By Shamar Blunt
The establishment of several centres of excellence specialising in various aspects of security and disaster preparation has been identified as the way forward for regional governments as they continue to face new security challenges.
Chief of the UK Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said regional defence leaders had made the recommendation during the just-ended third annual UK Caribbean Heads of Defence Staff Conference at the Hilton Barbados.
Speaking during a tour of a World Health Organisation (WHO)-accredited field hospital at the Garrison Savannah on Wednesday, Admiral Radakin said the Caribbean’s top defence leaders expressed interest in developing several facilities within the region to provide specialised training for the armed forces.
“How can we come together to train our non-commissioned officers, rather than everybody duplicating? Can we specialise, can we have centres of excellence around the region? We had a conversation about, maybe, The Bahamas [becoming] a centre of excellence for drones…. We had a conversation about Trinidad and Tobago; do [they] lead in terms of the training of maritime junior officers? Do we, the UK, support that?” he said.
“Can we have the confidence in each other that one particular nation takes the lead, and the others invest in that, and we all benefit? That, to me, is very special.”
The Chief of the UK Defence Staff, who toured the field hospital along with other regional defence heads at the close of the two-day meeting, further stressed that the strength of regional cooperation was critical if Caribbean countries were to continue responding to natural disasters and other crises speedily and appropriately.
“It’s about shared values and interests. We know that in the world we live in, there is no such thing as regional security, there is only global security, and that is what we are trying to do.
“Whether that is trying to combat illegal narcotics, whether it’s people trafficking, whether it’s responding to disasters, we want to come together and manage that as strongly as possible,” Admiral Radakin said.