Italy, november '07 - february '08




(August 29th – September 7th)


FA PANAMAX 2007 was one of the largest multinational training exercises in 2007, involving more than 30 ships, a dozen aircraft and 7,500 personnel from 19 nations.  The U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise focused on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal, one of the most strategically and economically crucial waterways in the world.  FA PANAMAX 2007 exercised ground, sea and air responses to any request from the government of Panama to assist in protecting and guaranteeing safe passage through the canal and ensuring its neutrality.

Civil and military forces from 19 nations took part in FA PANAMAX, which was conducted Aug. 29 – Sept. 7, 2007 in the Caribbean and Pacific approaches to the canal, while land forces participated at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras.  Nineteen nations involved is the most ever since the PANAMAX exercise series began in 2003.


The exercise scenario included:

§ Sea-to-sea training devoted to maritime interdiction ops and visit, boarding, search and seizure.

§  Land-based training focused on:

- Command and control

- Stability operations

- Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief


 FA Panamax 2007 included the added dimension of both ground and air components, along with the traditional participation of maritime components.  This added dimension more fully accounted for a defense that would be required to help secure the canal’s security and neutrality.

The forces comprised Multi-National Force South under a combined joint task force led by U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Evan Chanik, commander, U.S. Second Fleet.


Some of FA PANAMAX 07’s exercise objectives:

§ Exercise command and control in a multinational force to conduct Maritime Interdiction Ops, surveillance ops, monitoring and operational planning to achieve regional naval control and shipping protection.

§ Promote interoperability.

§ Conduct operations ensuring rights to freedom of navigation and sea-lanes of communication are maintained unrestricted.

§ Utilize Intelligence & Warning, Maritime Interdiction Ops, and “layered defense” to counter a threat.

§ Develop and validate the common rules of engagement (ROE) for all force participating in the operation.

§ Utilize national and international Maritime Law Enforcement to conduct multinational operations.


Nations involved in FA PANAMAX 07:

Argentina,  Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican  Rep., Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Netherlands, Panama, Peru, United States, Uruguay.


Nations involved as observers:

El Salvador, Mexico, Paraguay, United Kingdom.


Exercise history:

The FA Panamax annual exercise series began in 2003.  The first exercise included the participation of only three nations.  The exercise has grown since.  In 2004, nine nations took part; in 2005, 15 nations were involved; and last year, 18 nations participated.