Armed and security forces from 17 nations and the US Army South are conducting an annual multinational exercise, PANAMAX 2012, aimed at ensuring the defence of the Panama Canal.
The US Southern Command-sponsored Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX drill represents combined operation of sea, air and land forces, to safeguard the Panama Canal from attacks from violent extremist organisations, as well as responding to natural disasters and pandemic outbreaks in various locations.
It started on 6 August and will run until 17 August in San Antonio in Miami and Suffolk in Virginia in the US, as well as in the Republic of Panama, Central America.
Colombian military chiefs are leading the land component portion of the exercise at US Army South’s headquarters, while Brazilian military forces are leading the maritime component for the first time at Panama Canal.
US Army South commanding general major general Simeon Trombita said that multinational participation demonstrated the full interoperability of the army and partner nations.
"PANAMAX develops and sustains relationships that improve the capacity of our emerging and enduring partners’ security forces to achieve common desired goals," he said.
"This annual exercise fosters mutual cooperation and understanding among participating nations."
Additional US armed forces commands featuring in the exercise include Marine Forces South, Special Operations Command South and Naval Forces Southern Command, along with their vessels and a contingent of ordnance, mobile diving, logistics and security forces personnel.
The drill will also see participation for the first time from militaries of Argentina, Belize, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.
Image: US and Colombian personnel establishing communication networks in a building at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for PANAMAX 2012. Photo: courtesy of US Army.