U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific hosted the annual Pacific Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS) event, recognized as the premier Pacific maritime symposium, held virtually on May 19.
The event is designed to bring together a community of like-minded amphibious force leaders with focus and equities in the Indo-Pacific region. Twenty-five nations were in attendance, including Latin American representation from Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil.
PALS-21 marked the sixth iteration of the event, established in 2015, that brings together senior leaders of ally and partner militaries from around the globe with the objective of maintaining and developing relationships and having a meaningful dialogue on key aspects of maritime and amphibious operations, capability development, crisis response, and interoperability.
“Amphibious operations are a joint endeavor,” said Lieutenant General Steven Rudder, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. “This is an important forum to opening up discussion and exchange ideas and best practices on mutual matters and shared interests.”
Topics for the event included developing response measures to unconventional threats, regional interoperability, and force development. These conversations provide a useful venue for senior amphibious force leaders to share ideas and enhance cooperation toward common interests that promote stability.
Chile, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia are Pacific nations with common interests and shared equities in the security and stability of the Pacific region. Chile has a professional naval force and operates a navy with global reach and influence. Their ability to project power into the Pacific is significant, and their ability to conduct activities across the range of military operations allows them shared interest into Indo-Pacific threats. They have participated in several combined exercises and operations and aspire for a greater role in exporting security and promoting stability throughout the Pacific. This year, Chile participated in PALS directly with a dialogue concerning regional interoperability and the importance of human relationships in building that interoperability.
Rear Admiral Flavio Montagna, Chilean Marine Corps commander, discussed the vital need to have amphibious capabilities with today’s global interconnectivity. He went on to discuss the shared challenges and value in a multinational force that can work and operate together.
“The sharing of equipment as well as techniques, tactics, and procedures allows us greater coordination and closer collaboration,” he said.
Peru has a highly capable naval force and has participated in several events in the Indo-Pacific region. Peru will host exercise UNITAS later this year where it will also serve as the lead of the combined task force. UNITAS is the world’s longest running maritime exercise and brings multinational forces together to conduct planning and amphibious operations. Additionally, Peru is developing an international amphibious training center that aims to serve as the amphibious center of excellence and export security not only for countries in the Western Hemisphere, but with hopes of expanding that reach globally.
Chile and Peru’s participation in events such as PALS and the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) increase interoperability and contribute to responding to crisis such as natural disasters. In building these relationships with other Pacific partners, they also assist in addressing security threats to the region.
Brazil has more than 90 naval vessels and participates in exercises and missions across the globe. They are currently scheduled to take command of the United Nations counter-piracy mission, Combined Task Force-151 in 2021. Brazil’s experience as a globally integrated force and lead country of a maritime task force allows them to share experiences, capability development, and lessons learned.
“The attendance and participation of our South American partners at this event is significant,” said Colonel Michael McWilliams, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South, who is selected for brigadier general. “It shows the global importance of maritime threats and operations in relation to the Pacific Ocean and also develops those relationships and the interoperability for enhanced security and stability.”
The attendance and participation of our South American partners at this event is significant… It shows the global importance of maritime threats and operations in relation to the Pacific Ocean and also develops those relationships and the interoperability for enhanced security and stability,” Colonel Michael McWilliams, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South.