JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
On the road leading up to PANAMAX, the major capstone training exercise for U.S. Army South, military officers from Brazil, Colombia and Peru arrived to Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston to take part in the Multinational Forces South, or MNFS, Planning in Crisis, or PIC, event Oct. 26-30.
PANAMAX is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored multinational exercise series that focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal. Originally scheduled for this year, the exercise was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it will be taking place in February 2021.
As the land component to U.S. Southern Command, Army South works closely with partner nation militaries from Central, South America and the Caribbean to strengthen and build capability. The PIC portion of the exercise offers the staff a chance to practice the Joint Planning Process and achieve designated planning tasks that are part of the Army South mission essential task list.
“The key objective of the PIC is to develop an approved course of action and information necessary to develop the MNFS operation order and annexes to achieve desired results as directed by U.S. Southern Command,” said James Murphy, Army South training and exercises director. “It also give ARSOUTH the opportunity to work with the other components and partner nations to increase everyone’s planning interoperability and develop positive relationships.”
Murphy explained the PICs are critical events for the training of the Army South staff, the partner nations and joint partners for several reasons, to include practicing the skills necessary to be joint task force ready if called upon.
“If ARSOUTH is designated the MNFS in a real-world scenario, it would be in command of multiple units, components and possible units from other partner nations; so it is necessary for the command to help build interoperability and determine planning gaps in exercises and training events,” Murphy said.
In an effort to maximize training opportunities, key leadership roles and responsibilities within the exercise change annually. Leading the Combined Forces Land Component Command, or CFLCC, element for PANAMAX will be the Brazilian Army.
Serving as the CFLCC Joint Operations Office Director, Col. Angelo Brait Jr., Brazilian Army, viewed the training opportunity as a venue to help the participating nations synchronize their planning processes, exercise multinational standard operating procedures, establish command and control procedures, and conduct sustainment in support of multinational operations.
“This effort is necessary to bring all the countries together to build and develop interoperability together,” Brait said. “When we come here to the United States and start planning, we can talk with each other and make sure that different parts can work together.”
"The training allows the partner nations to perform better, but most importantly, it allows the United States to have trust in us to conduct these type of operations together,” Brait said. "I have learned a lot here because the U.S. military have more experience in these types of operations, and I plan to return to Brazil with many lessons learned here.”
The next step for the MNFS staff is to finalize the operation order and annexes and then brief those products at the Component PIC, in Miami, Nov 13-20. At that event, the different components will develop their plan to execute the command post exercise, which will take place during Feb. 17-26, 2021. At that time, the multiple staffs will be able to achieve their training objectives to conduct the planning process in preparation of the execution phase.
“I hope in February we can put all of this in practice. I know it’s simulation, but I’m ready to see if our plan can work,” Brait said.