MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) and Brazilian Rear Adm. Wilson Pereira de Lima Filho welcomed partner nation participants and staff officially kicking off this year's PANAMAX
exercise, Aug. 6.
The main focus of PANAMAX is 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, ensure its neutrality, and respect national sovereignty.
Representatives from 17 nations are participating in the annual exercise from Aug. 6-17, which has evolved over many years and now includes training for many of the same 21st century threats encountered in today's land, sea, air and cyber environments.
More than 600 military personnel have traveled to Mayport for the exercise including 170 guests from partner nations. Military and civilian personnel from Mayport-based COMUSNAVSO/C4F and Destroyer Squadron 40 (including Navy Reservists from the Jacksonville area) are also participating in PANAMAX.
PANAMAX is a U.S.-sponsored, multinational annual exercise that includes participants from Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and the United States.
"This exercise is designed to execute stability operations under the support of United Nations Security Council Resolutions; provide interoperability training for the participating multinational staffs; and build participating nation capability to plan and execute complex multinational operations," Harris said.
The governments of the countries participating in PANAMAX share common interests and this exercise enhances those links by fostering friendly, mutual cooperation and understanding between participating militaries. This multinational exercise also contributes to interoperability, and builds the capabilities of the participating nations to plan and execute complex multinational operations.
"One of the most important benefits of multinational exercises like PANAMAX is the fact that all the participants will be able to exchange their experiences, expertise and will gain new knowledge about each other's culture and people, Harris said.
"These interactions strengthen our bonds across the region and foster long-lasting friendships and an understanding among the partner nations, ultimately benefiting the security of the region."
COMUSNAVSO/C4F supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.