolution, providing interoperability training for the participating multinational staffs, and building participating nation capability to plan and conduct complex multinational operations.

Joining the U.S. participants, this year’s maritime portion of exercise PANAMAX 2018 included 98 participants from 17 partner nations including: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The exercise provided unique simulated training opportunities that incorporate scripted, event-driven scenarios to provide the maximum opportunity to improve interoperability. These simulated training scenarios address key aspects of multinational operations such as technology standardization and common operating procedures.Surface Warfare Magazine

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