From left: Exercise Co-Director, Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Vickers; BDF Chief of Staff, Colonel Alvin Quintyne; Commander of the United States Marine Corps Forces South, Major General John Croley and Commander Michael Long are pictured at the press briefing. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

More than 400 military personnel drawn from 17 countries will be in a better position to strengthen their capabilities to counter and detect illegal activities associated with illicit drug trafficking, when Exercise Tradewinds 2012 is staged in Barbados from June 15-24.

The exercise, now in its 28th year, is a Barbados Government approved, Chairman of the Joint Chief-of-Staff directed, US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) sponsored annual exercise, designed to improve cooperation and interoperability of partner nations in tackling the broad spectrum of Caribbean security threats.

Under the theme: Exercise Tradewinds 2012: Promoting Regional and Hemispheric Security and Stability, the details of the military exercise were rolled out during a press conference at the Barbados Defence Force’s (BDF), St. Ann’s Fort headquarters yesterday. ??????

The BDF’s Chief of Staff, Colonel Alvin Quintyne, said this year’s exercise would not be focused on conventional scenarios, but instead, participants would "benefit from training that would enhance their response to some of those challenges which, if not kept under control and properly managed, would continue to threaten the peace, security and stability of this hemisphere".

In light of this situation, he alluded to the need for security agencies to be one step ahead of illicit traffickers. "It is, therefore, of utmost importance, that law enforcement and other security agencies seek to stay ahead and on top of the security challenges and strive earnestly and resolutely, to practice and perfect their tactical and operational skills.?? Exercise Tradewinds 2012 aims to assist in this regard," Colonel Quintyne underlined.

The Chief of Staff also said that Exercise Tradewinds would serve to further strengthen the existing relationship between SOUTHCOM and the partner nations’ military and law enforcement personnel, with a view to strengthening "the skills and capabilities of the local military, law enforcement and disaster response personnel as they endeavour to deliver the highest quality of service to Barbadians," Colonel Quintyne affirmed.

Meanwhile, Exercise Co-Director, Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Vickers, who outlined the format of the exercise, said it would consist of operational activities as opposed to being carried out at the tactical level.

"Unlike 2003, the presence of soldiers and policemen carrying out tactical manoeuvres on the streets and in the rural parts of Barbados will be absent.?? Instead, the focus will be on planning and operationalising plans for Barbados’ security and stability.

He further explained that Exercise Tradewinds would consist of three separate independent tracks: Land-Ground Force Tactical Military/Law Enforcement; Maritime Combating Transnational Organised Crime; Command and Control via Command Post/Table Exercise; and Command and Intelligence Training.

Additionally, the Lieutenant Colonel disclosed that the Ground and Law Enforcement Training component would be conducted at the Regional Police Training Centre and the BDF’s Paragon Base in Christ Church.

The Command and Intelligence Training and the Command Post Exercise, will be held at the Crane Resort, St. Philip; while the Maritime Training will be conducted at the BDF’s HMBS Pelican headquarters, Spring Garden, St. Michael.

Another component of Exercise Tradewinds he added was the Distinguished Visitors programme that would allow important representatives of participating nations to spend three days in Barbados from June 21 to 23, observing the Command Post Exercise and attending a number of social events.

Colonel Vickers said feedback from the visitors would be used to strengthen future Tradewinds exercises.

In his remarks, Commander of the United States Marine Corps Forces South, Major General John Croley, described the Tradewinds Exercise as "an important multilateral exercise which brings together the security forces of the Caribbean in a shared commitment to improving responses to regional security threats and to focus on maritime interdiction".

He further stated: "The longevity and continued growth of this exercise, is a testament to our region’s shared commitment to improve cooperation and security within the region.?? This commitment is underscored by the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, through which our governments are working to improve citizen safety across the Caribbean," Major General Croley surmised.

When quizzed on the successes of previous Tradewinds Exercises, Colonel Quintyne said over the years, the capacities of the militaries and law enforcement agencies and those involved in responding to various natural disasters had benefited from the training delivered.

"Apart from the training, …the opportunity for military, police and disaster response officials to come together and share ideas, to build up the camaraderie among the military and police, helps to cut down a number of barriers … This helps a lot in terms of forging those bonds and pulling the resources together towards what the common mission may be," he added.

The last Tradewinds Exercise in Barbados was held in 2003.


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