Phase two of Exercise Tradewinds, which St Vincent and the Grenadines is hosting, was officially declared underway last Friday, and participating troops were advised to make the most of the next eight days.
On the grounds of the decommissioned ET Joshua airport, as troops wearing different uniforms took their positions on the tarmac and sat on the old air control tower, the ceremony to mark the beginning of phase two of the combined, joint military training exercise, “Tradewinds 2019” kicked off.
This exercise is designed to teach, through simulations, Caribbean troops to be equipped for security and humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations.
The Commissioner of Police(COP), Colin John, declared the exercise, primarily sponsored by the United States Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM), open, as he stood in the middle of a line of flags from all participating countries.
“We are here to embark on an Exercise that we hope that we will not have to utilize, but notwithstanding that, we have to prepare. The cliché “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail” is very much relevant in these exercise. So we have to make sure that in the event that we are called upon either to respond to either a manmade or a natural disaster, we are quite equipped to deal with these eventualities,” the COP commented.
The Exercise will run until June 21. It follows the first phase of the exercise which took place in the Dominican Republic, and it will precede a third and final phase.
As hosts of the second phase, the Commissioner, on behalf of St Vincent and the Grenadines, welcomed the troops to the island.
The Exercise provides many opportunities including networking, said John. Meeting other persons from other countries, “can break down the red tape and going through the bureaucracy of getting things done.”
John did not exclude mentioning the benefits that would be gained from the training itself. “We saw year before last the effects of hurricanes on our neighbours and we are warned, or we are making ourselves prepared in the event that such hurricanes or such disasters should come to St Vincent and the Grenadines or other countries,” he commented.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Junior Simmons disclosed that over the eight days the troops from the participating countries will go through rigorous, calculated and result oriented training exercises. There are 19 participating countries, including international (France, Canada) and regional (Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti) participants.
The lengthy theme of the Exercise which embodies many themes was disclosed by Simmons, who informed that it was, “to enhance the collective ability of partner nations, defense and police forces, to counter transnational organized crime and conduct humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations, while developing strong relationships and reinforcing human rights.”
Edward Rogers, Deputy Division Chief, Training Exercise, of US SOUTHCOM noted that the troops will reap the benefit over the eight days, of a year of planning.
Tradewinds began 35 years ago, and has grown from a small tactical exercise to the most complicated and sophisticated Exercise that US SOUTHCOM does, Rogers stated.
“It’s multi-domain, we work in the air, land and sea domains, and we train a Caribbean Taskforce to command and control, for security operations or for humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations,” he noted.
Rogers also called the exercise an enduring promise between the Caribbean and the Americas and a critical one.
To the troops he advised, “The next eight days are gonna go very fast so make sure you take advantage of the training opportunities that are out there, work as hard as you can, try to learn as much as you can here at the Exercise, but also take the time to build those friendships and those partnerships during the Exercise.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Hale, the Canadian Armed Forces Contingent Commander spoke to the media about the importance of the exercise to his forces after the opening ceremony.
“If we don’t have training opportunities like this we would not succeed in real operations so this gives us a chance to practice and perfect our techniques ahead of time before the emergencies actually arise,” he commented.