In less than two months, Barbados will host an estimated 800 regional and international security and disaster personnel in June for the first phase of the annual Exercise Tradewinds.
It’s the regional multi-agency, multinational security and disaster management exercise held in the region in partnership with the United States. Exercise Tradewinds succeeded a similar exercise, dubbed Exotic Palm, in the 1980s.
Now in its 33rd year, Tradewinds 2017 is being co-hosted by Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago under the theme Seamless States Partnership for a Secure Region. It will focus not only on the region’s capacity to respond to a number of security threats to the Caribbean region, but also encompass the natural hazards to the Caribbean.
Host nation co-director, Major Carlos Lovell told the media Tuesday that this year’s operation also seeks to assemble a multinational Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Task Force under the aegis of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, to evaluate the region’s response to significant transnational organized crime and the effects of sudden disasters.
Twenty-one countries, including member states of the Regional Security System (RSS), CARICOM member states, as well as Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are expected to participate, and will include approximately 800 soldiers, sailors, police and disaster management practitioners.
According to him, unlike previous exercises, this year’s operation will adopt a different approach where participants will be trained during the exercise and later tested and evaluated.
“With the support of our international partners and the RSS we have committed to conducting pre-mission training prior to the June 6th start date for Tradewinds. Secondly in accordance with the exercise scenario, we are seeking to combat one common threat in two separate member states with the CARICOM Task Force seamlessly redeploying from one member state to another, to execute operations,” he explained.
In this regard, 120 participants from the RSS will be engaged in a pre-mission training programme to prepare them for the upcoming exercise.
Without divulging the details, Major Lovell said the Barbados leg of the exercise will take place throughout the island, and will include air, land and sea operations. He said it was an opportunity for nationals to participate and gain a better appreciation of the security needs of the island.
“I encourage all Barbadians to volunteer their services as role players for this exercise, as it offers an opportunity for our citizens to deepen their understanding of national emergency management systems and to appreciate the capabilities of our local disaster management practitioners,” he said.
Prospective volunteers can apply online on the Tradewinds website, and will be subjected to a screening process.
Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds, said the upcoming exercise is an opportunity to test Barbados’ National Emergency Management Plan, in response to the effects of a sudden impact hazard scenario.
“This year Barbados has been afforded a unique opportunity to exercise aspects of the National Emergency Management System. We will be exercising various components of the National Emergency Management Plan which will allow the operatives in the system to respond to several scenarios based in the field, requiring the live play and movement of emergency management resources to manage the live incidents,” Hinds said, adding that it was important that Barbados continues to strengthen its disaster preparedness.
Exercise Tradewinds is a US Southern Command-sponsored security and humanitarian assistance and disaster response focused initiative, which is designed to improve regional cooperation, military and civilian interaction, as well as national and regional capabilities.