U.S. and Partner Nation Marines in combined UNITAS Gold / POA
MAYPORT, Fla. (April 22, 2009) – U.S. Marines and marines from six Central and South American nations will arrive today to participate in Partnership of the Americas (POA) 2009, which is being simultaneously executed with UNITAS Gold here. Under the command of U.S. Navy South and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South respectively, the union of UNITAS Gold and POA will allow the Navy/Marine Corps team to synergize interoperability and cooperation efforts between the U.S. and partner nations’ maritime forces in order to maintain maritime partnerships, which are key to maintaining security and stability of the world’s oceans.
During the two-week combined exercise, U.S. Marines deployed as Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 24 (SPMAGTF 24), will train with partner nation marines from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and soldiers from the Royal Canadian Army. In all more than 25 ships, 50 rotary and fixed wing aircraft, 650 Marines, 6,500 Sailors and four submarines will participate in the exercise. Comprised of Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764 (HMM-764), 4th Marine Logistics Group and the 24th Marine Regiment, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., the SPMAGTF 24, commanded by Col. Jay Huston, will conduct an amphibious assault as part of the ground training in support of this year’s 50th iteration of UNITAS. POA is an annual U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South multinational, company-level combined and joint exercise that focuses on enhancing interoperability between U.S. Marines and partner-nation marines in the areas of amphibious operations, non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO), peacekeeping and disaster relief. The combined exercise will provide exercise participants the opportunity to train in a realistic training environment on both land and sea, and will address a variety of mission areas; featuring live-fire exercises, undersea warfare, shipboard operations, maritime interdiction operations, air defense and surface warfare, amphibious operations, electronic warfare, and special warfare.
Successful training of POA 09 and UNITAS Gold participants will enable them to return to their respective nations to further train their nation’s security forces by sharing the lessons learned from this experience. Historically, POA has focused on theater security cooperation events, at sea and on shore. U.S. maritime forces worked jointly with partner nation governmental forces throughout the Americas to develop the relationships needed to ensure regional security. This year’s UNITAS exercise continues to focus on enhancing Global Maritime Partnership in support of Regional Maritime Security, gaining Noncombatant Evacuation Operations certification for the Canadian forces and successfully completing all additional partner nation training objectives. USMC units participating in POA 09 are the 2d Assault Amphibious Battalion, 4th Dental Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764 (HMM 764), Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, 4th Marine Division, 6th Communication Battalion, Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, 4th Intelligence Support Battalion, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (VMM-162) and Amphibious Squadron 8, which is one of four tactical amphibious squadrons in the Naval Surface Force, US Atlantic Fleet. Additional U.S. Navy representation in the amphibious task force will be the USS Mesa Verde and USS Ashland. UNITAS is the largest and oldest U.S. multinational naval exercise in U.S. Southern Command area of focus, the first one having been executed in 1960.
USMC Partnership of the America began in 2006 as a company-level multinational exchange exercise where a USMC unit traveled to Chile and subsequently to Peru to conduct military-to military exchanges. At the time, U.S. Navy ships where participating in UNITAS 2006 in the region and provided naval support to the U.S. Marines ashore. More recently in 2008, the amphibious ship USS Boxer participated in a humanitarian exercise in Central America and continued to Peru with U.S. Marines and Colombian marines to conduct an amphibious landing in Salinas, Peru. As a result of the mutually supporting efforts, the Marines were able to conduct its multinational training exercise with the host nation while also completing a humanitarian mission of an earthquake-road-debris removal for the benefit of the citizens of San Clemente, Peru. The success enjoyed over the past two years has increased partner nation participation from four in 2007 to seven in 2009 with plans to further partner nation participation in the future.