Air Force

August 23, 2012

PANAMAX 2012 Spotlights

Tech. Sgt. Andria Sapp
183rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

PANAMAX 2012 is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise that focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal. Forces from 17 nations worked together as part of a computer-simulated-exercise to provide a variety of responses to requests made by the governments of Panama and Columbia. These requests were geared at protecting and guaranteeing safe passage of traffic through the Panama Canal, ensuring its neutrality, and respecting national sovereignty. The exercise took place Aug. 6 -17.

 

Capt. Eric Hastings

Capt. Eric Hastings was the A9 Contingency Action Team (CAT) representative for PANAMAX 2012 at Air Forces Southern.

Question: What was your role in PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: We completed analysis and lessons learned for the commander and gauged how well the staff was doing at achieving the exercise objectives. Another role of ours was to assess basing status, which included airfields, logistics, and personnel. In addition, we provided lessons learned from previous events to help prevent the staff from making the same mistakes again.

Question: In what ways did your role contribute to the overall objectives of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: We assessed how well the objectives were being met and completed lessons learned for future events.

Question: What lessons learned did you take away from PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I gained a better idea of what goes on during an exercise of this magnitude. How the senior leaders assessed the exercise and their view on things. It also helped me to better understand what leaders and participants are looking to do in the next exercise.

 

Lt. Col. Kevin Mulcahy

Lt. Col. Kevin Mulcahy, from the 183rd Air Operations Group, served as contingency action team (CAT) operations officer (OPSO) for PANAMAX 2012.

Question: What was your role in PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I was the crisis action team OPSO. I orchestrated the Air Force Forces (AFFOR) staff with the daily battle rhythm, supporting the CAT director and the Commander, Air Force Forces (COMAFFOR). I also ensured that all of the sections were equipped with the information to do their jobs, what the outcomes of those jobs were, and ensured that the COMAFFOR was briefed daily on our progress.

Question: In what ways did your role contribute to the overall objectives of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I ensured that all personnel were on track with the mission and that they supported all of the forces that were down range. The mission of this exercise was the defense of the Panama Canal and humanitarian response. PANAMAX 2012 prepared us to respond not only during wartime but also in a time of humanitarian relief and in the war against drugs. This is what we do in the real world on a daily basis, but PANAMAX gave us an opportunity to work jointly with our partner nations learn how to be prepared on a larger scale.

Question: In your role, how did you work with the partner nations to ensure the success of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: Our partner nations attended our daily COMAFFOR briefs, and our interactions fostered several opportunities for relationship building. All the participants were able to exchange their experiences and expertise. These interactions strengthened bonds across the region and will foster longer-lasting friendships and an understanding among the partner nations, ultimately benefiting the security of the region.

Question: What are the lessons learned you took away from PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: Continued relationship building with the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) full-time staff allowed us to take what we have learned on our processes in regards to what positions we need to have filled to best complete our mission. We would like to continue to work with 12th Air Force (AFSOUTH) in the planning process in hopes of intertwining with them (more than just augmenting them during the entire process from planning through execution all the way to lessons learned).

 

Col. Stephen Pedrotty

Col. Steve Pedrotty was the Contingency Action Team Director for PANAMAX 2012

Question: What was your role in PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I was the Contingency Action Team (CAT) Director. I coordinated all actions related to deployment, sustainment and redeployment of Air Force assets for operations. I also oversaw the request for forces that in-theatre operations may need. This included not only arranging for Air Force assets to be sent to downrange to South America, but also sustaining the assets while there, and making sure the assets return when no longer needed.

Question: In what ways did your role contribute to the overall objectives of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: The objectives of PANAMAX 2012 were to train the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) staff and Multi-National Force South (MNF-S), and to certify them as a Joint Task Force. Our other objective was to work with our coalition partners. Our job here is to provide the Air Force support. Support of Air Force units in the area of responsibility (AOR) is crucial to their ability to participate in the operation. From an exercise standpoint, we interacted with Joint and Coalition partners to establish relationships and to make sure that there are processes in place for when need certain skill-sets in future real world operations.

Question: In your role, how did you work with the partner nations to ensure the success of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: Everything is about building relationships. It is about building relationships with the other components that are part of SOUTHCOM and learning who is capable of what. These interactions strengthen our bonds across the region and foster long-lasting friendships and an understanding among the partner nations, ultimately benefiting the security of the region. This helps everyone.

Question: What are the lessons learned you took away from PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: We improved our internal processes and identified the interface points with the other agencies (MNF-S, other components, SOUTHCOM) and nations to improve the efficiency of communication. PANAMAX 2012 provided an opportunity for the participating nations to jointly train to counter threats posed by violent and illegally armed groups, provide for humanitarian relief as necessary, and to defend the Panama Canal as deemed necessary by the government of Panama and other nations of the region.

 

Lt. Col. Darren Guttmann

Lt. Col. Darren Guttmann, from the 231st Civil Engineering flight of the Missouri Air National Guard, was the A4/7 Contingency Action Team representative for PANAMAX 2012.

Question: What was your role in PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I was the A4/7 contingency operations center representative. I coordinated engineering and logistics activities between Air Force forces and the multi-national security forces.

Question: In what way did your role contribute to the overall objectives of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: Engineering and logistics are critical to operations. My role ensured that coalition and partner nations conducted the engineering and logistics mission in a coordinated fashion. Engineering includes the bed down of forces and either the building or sustainment of infrastructure such as buildings, roadways, electrical lines and water lines, needed for the mission. Coordinated materials and similar construction techniques allow for a better understanding of what infrastructure is available and what sustainment measures need to be taken when different forces are sent in to take over after a period of time. The details get as involved as what unit of measure to work with, so from an engineering stand point that is something that partner nations are working on. Logistics involves everything from food to fuel to munitions. In order to keep the mission as everyone’s first priority, logistics has to keep up.

Question: In your role, how did you work with the partner nations to ensure the success of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I worked with multi-national forces-south on engineer and logistics issues. We were able to exchange information on engineering/logistics tactics and procedures with partner nations. This was exactly what PANAMAX 2012 was designed to do. The exercise allows us to develop and test participating nations’ capabilities to respond to a wide variety of air, land, sea, space and cyber missions as a unified force.

Question: What were the lessons learned you took away from PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I gained a better understanding of the command and control relationships in a coalition/multi-national environment. One of the most important benefits of multinational exercises like PANAMAX is the fact that all the participants will be able to exchange their experiences, expertise and will gain new knowledge about each other’s culture and people. These interactions strengthen our bonds across the region and foster long-lasting friendships and understanding among the nations participating, ultimately benefiting the overall security of the region.

 

Capt. Thomas Hall

Capt. Thomas Hall is chief of Air Training Operations production at the 183rd Fighter Wing.

Question: What was your role in PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I worked in Master Air Attack Planning (MAAP). We took inputs from strategy and created an air battle plan to present to the Combined Forces Air Component.

Question: In what ways did your role contribute to the overall objectives of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: We took the commander’s intent and converted it into aircraft sorties to provide him with the air power he required to complete the mission. We essentially took the air assets and decide how to deploy them downrange to meet the mission need. Our number one priority was to support our coalition partners.

Question: In your role, how did you work with the partner nations to ensure the success of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I worked directly with representatives from six of our partner nations in the MAAP cell. PANAMAX 2012 served as opportunity to integrate and gain experience with our combined processes. We have been working and training alongside our partner nations so that we can operate as an effective team by coordinating assets and sharing information to respond quickly to a variety of crises and protect the security of the region.

Question: What are the lessons learned that you took away from PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: Each year our partner nations are taking on a larger role in the exercise, and we are learning how to be more of a support element. Each year we build on the relationships that we made the prior year. Additionally, it’s nice to take what we practice at home station (183rd Fighter Wing) to put it into practice in a real world environment.

 

Maj. John Murtha

Maj. John Murtha, from Indianapolis, Ind., was legal counsel for the 183rd Fighter Wing and for the PANAMAX 2012 exercise.

Question: What was your role in PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I was the legal advisor to the Contingency Action Team (CAT) focusing primarily on fiscal law and international law. We made sure that money was allocated on the right products and services to complete the mission. We also ensured that U.S. government agreements with coalition brethren, in regards to jurisdiction over troops, requirements for documentation, and weapons were hashed out before hand. My role was to ensure that the U.S. acted within the scope of those agreements.

Question: In what ways did your role contribute to the overall objectives of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: PANAMAX 2012 was a leadership exercise for commanders, partner nations and service members. My role was to give leadership the proper legal basis from which they can make decisions in conducting operations. We provided real world restrictions that would factor into their decision making processes.

Question: In your role, how did you work with the partner nations to ensure the success of PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: In reference to international agreements, although they are pre-existing they are often open to interpretation. Having coalition nations working together allowed for other perspectives to be brought to life that wouldn’t otherwise be there if we worked separately. This exercise enhanced those links by fostering friendly, mutual cooperation.

Question: What are the lessons learned you took away from PANAMAX 2012?

Answer: I had two goals here. The first was to gain an increased knowledge of the big picture view, specifically the Commander, Air Force Forces and the CAT. The second was in regards to the international law. I wanted to obtain a deeper understanding of the law and how it is involved when a real world situation arises, because often you don’t know what you don’t know until you have a chance to practice what you are taught. The exercise offered stimulus that reveals gaps in our knowledge.




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