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Panamanian airman brings expertise to PANAMAX 2012

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andria Sapp
  • 183rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Col. James Urieta, colonel of naval air service for Panama, participated in PANAMAX 2012 at Air Forces Southern, Aug. 6-17. PANAMAX is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise that focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal. One of the most important benefits of multinational exercises like PANAMAX is the fact that all the participants were able to exchange their experiences, expertise gained new knowledge about each other's culture and people. 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.

Question: What was your role in PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I was an observer representing Panama.

Question: The governments of the countries participating in PANAMAX 2012 share common interests and goals. How would you define what those interests and goals are?

Answer: First and foremost, the security of the Panama Canal in the event of a natural or man-made disaster is of the utmost importance. The primary objective was to continue the commercial flow of goods and services the commerce of imports and exports are not impeded.

Question: How is the security of the Panama Canal important to your country?

Answer: Panama is strategically located in an area that allows the government to control the flow of the Panama Canal. The Canal provides the primary means for commerce imports to our country, so it is very important from a security perspective.

Question: What were the benefits of participating in this exercise?

Answer: First of all, it allowed us to see the dynamics of how an Air Operations Center works and how the Panama Canal would be protected by my government and our partner nations if something were to happen. Secondly, we learned how we can better work together to accomplish the mission.

Question: What are the lessons learned that you took away from PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: We learned how to work in a multi-national environment. Although the canal is very important to Panama, it's also important to the world as a route for commerce. It is important to continue PANAMAX and to strengthen what we learned and the friendships we have made.