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AFSOUTH participates in FA PANAMAX 2009

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Air Forces Southern Airmen participated in Fuerzas Aliadas (Allied Forces) PANAMAX 2009, a 12-day exercise to train a joint, multinational effort to ensure the security of the Panama Canal Sept. 11 to 22. 

More than 4,500 personnel from 20 countries took part in the U.S. Southern Command- and Government of Panama-sponsored exercise. The focus was providing a variety of responses to requests from the Panamanian Government to protect and guarantee safe passage of traffic through the Panama Canal, ensure its neutrality, and respect national sovereignty. 

New this year was the addition of partner nation air force observers at the 612th Air Operations Center here. The AOC was the focal point for directing all air components, simulated and actual, involved in the exercise. Representatives included Airmen from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Peru, and Chile. 

"I'm taking many things away from the exercise, specifically regarding the operation of the combined forces air component commander," said Lt. Col. Victor Corrales Zanetti , an observer from Panama. "You get bigger insight and a better idea of the CFACC's function, at least the directorial part. You also gain a better understanding of what you can do to improve the exercise at least in your capacity as a host nation participating in the exercise. That understanding was very important for me. 

"Another thing you get to learn is the infrastructure that you have, and how to develop the different plans in the joint perspective," he said. "You don't get just the point of view of the U.S., but also the rest of the officers here participating. When you do this kind of planning with partner nations, you get a better idea of your strengths or weaknesses. That's a good starting point. This type of joint exercise helps you solve your weaknesses." 

FA PANAMAX 2009 participating nations include: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States and Uruguay. France and Mexico also participated as observers. The Conference of Central American Armies, the Organization of American States and representatives from the United Nations also participated. 

PANAMAX began in 2003 with three countries: Panama, Chile and the United States. Exercise participation has greatly expanded every year since. In 2004, nine nations took part; in 2005, 15 nations were involved; in 2006, 18 nations participated; in 2007, 19 nations took part and last year 20 nations were a part of PANAMAX 2008.

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