PANAMAX 2010, one of the largest multinational training exercises in the world is underway. With military personnel from 18 countries participating and more than 2000 civilians, the task force will respond to scenarios from terrorism threats to disaster relief. The exercise will enhance the cooperation of the various nations ground, naval, air and Special Forces and ability to respond to a major threat to the Panama Canal.
Sponsored by the US Southern Command and the Government of Panama, nations participating in PANAMAX 2010 include: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States and Uruguay.
“This year’s exercise simulates a “terrorist organization” attack against the Panama Canal plus the control of several countries of the area with the purpose of destabilizing the global economy,” said Jesus Rodriguez Panamanian coordinator of the PANAMAX 2010. Panama will make a request to the United Nations Security Council who in turn instructs the US to lead a multinational force to assure that the canal remains open for military access as well as shipping traffic as part of the exercise.
“We have seen the great activity of the drugs cartels in the region and along the Panamanian coastline, which is closely connected to terrorism and the weapons trade. Drugs have become synonymous of terrorism”, said Rodríguez.
The Panama Canal opened in 1914 and almost one million vessels have used the canal. It is estimated that 5% of the world’s trade uses the canal generating 800 million US dollars for the Panamanian treasury.