are high-profile, short-term events in which U.S. military personnel
are deployed for training, often through simulations of scenarios
or conditions they might face as part of their operational duties.
Exercises are generally the largest, in terms of cost and personnel,
of the many types of U.S. military "deployments
for training" that take place in Latin America and the Caribbean.
an exercise's primary officially defined purpose is to train U.S.
forces, foreign militaries often receive training as well. The U.S.
Southern Command (Southcom), the joint military
body responsible for Latin America and the Caribbean, makes interaction
with foreign militaries a high priority; as a result, its exercises
in the region frequently include other armed forces in some capacity,
whether as co-participants, observers, or perimeter guards. Other
militaries' participation results in some transfer of skills and
knowledge, making foreign military training a key secondary outcome
objectives of U.S. military exercises in the region, according to
a National Defense University (NDU) publication, include:
interoperability between U.S. forces and potential military partners;
["Interoperability" means "the ability of systems,
units or forces to provide services to and accept services from
other systems, units or forces, and to use the services so exchanged
to enable them to operate effectively together."1]
interpersonal contacts and force collaboration;
as confidence-building measures among neighboring states; and
an exercise involves construction, providing "a tangible
example of U.S. commitment to a country" and facilitating
"subsequent U.S. deployments in response to regional crises."2
the NDU notes, "tend to be expensive and often, because of
their strategic importance, drain funding intended for other defense
its area of operation, Southcom divides its exercises among three
categories: operational, foreign military interaction and engineer
Operational exercises are carried out with specific threats
or scenarios in mind. Participants follow action plans devised for
dealing with these scenarios. Operational exercises seek to gauge
a contingency plan's effectiveness and the participants' ability
to carry it out. In recent years, the U.S. military has rarely performed
operational exercises in cooperation with foreign units.
Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a May 1997 Southcom
document, operational exercise scenarios might include:
of the Panama Canal;
assistance / disaster relief; or
of recent operational exercises include:
- Blazon Resolve (Scenario:
Defensas (Panama Canal Defense)
Forces / Fuerzas de Rescate
Evacuation (NEO) Forces / Fuerzas de Evacuación4
Foreign military interaction (FMI) exercises, also referred
to as multinational exercises, are carried out jointly with other
militaries, normally several at a time. Southcom has phased out
one-on-one exercises, as its 1999 "Posture Statement"
the past, we conducted a greater number of exercises, but many
of them were bilateral. Today, as a matter of policy, we conduct
no bilateral exercises. Our objective is to migrate from regional,
to inter-regional exercises, and ultimately to hemispheric efforts
for challenges such as narcotrafficking and terrorism.5
exercises in the region no longer involve combat scenarios, according
to a Southcom document.
in 1995, Southcom’s exercises shifted from bilateral events featuring
conventional combat scenarios to multilateral exercises focusing
on peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, counter narco-trafficking,
and other more appropriate post-Cold War missions.6
Distinguished Visitor Program, a component of many Southcom FMI
exercises, invites host-region government, business and military
leaders "to observe an exercise, sit as panel members in special
exercise seminars and participate in exercise After Action Reviews."7
military interaction exercises normally take one of three forms:
Training Exercises (FTX): A "Field Training Exercise"
simulates actual operations "in the field," focusing
more on improvement of skills than on the making of command decisions.
Post Exercises (CPX): A "Command Post Exercise,"
which often relies on a computer simulation, guides decisionmakers
through a hypothetical scenario. A CPX normally takes place in
one central location, such as a military headquarters.
Participants learn and exchange skills through lectures and classroom-style
discussion. Southcom appears to be making increasing use of the
of multinational exercises include:
Engineer exercises involve construction of basic infrastructure
and provision of medical, dental and veterinary services. As U.S.
law forbids the military from carrying out most civilian construction
or health missions on U.S. soil, engineer exercises give U.S. forces
a chance to learn and practice these skills on foreign soil without
providing basic services to populations in developing countries,
these exercises also include a major humanitarian
and civic assistance component. Participating military personnel
normally leave behind new or renovated schools, wells, clinics,
roads or bridges, while offering medical, dental or veterinary care
at no cost to civilian populations.
of these exercises express concern that they encourage military
involvement in activities that are non-military in nature, inviting
an expansion of military roles beyond that normally seen in well-established
exercises can be performed with or without host-nation military
participation. In most cases, host-country security forces either
participate or provide security around the perimeter of the exercise
of engineer exercises include:
2010 of Title 10, U.S. Code mandates that, by March 1 of each year,
the Secretary of Defense submit a report containing the following
information about the past fiscal year:
list of the developing countries which the United States reimbursed
for incremental expenses incurred while participating in a military
amount each country was reimbursed.
expenses," according to section 2010, means "the reasonable
and proper cost of the goods and services that are consumed by a
developing country as a direct result of that country’s participation
in a bilateral or multilateral military exercise with the United
States." These may include rations, fuel, training ammunition
and transportation. Incremental expenses do not include pay, allowances,
and other normal costs.
Tempo (number of exercises to be carried out)8
United States, Department of Defense, Defense Institute of Security Assistance
Management, The Management of Security Assistance, 17th
ed. (Wright-Patterson AFB, OH: May 1997): 732.
United States, Department of Defense, National Defense University,
"Chapter nine: Defense Engagement in Peacetime," Strategic
Assessment 1996: Elements of U.S. Power, 1996, April 1998 <http://www.ndu.edu/ndu/inss/sa96/sa96ch09.html>.
United States Southern Command, Operations Directorate (J3) Exercise
Overview, (U.S. Southern Command: May 21, 1997).
Southern Command, Exercise Overview.
United States, U.S. Southern Command, “Posture Statement Of General
Charles E. Wilhelm, United States Marine Corps Commander In Chief, United
States Southern Command Before The Senate Armed Services Committee,” March
United States, U.S. Southern Command, "Profile of the United States
Southern Command," (Miami: October, 1997).
United States Southern Command, Statement of General Charles E. Wilhelm,
USMC, Commander in Chief, before the Committee on Government Reform and
Oversight, Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and
Criminal Justice, House of Representatives, March 12, 1998: 10.
United States Southern Command, "FY 2000 Exercise Schedule,"
slideshow document, October 17, 2000
Southern Command, J34, Exercise Program Quick-View, (U.S. Southern
Command: October 13, 1998).
Command, Exercise Overview.