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UNITAS Begins in Peru

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080625-10
Release Date: 6/25/2008 4:47:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Omar A. Dominquez, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific

LIMA, Peru (NNS) -- UNITAS 49-08, an annual multinational exercise conducted to enhance interoperability and mutual cooperation between navies, began off the coast of Callao, June 21.

The multinational exercise brings together nations with common interests in the Americas, and includes Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and the United States. Mexico participated in this year's Atlantic phase of UNITAS as an observer.

UNITAS, now in its 49th consecutive year, strengthens relationships between partner nations through at-sea operations under numerous maritime scenarios.

Capt. Rodelio Laco, Destroyer Squadron 40 commodore, explained that this type of exercise increases proficiency and interoperability and builds trust between partner nations.

"The at-sea portion of this exercise will be one of the most challenging to date," said Laco. "There is just no substitute for the training we get by working together at sea with our allied and partner nations' navies. We get better at this every year, and every year the governments, militaries, and citizens of each of these countries comes to count on one another more and more. The direct result of all of this work and training is a more trusting international environment and the ability to accomplish together our common goals."

Staff elements from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, Destroyer Squadron 40, USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), USS Farragut (DDG 99), USS Kauffman (FFG 59), United States Coast Guard International Training Division and personnel from the U.S. Marine Corps participated in this year's UNITAS Pacific Phase.

UNITAS provides unique training opportunities at sea in a challenging and uncertain environment. The exercise incorporates event-driven scenarios to provide the maximum opportunity to improve a better working environment between navies.

According to Rear Adm. Raul Vasquez, Commander Surface Force of the Peruvian Navy, in the last six years UNITAS has changed and incorporated new ways of training in order to best challenge 21st century threats.

The exercise leaders airm to train forces from participating nations in maritime operations such as electronic warfare, anti-air warfare and air defense, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and maritime interdiction operations.

"One of the most important objectives during UNITAS is regional cooperation," said Vasquez. "This exercise allows interoperability of our units. In the event of an actual mission, we can be ready to succeed in any challenge that we may encounter."

UNITAS 49-08 is part of Partnership of Americas, an ongoing engagement operation sponsored by U.S. Southern Command. It is carried out under the operational control of the Mayport, Fla.-based U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command. The commander of Destroyer Squadron 40, Capt. Rodelio Laco, leads the deployment as commander, Task Group 40.0.

For more news from Commander, Destroyer Squadron 40, visit www.navy.mil/local/desron40.

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