PANAMAX 2012 was an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored multinational exercise series that focused on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal. Personnel from 17 nations, including the United States, participated in simulated training scenarios from various U.S. locations.
Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2012 focused on the defense of the Panama Canal and the Central American region by a multinational combined/joint task force. The exercise was held Aug. 6 – 17, 2012. It exercised a variety of responses to any request from the Governments of Panama and Colombia to protect and guarantee safe passage of traffic through the Panama Canal and ensure its neutrality.
Simulated training for PANAMAX 2012 was held at locations throughout the United States, including Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas; Miami; and Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
This exercise was 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. PANAMAX 2012 develops and sustains relationships that improve the capacity of our emerging and enduring partners’ forces to deal with 21st century threats encountered in today’s land, sea, air and cyber environments. This annual exercise fosters friendly cooperation and understanding among participating forces.
Importance of Exercise
The Panama Canal is critical to the free flow of trade in the region and the entire world. The region's economy and political stability largely depend on the safe transport of several hundred million tons of cargo through the canal each year, and PANAMAX 2012 is designed to ensure plans are in place to respond to requests from the Government of Panama and also Colombia for this year’s iteration. PANAMAX has evolved over many years and now includes training for the constantly evolving nature of new threats in today’s security environment.
Training in this exercise tested command and control of forces across the spectrum of operations, including maritime, air, land, space, and cyber. The simulated exercise scenarios during PANAMAX 2012 provided invaluable training on coalition command and control and combined interoperability — the ability to work together seamlessly.
This year’s exercise included an increased leadership role taken by all the partner nations. Specifically, Colombia led the ground component and Brazil led the maritime component for the first time.
Representatives from Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and the United States took part.
U.S. Military Participants
Participating in this year’s PANAMAX from the United States were staff elements from SOUTHCOM, U.S. Army South, U.S. Marine Forces South, Special Operations Command South, and Naval Forces South/U.S. 4th Fleet.
PANAMAX began in 2003 with three countries: Panama, Chile and the United States. Exercise participation has greatly expanded every year since.