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Airmen Help Defend Panama Canal in Multinational Exercise: Hundreds of airmen at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., were among the more than 3,500 participants from 17 nations in PANAMAX 2012, the largest multinational exercise since 2003 involving militaries of North and South America, according to base officials. Davis-Monthan's 612th Air and Space Operations Center served as an around-the-clock operational command and control hub during the 10-day exercise, which concluded on Aug. 17, according to an Aug. 28 base release. The center coordinated numerous daily sorties of US fighters, rescue helicopters, tankers, and information-gathering platforms. The exercise played out the scenario of a violent extremist organization threatening the Panama Canal and the participating nations coordinating their simulated air, ground, and sea assets to deal with the threat. "Having coalition nations working together allowed for other perspectives to be brought to life," said Maj. John Murtha, legal counsel for the Illinois Air National Guard's 183rd Fighter Wing. "This exercise enhanced those links by fostering friendly, mutual cooperation." (Davis-Monthan report by TSgt. Andria Sapp) (Davis-Monthan report by Capt. Andre Benitez)