SVG security forces for joint Tradewinds exercise
Local security forces and emergency response personnel are among 350 persons who will engage in five simulated scenarios in June 2019 in an effort to enhance the region’s readiness and response mechanisms.
This training is part of the second phase of the Tradewinds exercise and is scheduled to take place in St Vincent and the Grenadines from June 14 to 20.
The first phase will be held in the Dominican Republic.
“Tradewinds is really a simulated exercise… different kinds of simulation to help us and the objectives of the training exercise is to test, improve and enhance our region’s readiness and response mechanisms in natural disasters, such as hurricanes, volcanic disasters and earthquakes and to address other contemporary issues such as terrorism, transnational organized crime, human trafficking and drug trafficking,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said during last Friday’s launch.
Gonsalves commended the work of the local secretariat in charge of coordinating the event. He added that stakeholders in the national committee should not think that the exercise is for military forces only.
And he said that all stakeholders should be a part of the week of training.
Frankie Joseph, the deputy commissioner of police said that the five scenarios being tested include the evacuation of persons in the volcanic eruption red zones on both the windward and leeward sides of the island; a live shooter at the Argyle International Airport; a ferry incident between mainland and Bequia; and a collapsed building in Georgetown.
“It means that our regional partners and our international partners will have to assist us in that aspect and that is the reason why they are also involved in Tradewinds; because we will be so overwhelmed that our local forces alone will not be able to deal with these scenarios,” he said.
In relation to the live shooter at the Argyle International Airport, Joseph said that “international observer experts in terms of negotiators will be here so they will be observing our local negotiators and then to give them the necessary guidance so in the event that the real thing happens, our negotiators will be in a position to actually deal with that.”
The deputy commissioner of police said that engaging in exercises with regional and international partners will facilitate several objectives which includes providing emergency personnel with the opportunity to practice and improve their skills; improving strategic and contingency planning capability of the local security forces and enhancing local interagency coordination between emergency management and urban sea and rescue.
The Tradewinds programme is directed and sponsored by the United States Southern Command.
And the US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Linda Taglialatela said that the work that the South Command does in this region has lasting and meaningful impact which was evident than during the response in the 2017 hurricane season.
“The Tradewinds exercise helped to prepare the eastern Caribbean nations to work together in responding to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, providing disaster relief and restoring security to the impacted islands,” she said.
She thanked the Prime Minister, stakeholders involved in planning and the people of this country for the generosity in hosting the second phase of the programme next year.
“I am confident that next year’s Tradewinds exercise will help us prepare to face more effectively challenges from disasters and regional threats and in the process, make our partnerships even stronger,” the ambassador added.
Major General David Bellona, a director of strategy, policy and plans of the US Southern Command also delivered brief remarks at Friday’s launch.
He said that Tradewinds has been in existence for 35 years and that it is a chance for everyone to come together and practice scenarios that have potential to manifest themselves in real life.
“It’s a chance for that next generation of leaders to come together, agree on the values of who we are, how we serve together, to learn the perspectives of each other and to establish trust so that when we respond, we are as effective and efficient as possible to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of our people and that’s what Tradewinds is,” Bellon said.
Countries expected to take part in the Tradewinds 2019 programme include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St.Kitts and Nevis, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Military personnel from the USA, Canada, France, Mexico and Netherlands will also be involved in the exercises as well as persons from organisations including the Regional Security System (RSS) and the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CEDEMA).
Tradewinds was last held in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2004.