UNITAS, which means “unity” in Latin, is a combined Latin American and U.S. exercise and has been building ties with foreign navies since 1959 making it the longest running exercise of its type in the world. Originally focused on anti-submarine warfare but nowadays it focuses on cooperation, understanding and partnership among participating navies in order to respond as a unified force to a wide variety of maritime missions. The exercise represents a unique opportunity to improve capabilities, readiness, and cooperative relations among countries of north, south, and central American naval forces while promoting hemispheric coalition, and two-way cooperation resulting in mutual benefit to all navies.
This year, the Peruvian navy hosted UNITAS and involved the participation of 10 ships and patrol craft, submarines, helicopters maritime patrol and tactical aircraft and naval forces from the United States, Peru, Colombia, Chile and Mexico. Additionally, personnel from Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Italy, Panama, United Kingdom and New Zealand were represented in the exercise.
This year’s exercise was conducted in two phases. The first phase included a full range of seamanship drills and experiences, including maritime operations, electronic warfare, anti-air warfare and air defense, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and maritime interdiction operations. The second phase was a simulated at-sea war game to test all of the skills that were used and defined in the first phase.
Aside from conducting naval exercises, UNITAS included other activities while the ships were moored in Callao and Salaverry, Peru. Events included sporting events among partner nations, a community relations project for a local school, a wreath laying ceremony at a Peruvian naval monument, and a plaque exchange among the nations.
This year’s UNITAS resulted in a stronger coalition, multilateral security cooperation and new friendships, strict professionalism and mutual understanding among the participating partner nations.
The next UNITAS exercise is scheduled for late 2015 in Chile and Brazil.