From left: US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates; Prime Minister David Thompson; and Minister of National Security of St. Lucia and Chairman of the Regional Security System, Sen. Guy Mayers, at the a private meeting with CARICOM leaders, Ministers of Defence and the Regional Security System, at Hilton Barbados. (A. Miller/BGIS)
In an attempt to tackle regional security challenges, the United States is pumping $45 million into the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) in an effort to tackle international terrorization.
US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, made this declaration today following a private meeting with CARICOM leaders, Ministers of Defence and the Regional Security System, at Hilton Barbados.
Speaking to representatives from the local and US media, Mr. Gates said once approved, the money would not only be used for the fund but also to assist the region in improving its Maritime patrol interdiction capabilities, domain awareness and the provision of joint training opportunities and exercises.
He also revealed that US $70 million would be budgeted towards the fund for next year.
Apart from addressing Maritime issues, Mr. Gates remarked that the CBSI represented a comprehensive approach to providing not only for improved security capabilities to confront immediate threats but also to develop assistance in the hopes of addressing the root causes of regional problems, such as a lack of educational and employment opportunities.
Describing the meeting as fruitful, he added: "I came away impressed by the innovative approaches being taken to collective security, especially the ability of Caribbean nations to marshal limited resources to address common threats".??
??The Defense Secretary further stated: "I want all the Ministers to know that the United States understands the enormous challenges that you can face in combating illicit trafficking and violent crime in the Eastern Caribbean- challenges that touch our shores as well".??
Reiterating President Barack Obama’s pledge made at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad last year, Mr. Gates stressed that the US government stood ready to assist the region in confronting these transnational threats.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Thompson echoed similar sentiments by emphasising that government was concerned about threats to national security.?? "Every dollar that we have to divert to security is a dollar less spent on social programmes…there is always the threat in small islands like ours of the influence of drug traffickers," he underscored.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Thompson and Defense Secretary Gates met briefly at the Prime Minister’s residence, IIaro Court for private talks.?? This was preceded with a cultural visit to George Washington House by Mr. Gates and his team.