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Lieutenant Colonel, Ricardo Vickers, Co-director of Exercise Tradewinds 2012. (FP)??

Preparations are in high gear for next month’s Exercise Tradewinds.

This was disclosed by its co-director, Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Vickers of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service yesterday.

Exercise Tradewinds is an annual military event which is sponsored by the United States Southern Command. It will see over 400 military personnel arriving in Barbados for two weeks of training in areas such as: land and law enforcement; command and intelligence; and maritime and disaster management. It will take place from June 15 to June 24, under the theme: Promoting Regional and Hemispheric Security and Stability.

Providing an update on arrangements for the event, Colonel Vickers said: "First of all, the plans are going very smoothly. As far as the expectations are concerned, we set out clearly the goals of the Exercise and one of the key objectives is to improve the level of interoperability between local agencies.?? Those agencies being principally the Barbados Defence Force, the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Barbados Fire Service, the Emergency Ambulance Service, and those organisations that will form part of the National Emergency Operations Centre."

Moreover, he indicated that as far as the region was concerned, the levels of cooperation and interoperability between Barbados and other participating nations from the region would also be strengthened.

In terms of infrastructural work, Colonel Vickers noted that construction work had begun at the various locations where training would be conducted. "We???ve had major work carried out at HMBS Pelican, which is the Coast Guard Base. Very recently, a pier has been constructed and this pier will facilitate the docking of vessels which will be taking part in the exercise. Without this pier that docking would not have been possible and consequently, the participation of those vessels in the exercise would have been significantly challenged," he said.

He continued: "At [HMBS] Pelican as well, significant work has been carried out on the base to facilitate the logistics of the exercise. At the Regional Police Training Centre work has been carried out there on a shooting facility. Shooting will be one of the important components of Exercise Tradewinds, so, some improvements have been carried out there. On the Paragon range, some work has been done there as well in order to improve the facilities, so that they can be conducive to good shooting on the range."

The co-director also noted that major work had also been carried out at the Cadet Camp site, where many land and law enforcement personnel would be housed. He pointed out that other improvements included upgrading the electricity supplies and installing fans at that location, "to bring the facility up to a standard where soldiers and civilians taking part in the exercise can rest comfortably during the exercise".

A number of key agencies from the United States and Canada, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Joint Coalition Warfighting Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Joint Inter Agency Task Force will conduct the training sessions.

Participating nations are: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, The Commonwealth of Dominica, The Dominican Republic, Grenada, The Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Jamaica, The Republic of Haiti, Suriname, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and The United States of America.

An official opening ceremony is slated to be held at the BDF’S Paragon Base in Christ Church on June 15 at 8:00 a.m.

cathy.lashley@barbados.gov.bb

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