PANAMA CITY, Panama (NNS) -- Reserve component Sailors from Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 6 deployed alongside their active-duty counterparts during the PANAMAX 2005 exercise in August.
PANAMAX is a large-scale multinational exercise conducted annually in the waters surrounding the Republic of Panama. The exercise is designed to prepare participating nations for a coalition response to potential threats to the Panama Canal and its critical sea-lines of communication.
"The Reserve Component was absolutely essential to the success of PANAMAX," said Commander, Destroyer Squadron 6 Capt. Dave Costa when commenting on the role Reserves play in the DESRON 6 organization. "We simply could not execute a mission of this size and complexity without our [DESRON] 6 reserves."
This year's exercise was focused on Maritime Interdiction Operations, and involved 29 ships, 20 aircraft, and more than 4,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from the 17 participating nations. The exercise is the largest in the U.S. Southern Command Area of Responsibility.
DESRON 6 Reservists from detachments in Little Rock, Ark.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Lehigh Valley, Houston and Pensacola, Fla., answered the call of the supported command, forming the backbone of the command and control structure upon which the exercise was built.
"I knew that I could rely on my reserve commanding officers to provide the best-trained, most highly motivated sailors they have to offer," Costa said. "I identified a need, articulated it to my commanding officers, and they, working in concert, expertly filled the required billets with the right skills."
While a majority of the DESRON 6 Reservists were stationed aboard the exercise's flagship, USS Bataan (LHD 5), other Reservists' varied postings included ships from the navies of Colombia, Peru, Chile and the Dominican Republic, at the U.S. Embassy in Panama City, and at a variety of locations around the Republic of Panama.
"While my personal role in the exercise was almost exclusively constrained to being the Maritime Component commander, my reserve component had a much broader impact on the exercise," noted Costa. "The key to their involvement in the exercise is that they had "buy-in" to the planning process from the ground up. My Reserve commanding officers, like their active counterparts, were clearly focused on mission success."
"Just as [DESRON] 6 leads the way on the waterfront, our [DESRON] 6 Reservists are leaders in the support they provide," said Costa. "We made the request, and they responded with great enthusiasm.
"This was the first time we have attempted to involve so many of our members at one time, and it was truly an awesome experience," he added. "We are fortunate to have a dynamic group of Sailors who can provide such a broad array of expertise to support to our mission."
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