Naval Forces from the Americas train together in ‘Partnership of the Americas 2014’
By Dialogo October 01, 2014
The navies of nine countries from the Americas – including seven from Latin American nations –gathered in Chile August for “Partnership of the Americas 2014,” a series of joint training exercises featuring drills on providing humanitarian assistance to civilians during natural disasters.
About 1,500 participants from Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, Perú, Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Canada and the United States measured their ability to respond during a simulated 8.8 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. Natural disasters cause countless deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“It is critical to strengthen regional partnerships and improve the capabilities of these security missions,” said Brigadier General David Coffman, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces South. Coffman made his remarks during the closing ceremonies of the program, which was held August 12-22 in the coastal towns of Valparaíso and Pichidangui.
Improving cooperation and efficiency
The training exercises were designed to help the men and women of the nine naval forces improve cooperation and operational efficiency as they carry out joint missions at sea in support of ground initiatives.
For example, in one exercise, amphibious and air transport teams worked together to provide humanitarian assistance to the civilian population - including medical care, food and water. During the simulation, a group of Chilean military staff and four U.S. Marines generated different scenarios to test the skills and responses of the naval forces. They arrived on the beach at Pichidangui on an LCU, known as the “Canave,” and LCMS which are known as “Reyes” and “Fuentes,” respectively. As the exercise continued, service members were transported aboard a LSDH-91 Sargento Aldea, an amphibious assault vessel, a barge, a Chilean Navy multipurpose frigate, a Mexican Navy ship, a Mexican Navy helicopter, two AS-332L Super Puma helicopters belonging to the Chilean Navy, and four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters from the U.S. Navy, according to Infodefensa.
Training at the Partnership of the Americas 2014 wasn’t limited to drills.
“Before the practical part, the exercise included lectures by experts in different areas. That is the challenge when operating with other navies,” said Rear Admiral Arturo Undurraga, Commander of the Amphibious Taskforce.
A history of cooperation
Partnership of the Americas 2014 was coordinated by the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which works with Latin American and Caribbean security forces to help civilian populations during natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
For example, the navies of Latin America coordinated relief efforts to help Haiti after that country was struck by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in January 2010. The earthquake killed about 316,000 people in Haiti and destroyed or severely damaged 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings. At its peak, SOUTHCOM’s response to relief efforts included 22,000 soldiers.
Many of the Armed Forces of countries in the Americas and in the Caribbean also cooperate in the fight against transnational criminal organizations, such as Los Rastrojos, the Clan de Usúga, and Mexican transnational criminal organizations like the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas.
Partnership of the Americas is not the only cooperative training exercise for Latin American navies. The multinational training exercise known as UNITAS is also coordinated by SOUTHCOM. Such training exercises help navies throughout the region establish trust and improve their coordination, which means they can respond more quickly to a regional or global crisis.
“These exercises are necessary for all agreements in order for interoperability and joint efforts,” said Raúl Benítez Manaut, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “It involves a division of labor where each naval force makes their greatest contribution. Latin American armed forces have to train and be prepared to respond to a country when necessary.”