SOCSOUTH Enhance Command, Control Interoperability During Panamax 16
By Maj. Cesar H. Santiago, Special Operations Command South August 15, 2016Special Operations Command South hosted military personnel from the partner countries of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and Peru from July 25th to August 4th during this year’s Panamax in Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida. PANAMAX is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored multinational exercise focused on ensuring the security of the Panama Canal. The exercise was conducted across multiple locations to include HARB, which served as the location for the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command (CFSOCC). The purpose of the exercise is to improve training, readiness, and interoperability through a series of scenarios designed to integrate multiple nations into a cohesive team, demonstrating their ability to train and work with participating multinational staffs from partner nations in the region. “I think the exercise provides us with excellent and on-going opportunities for growth and understanding with respect to differing institutional cultures,” said U.S. Army Maj. Steve McKnight, a civil affairs officer. Participants had to overcome cross-cultural communication challenges with a collaborative effort that rendered joint, combined and interagency support to achieve the mission, he said. CFSOCC personnel began the exercise with an academic overview of the functions and roles of the staff in a joint and combined operational environment. The execution of the scenarios provided an opportunity to the CFSOCC staff personnel to establish and perform command and control processes at the special operations component level in a challenging simulated training that addresses the interoperability and readiness of emerging and enduring partners. Colombian army Lt. Col. Oscar Mauricio Ortiz Guzman, signal officer to the Colombian Joint Special Operations Command expressed his views on the experience gained during the exercise. “Panamax is an exercise that integrates the development of joint and combined operations, which is a great opportunity for the countries participating of the exercise to expand the doctrine based knowledge,” said Lt. Col. Ortiz. The exercise fosters and enhances regional special operation forces partnership, and improves the collaboration force capability to plan and execute command and control processes in complex multinational operations “PANAMAX contributes in a great way to identify the employment of special operation forces during joint and combined operations,” said Lt. Col. Ortiz. “The exercise facilitates the interaction with different components (air, land, sea), and [further develops planning execution] with the higher headquarters and subordinate units to fulfill the required mission at the different levels.” SOCSOUTH regularly works with partner nation special operation forces in joint, combined, and interagency training exercises to continue building force readiness to protect U.S. southern approaches and vital U.S. interests in the region.