U.S. military exercises in August and September

Latin America and the Caribbean

This post was compiled by WOLA Intern Michael Pelzer.

Entire Region, Colombia

  • The 54th annual edition of “UNITAS,” a U.S. - South American sponsored naval exercise, kicked off on September 9th. “Operating in the Caribbean waters off Colombia through Sept. 15,“ read a Southern Command release, ”the participants in Unitas 2013 will focus on coalition building, multilateral security cooperation, tactical interoperability and mutual understanding among the participants.” Another document explains, “During 10 days at sea, 19 ships conducted a full spectrum of maritime operations, including electronic warfare, anti-air warfare and air defense, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and maritime interdiction operations.”

Entire Region, Panama

  • PANAMAX 2013, a joint exercise between the United States and 17 other Latin American nations, spanned from August 12th to 16th. Its focus was to develop participating nations’ capacity “to plan and execute complex multilateral operations … under the support of United Nations Security Council Resolutions.”


  • On September 4th, U.S. Marine Corps General John Kelly, Commander of U.S. Southern Command, visited with Belizean military and civilian defense officials to discuss “security engagement and joint activities” between the United States and Belize. Part of the talks included the humanitarian assistance exercise “New Horizons,” which seeks to improve interoperability and joint humanitarian response techniques. A similar exercise will take place in 2014.

El Salvador

  • On August 14th high-ranking U.S. and Salvadoran military officials met to identify and discuss strategies for improving interoperability. The meeting culminated in both Major General Joseph DiSalvo of SOUTHCOM and Salvadoran Brig. Gen. William Armando Mejia signing a memorandum of understanding. The major issues guiding cooperation were identified prior to the signing in a number of steering sessions that led to the development of a “bilateral engagement plan that includes knowledge, capabilities and support for current and future peace-keeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and other combined operations.”


  • Texas National Guardsmen and Border Patrol tactical units teamed up to lead a training program for Guatemalan soldiers and federal police from the newly created Tecún Umán Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). The program addressed a number of skills including “fundamentals of marksmanship, weapons maintenance, sand table preparations, mounted and dismounted operations, and gunnery skills.” The spirit of the training course was one of building connections between the two nations’ armed forces, with U.S. and Guatemalan soldiers working side by side in on simulated missions during the day and sharing the same barracks at night.


  • Thirteen advisors from the United States’ Mobility Support Advisory Squadron led a 35 day training seminar in Honduras to train 50 partner nation personnel on aircraft maintenance, secure communications, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

  • On August 23rd, airmen from Joint Task Force Bravo engaged in a joint exercise with Honduran forces, simulating a response to a downed aircraft. The exercise took place outside of the boundaries of the Soto Cano Airbase in Comayagua, adding a greater degree of reality to the simulation. Joint Security Forces Commander Robert Shaw noted that “This is a way for our joint security force members to be tested in their individual and collective tasks."

Trinidad and Tobago

  • U.S. Green Berets and Special Forces units from Trinidad and Tobago engaged in a four week Joint Combined Exchange Training Program. The month long Special Operations Forces training activity allowed members of Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH) to work on interoperability and bilateral relations, to train in an unfamiliar environment, and to improve their tactics and area knowledge. SOCSOUTH planners intend to hold similar events with several other countries in the coming months.