Rear Admiral Jack Buono, superintendent of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, recently visited Naval Support Activity Bahrain to observe the International Maritime Exercise 2019 (IMX19) and show appreciation for its efforts in keeping the seaways safe and clear for commercial shipping.
“We are all connected by the oceans,” Buono said. “Freedom isn’t free; we need to be ever vigilant in protecting the freedom of navigation. Sea lanes need to remain open and any obstruction or threat to free trade threatens the global economy.”
IMX 19 is designed to strengthen relationships, foster interoperability among supporting forces, and enhance theater-wide maritime security operations, mine countermeasures (MCM), and maritime infrastructure capabilities under multinational command and control. The Merchant Marine specializes in shipping goods and people around the world during peace time. During war time, they can be an auxiliary to the U.S. Navy and ship military goods as well as military personnel.
Buono said the Merchant Marine depends on commercial and military partnerships around the world to protect shippers and be prepared to respond quickly to aggression.
“Having a well-trained force and a well-rehearsed plan helps prepare nations to deal with unfortunate circumstances and may prevent the circumstances from occurring in the first place,” Buono said. Contingency plans are created, shared and updated during IMX 19 between the participating countries. One of the goals of IMX 19 is to continue to grow and incorporate as many countries as possible.
“I was really impressed with the comprehensiveness of this exercise,” Buono said. “How the exercise continues to grow, not only in terms of complexity and scope, but the involvement of many more nations. It’s really great to see that coalitions are building not just in verbal communication but in participation,” Bouno said. “This is an extremely well run operation.”