By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class J.T. Bolestridge, Destroyer Squadron 40 Public Affairs
The guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) and the frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59), assets assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40, transited the Panama Canal July 9-11 en route Mayport, Fla.
The transit from the Pacific to Atlantic Ocean via the was the final evolution of the first half of Partnership of the Americas 2008 (POA 08), an operation sponsored by U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). The exercise strengthens regional partnerships and improves multinational interoperability, while enhancing the operational readiness of all units assigned to participate.
This was the first transit for Farragut and a major evolution of her maiden deployment.
Capt. Rudy Laco, DESRON 40 commodore, explained Partnership of the presents exercises designed to strengthen interoperability with partner nations through a variety of maritime scenarios while facilitating vital lines of communication between these regional friends.
"Training scenarios and bilateral exchanges such as Partnership of the address key aspects of multinational and combined operations such as technology standardization and common operating procedures that are vital to improving the interoperability throughout the region," Laco said.
"Only by working and communicating with our partner navies can we hope to have the relationships we need in the event of a crisis requiring a multinational effort."
More than 3,500 U.S. Sailors and thousands of host nation citizens have exchanged experiences and gained new knowledge about each other's culture and people during the course of POA 08. Kauffman's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Bob Cepek said these interactions create bonds across the cultures and foster friendship and understanding among nations.
"By facilitating such relationships, we are setting the necessary conditions for prosperity and lasting democratic institutions," Cepek said. "We are also incorporating a wide spectrum of maritime skills that gives Sailors from all participating nations the chance to improve their own skills and share their best practices with others."
Following a two-week maintenance availability period in Mayport, Farragut and Kauffman will kick off the second half of POA 08. It will include Theater Security Cooperation visits in and followed by participation in the 2008 PANAMAX exercise. PANAMAX is the largest multinational exercise in the . During that exercise, 16 countries will participate, and four countries will have representatives who observe PANAMAX.
In addition to PANAMAX, they will also participate in a number of (TSC) visits throughout Central and South America as well as the .
Partnership of Americas 2008 is a continuation of commitment to the region and is being conducted to support the SOUTHCOM strategy of establishing and enhancing regional partnerships and promoting regional hemispheric stability. This is the third deployment, and the vision is to continue this effort to maintain a persistent presence in the region as a way to further enhance strong relationships.