Regional Security Coordinator, Grantley Watson, in discussion with Director-Narcotics Affairs Section, US Embassy, Kurt van der Walde, while Director of Training at the RSS, Commander Tyrone James, looks on.
(C. Pitt/BGIS)

More financial support is expected to come to the Regional Security System (RSS) by way of a donation of US $100,000 from the United States (US) government to aid in that agency’s basic military training.

Director of the Narcotics Affairs Section at the US Embassy, Mr. Kurt van der Walde, revealed that they were extremely proud to be partnering with the RSS and believed it was a sign of the effectiveness of this course, that the US had pumped so much money into it.

Speaking to representatives of the RSS and participants today at the Opening Ceremony of the RSS Basic Course 1/2012, at the RSS Training Facility at Paragon Base, Christ Church, Mr. Walde stated "the US had a long partnership with the RSS, which was greatly valued." He noted that last November the US government?????? announced that it would be contributing US$10 million in new funding for the RSS, especially for the air wing and the basic military training programme.????

Disclosing that since 1999, the US had given the first of two aircraft to the RSS for the air wing section…and in 2001 donated the second aircraft, the Director of Narcotic Affairs indicated that since then the US government had provided the RSS with over US$23 million in assistance.

"We are very pleased with the way that money has been used and the partnership that the RSS has shown … We gave US$1.9 million for training to upgrade skills and the ability of law enforcement personnel in the RSS Member States…This funding is part of President Obama’s Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) and it is founded on the idea of true partnership between the United States and the Caribbean, and through this partnership we aim to share responsibility for ensuring our common security.?? It starts with courses like this where you will learn the fundamentals of your job…and our aid is not a hand-out, it’s a down payment to help the RSS and their member states implement our common vision for a safer more secure, shared Caribbean region," the Director emphasised.

Meanwhile, featured speaker and Regional Security Coordinator, Grantley Watson, emphasised that these types of courses were crucial as "the Eastern Caribbean has long been battling the ills of transnational organised crime, which has been recognised as having the capacity and potential to negatively affect our social fabric, governance systems and internal security."

He told those gathered that "transnational crimes, such as drug trafficking had spawned to some extent, firearms and human trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping and corruption of some public officials and, the activities associated with such have created an even more hostile environment, in which law enforcement practitioners have to manoeuvre, while executing their duties of securing the state," the RSS head declared.

Mr. Watson further indicated skills in drug interdiction; marijuana eradication and prosecution could assist in the decline of illicit narcotic production within the Member States.?? He said: "The fact that the Caribbean, along with Mexico, are known to be a major source of cannabis going to North America, further demonstrates the severity of the drug problems in the sub-region, as well as support the need to train law enforcement personnel in addressing this security threat."

Some 34 students including four females from six RSS Member States are participating in the basic military training course for a period of 12 weeks.

The course, which is divided into two phases, with the first phase in Barbados and the second in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, aims to expose Police Officers to basic military training so they can take their places in any Special Services Unit or equivalent unit.

The six Member States are: Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Dominica; Grenada; St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.


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