Santiago, Chile  — Ten Regular and Reserve Force members from 5th Canadian Division participated in PANAMAX 2016 (PMX 16), a United States Southern Command-sponsored simulation-based exercise from July 29 to August 5.

Eight of the Canadian soldiers assisted in the Chilean-led land component in Santiago and a team of two soldiers participated in the virtual-reality training portion in San Antonio, Texas.

Animated discussions, exchange of experiences, sharing of knowledge, briefings and translator-assisted conversations in multiple languages characterized the daily activities at the Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) headquarters in San Antonio, Texas during PMX 16.

In this year’s exercise, which included more than 2,100 military personnel from 20 nations, the Canadian contingent played different roles with operational, logistical and intelligence expertise as the training covered many modern-day threats in land, sea, air and cyber environments.

PANAMAX 2016 included significant firsts: each of the land, sea and air commands were led by Chile, Peru and Colombia, respectively. In addition, Brazil served as the Overall Deputy Commander of the Multinational Force.

The exercise challenged the army officers representing each nation (Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and the United States) to find ways to work together in a highly complex and multi-cultural environment to practice methods of protecting the safe passage of commercial traffic through the Panama Canal while ensuring its neutrality and respecting national sovereignty.

Participating in this exercise demonstrates Canada’s commitment to the Americas, working with international allies to ensure stability and security in this key trading area. The Panama Canal is considered one of the most strategically and economically crucial pieces of infrastructure in the world.

PMX 16 was a great challenge for the Canadians working in a multi-national headquarters (HQ) led by the Chilean Army. Working long hours with the primary language being Spanish forced all of us to be fully engaged with all aspects of the exercise,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Ronald Bertin, the Canadian Contingent Commander. “As always, Canada’s contribution proved to be very effective and we were heavily depended upon to execute our duties within the Combined Forces Land Component Command HQ.”

Exercise PANAMAX is a United States-led joint international venture which began in 2003 and is focused on operations in Central and South America. PMXinitially started with three partner nations but now incorporates as many as 21 nations at a time.  Until 2010, PMX was conducted mostly in simulation as a Command Post Exercise (CPX) but has evolved into a large operational force from the navies, armies and air forces of participating countries.