"PANAMX 2015: Protecting A Maritime Choke Point'
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Blouin Beat: World
August 13, 2015
Originally published: http://blogs.blouinnews.com/blouinbeatworld/2015/08/13/panamax-2015-protecting-a-maritime-choke-point/
The multinational military exercises known as PANAMAX 2015 recently came to a successful close. The exercises brought together military units from 16 countries, mostly from the Western Hemisphere (i.e., the U.S. and regional partner nations) as well as some of Washington’s extra-hemispheric allies. According to a U.S. Army press release, PANAMAX is “a preemptive effort to respond to any request from the government of Panama to protect and guarantee safe passage of traffic through the Panama Canal.” As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, more goods traverse a limited number of maritime pathways, such as the canal, hence it is more important than ever to protect these “maritime choke points,” asCaptain Alfred Thayer Mahan called them in the 19 century.
PANAMAX are annual exercises sponsored by the U.S. South Command (SOUTHCOM), the branch of the military that oversees most of Latin America and the Caribbean, and are aimed at responding to crises in the Panama Canal. The most recent version of the exercise was divided into two phases: Phase I Multi-national Forces South and Phase II Combined Land Forces Component, which took place from June 19-27 and from July 27-5, respectively. A total of 16 nations (including the U.S.) had units participate in the exercises, including Latin American states like Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Panama and Peru; as well as Jamaica and the United Kingdom.