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Tuesday, April 9, 2013
U.S. military personnel carry out a very regular schedule of exercises and training deployments throughout Latin America. Here, based on official releases and press reports, is a glimpse of these activities in February and March, in alphabetical order by country.
- Leading up to the “New Horizons” humanitarian exercise scheduled to take place in the spring, construction equipment and materials are scheduled to being arriving into ports in Belize. The exercise is being overseen by U.S. Southern Command and planned by Air Forces Southern. It will last approximately 90 days and involve construction projects as well as medical service events.
- The U.S. Navy 4th Fleet’s Southern Partnership Station 2013 exercise involves port visits to Belize, Guatemala and Honduras by the USNS Swift, a high-speed catamaran. “The assigned units are focusing on locally identified needs, such as port security, noncommissioned officer professional development, operational risk management, medical readiness, outboard motor maintenance and patrol-craft operation.” In Belize, U.S. Seabees and Riverine Squadron 2 members helped with infrastructure building and training. In Guatemala, the assistance focuses on explosive ordnance disposal teams, as well as improving infrastructure at the Army’s Kaibil base.
- More than 500 personnel from U.S. Army South, U.S. Southern Command and other military units and government agencies deployed to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as part of an exercise called “Integrated Advance” from Februrary 7–17. The exercise focused on mass migration in the Caribbean and Army South and SOUTHCOM abilities to support the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State in a humanitarian crisis scenario.
- “Joint Task Force Jaguar,” the U.S. Army South Component that will soon hold a “Beyond the Horizon” humanitarian exercise in El Salvador, tested itself in March by conducting a “mass casualty exercise” in Sonsonate. It is designed to simulate the stress caused during a real crisis.
- Members of the U.S. and Honduran militaries, along with Panama’s border service and civilians, carried out a Medical Readiness Training Exercise supported by Southern Command’s Honduras-based Joint Task Force-Bravo component between Feb. 28 and March 1. The exercise sought to test their ability to conduct expeditionary medical operations. Personnel provided medical care to around 1,200 patients in two villages in the Darién region of Panama.
- Operation “Ñepohãno 21” took place in Paraguay from February 16-17 as part of a joint civic-humanitarian action in Cruce Liberación, San Pedro. U.S. military personnel, together with about 220 Paraguayan military and police, offered free medical care including general practice, minor surgery, pediatrics, gynecology, and ophthalmology.
Research for, and some drafting of, this post was carried out by WOLA Intern Elizabeth Glusman.
Friday, February 15, 2013
U.S. military personnel carry out a very regular schedule of exercises and training deployments throughout Latin America. Here, based on official releases and press reports, is a glimpse of these activities in December and January, in alphabetical order by country.
The Southern Command’s Honduras-based “Joint Task Force-Bravo” component and the Belize Ministry of Health carried out a joint Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) on January 15, 2013, at the Copper Bank Primary School in Copper Bank, Belize.
On a January visit to Rio de Janeiro, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert met with the commander of the Brazilian Navy and toured multiple Brazilian naval facilities, including the Aramar Nuclear Facility. Greenert stated that the “U.S. Navy will assist Brazil with lessons learned from the development of the U.S. nuclear submarine program to help foster Brazil’s subsurface capabilities.” The Brazilian navy and Marine Corps carried out a live amphibious assault exercise and performed a simulated pilot rescue mission in honor of Greenert’s visit.
In December the USNS PATHFINDER, part of the U.S. Southern Command Oceanographic Southern Partnership Station, assisted the Chilean Navy’s Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service to re-survey the seafloor in and around the Bay of Concepción and Golfo de Arauco. In addition to the survey, reads a U.S. embassy release, “Chilean Navy and U.S. Navy hydrographers and oceanographers will also use this time to share their expertise and learn from one another.”
Gen. Frederick Rudesheim, commander of Southcom’s U.S. Army South component, met in December with “key” leaders of the Salvadoran army and traveled to remote areas where “Beyond the Horizon 2013,” a U.S. Army South exercise deploying military engineers and medical professionals, will take place.
In January “The Message Program,” a U.S.-based non-profit, worked with the Military Group at the American Embassy in Guatemala and the Guatemalan Army’s 6th Brigade to supply and equip two clinics and one school in Alta Verapaz department. The clinics and schools are part of the Southern Command’s “Beyond the Horizon” series of construction and humanitarian aid exercises.
Servicemen from Joint Task Force-Bravo completed a four-day Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) in Chiquimula, Guatemala from December 11-15, 2012.
Members of U.S. Naval Special Warfare Unit 4, including 10 members of SEAL Team 18, recently completed six months in Honduras. There, they train a newly created naval Special Forces unit, Fuerzas Especiales Naval (FEN). In total, 45 Honduran personnel completed training over the course of two eight-week Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL style training courses.
In December, U.S. Northern Command completed the first phase of training for more than 400 Mexican firefighters in seven cities as part of its Humanitarian Assistance Program. Phase One focused on fire chiefs, Phase Two will focus on lieutenants and captains, and Phase Three will focus on frontline firefighters. Training was conducted by Chemonics, a U.S. company contracted by Northcom.
As U.S. Northern Command pursues closer engagement with Mexico, Army Major General Francis G. Mahon, Northcom’s director for strategy, plans and policy, said in January that he hopes to begin bilateral exercises with Mexico. U.S. and Mexican military officials will begin to plan their first bilateral air defense exercise this month. which is expected to take place later this year.
Last year, Mexican military leaders participated in several “tabletop” simulation exercises, and sent observers to Northcom’s “Ardent Sentry” exercise last spring.
“It’s all about getting comfortable with each other and hopefully, advancing in the relationship,” Gen. Mahon said. “It would be wonderful, someday, to take a Mexican company [about 200 soldiers] to the National Training Center to train with an American battalion or brigade.”
This would be a big break with tradition in Mexico, explains the Defense Department news release that cites Gen. Mahon.
Mexico’s constitution explicitly prohibits foreign forces from operating on Mexican soil. But as SEDENA and SEMAR, Mexico’s army and navy, respectively, shed their internal focus, they are becoming increasingly open to combined training and subject matter expert exchanges, Mahon said.
Research for, and some drafting of, this post was carried out by WOLA Intern Elizabeth Glusman.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Between June 14th and 24th, U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), led by U.S. Marine Forces South, sponsored ten days of military exercises in Barbados aimed at "improving cooperation and security" in the Caribbean basin. This was the 28th annual Tradewinds exercise and featured U.S. military personnel and law enforcement officers working with 16 other nations from the region. These nations are: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados (host nation), Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.
This is a smaller group of countries than last year's exercise, which included 21 nations. This year, Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama did not participate
The objective [PDF] of the exercise, according to Southcom, is to "enhance the collective abilities of the Partner Nations' Defense Forces and constabularies to Counter Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) and conduct Humanitarian Aid/ Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations." This translates into the following exercises:
- Conduct joint, combined and interagency training,
- Focus on increasing regional cooperation in countering transnational organized crime,
- Support humanitarian assistance/disaster responses,
- Conduct interoperability training for multinational staffs,
- Build capability to plan and execute complex multinational security operations.
The above skills were tested later on in the exercise through a five-day command post exercise in which,
Barbados was just hit by a simulated tsunami in the midst of dealing with a virtual terrorist hostage situation, a collapsed stadium and a bombing that damaged an oil tanker causing an oil leak into the bay, all while preparing for the impending threat of a hurricane.
Alongside the exercise, a meeting was held between upwards of 40 diplomats, ministers of national security, chiefs of defense, ministers of defense, agency directors and senior military officials from the region to discuss the areas the combatants were being trained in through the Distinguished Visitor Program. Larry Palmer, U.S. ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean said, "There is a tremendous value to the region for all of these representatives to get this kind of experience - they get to create the kinds of relationships they will need in order to do their jobs when called upon."
U.S. Southern Command has also been in Peru in recent weeks as part of the ongoing New Horizons 2012 exercise which, paired with the Beyond the Horizon exercises, is taking place between April and October 2012. Both of the exercises are taking place in Peru, Guatemala, and Honduras and are being executed by U.S. Army South and U.S. Air Forces Southern.
This blog was written by CIP Intern Anna Moses.
Friday, August 20, 2010
This Monday marked the beginning of the annual Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2010 training exercise. Co-sponsored by the U.S. Southern Command and the Panamanian government, the 12-day exercise brings together land, air and sea forces from 18 nations in a joint, combined operation focused on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal.
This year, the exercise will run from August 16-27 and will carry out live and simulated training scenarios in the vicinity of the Panama Canal, Colombia and various U.S. locations (Norfolk, Virginia and Miami and Mayport, Florida). According to the U.S. Department of Defense, PANAMAX is "one of the largest multinational training exercises in the world," involving more than 30 vessels, a dozen aircraft, and 4,500 personnel.
The first PANAMAX was held in 2003 and included only Chile, Panama and the United States. Over the past seven years, the exercise has expanded to include 20 nations at its peak last year. This year, 18 nations are participating, including Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay. Costa Rica, the Netherlands and France participated in PANAMAX 2009, but did not return this year, and Honduras is participating again after withdrawing last year due to controversy surrounding the military's involvement with the coup d'etat, which ousted President Manuel Zelaya in August 2009.
Here are some more details about this year's Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX exercise:
The purpose of PANAMAX 2010 is "to enhance regional cooperation and exercise participating nations' ground, naval, air and special operators' ability to respond to threats to the Panama Canal and plan for a major humanitarian assistance and disaster relief event in the region."
This year's exercise simulates the following scenario: A terrorist organization attacks the Panama Canal. In response to a request from Panama, the United Nations Security Council instructs the United States to lead a multinational force to protect the Canal and ensure shipping traffic and free maritime access.
According to Panamanian coordinator for PANAMAX 2010 Jesus Rodriguez, the increase in drug cartel activity in the region and along the Panamanian coastline is "closely connected to terrorism and the weapons trade. Drugs have become synonymous of terrorism."
Southcom's factsheet on PANAMAX 2010 explains that the training involved will address the spectrum of maritime operations, including: visit, board, search and seizure; entry control point training; riverine patrols; and open water diving operations.
The factsheet also points out that PANAMAX provides training to "ensure civil, naval, air, and ground security forces can operate as an effective team, coordinating assets and sharing information to respond quickly to crises and protect the security of the region."