PANAMAX 2012 Spotlight with Col. Stephen Pedrotty Published Aug. 21, 2012 By By Tech. Sgt. Andria Sapp 183rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Col. Steve Pedrotty was the Contingency Action Team Director for PANAMAX 2012 for Air Forces Southern, Aug. 6-17. PANAMAX 2012 is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise series that focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal - one of the most strategically and economically crucial pieces of infrastructure in the world. Forces from 17 partner nations participated in simulated training scenarios from various U.S. locations. The overall objective of the exercise was to increase interoperability among participating nations, which enables the assembled forces to organize and conduct combined operations in a multinational task force, and test its responsiveness. Question: What was your role in PANAMAX 2012? Answer: I was the Contingency Action Team (CAT) Director. I coordinated all actions related to deployment, sustainment and redeployment of Air Force assets for operations. I also oversaw the request for forces that in-theatre operations may need. This included not only arranging for Air Force assets to be sent to downrange to South America, but also sustaining the assets while there, and making sure the assets return when no longer needed. Question: In what ways did your role contribute to the overall objectives of PANAMAX 2012? Answer: The objectives of PANAMAX 2012 were to train the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) staff and Multi-National Force South (MNF-S), and to certify them as a Joint Task Force. Our other objective was to work with our coalition partners. Our job here is to provide the Air Force support. Support of Air Force units in the area of responsibility (AOR) is crucial to their ability to participate in the operation. From an exercise standpoint, we interacted with Joint and Coalition partners to establish relationships and to make sure that there are processes in place for when need certain skill-sets in future real world operations. Question: In your role, how did you work with the partner nations to ensure the success of PANAMAX 2012? Answer: Everything is about building relationships. It is about building relationships with the other components that are part of SOUTHCOM and learning who is capable of what. 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. This helps everyone. Question: What are the lessons learned you took away from PANAMAX 2012? Answer: We improved our internal processes and identified the interface points with the other agencies (MNF-S, other components, SOUTHCOM) and nations to improve the efficiency of communication. PANAMAX 2012 provided an opportunity for the participating nations to jointly train to counter threats posed by violent and illegally armed groups, provide for humanitarian relief as necessary, and to defend the Panama Canal as deemed necessary by the government of Panama and other nations of the region.