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U.S., partner nations gather for PANAMAX 2017

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Danny Rangel
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs

Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) hosted eleven partner nations during PANAMAX 2017, an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored multinational exercise focused on ensuring the security of the Panama Canal, held August 12-15.  

Service members from U.S. and partner nation air forces joined together for the week-long exercise using simulations to provide command and control (C2) for hypothetical, multinational sea, air, cyber and land forces defending the Panama Canal against an aggressive threat. 

During the exercise, officials emphasized the importance of the Panama Canal as a strategic and economic artery, one providing for the safe transport of several million tons of cargo through the canal each year.

The entire exercise involved each component of the USSOUTHCOM, as well as 25 partner nations in various location around the U.S.

PANAMAX 2017 marks only the second time a coalition partner has served as the air component commander for the exercise.  Peruvian Air Force Maj. Gen. Carlos Chavez Cateriano, Combined Forces Air Component Commander during PANAMAX 2017, emphasized how nations can work together to accomplish shared goals.   

“We’re very happy to perform this exercise,” said Chavez.  “We gather together in only one force, we establish one doctrine, one language and only one effort. It gives us the opportunity to learn from each other, which is very important.” 

Dominican Republic Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Calderon Hernandez, a participant in PANAMAX 2017, said the exercise has long-term benefits for participating nations. 

“PANAMAX is a very interesting exercise where various countries come together and interact,” said Hernandez.  “When every one of us returns to our home countries, we will have an elevated capacity and we will have a different perspective because we’ve now interacted with various countries and we’ve seen this exercise unite us.”