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CMSAF visits FA PANAMAX participants on navy ship

PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy (left) speaks to Staff Sgt. Leighton Grant (center) and Staff Sgt. Rodney Hawkins during a visit with Airmen of the 612th Air Expeditionary Communications Squadron deployed at Capitán Juan Delgado Air Base during Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2009. FA PANAMAX 2009 is a multinational exercise with 20 participating countries tailored to the defense of the Panama Canal, involving over 4,500 personnel from the U. S. Southern Command area of focus. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David P. Coleman)

PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy speaks to Staff Sgt. Leighton Grant (center) and Staff Sgt. Rodney Hawkins during a visit with Airmen of the 612th Air Expeditionary Communications Squadron deployed at Capitán Juan Delgado Air Base during Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2009. The exercise is a multinational exercise with 20 participating countries tailored to the defense of the Panama Canal, involving more than 4,500 personnel from the U. S. Southern Command area of focus. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David P. Coleman)

PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy speaks to Airmen of the 612th Air Expeditionary Communications Squadron and members of the Panamanian Air Service deployed to Capitán Juan Delgado Air Base in Panama City, Panama, on Sept. 19, 2009, during Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2009. FA PANAMAX 2009 is a multinational exercise with 20 participating countries tailored to the defense of the Panama Canal, involving over 4,500 personnel from the U. S. Southern Command area of focus. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David P. Coleman)

PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy speaks to Airmen of the 612th Air Expeditionary Communications Squadron and members of the Panamanian Air Service deployed to Capitán Juan Delgado Air Base in Panama City, Panama, Sept. 19, during Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2009. The exercise is a multinational exercise with 20 participating countries tailored to the defense of the Panama Canal, involving more than 4,500 personnel from the U. S. Southern Command area of focus. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David P. Coleman)

PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy toured USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) at sea in the Caribbean, as well as the Air Force Command Center at Tocumen Airport in Panama City, during Fuerzas Aliadas Panamax 2009, a 12-day security training exercise involving 20 countries in the Panama region.

During his Sept. 19 visit to the multinational exercise the U.S. Air Force's senior enlisted member spoke with Sailors, Airmen and members of the Panamanian military at an all hands call and met with senior leadership to receive briefings and discuss issues concerning the FA PANAMAX area of operations.

"The SOUTHCOM mission is to ensure joint and coalition forces have interoperability and work together to build strong working relationships," said Roy.

Airmen from the 612th Air Expeditionary Communications Squadron and Panamanian troops met with Chief Roy at the Capitán Juan Delgado Air Base in Tocumen Panama.

Whether the mission is humanitarian assistance or actual combat, Roy said, American military forces are continually working in a joint or multinational role. He also pointed out that more than 40,000 Airmen are currently deployed forward and another 200,000 are "deployed in place," serving behind the scenes to support combatant commander requirements.

"I wanted to see and talk to the dedicated and hard-working Airmen that are providing support for our SOUTHCOM mission," said Roy. "They are doing an outstanding job."

Roy flew from the airport to Mesa Verde and toured the ship with Mesa Verde Command Master Chief (SW) Scott Knorowski. Roy said he frequently interacts with all services in his role as the Air Forces' senior enlisted advisor.

"This certainly isn't my first time on a ship or in a Chief Petty Officer mess," said Roy. "In my previous job, I worked as a senior enlisted advisor to the U.S. Pacific Command Combatant Commander. I spent a great deal of time on ships in the Pacific. We are a joint fighting force in everything we do."

Mesa Verde acted as the flagship of a multinational Caribbean task force during the exercise, conducting interdiction and other security exercises with partner nations.

Roy greeted a group of newly pinned chief petty officers during his tour, and advised them to take care of their Sailors.

"Whatever it takes to take care of them, you must do it," he said.

Newly pinned Chief Electrician's Mate (SW) Tony Chambers of Mesa Verde's engineering department said he took the lesson to heart.

"Like he said, we must take care of our Sailors," Chambers said. "They are the ones turning the wrench, firing the guns or operating the satellites. We have to make sure all their needs are met. That's our primary job as Chiefs."

Knorowski, the Mesa Verde's senior enlisted advisor, said the visit underscored the joint nature of today's Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

"We're five services working together," Knorowski said. "We integrate, we work together, we train together, we play hard together and we fight together."

FA PANAMAX 2009 is one of the largest multinational training exercises in the world, taking place in the waters off the coasts of Panama from Sept. 11-22 with the participation of civil and military forces from 20 partner nations.

More than 20 vessels and a dozen aircraft are involved in the exercise. Participants focused on a variety of responses to any request from the Government of Panama to protect and guarantee safe passage of traffic through the Panama Canal, ensure its neutrality, and respect national sovereignty. Simulated ground forces also participated at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

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