THE United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)-sponsored ‘Tradewinds Exercise 2021’, which came to a close on Friday, has been hailed a success.
A closing ceremony was held at the National Stadium to bring down the curtains on the exhilarating, two-week event.
Prime Minister, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips, during his keynote address, said that the multinational exercise displayed the cohesiveness and camaraderie between partnering nations.
PM Phillips further said that the annual event is a key activity that highlights and demonstrates a collective commitment to regional security.
“It is a key fixture in the annual calendar of activities, because it contributes to the strengthening and institutionalisation for Caribbean regional security system,” the prime minister said, adding: “Exercise Tradewinds fosters regional cooperation, since, as countries of the Caribbean sharing a geopolitical space also means the sharing of common problems, and the fact that we will be more receptive to working together to resolve those problems.”
The Prime Minister further stated that the multinational exercise will see the continued strengthening and growth of partnership among the various nations.
“The camaraderie, network and cohesion established during this exercise can only become stronger with time. Exercise Tradewinds has proven that as partners, we believe in supporting each other, upholding the rule of law, embracing democratic principles, and ensuring peaceful co-existence for each other,” the PM said, adding that with shared values such as democracy, economic integration and regional security, the construction of inter-regional linkages would culminate in a peaceful hemispheric security environment.
In closing, he noted that the successful completion of this year’s activity, despite the ongoing pandemic and the stringent safety protocols, highlighted the collective demonstration to resolve the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Exercise Tradewinds dates back to the 1980s, and is a multi-dimensional Caribbean security-focused exercise conducted on the ground, and in air, sea and cyber domains. Members of the security forces and disaster response agencies are the participants.
The 36th iteration of the exercise was held in Guyana from June 13 to June 25, and involved approximately 1,500 participants.
‘Tradewinds’ aims to enhance the collective ability of defence forces and constabularies to counter transnational criminal organisations, and conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief operations, while developing strong relationships, and reinforcing human rights awareness.
It includes nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and regional agencies such as the Regional Security System (RSS), the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
The participating nations this year were: The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, France, Guyana, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
A COMPLETE SUCCESS
Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier Godfrey Bess, in brief remarks, said the exercise was a complete success, with no casualties or serious injuries. He said it provided a training environment that had a high degree of professionalism.
“By all accounts, Exercise Tradewinds has been a success. Through this exercise, this platoon of troops trained together and worked together to carry out a multiplicity of tasks, in an array of training scenarios, which enables them to demonstrate their capabilities,” Brigadier Bess said.
Exercise Tradewinds, he added, delivered a breadth and depth of training that has been accessible to all participating partners, and all must be commended for creating a sustainable environment, which allowed every participant to learn and grow.
He said the exercise environment also fostered friendship and professional relations which are likely to last long after the end of this year’s event.
Also praising the exercise was US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, who recalled being thrilled when she learnt that Guyana had opted to be the host.
Ambassador Lynch said she saw first-hand how these exercises provide a unique opportunity for participating
nations to improve inter-operability, and effectively execute missions together.
“At the Jungle and Amphibious Training School, I saw first-hand how our nations learned from each other about everything, from executing tactical operations to mapping strategic manoeuvers,” she said, adding: “And this year, you met these objectives, despite the continued presence of COVID-19, and the need to adhere to stringent safety protocols. You all should be extraordinarily proud of this achievement.”
Also giving remarks was Major-General Rafael Ribas of the United States Southern Command.
He thanked the Government of Guyana for providing support for the successful hosting of the exercise, and singled out CARICOM, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Guyana Defence Force for helping make it the tremendouse success it was.
Major General Ribas noted his satisfaction with how the exercise was conducted, given the pandemic, which is still a significant challenge around the world.
“We are still at war with this virus, but nothing strengthens partnerships as in-person training and engagement, while following protocols,” he said.
The officer posited that the US and the Caribbean are interconnected in many ways, including historically and culturally, and share common threats, such as natural disasters and illicit trafficking. “When we work together as a team, we prepare better, respond sooner, and recover faster,” he said, adding: “We don’t know when another crisis will come, but we must continue to train together to conquer it.”