Partnership of the Americas Launches Second Phase of Exercises
By Dialogo September 12, 2012
At 7 a.m. on September 10, Camp Blanding, Florida witnessed the final phase of military exercises under the seventh edition of operation Partnership of the Americas (POA). This year, the U.S. Marine Corps hosted their counterparts from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.
The 13-day training exercise, the first phase of which began on September 2 is run by the U.S. Marine Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH) – a component of U.S. Southern Command – as part of the broader military exercise known as UNITAS. Latin for “unity,” this is a combined South America and U.S. Military-sponsored exercise series which has been taking place annually for the last 57 years.
The amphibious component of POA is taking place at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, while the rehearsals and land personnel training are being developed in Camp Blanding. Both places are close to Jacksonville, Florida.
“Our objective each year is to bring together all the Marine Corps of the Western Hemisphere in order to work together on tactical operations on air, land and sea to develop missions for the support of peace, sovereignty defense, and humanitarian assistance in all of the U.S. Southern Command’s partner nations,” Colonel Agustín Bolanio, director of POA 2012, told Diálogo.
Even when the United States serves as the host country, POA is clearly a multi-national effort. This is obvious by watching the different colors of each of the uniforms and emblems of the participating countries, as well as by the languages in which the trainings are developed.
The Partner Nations all come together with common interests to establish and maintain stability in the region, and send specialized personnel in predetermined arenas. For example, some are experts in aquatic operations, while others specialize in rescue missions and yet others in humanitarian aid. “But at the end, we all come to learn from one another. We want to learn from them just as much as they want to learn from us,” said Col. Bolanio.
There are many outstanding events on the training calendar. Some of the most notable ones include the military operations on urban terrain, most closely related to amphibious vehicles, and the wide array of exercises with real fire.
These rehearsals offer the Marines of every nation an opportunity to analyze real situations that they face daily in their home countries. But in addition, – as expressed to Diálogo by some of the participants – it gives them the capability to exchange knowledge, tactics and skills while giving them the chance to also build strong bonds of friendship, cooperation and mutual understanding, which will result in peace and progress across the region.