Southern Partnership Station Begins Subject Matter Expert Exchanges in Panama

A team of U.S. Navy divers and explosive ordnance disposal technicians arrived in Panama Oct. 10 to begin Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEE) and partner capacity building engagements with Panamanian forces as part of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2018.

The visit to Panama marks the final series of engagements by members of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, and Platoon 231, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 2 during SPS. Members of MDSU-2 have completed successful stops in Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

For members of Platoon 231, Panama marks the final mission stop following a successful SMEE in Colombia.

According to Lt. Sam Gedeon, Platoon 231 commander, the engagement will develop collaborative solutions and allow each of the participating units to build from each other’s existing knowledge base. 

“Both of our teams have a lot of knowledge to share with each other when it comes to tactics and procedures,” said Gedeon. “After learning together in a classroom environment, we’ll work problems and scenarios together in a field setting.”

Participating in SMEEs with joint and international partners allows participating units to learn from each other’s experiences and allows for greater interoperability between the forces.

“This engagement allows us to get to know each other better and ultimately strengthens our partnerships and ability to work together in the future,” added Gedeon. 

MDSU-2 will work on tactics and procedures including scuba diving operations, dive casualty diagnosis and treatment, underwater search procedures, and area search procedures with towed sonar.

For Navy Diver 1st Class Jonathan Miranda, participating in SMEEs during SPS has provided valuable insight into other forces’ procedures, and he is looking to continue building those relationships during this phase of the mission. 

“Our previous engagements have gone really well,” said Miranda. “We have been able to see how other countries operate and help each other build our own professional portfolios. In Panama I am hoping to learn different techniques, see new viewpoints, and build professional and personal relationships.”

Held on an annual basis by Commander, U.S. Southern Command and executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, Southern Partnership Station is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on SMEEs with partner nation militaries and security forces in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Southern Partnership Station focuses on enhancing cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services and improving operational readiness for all participants. Additionally, the mission will provide an opportunity for U.S. and partner nations to operate in a multinational environment, refine coordination, improve interoperability, and demonstrate flexibility. 

SPS is a demonstration of the strong U.S. commitment to partners in the Caribbean, Central and South America, fostering goodwill and enhancing our collective ability to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. SPS 18 will conclude later this month.

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