By Lt. Sonny Lorrius
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/ U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet hosted the 12th annual U.S. Military Group Navy Section Chief Synchronization Conference Jan. 27-30.

Navy section chiefs are U.S. Navy representatives who worked with the Military Group at U.S. embassies worldwide to coordinate a variety of maritime programs within their host country. This conference involved Navy section chiefs from the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) area of responsibility, which encompasses the Caribbean, Central and South America.

"The work of our Navy section chiefs and their supporting staffs is vital to the success of our Cooperative Maritime Strategy and SOUTHCOM engagement goals. They are vital to the success of Fourth Fleet across our lines of operation from Maritime Security Operations to Security Cooperation Activities. This conference allows both the Navy section chiefs and our Fourth Fleet staffs to coordinate and address our maritime needs and the needs of our partner nations when planning our naval operations and exercises," said Rear Adm. Sinclair M. Harris, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet.

The conference consisted of various briefs on topics such as Afloat Staging Base program and capabilities, maritime alignment, medical engagements, in port security and ships movements. The top engagements of discussion were Joint High Speed Vessel operations, PANAMAX 2014, the multinational exercise of UNITAS, SIFOREX, Continuing Promise and disaster relief efforts and Southern Partnership Station 2014.

"This conference helps align and support initiatives from both U.S. Southern Command and Naval Forces Southern Command," said Lowell McClintock, U.S. 4th Fleet planning office in Mayport. "Through the collaboration of Coast Guardsmen, Special Operations, Marines, Sailors and Department of Defense civilians, we are able to effectively and efficiently coordinate our activities based on the maritime and strategic priorities of both commands."

The attendees were U.S personnel from 13 Security Cooperation Offices (SCO) in the SOUTHCOM area of responsibility including the countries of Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama and Peru.

"We continue to operate forward with the latest maritime innovations, such as the Joint High Speed Vessel and the Littoral Combat Ship, with the invaluable help of our expertly trained section chiefs in country," said Harris.

The annual Navy Section Chief Synchronization conference, which began in 2003, is designed to inform Navy section chiefs of theater security cooperation activities proposed by SOUTHCOM for the current and upcoming years.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet employ maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships that foster regional security in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.