Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force, Colonel Alvin Quintyne, is presented with his award from Commander of the United States Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM), General Douglas Fraser. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force, Colonel Alvin Quintyne, has received the United States’ highest military decoration – the Legion of Merit award (Degree of Commander) for his "exceptionally meritorious service" as this country’s military leader from 2003 to the present.

He was bestowed with the honour yesterday by Commander of the United States Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM), General Douglas Fraser, during a ceremony witnessed by Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in Cabinet Office, Government Headquarters.

In recognition of the achievement, Mr. Stuart congratulated Colonel Quintyne on the significant accomplishment, which, he noted, exemplified "his dedication, commitment to service and strong leadership qualities".

Speaking on the issue of security in the region, the Prime Minister said the Caribbean remained vulnerable to transnational crime and also non-traditional threats, such as natural disasters and pandemics. Consequently, he underlined that the Government of Barbados was committed to strengthening its collaboration with the US "in an effort to promote peace and security in the region.

"The US SOUTHCOM Command has made a valuable contribution to security in the region through initiatives such as training exercises, counter drug operations, disaster response and mitigation and donations of military assets and communication," he noted.

Mr. Stuart maintained that the region as a whole had to confront whatever security challenges existed and also had a responsibility to ensure that it took full advantage of the programmes being offered by US SOUTHCOM, through initiatives such as the State Partnership Programme and the Tradewinds Exercise as a means of building military capabilities.

He pointed out that there were always opportunities for improvement of security. "There is no destination that you reach where you stop and put your feet up and relax. The ingenuity of terrorists, of the criminal element, those persons involved in trans-national organised crime, knows no bounds and, therefore, we have to be constantly looking at ways to intercept, to obstruct and to control those elements," the Prime Minister underscored. However, he was quick to point out that Barbados did "not face any risk of such a nature, quality and kind as to cause us not to want to go to sleep at night."??

General Fraser said the United States would concentrate on a number of broad-based programmes and Caribbean Basin Security initiatives, as well as support law enforcement, and offer assistance to disadvantaged and at risk youth. "We will focus on helping support the regional security system’s capabilities; we will focus on helping improve some of the maritime interdiction capabilities of members within the Regional Security System and put more focus on other government programmes," he added.

Colonel Quintyne expressed thanks to General Fraser for the award, and said it also represented the work of the "loyal men and women who serve within the ranks of the Barbados Defence Force and the Government and people of Barbados".

Barbados will host the regional military exercise Tradewinds in 2012.


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