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News | Sept. 30, 2016

UNITAS 2016 Wraps up in Panama City

By By Petty Officer 1st Class Jacob Sippel U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

PANAMA CITY, Panama (NNS) -- Over 1000 naval and security forces from 11 nations said goodbye to Panama City, Panama as they concluded UNITAS 2016 during a ceremony, Sept. 28.

Participants included the United States, Panama, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and the United Kingdom.

Participating units from the United States included expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1), USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913), Joint Task Force-Bravo with three H-60 Blackhawk helicopters, Destroyer Squadron 40 and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet.

The 10-day exercise, hosted by Panama, included operations in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

"We have so much in common. We share a common heritage. We cherish and uphold the same principles and we are united by a vision of a better future for all our nations," said Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, commander, U.S. Southern Command.

"To build trust, we cannot afford to pass up even a single opportunity to work together cooperatively at sea, ashore, or anywhere we can -- in Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond. Security organizations from all points of the compass must work even harder to build, cultivate and expand our own networks. That we must work even harder to be vigilant and prepared," said Tidd.

This year's exercise trained each navy and public security force to conduct joint naval operations, through the execution of littoral warfare, anti-piracy, maritime interdiction operations, countering transnational organized crime, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare, communications exercises and air operations in order to increase interoperability and capability between participating naval forces.

UNITAS, which is Latin for "unity," was first executed in 1960. This year marks the 57th iteration of the world's longest-running annual multinational maritime exercise, and continues to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the relationships forged with regional partners.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

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