The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council was invited by MG Clarence “K.K.” Chinn to Army South (ARSOUTH) Headquarters to take a peek into the annual PANAMAX exercise, which takes place in Central America and the United States and includes training here in San Antonio. This year’s exercise was condensed from previous years, but still boasted four days of training which incorporated land, air, and sea forces from 25 nations. Participants take part in simulated training scenarios focused on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal, which is critical to the free flow of trade in the region and the entire world. The region’s economy and political stability largely depend on the safe transport of several hundred million tons of cargo through the canal each year. PANAMAX is designed to ensure plans are in place to respond to requests from the Government of Panama to protect the canal from dangers, which may include attacks by violent extremist organizations, natural disasters, or even pandemic outbreaks.
PANAMAX has grown dramatically since 2003, when Panama, Chile, and the United States conducted the first exercise. Participating Nations for 2016 include: Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and the United States. They are anticipating nearly 300 participants over the term of the exercise. In addition to Army South, service members participate in PANAMAX through simulated training that will be executed in several locations including the U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Miami; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
Council members were honored to attend and take advantage of this unique hands-on opportunity to see our nation’s Army training and building vital partnerships and good will. Attendees sat through a valuable and informative Mission Brief in the historic ARSOUTH headquarters, which provided details on ARSOUTH’s background, structure, and mission, highlighting the Command’s priorities of readiness, partnering, resourcing, and responsiveness. After the Mission Brief, the guests moved to the Exercise Site and received a personal welcome brief from MG Chinn and then toured the “Tent City” in small groups, which included ARSOUTH representatives, as well as servicemen and women from partnering nations and from multiple branches of service.
Once again, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce appreciates your business member support and continues to enjoy our invaluable relationship with our military neighbors. We appreciate ARSOUTH’s hospitality and look forward to next year’s visit!