UNITAS 2016 comes to a close in Panama

The Panama-hosted international exercise UNITAS 2016 concluded in Panama City with over 1000 naval and security forces from 11 nations attending the closing ceremony on September 28.

This year’s exercise was joined by the United States, Panama, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and the United Kingdom.

Participating units from the United States included expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Spearhead, USCGC Mohawk, Joint Task Force-Bravo with three H-60 Blackhawk helicopters, Destroyer Squadron 40 and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet.

The 10-day exercise included operations in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

“We have so much in common. We share a common heritage. We cherish and uphold the same principles and we are united by a vision of a better future for all our nations,” said Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, commander, U.S. Southern Command.

UNITAS trained each navy and public security force to conduct joint naval operations, through the execution of littoral warfare, anti-piracy, maritime interdiction operations, countering transnational organized crime, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare, communications exercises and air operations in order to increase interoperability and capability between participating naval forces.

UNITAS, which is Latin for “unity,” was first executed in 1960. This year marks the 57th iteration of the world’s longest-running annual multinational maritime exercise, and continues to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the relationships forged with regional partners.